In the UK we appear to be coming to the end of another lock-down. What seemed incredible 18 months ago is now everyday. I am pretty convinced that if your wrote COVID-19 as fiction in 2018, everybody would dismiss it as too outlandish and too daft to be true.
Some people have hated lock-down, others have taken a perverse pleasure in the isolation. I’m somewhere between the two. I haven’t used it to learn a new language or teach myself how to play trombone, nor have I gained tons of weight or taken to drinking a couple of bottles of vodka before lunch. For me it’s been altogether more mundane. I seem to live from meal to meal, and my cooking has got better, not that it could have got worse. I baked stuff, something I haven’t done since I was a teenager, and my banana loaf is now more popular than my novels. I wonder if I am in the wrong job, maybe I should retrain as a master baker? The instantaneous feedback you get with cooking is much more gratifying than writing, albeit people don’t spit my books out and leave them on the side of their plates. Or do they?
Launching a novel in lock-down has been strange. Everything is virtual. It feels like I am in space and planet earth is long way away. The main way of communicating with earthlings is via twitter, and you compete with people moaning about everything there (self-included!). Media interest seems focused on trying to persuade us that our Prime Minister is worthy of beatification, rather than the useless. bumbling buffoon that many of us take him for. Or the battles in the Royal Family and the health of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. I know, like me, you will all have danced a jig when he was released from hospital, I almost opened a fresh carton of cranberry juice in celebration. Thankfully, restraint is still a trait us Brits are great at.
Quite a few people, at the start of the pandemic, suggested that audiences wanted plays and books about the experience. I’m not convinced. Being reminded of the state we’re in and the things we’re confronting is a bit bleugh! I reckon there will be a trend towards escapism and fantasy. This has been a painful process and I doubt that people want to be reminded of that pain. Nothing I am currently working on is about COVID, although there is a screenplay I want to play with that sort of uses the pandemic as the impetus for the story.
Whatever your experience I hope you emerge from this strange period healthy, not too scarred and positive about your future. Whilst I hoped that COVID would result in a more compassionate society, I can’t help thinking that in the end not very much will have changed. Disappointing, but us humans are always predictably under-whelming.
Until next time,