25th April – Week Five

How are you doing then? Week five of the lockdown and, hoping you’re well, are you getting used to it all? To a life of ‘The queue wasn’t too bad, or How long do you get on Zoom?’ And much more serious questions for us all beside. I found the fifth week of the virus being both the news and the constant context of all of our lives hard going. But we’ll come back to that later.

Right now it’s very early morning, the quiet hour or two I spend each Saturday writing another one of these reports from home. Each week my writing is accompanied by music from BBC Radio 3, and this week the music from presenter Elizabeth Alker is playing live rather than on catch-up. Meaning I can’t skip anything I think I won’t like, which is kind of peaceful in itself. Freed from the tyranny of fast forwarding and so listening now to some Handel, despite my personal default being that I ‘can’t take to him.’

But to answer my own how I’m doing question, this week’s been the first time in all five of them when I’d say ‘not that well actually.’ It’s not physical, not the virus thank goodness. Even my usual mild asthma’s having a good time with the clear blue skies and the car quiet roads. But mentally I dropped into a pit early in the week that it’s been a struggle to get out of. So even a permitted walk got missed on, I think, Tuesday, and the PhD writing which had been going well, stuttered again. For the depression then, I did what I do, which is carry on regardless. Which got me the nowhere it always gets me. And I could easily fashion you an ‘I’m all right now’ story knowing I’m going to publish this, crediting music, friends and small pleasures with my mental recovery and the getting on with work. But life isn’t that glib or easy right now, despite help, so I’m going to keep writing from a place where I don’t have many jokes and I’m getting more than a bit sick of making the best of things five weeks in. Which might not be what you’ve come here for, but life’s not always a sitcom is it? So maybe stick with me for a bit.

Free associating, easily the best distraction and enrichment of the week has been the late evening times when Sarah and I have now watched most of our way through “Sunderland ‘Til I Die.” It’s a Netflix football story that’s even succeeded in fascinating Sarah who doesn’t normally care about football at all. Because it’s a beautifully made, edited and paced story of much more. Of how entwined a whole place is with the fortunes of its club and team through hard times for them all. Of injuries, sackings, defeats, pride and brittle hopes repeatedly dashed, with looming relegations prayed about to a weeping congregation by their emotional parish priest. And where most of the programme’s real stars aren’t on the pitches and the training grounds at all, but in their pubs, living rooms and taxis. Living and breathing with their place and their team as if their shouting, dreams and encouragement could make everything all right again for all of them. Knowing it probably won’t but joyous in those moments when the unexpected equaliser goes in or the new and tenth team manager in four years ‘actually sounds like he knows what he’s doing.’

So it’s hugely recommended. And if it doesn’t make you want to catch the first train to Sunderland you can, after all this is over, to see how they’re all doing then there might be something wrong with your heart. It’s that good.

Meanwhile, here at the ‘writing this live’ side of the table I’ve been interrupted by an also up early Sarah who’s sent me her own contribution for this week’s article. Here it is then, straight in. Two photographs and a short summary.

“Sewing long awaited projects… and cow parsley arrives (always the first umbellifer)…”

As well, and to her essential-worker credit, Sarah’s helped four bereaved families through their loved one’s funerals this week, along with also beginning to plan their services with several more.

The ‘sewing long awaited projects’ Sarah’s mentioned just then is being carried out in an otherwise empty room upstairs. Which brings me onto some news about us and here. That room, like much of our house, is emptier than it used to be because we’ve been getting ready to move to somewhere else since late last November, selling or giving away everything that wasn’t coming with us to the future. Well we’ve decided we’re not moving now. Because the world has changed for as far into the future as either of us can see, and so the moment where moving felt like the right thing to do has simply passed. Solicitors and estate agents were told over a week ago and so now we’re getting on with here. Long awaited projects for Sarah, and me getting used to the change. Which, even though it’s a good change in the changed circumstances, must have been part of the down week this has been for me. I’m a creature of many habits, slow to accommodate even changes that I’ve thought about, decided on and are more than likely good for me. Life’s complicated like that sometimes, isn’t it?

Pencil cases, pink roses and very small speaker.

And now Elizabeth’s programme has finished with some gorgeous singing by Kiri Te Kanawa, someone else I can’t officially take to. Well this morning she sounded life affirmingly wonderful, so I’ll be off soon for a life affirming, still distancing, morning walk to who knows where, though not too far mind and still staying safe in all this. Meaning I might well add some walking photographs to here later on. But for now I’ll finish Week Five’s lockdown reflections with a photograph of the table where we both are, on this sunny morning late in April.

Where Sarah’s horticulture course continues.

Later on

So I did go on that walk. Took a couple of hours over it too. Photographing queues and quietness mostly, but also got into the lesser mowed and more interesting edge of Sefton Park. New desire lines and looking for buttercups for Sarah, all of which helped. Plus this week the springtime has surged, like it does. So green so suddenly that some of these photographs look like they’ve been filtered, though they haven’t.

Here’s the walk.

Just breathe
And the springtime arrived anyway
On the way home now
Hope you’re all well x

Read all the other ‘Home Life During a Pandemic’ posts here.

Published by Ronnie Hughes

Writing about life, Liverpool and anything else that interests me. As well as working with others to make the world a fairer and kinder place: http://asenseofplace.com.

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1 Comment

  1. It is in the nature of old-fashioned steam radio that you get exposed to stuff you might not otherwise listen to. I listened to a lot of Radio 3 in my student years and a bit beyond, and I started out with my musical tastes stuck firmly in the century from 1850 – 1950. Like you, I “could not get on with” the likes of Handel and Mozart. But continual exposure and education changed my mind over time. It’s a slow process – I still, even after forty years, can’t get my head around the Second Viennese School – Berg, Schönberg and Webern – in all their atonal pomp, even though I intellectually grasp what they are trying to do. Their aesthetic evades me. But who knows what might happen?

    Like Sarah, I do not follow football. But I spent those student years in Newcastle upon Tyne and still have friends in Sunderland, so I know something of which you speak. Years later, a former colleague who came from Newcastle spotted that I’d picked up the local pronunciation of that city – “Newcassel” as opposed to “Newcastle” – and as his particular interest was minor and non-league football (his office mug was emblazoned with the coat of arms of Cowdenbeath FC), he pointed me to a book that has stayed with me since: ‘The Far Corner’ by Harry Pearson. It has the same sense of place that I detect in your writing.

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