Day Forty-two: As six turned into seven I spent another quiet day indoors, yet I was driven by a desire to achieve, I responded so to distract myself from the emotions of the previous day. I turned to that constant, the one thing that never fails to reward hard work, and started cleaning. Hoover out and I did the hallway and the hallway steps, and the steps to the ground floor. I even swept the communal hallway, I stopped short of donkey-stoning the front step.
Inside I did the living room, including moving the furniture best I could. The dusting and polishing came next. I emptied the table of all the katundu of the past six weeks, envelopes with scribbled notes, a grubby teaspoon that hadn’t found its way to the sink, all manner of detritus that had been left there within reach of my armchair. I dusted and polished the surfaces, like I was replenishing something good within me, making it gleam.
I found a large enough basket to have all my meds in one place, the swabs, the potions and lotions to treat the lesions, the muscle relaxants, the various medi-gloves and support bandages, all in one place. Then I went mad and attacked the cobwebs with a broom handle with a damp cloth on the end. I went through the bathroom and got rid of old cosmetics, pulled hair from the plug hole and found another box to put all the bath time lotions and potions in one place.
I found some more linen long overdue a wash and made two piles. With each step forward I felt lighter, as each room became clearer it too felt lighter. I wiped the kitchen surfaces down, they weren’t particularly mucky, but why stop now? I gave the kettle and the toaster the once over, finished with washing up the few pots from yesterday and then and only then, did I sit and have my morning coffee about three hours too late.
Yes it was some kind of denial behaviour, my reward for doing all this would be a cold cup of coffee, and the promise of a new one in a space that didn’t feel like yesterday. And as I write now hours later I realise there it is, the key phrase, didn’t feel like yesterday and so I light a candle and smile.
Keep Cleaning and Carry On!
Day Forty-one: Well that didn’t last long. I suspect it is just lockdown magnifying all the feelings. Today is the fifteenth anniversary of my best friend’s death. Every year I take time out to remember her, sometimes it is just a few fleeting thoughts, an acknowledgement of her passing… a pause for a moments reflection during a full-on day.
Other times it can be a special something, like the day Anna, Jo and I went to Folly Lake Cafe and had cake and I read a few poems in her memory. They say it gets easier, I’m not sure it does, it changes, over time that feeling of loss, perhaps the feeling is not as pronounced, not as raw, but I wouldn’t describe it as easier.
If you ever saw a young woman on a unicycle wearing leopard print trousers on the avenues, then you’ve seen our Els. One of my favourite memories is the time we spent in Saltburn, when we admired the houses on the sea front, picked out one of them overlooking the blue, and made promises to each other that we’d live here when we were old. We described in detail how our ninety year old selves would go visit the pier, dressed in the brightest colours, have the arcades all to ourselves, and eat fish and chips and drink ale in the open air. It was a good daydream, but it wasn’t to be. I still have half an eye on Saltburn…
Today was also Bluebeany Art Club #5 theme of dreams. And while everyone has been talking about how vivid and detailed their dream-life has been lately, almost certainly due to the lack of stimuli in lockdown and the brain needing to compensate by giving everything a glorious technicolor wash… I fell back on a recurring nightmare I’ve had since aged five.
I imagine it is familiar to you the old monsters with snake tongues and beaks with teeth, emerging out of a flaming pit, which you inexplicably find yourself in the middle of: know the one? It’s happened so many times over the years, the same dream, I know it instinctively so it was really easy to recreate. The monsters are always the same, the beaky one and the snaky one, the little bridge always swinging beneath my feet about to give way, the flames getting higher, the heat becoming unbearable, the noise of the inferno and the roar of the monsters who live inside it deafening.
Sometimes I let it play out and I never reach the other side. I can recognise the scene well beforehand, I know it’s going to be monsters in the pit again, so sometimes I take control – lucid dreaming, where you recognise you are dreaming and can control what happens, bit like a director in a film – so I take control and jump as soon as I see the first monster move, and fall, fall, fall and then wake up: I can even speed up the fall to wake up quicker.
Years ago at school we had a dream club for about a week, where we’d get all animated at break time and recount to each other in the solemnest of tones, fantastical ideas about dream and reality. The favourite line was always if you die in a dream then you die in real life and if you didn’t solemnly agree that it was so, then you were out the club. Later the line was embellished upon and became if you fall in a dream and you ever hit the bottom, not water or something else, then that’s it you are a goner too. Not very cheery lot were we… likewise not so cheery today. Still deliberately avoiding the news. Hope the week brings something better.
Raise a glass to hope and to Els!
Day Forty: I feel like I have reached an impasse. and no it’s not because I’ve been binge watching box sets or losing myself down the youtube rabbit hole, I just feel its time to take stock.
This week I have been worrying about getting my meds and today a very nice delivery man drove all the way from Liverpool to Hull to get them to me. then poor chap even apologised for being a few minutes outside of his allotted window. He had a good heart it shone from him, so I wasted no time in giving him a round of applause from the gate. Yeah he deserved it, and I hope he enjoyed his beer when he got back to Liverpool.
Once that was stuck in me and rushing around my system to take the swelling off my joints, I had nothing in the immediate to worry about. I took a deep breath and all was well. I continued making my bolognese, halving the mince for cottage pie in the week, then made a very passable spag bog with penne.
I’ve also done a wash today, and you know how much using my new washer puts a smile on my face. I miss the woman who ran the laundrette, she was kind to me, and helped me when I struggled with the baskets. I don’t miss lugging two weeks worth of washing there and back that’s for certain.
I’ve been feeling pretty sanguine about the rejection letter from yesterday… it has just dawned on me I haven’t seen any news today, not a shred, I heard a bit on radio when I woke up around eight but since then nada, not a bean of news have I consumed. Maybe that is why I am in a good mood: with a full tummy, working boiler, all the advantages of wifi, a new exercise video for the morning to try out… maybe just at this moment in time, I am content.
Not an impasse at all, just a rare moment of zen like calm, before the next challenge comes knocking.
Day Thirty-nine: Move over blogface, Zoom is in the house of isolation! It’s true, yesterday was a momentous day in the house when we finally joined the 21st Century with a broadband connection yeah!
Just like when I did my journalism degree sans computer for three years – apart from the six weeks in my second year when I had one but then it was stolen by a house guest I was trying to do a good turn for – I’ve been being blogger extraordinaire, without the aid of unlimited data. Those days are gone my friend, for now anyway thanks to another extraordinary group of people, my mates Jo and T and T’s mum.
In all seriousness the idea is I can get in on the webinars, live streaming content, check out tutorials and just learn more whilst I’m sat here, and then emerge like a hero with all these new super powers, or maybe I’ll just jump up and down a lot and get excited at seeing peoples’ real live faces again.
That’s right I did my first Zoom yesterday, with my good friend and collaborator B, we working on a lil something, something, about this very blog it’s all hush, hush but I’ll keep you in the loop and when it’s ready we’ll do a big announcement.
In other news running alongside, my day to day, the blog, and watching the very good series by Alex Garland DEVS on BBC 2, we artist types have to continuously put in applications for commissions. Days given over to chasing pots of money, making our work fit into some cash-shaped hole. See Fox’s Law. I put one in for a small commission created as a response to the lockdown, social distancing, working in new ways, deadline was Sunday last week, I found out yesterday that I didn’t get it. It was to do with taking this blog and spinning it in another way. It was a solid enough idea that ticked all their boxes but it wasn’t selected. I’m doing the blog anyway, I started it long before the commission was dreamed up, one wasn’t reliant on the other, and okay maybe I am catching up on last night’s post on a Saturday morning, you caught me… Talking about morning who’s stolen all our sunlight?
There’s probably a hundred things I need to say to you right now but I’m a little distracted… oh yeah I have a new thermostat for my boiler, and now when I press the button to lower the temperature a magical thing happens, it actually goes down and not just heats up the room exponentially to an unprecedented level, hotter than the star Aldebaran my favourite star, it’s in Orion, a star bigger than the sun, blew my mind when I learned that as a child.
Phew! Think I managed that just…
Day Thirty-eight: Another day in the house of isolation. The topic up for discussion today is resilience, those reserves we all rely on to overcome obstacles in times of increased stress and hardship. I’ve noticed my own reserves are being tested and I am not facing two percent of what some of the frontline are facing every day, or the thousands of people caring for vulnerable relatives in their own homes, or those delivering services and risking their lives. I get all that, those people are all facing far more stress than most of us who are living in lockdown.
The way we perceive adversity is subjective, one persons pain is another’s prize, power… something like that and with that, each stress is equally important and as damaging or disruptive. With all the background noise of restrictions, guidelines and fear, for ourselves and our loved ones, those reserves are being depleted. They are simply not there when we need them, hence what previously would be a minor issue, takes on greater significance: it is hard to view the problem without the fog of Coronavirus.
We are all in a state of shock, we are reeling from the speed in which the world changed, and our lives and everything in it suddenly became less certain.
I think the longer the lockdown continues we will become accustomed to the background noise, and build new reserves. Perhaps as we become conditioned to lockdown life, we will be able to cut through the fog and respond to challenges with a much more singular approach.
For some I fear that rebuilding reserves will be a much harder prospect, and they will need extra support, with lots of things that others might consider minor hitches. Remember, the fog of Coronavirus messes up the lens, so you can not see things as clearly as you might ordinarily.
So forgive yourself that sudden breakdown in the supermarket; that feeling of helplessness in the face of great adversity; that long day when your bed felt like your only friend; the anguish for all those plans put on indefinite hold, the future is now shrouded in a blanket of fog; that flood of tears at not being able to hold a loved one close.
Day Thirty-seven: A Year? Fifty-two weeks? Three hundred and sixty five days? That’s like eight thousand seven hundred and eighty-four hours. And for me and you that means three hundred and twenty-nine more Self Iso blogs. When I committed to this daily blog I accepted the twelve week window, which is eighty-four blog posts, a significant number and significant commitment. I’m not saying my resolve is faltering, it’s just I need about twelve weeks and a couple of vodkas, to adjust to the idea.
If it is the case that those of us classed as vulnerable, and as someone at risk of severe illness [‘scuse me I just sneezed, where’s my elbow?] if you catch Coronavirus, are going to be in lockdown until a vaccine is discovered and distributed – or effective treatment is found then I will have to rethink my self-isolation safety net. At present I am very fortunate and grateful for the food deliveries dropped at my gate from the most supportive group of friends anyone could have. I cannot expect that to continue for a year. I may need to avail myself of govt. sanctioned food support, in whatever form that takes. There are also issues of getting my electric, that is topped up by key, its not done online, whether that might change if the lockdown does go on for months and months who knows.
Six weeks in I’m not entirely sure what the new information means. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. As for the blog, well what else would I do of an evening?
This has been a day of very mixed fortunes, a day where I saw a couple of lovely friends with gifts of food, and flowers and most welcome socially-distanced chat was marred by the ongoing debacle over the delivery of my medication. Honestly there were times this week where I wished I’d had two phones, with Rheumatology on one line and Healtchcare at Home on the other, and put the two together to make them play nicely. That way they could have argued between themselves, and not used me as piggy in the middle. The upshot after at least a dozen calls, messages and emails, is that they have promised me a delivery Saturday which would still be four days after I was supposed to have it in my body.
Then just as the evening grew cooler, and the sun which I had been enjoying went behind the chimney pots opposite, my boiler decided to have a hissy fit and not work. It’s not a great boiler, it breaks down about three times a year, and each time the fitter adds a new pipe, or a new cylinder appears on the wall, making it look more like a Heath Robinson drawing. I leant on the button a dozen times and tricked it into firing but I worry about the next time, it clearly isn’t firing on all cylinder… I enjoyed that.
As for the two louts who stopped by my gate, while I was sat outside, to cough deliberately in my direction saying, ‘You don’t know who’s got it do yer?’ and then walking off laughing… I have many words I could say to you, but some of us, some of us were brung up proper.
Stay Safe Wear a Mask! Do what ever you feel is necessary!
Day Thirty-six: Watched a movie on my laptop ‘The True History of the Kelly Gang’ by Dir. Justin Kurzel, starring George McKay and Nicholas Hoult, with a cameo by Russell Crowe. The ‘true’ in the title caught my attention.
Many filmmakers have made work based on real life accounts, and they’ve been nothing but fantasy and make believe, not that that is always a bad thing. Which side of the truth this film falls on I couldn’t say. As a tale of the life of outlaw Ned Kelly it sure is hellishly twisted.
As a film it falls between biopic western, gothic adventure with a dose of alternative brit pack movie, all shot on location, in the gloriously barren wilderness of Western Australia. There’s an exotic charge to the relationships between the characters, with undefined sexuality, homoeroticism and enough meat on the bone for a psychoanalyst’s banquet.
George McKay plays Ned and to begin with I wasn’t sure about him, just like he isn’t sure about himself, who he is, what he is, his past and his destiny. He is torn between guilt and shame surrounding his father, and an unrelenting love for a mother played by Essie Davis, who has a very warped sense of family herself.
At its heart this film is about how stories are told; how history is remembered. The ‘true’ in the title is about owning the right to control your story; how it is told; to and by whom, and to what end. The narration adds a layer of authenticity as we see the young Ned grow into what he will become.
The film almost has a mind of its own, breaking away suddenly from the barren landscapes and richly gothic cinematography, to a rock n roll punk edge more often found in scuzzy indie music videos, The soundtrack shifts violently from cinematic to dirty rock n roll in a similar fashion. There were instances of anachronistic unease, where I simply couldn’t tell what century we were in, let alone which decade.
That minor charge aside, the fact that we are still fascinated by the folk hero’s legend over a hundred years later, is testament to the enduring legacy of Ned Kelly.
Additional: just learned the film is adapted from the Peter Carey novel of the same name, so that probably puts paid to the idea of it being based in anything other than fiction surely?
It’s a bloody good ride start to finish: highly recommended.