When all these benches were constructed, deep in the Christmas dark, I wondered who might come and sit on them, here at the University outside the Eleanor Rathbone Building? Especially with Abercromby Square and its Cathedral view so close by. Well I’m the answer and virus-closed Abercromby Square is the reason. The view here’s not much to write a blog about, but the main thing is it’s a different view from my limited options over these past five weeks.
I won’t stop here long, but then again I might as this is work I’m doing. And I’ve found I simply can’t do the work I’ve taken on without getting out of the house and walking around. I’ve done my best with stoically writing such short pieces as I can on the back step or in the back room at home, and that’s been better than nothing, but not much better. So today I’ve decided that my permitted walk can be exactly what it would have been anyway on a bright spring day late in April. Along Smithdown then through the park at Crown Street to the University. Not at all far away from where I live.
And it’s weird here, but only as weird as expected. Except I expected to be able to work in Abercromby Square. But that’s safely locked away so I’m sitting here. Connected to the University’s wi-fi though, so something’s still working. So I’ll get on with some work as well now and perhaps write more later from elsewhere on this silent campus.
An hour or so later I’ve moved round the corner to a needed bit of shade. Not much shade because these are newish trees along Chatham Street by the library, but enough for now with the sun at its mid-day height.
Work so far today has mostly been reading the Krishnan Kumar book I brought with with me, along with some coffee and a croissant. It’s about utopianism like so much of my reading, but with a particular take on the utopias of the past 500 years as a literary form, as novels even. Though Kumar also writes about about utopianism having as much ‘deliberate and direct political intent’ as more obvious forms of social theory. Which has got me thinking. About how novels, fictions anyway, are how I most like to write. And therefore how I could be thinking about writing more fiction within the PhD I’ve come here to work on.
All of which will need more walking and thinking about on more days like this one. But at least I’ve got back into my walking rhythm and method now. I walk therefore I write, as Descartes forgot to mention.
Time and place have changed again and now I’m in the shade of a much bigger and older tree. Away from the University, across Canning Street and into Falkner Square. Getting on with reading more about utopianism, social theory and philosophy, and happy to have walked myself into a better thinking space than the depression I dropped into last week. When the fifth week of a lockdown spent mostly at home, had reduced me to the impatience bordering on desolation I wrote about last weekend.
So I’m glad to be out. Walking and thinking, sitting and writing, then walking and thinking some more. Distanced, careful, alone and disinfected even, but out. Walking and writing these field notes in a field. This field.
Grateful thanks to everyone who got in touch after Saturday’s edition of “Home Life During a Pandemic” and sent me good wishes and love, offers of help and conversations, pictures of a walk, and even a song. All much appreciated and a real help through a difficult time. Thank you xx