A note from my doctor says: ‘As a heavy smoker, you are in a high- risk category.’
I didn’t need much more convincing to get out of London and go into a form of isolation.
I have spent the past three weeks at home in Kent. I don’t think I’ve spent this much time in one house since I was seven.
After 30 years of living out of a suitcase because of business and politics, waking up in the same bed every morning is a bonus.
I began with good intentions, away from the endless round of London lunches and dinners.
The pubs closing meant this was going to be an opportunity to change my lifestyle – or so I thought.
My day starts well, at 5.45am, with a 50-minute walk on a route that includes two big hills. My pace is rapid and I return breathing heavily. I’m down one belt size already.
In fact, I’m so enjoying springtime in the woods and valleys that on some evenings I do the walk again.
When I mentioned this on my radio show (I broadcast from home), some criticised me as though I were a suicide bomber.
I thought the point of a lockdown was to stop the spread of coronavirus, not to put everybody under house arrest by decreeing we can only leave home once a day.
I refuse to comply with this advice as I never see another walker when I am out. I do, however, see people on the roads cycling, clad head to toe in Lycra. I don’t know why.
While waiting to get the home radio studio set up, I experimented with a laptop camera monologue, giving my thoughts on the crisis and the Government’s response to it.
I’ve been deeply critical of it since I realised its now-abandoned herd-immunity policy would kill hundreds of thousands. To my surprise, these broadcasts, including my first ‘live questions to Nigel’ sessions, have taken off.
So far, since the lockdown began, there have been more than three million views. I can only guess this is because the coverage on the BBC and Sky News is too politically correct, repetitive and dull.
I have failed to stop smoking cigarettes. Despite my best intentions, I have not managed to get past 10am without lighting my first of the day. For me, this isn’t too bad.
My mornings are spent reading the newspapers, phoning contacts and friends, and preparing for my LBC show at 6pm.
Because I get up early, I thought that during my first week in isolation a gin and tonic at 12.30pm was appropriate.
The trouble is, kitchen measures in large, bowl-shaped glasses tend to make a bottle disappear alarmingly quickly, so a new compromise has been found.
I have my first drink of the day as the Downing Street press conference begins at 5pm. Frankly, given the shocking performances of Michael Gove and Alok Sharma, I’ve been needing it.
The lack of traffic has turned the road outside my house into a country lane again. It’s as though nature has reawakened.
Shortly after dawn, the drill of the woodpecker sounds, and every day I see blossoms and flowers emerging. I can’t remember bluebells being out in early April before. Maybe Greta Thunberg has a point after all.
Last Friday was my birthday. Walking past the local pub, my eye was drawn to a sad sign on the front door: ‘Closed until further notice.’ My pace slackened. A birthday with no pub, no lunch and no party. I do hope this is over soon.
As the daily news brings scary statistics of more deaths, I am fearful that the UK will be in Italy’s position in a couple of weeks.
This week an older friend of mine died, the first person I know personally to have succumbed to Covid-19. When I think of the risks our frontline NHS workers take, in many cases without adequate protection, I am full of admiration.
In years to come when I am asked ‘What did you do in the great epidemic?’, I will only be able to answer: ‘I hid in the countryside.’
With that said, I consider myself very lucky to be out of harm’s way.