HAD I written this column last night at l’Heure bleue you might have turned away in despair and utterly given up at life. For this hour – the moment of twilight as the night rolls in – has ever been my Achille’s Heel and finds me always at my lowest.

For me it’s a time of palpable melancholia, strangely often worse in spring and summer – an awareness of how fleeting all is; how fragile and precious our lives are.

Perhaps the sunshine months create a beauty we often are unaware of, or that it gives us the time to sit and stare at all unfolding; birds serenading us, the land humming and chirping with insect life.

And then in this hour darkness finds us and covers all in a sometimes-suffocating absence of life and light and we pull our shutters tight against its presence.

But, of course, life is there in the sometimes-impenetrable night. For, while we drift into uneasy sleep other creatures hurry about in their safety – the badger, the boar, the bats swooping fast on the mosquitoes.

And, on full moon nights, César howling and barking in his own heure bleue.

It’s now Day 3 of Government-decreed lock down. Papers have to be carried and signed ‘on word of honour’ and for very specific reasons. Emilie, my femme de ménage, can no longer come as she is not registered and I cannot vouch for her.

Miriam, a law-abiding soul, will not break the sanction either unless in case of real emergency. One hundred thousand police have been mobilised to patrol towns and villages and to set up verification stations.

But far from resenting these strictures I am reassured and have faith in our president that he will do all that is needed and fast. I would not have faith ever in Boris Johnson and am disgusted at the blind stupidity of the British Government's initial non-quarantining non-action. I feel as safe as I can here without being hazmat-gowned day and night. But we shall see.

All my self-protecting thoughts, though, have left me by twilight and a day’s non-stop reading of the world’s woes. Fear swirls in and around me and I feel an aloneness, a loneliness I have never felt before.

My central heating boiler has picked this moment to pack up, switching itself off after a mere 20 minutes of firing. Boilers are sentient, evil beasts who relish the chance to pile misery on misery.

I caress its hard exterior, croon encouragement to its cruel face before kicking it in its…..

So, there is no cocoon of warmth in this stone house, merely a slim electric heater, sentient too, for it has started to switch itself off in solidarity with the big boy in the utility room.

Ah, woe is me in this hour for surely no-one else is suffering such travails as I am. All self-pitying nonsense, of course, for we are all in this together and I am so fortunate to be properly isolated and in France.

I cannot be the only one whose thoughts take wing and end in icy terror as my body is cast into a plague pit and César is left unwanted and defenceless.

But that’s l’heure bleue for you, or rather for me.

This morning I opened the shutters and the windows to a glorious day – how much sweeter the commonplace seems now, how purer the colours – the swathes of green and winter wheat; the feather flash of the tiny birds who have returned to an industrious spring of fussy nest building.

I limit my apocalyptic online reading, silence the 24-hour news feed in the background and after this prepare to walk to the road and back – a short journey the length of the drive but a long one for the mind.

Now, this will come as a great shock perhaps to my loyal readers, but no vin rouge, nor any alcohol, has passed my lips for almost three months. My reputation is destroyed.

Initially, I thought it would be a very short break necessitated by pain medication but come the day the pills were finished, I didn’t bother with one, or any day since.

I have lost 6kg, my bones are rejutting from cheek and hip and I feel, despite all in the background, good.

You see, I know I can choose to drink if I wish and I’m almost getting a kick out of not doing so. Mind you, it’s been touch and go at times in this pandemic but something tells me I have to do the best I can for this buggered body to up my survival chances. Better late than never and I have always been contrary.

Now, outside there is the comforting throb of the tractor mower. Alistair, friend and gardener, fully registered, is permitted to do his work.

With so much rain this winter the land is bogged and it is more akin to cutting hay than fine tuning the lines I like in imitation of an English lawn.

At least in another couple of days if this sun persists it will be back to a semblance of order….and so will I.

Upwards and onwards, ever upwards and onwards.