Beyond The Lockdown
The news this morning that people are frantically booking their post-lockdown flights felt predictable. Imagining perhaps some sunlit moment when the shackles of the world are released and we all dance away into the Elysian Fields, it seems increasingly unlikely that such a scenario will unfold. The idea of attending a fiesta in Seville, say, now seems as remote as a mission to Mars.
Thanks to the disastrously tentative, short-sighted behaviour of a government not fit for service, Britain had the highest number of Covid deaths in the world last week. The vaccination program, like various initiatives before it, is random and chaotic. As someone who has to take a Covid test two days before being admitted for chemo every week, you’d think it would be a good idea to vaccinate me before I completely lose my immune system to this pernicious disease, but no such initiative has been prepared.
Speaking to friends in other countries I’m struck by the clarity and simplicity of other lockdowns, combining strict instructions with curfews. In countries where the weather is warm it’s easier to serve food safely outdoors and continue with a semblance of normal life, but in the detested British months of January and February life here is particularly gruelling, and is now taking a grim mental toll. A rising tide of graffiti has begun to engulf the neighbourhood. Homeless people are sleeping in the closed shop doorways. Everyone is wary and exhausted.
Things are happier on the work front. Although admittedly a fan, my editor has now passed judgement on ‘Bryant & May 20: London Bridge Is Falling Down’. Sadly it will probably have to be the final Bryant & May novel, the 20th book in the series, a pleasingly round figure on which to end. In an ideal world I would go on but sometimes it’s good to leave on a high. Depending on what happens after this latest bout with the Enemy That Cannot Be Defeated, I may be able to pull one more surprise out of the hat.
And there are a number of non-Bryant & May books now finished, because I work two years ahead, so books will hopefully keep appearing. I hadn’t expected to be dealing with this in my mid-sixties but of course there’s never an ideal time. Too many writers seem to leave early. I think of old pals like Iain Banks, Graham Joyce and Storm Constantine and realise they’ve all gone.
Meanwhile I’m fit enough to work and will finally tackle ‘The Foot on the Crown’, draft number four. Only one version was read, admittedly by an editor for whom I have no respect, and she hated it without being able to supply any cogent criticism. I’ll follow my own instincts – always dodgy – and see how it turns out.