Monday, May 11, 2020

Sunny Afternoons

Having your life so suddenly constricted has been a curious and, in an abstract sort of way, interesting experience. Before I say anything else, I need to declare my privilege - I have a comfortable home, a nice garden, endlessly helpful neighbors, a supportive family and a husband whom, even after almost fifty years I actually like.

So when I say that some of the results of lockdown are beneficial, I'm all too aware that this doesn't apply to everyone.  And certainly, for the first two or three weeks I was to some degree in shock, finding it hard to concentrate or settle to anything.  There was a frantic scrabble to arrange the practicalities of life and all I could think about was whether we would have milk, or butter or eggs. Toilet rolls, not so much.

It struck me this was similar to the pattern in some of my books where the character has been hit unexpectedly by tragic life events - a murder, say.  There is the initial shock of bereavement, then the hectic pace of  practical arrangements and investigations before the emptiness and the slow adjustment to life as it has to be in future.  I will have more insight into that in the future.

But as a wise friend of mine once said, 'You cannot sustain crisis.'  However hard something is at first, sooner or later the rhythm of life reasserts itself. I'm back to working my normal hours again and slowly the book is taking shape.  The hours I would have spent on traveling, entertaining, shopping and socialising are empty now.

The weather here, for a Scottish summer, has been amazing - weeks and weeks that have been dry and sunny.  As I sat in the garden watching leaves unfurl and new flowers appear every day for, I think, pretty much the first time in a busy life, I felt time slow to a crawl.

I've never been much of a one for personal introspection.  I've never forgotten what my mother said when I was an angst-ridden teenager, 'If you spend your time looking inwards, you'll find it's like peeling an onion - when you take off the last layer there's nothing left.'  I've found it good advice, but
there has been something very soothing about having the time to let thoughts unfold like the leaves.

It has helped to keep me cheerful - mainly.  Though today is a bit hard: as I write this, I should have been in London rehearsing for a scratch performance of the Mozart Requiem in the Royal Albert Hall. ( small sob.)

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