So many thoughts — and just as many false starts.
How do I even begin this morning’s post from way behind the pandemic front lines?
My wife is gone to work, and our two teens are still sleeping, their life-connecting devices charging nearby — they’ve been well-conditioned to this lockdown business by those countless blue-lit hours already spent in their bedrooms.
Keep the home wifi fires burning … please!!
These devices aren’t just for fun and FaceTiming either … I’ve just spent five minutes cursing and fighting with the increasingly irascible charger that I must position exactly right, or it won’t fire up the phone that keeps me connected to people, and to work, via the WhatsApp group that is our production desk banter and communications hub these days.
I’m up here in my little home office cocoon, grimacing at the last tepid sips from the coffee by my keyboard, gobbling a clump of illicit Easter Egg chocolate — Cadburys Creme Egg, yummmm! — and wondering what to actually write now that I’m here …
Maybe something to swell the positive social media vibes out there, add my tiny lighter flame of hope and aspiration to the countless others flickering and swaying at this weird cosmic gig that would put even Live Aid in the shade … even if I have no balcony to sing from, or handy neighbouring rooftop orchestra to toot out a little Verdi.
Even a lone piano would be grand …
Or perhaps I should be offering something practical, like The 5 Greatest Recipes for Wild Garlic and Rare Mongolian Wildebeest Droppings Pesto …
To die for …
Or take a break and get the vitriol out by attacking the government and Trump on Twitter for a bit.
Or just vent about our neighbours for letting that goddamn dog bark way too much in their back garden …
Truth is, I don’t know where to start, or even how I feel.
See, it keeps changing.
Mostly I am on level ground. Planning dinners, ironing, hoovering, walking the dogs … talking to the dogs … whatever.
Buoyed by unexplainable faith, and a playful play-bite or cuddle from the irrepressible Lily.
And then a moment of unaccountable enthusiasm and content is wrecked by a sudden crashing wave of despair and aimless agonising …
I fret … and then soar once more as gladdening snippets drop by from my retrospectively gilded youth, or I think of my wife and children, so amazing and fabulous until we actually speak and I’m snapping the head off one of them over the cereal-encrusted bowl they couldn’t even bring over to the dishwasher!
Harrowing thoughts of the awful absurdity of this killer virus … and the next minute, the joyful absurdity of Bella and Lily the other day, doing synchronised poos at the end of the leads I was gripping in both hands.
Two vapour trails dispersing in the bluest of skies above me while I waited for their ladyships to finish … at least someone was travelling somewhere.
Or I am lost in maudlin sentiment and melancholic euphoria as I moisten to Peter Gabriel’s Mercy Street, or am just plain lifted by the paean of joyously wistful and unintelligible Icelandic gorgeousness that is Sigur Ros’s Godan Daginn…
So good to be still alive and aware of the sun firing up now, mercifully bright and cheerful these past days … my window gazing out over a reassuring rectangle of regenerating greenery … birds are twittering and chattering, with the odd caw echoing in, and our little bamboo plantation is balletically swaying in the languid breeze …
Those delightful red-tinged yellow tulips are out, and yonder, there’s that bed of lilac daisies where we once photographed the kids’ first pet, Sniffles, the personality-less but awfully cute grey rabbit … summer days to come, candles to be lit out there again on blissful evenings … I better paint that little wooden table and those chairs, though …
Life and nature go on, and what dreams and delights may … will … come.
Or maybe I should be virtue-signalling, telling you all about the apple and chutney pots we filled yesterday, or the stash of beer cans collected by the park wall this morning — one hell of a self-isolating party, that!
But, no, I feel such a tumbling rush of conflicting emotions.
The very first thing I read on Twitter today was about the great John Prine, already ravaged and bloated by two serious bouts of cancer, and now critical after contact with the dreaded coronavirus.
So young when I first fell in awe with that singular talent, and all those albums, and songs to come… right from the youthful and precocious emotional ferocity of Sam Stone, and Angel From Montgomery, to the incomparable Speed Of The Sound of Loneliness, and on up the years, everything from Sabu to the amiable frivolity of Jesus the Missing Years.
That wonderful drawl of a speaking voice, at once humble and reserved, and slyly gregarious.
And the welling in my wife’s eyes yesterday when she considered her elderly parents and their frailty in the face of this virus.
See, here’s a thing, this notion I keep hearing expressed, how at least the kids are alright — they’re only vectors and carriers — it’s the older ones who are more likely to die.
Making it almost okay.
Survival of the bloody fittest …
Until you think who these elderly folk might actually be … like John Prine, and a certain pair down in a small town in County Kerry.
So, no, it’s not reassuring, or okay. It doesn’t make it better, this idea that it’s what nature does all the time, the frog eats the bugs, the spider keeps the fly numbers down … and everything balances out.
Yes, and the occasional war keeps the human numbers in check too …
It doesn’t feel so good when it’s someone you know, and this shrug of ‘sure the population of Italy is really old, on average’ … well, that’s a lot of twinkling nonnos and cranky nonnas, and doting French papys and Spanish abuelitas, for that matter.
Apposite images from Mercy Street are in my head now …
Looking down on empty streets, all she can see
Are the dreams all made solid
Are the dreams all made real
All of the buildings, all of those cars
Were once just a dream
In somebody’s head
And like a dream once again in mine …
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