I’ve been training for this my whole life.
I’ve always been happy with my own company, for an only child it’s the natural order of things. The times I spent with my nose up against a rainy window pane waiting for the endless Welsh rain to stop helped me become adept at using boredom as fuel for my imagination.
I’ve been self-employed for over twenty years. I’ve worked from home for all that time, at first in the front living room, but for the last seventeen years in a separate granny annexe to our house which I converted into two offices. Whether freelance, in partnership, or as a company director I’m used to being my own boss, and although I did sometimes go out to meetings and pop out for lunch occasionally, I don’t really miss those outings.
It helps perhaps that I have a busy home life and a full household so the office has long been my escape from the madness. There’s no reason for that to change now and if anything, I’m spending more time in there since the crisis began.
Outside of work the bi-weekly life drawing sessions I attend on a Tuesday and Thursday in Swansea have closed but I have joined a group online in Glasgow, drawn a model in Antwerp and am joining another group in London and another in Dublin. The writing class I normally drive an hour and a half to attend once a week in Crickhowell is now convening on Zoom and continues to keep me thinking.
I’m enthused by the extra activity, by meeting new people and old friends online. I’ve begun a portrait painting project to keep me going when the work dries up (as it invariably will at some point). My intention is to paint a series of nineteen portraits from online video meetings. The first sitter was a woman I knew at school and then on Facebook but had not actually spoken to for forty years.
The only other restriction on my normal days has been the closure of the swimming pool just down the road that I use every weekday morning. I miss the activity more than I thought I would, as I often complain at how boring it is. I am still getting up at 7.00 (keeping a routine is very important to me) but am now only walking to the garage to use the crosstrainer.
Things have already changed and I wonder how much will remain the same afterwards. As a lifelong rugby fan I would have expected to be bereft at the loss of a season but I’m not bothered in the least and wonder if I’ll ever watch as avidly as I did before.
What we’re facing here is a mental challenge that will change us all. While we all keep well, everything, including the weather, is fine. But there is no denying the sword of Damoclese hanging over us that may yet see any one of us face the darkest of days.
Until that happens, or until this is over, all we can do is grasp as much positivity as we can muster.
There is a scene in the movie “Apocalypse Now” where the gung-ho Colonel Kilgore is standing on a war torn beach with carnage and chaos all around. Amid the explosions and bullets he looks wistfully out to sea and says in a voice full of regret “Some day this war will be over”.
I know what he means.
My guilty secret?
I’m enjoying this.