As lockdown continues, I have of course the same worries as many – there’s little to no work coming in for me, I miss company (never thought I would say I missed people, but here we are) and I worry for the long-term impact of what this will do to the country, and the price we’ll have to pay later down the line in terms of human and social costs, while balancing that with a fragile, fleeting optimism that maybe this will turn out to be a catalyst for change. Then of course I add a big dollop of guilt for feeling that when I am safe at home and many people – including plenty among my friends and family – are out there slogging on the front line because they don’t have any choice in the matter.
So I try to focus on the positives and fuel that optimism. I miss theatre, and people, and pleasures that once seemed utterly mundane (a potter round Waitrose or Waterstones, a coffee and a scone in some little cafe, pushing a trolly round Tesco with no shopping list in mind, content to buy what I fancied or what was on special offer, knowing I could pop back any time I wanted. In fact, the concept of ‘popping’ anywhere, now everything has to be so regimented.). But my own experience of lockdown has been mostly one of kindness and care, and I am incredibly grateful for that.
Sometimes that takes physical form: a number of my friends have reassured me that if I run out of money, they can help (obviously, I hope that doesn’t happen, but it’s nice to be reminded that I won’t be destitute if it does). More than one lovely person has contributed to my Ko-fi account – which goes straight to PayPal, so is currently paying for my online groceries and supplies (which I am trying to order mostly from small businesses, so the folk who are supporting me are also supporting them, in a nice virtuous circle). Someone messaged me to say he was going to buy one of my books for his mum, and others have sent me gifts through the post, dropped off groceries or even, gloriously, home cooking.
Earlier this week, a friend sent me this out of the blue – a book I didn’t even know was out, so a delightful surprise twice over!
Sometimes it’s just sending texts and WhatsApps and messages to check in, or setting up a Zoom chat, or forwarding a funny video. I am content to be in lockdown alone – I like my own company, and to be honest I’d rather be on my own than sharing a space with someone else in these tricky times, since at least I can nap undisturbed and create a routine that, while likely baffling to anyone else, mostly works for me. But I miss people, and company, and conversation, so each of these little messages is a treat, speaking of a connection across the miles.
So I was thrilled today to get this notebook from one of my friends, who somehow managed to arrange this from where she is in Serbia, whose lockdown is far more restricted than here. I dream of walking through Liberty stationery hall with some money in my pocket, even if that won’t be for a while, so getting at least a minor stationery fix made my day – both the gift, and the kindness behind it. Because I believe – or hope, at least – that kindness is what will get us through this, and if we do build a better world in the days to come, kindness (alongside fairness) must be at its core.