4th April – Week Two
How are you doing? Nearly two weeks into the British version of a lockdown and maybe longer where you are, how are you getting on? Hoping but not presuming you’re well, here’s another hello from me here in Liverpool.
This is the second of these Home Life reports and, as with the first, I’m starting this one by sitting down to write without any clear idea of where I’ll go. I often write like this, for the pleasure of writing and just to get myself started. So right now it’s half past nine on Saturday morning and the second load of washing, the coloureds, is on in the kitchen. The sound of it tumbling round in the washing machine being a sure sign that it’s Saturday morning. I always do the clothes washing on Saturday mornings and right now it feels important to stick to that. Although I’m not out all the other days these days and could do the washing any time, I don’t. So Saturday can stay different, and still feel like Saturdays. Having a rhythm to the days matters. And as is right and proper on my version of Saturdays Elizabeth Alker is playing her music on BBC Radio 3 beside me, Vashti Bunyan singing at the moment. There’s a fresh pot of coffee here and I’m writing. So all is well, or what currently passes for well, in this back room of a terraced house in Wavertree.
Sarah’s not sitting opposite me as she was last week, doing her horticulture, but I think she soon will be here as she has a funeral service to write. She’s a key worker, as we’re now calling the vital numbers of people still running society for the rest of us. Dealing with the dead and the bereaved in Sarah’s case and still, for now, running funeral services. Meeting her families on Zoom or the phone these past weeks rather than going round to their houses. And still crafting individual services for their loved ones, even if only a handful of family and friends, carefully distanced at that, can now attend the funeral services. The one she’ll write this morning is for a funeral on Tuesday and so she’ll also be speaking to the family again later, to make sure she’s got everything right for them.
I’ve been Zooming and Skyping too this week, our new version of social. With my friend and sometimes co-writer Abi who’s doing a PhD too, also two of my supervisors, Nicole and Paul. And joining in with a panel discussion run by my friends at Make about how socially trading businesses are working through this and still doing what they’re for, brilliantly.
Elizabeth’s programme has finished now, some lovely Dobrinka Tabakova towards the end, a composer I’d never heard of. So I’ll take a short break and hang the washing up, all done now. Working at home’s like this isn’t it? Life interrupted, but life as we know it now.
Back here at our work table Sarah’s arrived and has downloaded this week’s Identiplant instructions for her horticulture course before starting her funeral writing. So this week’s work, and no doubt later today’s neighbourhood walk, will be about the Ranunculus/Buttercup family. I don’t think what I’d call buttercups, and maybe you, are out yet. But then, as I’m swiftly told, Lesser Celandine is all over the place at the moment and that’s a buttercup, but with spiky petals.
How are you getting on with the news, by the way? Because of writing this blog people get in touch with me and I know that constantly monitoring the news is a problem at the moment. Not just the unreliable daily briefings from Government ministers, but the death numbers, the speculations and general worrying. It’s understandable and my own solution is that I don’t take much notice of it. I’ve long thought that our 24 hour news culture creates some of its own problems by having so much space to fill. Much of it being reactions to speculations about rumoured events from unreliable sources, and no less so now. So a quick scan of the headlines in the mornings or The Guardian’s daily briefing and that’s it for me. I know there’s a pandemic on and, other than by living carefully and helping where I can, I know I won’t sort it by worrying about it. So I don’t. And I know this is my way of looking after my own mental health, but I think having our own ways of doing this are important.
I’m also making sure I keep reading. This week’s has been very good stuff about historicity and gaps in time, like this might turn out to be. But I’m also keeping on with non-PhD reading. This week’s being a two volume history of the railways that I picked up in the Smithdown Oxfam just before the lockdown, knowing I’d need them. Over-detailed, maybe, but comprehensive and a joy to get lost in. They’ll be back in Oxfam as soon as this is over and I’ll know as much about railways as I’ll probably ever want to.
Just about done then, and this week’s article from home has turned out more like a diary entry than last week’s horticulture lesson. But writing’s like that. You never know where it will lead you until you start. Oh and talking of writing there should be some coming out soon in a Zine I’ve been helping some friends to get ready. It’s called ‘Writing for the Soul’ and is a collection of reflections on getting through, well, this. And it’s published now, here.
Meanwhile, be well, get well or stay well, in your body and mind. And all being well I’ll write another one of these next week x