With coronavirus restrictions curtailing much of our normal lives in the last few months, we’ve all had to adapt to new ways of living.
It hasn’t been easy, though I’m aware that I’ve had it much better than some. While long walks in the country haven’t been possible, sitting in my garden has been a balm. I might not be able to drink coffee at my writing haunt, but there are endless cans of Pepsi Max and so-so coffees out of the machine in the kitchen. It isn’t perfect by any stretch, but I know how lucky I am.
Something else I’ve discovered during this time is that I needed to rediscover things I enjoy to keep myself going. It’s partly a case of finding fulfilment in the smaller things in life, although it’s also about reconnecting with things I’d almost forgotten are part of the real me.
Take musicals as an example. I love them - every type from the homey MGM movies of the 1940s right through to Stephen Sondheim’s edgiest works and modern classics like Sister Act and Wicked. For me, it’s the exuberance and the emotion, sometimes in combination and sometimes separate from each other. There’s a line in Summer Stock (1950) spoken by Gene Kelly where he responds to Judy Garland’s question about why the guy doesn’t just tell the girl he loves her instead of singing it and he replies something to the effect of, “I don’t know, but it’s kinda nice.”
I used to have all my music on my desktop computer but, after that went into unexpected retirement, I couldn’t be faffed transferring all my music to my new laptop or into the cloud. So, I took out a Spotify subscription and started listening to more music on there. It wasn’t until lockdown that I realised how few musical songs I’d added to my playlists and that was one of the first things I “fixed” in lockdown. I now have nearly 22 hours of musical numbers (or covers) to listen to and my wife’s getting decidedly sick of me singing at top volume to keep my spirits up.
As a kid, I used to clamber around the garden until I invariably fell over and cut my knees. I used to spend long summer evenings sitting on a small wall with a book while my mum mowed the lawn with her beloved manual lawnmower. The garden’s different and the books are more political and/or gruesome, yet it feels as though I’m rediscovering the joyful things that got me through childhood to get me through lockdown.
For now, that’s enough.