Liz Bentley feeling sad her Tesco Delivery Man can’t come in, while waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man for a long time….



It’s strange now to think that Tesco Delivery Men have hugged me, got up close and leaned in when I’ve been doing a selfie with them. That feels such a long time ago now. I’m not isolating alone, in fact much of the week there are four or six of us (my husband and I both have two children we share a home), but I am acutely aware how isolation is hitting.

My 92-year-old uncle contracted the virus Polio, age 18. He was in the Army, doing his national service. He told me recently it was a strange thing, like coronavirus, you couldn’t really tell where you contracted it, and why did my Uncle get it but no-one else who had been around him? He knew only one old school friend who contracted it and died. That was then and this is now. My Uncle said he felt this was worse for the kids than the Second World War, schools were still open then. “It’s the isolation” he said. God, I miss the schools and the teachers, and my friends and my family. (You may have read from my last blog what a shite home tutor I am, it causes me huge stress and highlights my own failings, I have so much to learn with all this, without having to face the trauma from my 1970’s education again).

Nevertheless, we are all actually doing really well. Each day we survive another day, we ARE doing really well, my glass of wine has turned into a gin and tonic, my yo-yo life of coronavirus, one minute I’m performing a comedy song in our communal garden, or clapping our NHS with neighbours, the next I am working or on the phone chatting and supporting friends and family who are struggling with different issues to me. Somehow all our struggles collide. This trauma is still, and always will be, everyone’s trauma.

As per my previous blog, the deaths I am hearing about are more from suicide or accidental death. My niece who is training to be a paramedic (training put on hold, she is now front line), is dealing with the trauma of suicide attempts. I start back work this week supervising student services staff at Lewisham College, I am bracing myself for more trauma, we had enough before coronavirus.

Self-care is very difficult for anyone during this time; self-care is different for everyone, it may be a bath or reading a book, my self-care is a gin and tonic to get me though, is that self-care? I’m drinking it now. It is the first blog I have written under the influence of a gin and tonic. Is that ok? Am I blurring my boundaries? Is it better? Am I more honest?  In my last blog, I wrote about my computer playing up while I was trying to have my own therapy session, my last session I forgot I even had a therapy session. In 25 years of having therapy, a lot of the time, I have never forgotten a session. That’s how it is, I forgot! And I rarely use exclamation marks, and there is one. I forgot my therapy session, my self-care. Watch out Bentley, big note to self. And this is where creativity comes in.

What can we laugh about now?

During a spontaneous gig in my communal garden with some Perverse Verse neighbour fans, I read out this poem I wrote probably 20 years ago. I had won money from an MS Society Millennium award to run a writing as therapy group in one of the pods in the amazing brand new (then) Peckham Library.  We were a group of disabled writers, some with MS, some with ME and one carer. During the 12-week group there was a fireman’s strike, meaning lifts couldn’t be used in public buildings. This became a nightmare for my group. The poem/song (and the second bit of the poem can be sung in Aled Jones-style ‘I’m walking in the Air’ – yes I know it wasn’t him but I can’t be arsed to research and I like Aled) is about a fart, and I was thinking that Coronovirus is like a fart, you can’t see it, you never really know how it travels, and it really can be deadly…however, there is hope, and we all need a bit of hope right now, so read ’til the end and keep up the hope…


The Lost Fart


Wafting fart, waft away, through the trees, through the clouds, up to the sky

Up to mars, where water has been found

A fire was found in Peckham, but alas, the fire brigade were on strike

I felt sad

Lifts can’t be used during fireman’s strikes.  This strike went on for some weeks during which time I took tea and biscuits and coffee and sugar and sold them to the people who were waiting by the lift at the bottom of the stairs of Peckham library

Each day of the fire brigades strike I made more money

Each day the our library debts increased

I felt sadder


It’s cold, there’s a draft

The lost fart wafts through the doors, into the library, slips up to the fourth floor, reads a book, and is found again


I’m wafting in the air

I’m wafting up the library stairs

A light brown film surrounds me

Some say I look like a tree


I’m wafting in the air

I’m wafting in the sea of life

Was lost but now am found

High above the ground  – in the library


Who is this?

Sitting by

Drinking tea


Who is he?

I cannot see

But he is reading porn


I’m wafting in the air

I’m wafting by a man’s wheelchair

He smiles at me with grace

I poof right in his face  –  in the library


He lights a cigarette

He puffs out so much smoke it hurts

He lifts it high above

And stabs me in the heart

I’m a dieing fart


(BTW in those days you could smoke most places)


White woman in crows mask, white shirt playing a ukelele in a garden


Liz Bentley observing the 2 metres apart with her nearly extinct, Tesco Delivery Man

Blone white woman and black Tesco delivery man stand arms aloft, observing 2 metres of social distancing in front of the delivery van

What a crazy world it has become. I’ve been busy, transferring my private therapy practice, online and working with Student Services at Lewisham College, by phone. I am very concerned about our mental health in this crisis, in my work I am hearing more about deaths from suicide, than from Coronavirus.

Within my community of psychotherapists we are acknowledging how much we have to learn, everything has changed, there are no books, no personal experiences, we have to do everything by trial and error. As comfortable as I have been as a Luddite (I only learned this word recently), I am learning to embrace technology but it doesn’t come without its problems. Part of me relishes the possibilities, the other part continues to address the reality of our unique, traumatic situation.

For some therapists, just finding a confidential space in our homes is tricky. For some clients, the best and only way is to take a 50-minute walk and chat on the phone. When disabilities are taken into account, options are further reduced, especially for younger adults and kids.  Whilst I miss my clients physically in my room, I am experiencing my trauma as their trauma, with all of our other underlying traumas coming to the fore. This is huge, at times overwhelming, but we are all in it together, and this is a comfort, to some more than others.

During my personal therapy session, my computer started playing up, the curser began darting around the screen and pop ups popped up, it was excruciatingly frustrating. I turned it off and on, on and off, changed from Skype to Zoom. At the end of the session, my computer went back to its normal, normal state and hasn’t played up since or with my clients.

Homeschooling my 14-year-old has thus far consisted of writing emails to teachers and ringing the school SEN department, my daughter and I in tears, questioning the flurry of emails, pdf’s with enormous amounts of work that has got to be done yesterday. I don’t understand them, then I realise what is being sent, the reality of the pdf’s is just piles and piles of anxiety, being shoved through the internet. I have had at least 5 detentions by proxy. The education system, and most other systems are seemingly, behaving like this is normal, everything is normal, we just transfer everything online, in fact we don’t need anything, we don’t need teachers, doctors, friends, partners, anyone, everything can be done online. Even PE, sex, everything.  No room to acknowledge the grief.  My son’s very practical music degree is now at home in his bedroom, online. The disappointment for all and the grief that I am trying to contain sometimes feels too much.  See, I’ve said it again.

At the end of the day I pour a large glass of wine. It is my reward for getting through another day.  The two social events I have had with friends, have been nice, we’ve chatted, laughed, but then I have burst into tears as the reality of not being able to ‘be’ with them kicks in. But right now, as psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott would say,  it has to be ‘good enough’, it just has to be.

I don’t have an appropriate song or poem, I have a short play I have written that I shall post soon, but for now, I am having the craziest of dreams. I think Jung’s collective unconscious is at work, the first is Biblical, the second apocalyptic, the third could be a scene from Schindler’s List.

Tuesday … trying to get Oli back from Falmouth, weren’t allowed to use cars so I got a camel. The camel was young, and although could cope with my weight ok, its hoofs couldn’t manage the steep rough terrain and I feared falling into the sea.

Wednesday – The door of my house was open, one of my clients walked in for safety and sat around my kitchen table, shortly followed by a man wearing pyjamas who looked like a zombie, I tried to talk with the man but he got aggressive so I calmley pushed him back into the street where there were zombies wandering aimlessly. Across the road there was an old ambulance, a body was being removed from a house on a stretcher.

Thursday – An army official knocked on our door to tell us we all had to get out. I walkedover to the flats to find out what was happening, people were all moving out of their homes, wheelbarrows carrying their belongings , when I returned back to my house I wasn’t allowed back in, my family had all they could get.

Oh just got Boris’s letter, it’s undated, here is a half baked, immediate poem in response to the intrusion….


The Good Girl

Be a good girl

You don’t, or won’t know what is good

I have the secret book

I decide when you have been good, or not

When you are bad, you will know by my silence

Then you will be good


You will be good at all times

Even when you think good is not good

I know what is good, and bad

Not you


Be a good girl, and if you are not ……