Don’t Let Your Brain Die In Lockdown
On one level at least, lockdown has not been as awful as I’d imagined. Suddenly there’s time to focus and consider what’s important, and as Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis pointed out, it had nothing to do with courage or fortitude but decency and respect. The importance of things has reshuffled itself into a new order. Out go fads and fripperies, the luxury of choice, the complaining that things aren’t perfect, in come fundamentals like food and safety and health. Apparently the ‘luxury lifestyle designer goods market’ has literally dropped dead. Zero-hours contract factory workers are producing the world’s smallest violin to accompany their demise. Does this mean that the FT’s fatuous, gruesome ‘How To Spend It’ magazine is dead? Quelle dommage.
Among those lockdown activities we’ve undertaken (and I bet you have to) are:
Making sure everyone else is all right, ie. not just pinging them an e-card on their birthday (when you care enough to hit SEND). Upsetting neighbours who are outraged at the idea of anyone checking on them to see if they need help.Looking for ways to help the NHS (I’ve been in hospitals a lot this week and am amazed by the efficiency with which new systems have been created by staff overnight). Reconnecting with fellow Lockdownees. Noticing the state of the paintwork and fixing the things that don’t work. Throwing stuff out, or rather, failing to throw stuff out. Wondering why you own so many cable-tidies. I keep finding eggcups everywhere. I was horrified to discover I own no house pants but seven pairs of headphones.
Rediscovering simple pleasures. I’ve been watching our terrace trees burst into leaf this week. The building is now surrounded by bats, bees, bugs and birds. The centre of London is awash with birdsong and church chimes. Watching the night stars appear in an indigo sky (a novelty in a city that doesn’t even get dark anymore) has been nothing short of miraculous.
We’ve barely watched television and have certainly not been bored for a moment. We’re having virtual dinner parties, and talking on the phone a lot. I’ve stopped even bothering to go for our one-hour exercise. Strolling through a dead shopping precinct is not my idea of wild hedonism.
Nothing is normal anymore. London is currently hotter than Spain, with a ten day run of clear blue skies. At night I’m stowed away on the terrace under a furry throw with a stack of books. At the moment I’m tackling the ones above. These are not all lengthy reads, but condensed in their narratives so that it’s worth reading each one carefully and pausing to consider what I’ve digested. Tomorrow I’ll review them.