We don’t heal in isolation, but in community.
*On no account should you follow this advice. Its whimsical and whimsy can now kill.
Be careful what you wish for. Here we all are. All working from home due to Coronavirus, which my spellcheck already recognizes.
We are housebound like we’d prayed for every Monday morning since we started working; all those prayers for an extra day in bed have been answered. But, how will we survive? It’s all very well wanting time at home because you’re too hungover to get the post from the doormat, but sober? What are we going to do with all this time?
For most writers this is sort of self-isolation comes naturally, although having government-sanctioned marksmen on rooftops with L115A3 rifles trained on front doors to prevent you from leaving probably puts a different slant on staying at home to nail that 13th chapter. If it works writers will be privately securing the services of snipers to keep them indoors for years to come, although sadly, in light of publishing houses having no funds even for in-house editors, this expense is likely to hit the pocket of the writers themselves. But in this crisis writers FINALLY come into their own; the experienced veterans of solitariness. They are skilled.
Here is not the place to discuss whether government advice to stay at home is enforced or not, but rather to consider what to do if you are self-isolating. We are facing weeks, if not months, of living like Charlie’s grandparents in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In fact, there are so few people on the street that it’s now the safest place to be.
So, here is a brief list of useful advice on what to do during LockDown, which already sounds like a Dolph Lundgren movie.
It’s like a TV amnesty, where no one can ruin the latest boxset at the water cooler by giving away the ending. You can also make up your own mind as to what’s good, as opposed to what you’re supposed to be liking. It has been calculated by no one that there are enough TV shows available to keep mankind watching well into the next century, but only two months of it is any good.
Clearly the first thing that comes to mind is to actually watch the Irishman on Netflix; if you can deal with Robert De Niro looking odd, and Joe Pesci underfed. Perhaps after 4 weeks of home lockdown they’ll look normal. This will, in fact, keep you amused for at least half of the suggested 14 days, but what to do next?
Write a TV show:
Having watched everything decent on Netflix, and even C5 catch up, you’re in the perfect position to write a new TV series. It’s like you’ve been studying the art form. I’m saying this because I’ve just written the pilot episode of The Life Assistance Agency, but once the embargo is lifted no one is going to want to watch TV ever again, at least until there is something new on. So write it.
Learn how to distinguish between a full and half Windsor knot, and to tie the former.
This is to ensure you’re properly attired upon our release from house arrest. We risk all turning into Julian Assange and look how quickly the Venezuelan embassy, and even the Guardian, tired of him. If he hadn’t stopped brushing his hair this might have been avoided.
Think about the weather:
Who we should be feeling sorry for during all this is the weather. Remember that? It used to be at the center of our lives. We would talk about it incessantly. We would even walk in it, bathe in it and run in it. it was our furry companion, our sepia-drenched memories and our childhood familiar; it was our ‘go to’ for dependable chat. It’s now tapping at the window saying “remember me?” It has spent the last two weeks watching the viewing figures of the Weather Forecast plummet through the fingers of its hands. There’s a new obsession in town.
Don’t get the acoustic guitar out.
Some poor lass in Bergamo Italy has a partner who is a folk singer. He is serenading her with an acoustic guitar. She is nodding gamely along, but it’s only day one. I can only assume that he will wake up with it wrapped around his head before the week’s out if he carries on. To be fair he probably did announce he was a folk singer on their first date, if not in the opening line of their first date, so she’s kind of culpable.
Play with yourself:
Lockdown is going to play havoc with – for Facebook censoring reasons – ‘self-loving’ patterns. Not having the house to yourself can curtail all sorts of behavior. Biscuits accompanying tea will be halved, whilst the afternoon nap will be abolished in the name of purposefulness, whatever the hell that is. God, no one is going to want to work from home ever again. Or we’ll have become so Stockholm syndrome that we can never leave the house again.
Order a new phone:
What better opportunity to feel overwhelmed by the inability to transfer data from your old phone. I’ve delayed getting a new phone for so long that its battery lasts barely long enough for me to reach the station in the morning, but it’s been worth plugging it in every four yards to avoid accidentally deleting countless early pictures of the children on countless playground slides that I never look at when transferring to a new phone.
I want a dog:
Once we’re banned from the streets, for anything but essential activities we will need some excuse to go out, and what better than a dog. You won’t be allowed out without one. Owners can rent them out, as is happening in Italy already. Unless that was just made up. I’m sure I heard someone say it. Or write it. Anyway, tt does rather question why it’s crucial to exercise dogs and not humans, I guess this is covered in the small print.
Listen to the Ian Wright Desert Island Discs:
It is the most touching and honest 45 minutes you can have, with some great tunes. Even if you don’t like football it is well worth a listen. However, be warned, you might use up a day’s rations of toilet paper in lieu of tissues.
The pools are empty, yet full of chlorine. I’m aware chlorine is enemy no.1 in some parts, but surely it kills the coronavirus. Just jump in. In fact, the safest place to be is on a lilo in the middle of a large swimming pool with a rope pulley system for Deliveroo to deliver food.
I’m not going to shamelessly plug my novel quite yet, give that a few more lines, but embrace sitting in an armchair reading a book, as you always promise you do, but don’t. I’m aware that children will be squabbling over the TV remote and might be getting restless after 8 hours of PS4, but still, take a little time to de-screen. I recently finished Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, which was brilliant.
Keep washing your hands, preferably in 97% proof Brut aftershave, which also makes you smell like a 1950’s barbers. And stay sane. Stick your head out the window occasionally, check on elderly neighbors, and stay away well from acoustic guitars.
Previously Published on The Life Assistance Agency