These are extraordinary times. Self-isolation is going to be a surreal experience for many of us and I hope that wherever you are that you are safe, healthy and as fulfilled as best one can be.

I am reaching back through time to the Diary of Samuel Pepys from the year 1665, a time with many parallels to our own. Samuel Pepys was a naval administrator, a civil servant in the court of Charles II of England during the 1660s.

Between 1660 and 1669 he maintained a remarkably candid diary of his day to day escapades, occupation and observations. I am choosing the year 1665 to record as readings and present to you too here. It is ofcourse the year of the Great Plague in London. I choose this not out of some morbid fascination with the terrible circumstances brought to the world by the Coronavirus but because I believe that this glimpse into a human story from times not so distant provide us with a contextual touch point to what is currently happening.

Pepys puts it all on the table. He lives at frenetic pace, working hard and playing hard; recording even his daliances often to common effect in cod-English/French/Spanish and then wrestles with his morality. He mixes with the great figures of the day including the royal court and, as you will find, increasingly finds himself living in a rapidly changes set of circumstances as the plague begins to lockdown London and mortal fears begin to pervade his consciousness.

I plan to read and record as much of the year 1665 as I can during the time that is available to me during this period. I expect the readings to be a bit like ham best served with a pinch of salt; something that you may wish to watch before nodding off and perhaps offers more value as an archive. Its an excercise in mental keep fit for me and something enable me in these very strange times to keep The London Storyteller telling stories about the finest city on earth.

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