C-19 Internal Monologues Part 8: Not Quite The Same Boat

There’s a quote going round on social media at the moment which is quite zealously dividing opinion.

David on Twitter: "If you don't come out of this quarantine with ...

 

It essentially implies that if you’re not using the lock-down period to pick up and perfect a new hobby or skill, you’re not making the best of the time.

I completely understand why some people love the quote.

And I completely understand why others hate it.

So to me, all that quote successfully achieves is to highlight that though we are all experiencing the same pandemic, how we are able to cope and react to it differs massively from person to person, and isn’t the sort of thing that can be compared or judged.  Universal standards really cannot be set on how to live your best “lockdown life”, no matter what any quote, meme or inspirational speaker has to say.

Remember back in science class, when we were taught the concept of a “fair test”?  Examining two elements to identify their differences only had value when all of the wider conditions were exactly the same, otherwise there was no point in carrying out the experiment.  The same logic applies here.

If you have been made redundant from your work, or you live alone, or perhaps you are just generally feeling a massive sense of anxiety from the pandemic, then learning a new skill or developing a hobby is a really effective coping mechanism.  It distracts your mind from the fear and the worry, and gives you a timely confidence boost.  Seeing – albeit on screen – your fellow classmates from your online language course can help you feel less alone, and composing music on an instrument might make you think that little bit more positively about the current time.

On the other hand, if you are struggling under the pressures of full time work, in services where demand is at an all-time high due to the pandemic; or you are having to juggle a job with homeschooling your children; or your living circumstances generally don’t dictate any time to focus on a new hobby, then I can also understand why instructions like this might seem like a bit of a sucker punch.  Life is much busier and manic than normal, not the opposite!

Either party may feel that the other one is better off.

Jobless people who live alone might give anything to experience the lock-down with company, or to have a job that is clearly necessary and valued when their own has been rendered just the opposite – and taken away their financial security in the process.

They’d probably trade their new skill for a salary without hesitation.

Likewise, those struggling with working overtime or having to educate their children might love to be able to have the time and facilities to be doing something good for themselves.  They probably see photos of people relaxing in the garden, or making “lasting family memories” that contrast heavily to the lack of harmony in their own homes, and start resenting their career choices or the fact they might not have as a great a relationship with their family as the people in the photos do.

They’d probably trade their career for time without hesitation.

I could go on with examples such as these; the reality is that this situation has confronted each of us with a myriad of different effects, issues and concerns.

Nobody should be made to feel that their approach is “wrong”.  This is an unprecedented situation.  There is no set of instructions to follow on how to cope with it, and there is no exam at the end from which you’ll be graded on what you did or didn’t do or learn.  The illness itself, and the social distancing, affect us all in very different ways.  Not only that, but the catastrophic, zig-zagged nature of it all make it even harder to deal with it in a consistent way.

One day you might be feeling really focused and complete a bunch of life admin and enjoy quality catch-ups with friends.  Other days you may just want to sit and sob and – as much you miss your family and friends – you simply may not have the energy to speak, even to them.

Both of those things are fine and natural.  This is not the time to have high levels of expectation.

The only approach which is universally “right” is the one which acknowledges the gravity of the situation and how it’s impacting within.  To accept that there will be up days and down days and to follow your feelings accordingly, gaining comfort from whatever you might feel at the time, whether that’s something with a clear purpose or focus, or just staring out the window counting leaves.

And to always keep in mind that it’s not the same for everybody, so perhaps think twice before believing that that meme, quote or inspirational speaker’s video will work for everybody else too.  Perhaps think twice for judging the ways in which other people are coping, and what they are choosing to do with the time, or assuming that they must have things better than you do.

We may all be experiencing the same pandemic, but the specific challenges dribbling down from it vary for us all and we are not always privy to what those are.  This is not a fair test.  To some this may seem a holiday; for others, most particularly those who have lost somebody to this horrendous virus, it’s a living hell.

Now is not the time to judge or to hold expectations; only a time to keep yourself safe, and keep an eye on those around you, as they all fight individual battles.

 

C-19 Internal Monologues Part 7: F-unfair

Recently, I haven’t felt the inclination to write as often as I did when the crisis first broke out, which I suppose is indicative that the situation has seemed to reach some kind of plateau.  We are still in lockdown and the numbers are still staggeringly high, but perhaps we are getting used to this now.  The adaptations we needed to make to our lives are becoming the “new routine”.

“Emotional roller-coaster” is a metaphor frequently used to describe the past few weeks for each of us.  There have been some very low points, but also plenty of encouraging examples of humankind and communities coming together.

Promptly followed-up by more low points.

Then more hope.

But the problem with roller-coasters, though, is that if you stay on them indefinitely, you will get dizzy, and sick.

Over thirty days into the official lock-down and myself – like many – are prone to feeling a little bit fed up.

That’s not to say we disagree with what we are doing and why we are doing it.  I would far rather remain in lock-down and get this sorted for good, than race out under a false start and experience thousands more needless deaths.

But, I am still getting a bit tired and a bit weary of being on the roller-coaster at all.  Especially when it’s one none of us needed to still be on; kept here by a mechanical fault that wasn’t inspected thoroughly enough before they opened up the fair to swathes of thrill-seekers. A failure to adhere to basic hygiene on the other side of the world, or a leaked experiment in a lab (or whatever theory you choose to believe.  My jury is out, to be honest.  All I know is that I’m extremely annoyed by whatever the source is).

Whatever you believe, this pandemic could – and should – have been avoided, and I think that is the most infuriating part about all of this.  Millions of people all over the world have sacrificed their lives, their jobs, their homes, their relationships and their mental health, for something that didn’t actually need to happen.

And I’m not sure any kind of penalty will ever be enough to atone for that.

And so yes, whilst on the whole we may be “coping”, whilst we may be keeping “strong” as we get used to our new normal, I think it’s critically important that every now and then, when we feel a little queasy from the many twists and turns, that we remind ourselves that we are experiencing a global trauma that will impact on each of us in very different ways, for years to come. And we didn’t need to be.  And so it’s perfectly okay to feel piffed off about it every now and then.  Even to cry about it.

I’m looking forward to whatever day we can finally get off this roller-coaster, and head towards something else at the fair which has much less motion.

The candyfloss stand would be perfect.

 

C-19 INTERNAL MONOLOGUES PART 6: I CAN’T WAIT

The news gets gloomier by the day.

Everything is still extremely shit and scary at the moment.  We saw a shocking figure which we thought might be our highest ever death toll per day.  And just as we were coming to terms with it, we had another few of them.  Some are saying that there’ll be more of them to come, too.  Triple figures are what we’re used to now.

Over the past few days we have also had to contend with the idea that the Prime Minister – the person upon whom we pin our hopes to navigate us through this – may not come out of intensive care (although now, since I started writing this, it’s looking more likely that he will).

Added to all of the other – ever multiplying – impacts of the pandemic, we really don’t have the brightest of backdrops at the moment, despite the sunny Easter weekend.  Unless we try and deploy some coping mechanisms, we will all cripple ourselves with fear and sadness.  I have a few coping mechanisms.  The “I can’t wait for-“ game is one, along with the “Lockdown made me crazily excited about-“ game.

They’re pretty self-explanatory titles, because lockdown is also pretty good at hanging the creative juices out to dry (ha, at least they can get out the flat for an afternoon I suppose).

I’ll probably share details of the “Lockdown made me crazily excited about-“ game when this thing has eventually passed and the items seem more ridiculous (for example, the first entry was about how excited I was to cook a swede for the first time.  It was the first time I used my new masher, too, and was the highlight of that particular Sunday) but for now, these are some of the things I can’t wait for:  

Obviously – and it’ll be the same for everyone – but I can’t wait to see my family, friends and the cat.  And to hug them as tight as I can without squeezing them to death… as that would be pretty ironic, and not the happiest reunion.

I also can’t wait until I can stroll around the town centre at leisure again, for absolutely no reason other than to swoon over the Georgian architecture and purchase a treat from a delicatessen.  A big fat caramelised onion sausage roll that tastes sweet, smoky and one hundred per cent non-essential should do it.

I can’t wait until I can go into a supermarket and eye up all the food with the freedom of time and space, and make conscientious decisions over whether to swipe left or right on particular items without having to worry about blockading the aisle.  A telltale sign of lockdown being over will be when we’re once again able to study the different flavours of KP dry roasted nut, and consider which to include among the Saturday night buffet we’re hosting for friends.  What a moment that will be.

I can’t wait until I can sit with friends in a corner of a cosy Faversham pub, laughing rapturously at something which maybe isn’t that funny, but which feels like it is in the frivolity of a “normal” day.  And somebody will return to the table with a round of drinks and packet of Scampi Fries for us all to snack on, before comparing tips on how best to fold up the empty wrapper afterwards.

I can’t wait until I’m popping open the lid of some neon treasure trove of Tupperware, whilst engaging in a colourful picnic on some freshly cut grass, on a fine Summer’s day.

I can’t wait until I’m able to drive myself into the heart of Kent and take myself on a stroll up and down some remote hills.  And immerse myself in the thrill and stinging nettles of getting lost whilst listening to some happy tunes.  And then be able sit down and sip some coffee from the thermos whilst taking in a panoramic view. For as long as I want.

I can’t wait until I’m sat on a train, whizzing somewhere beyond East Kent, sipping a large white Americano bought from the chirpy lady in the kiosk at the station, whilst watching distant fields roll by through the window.

I can’t wait until my intercom buzzes with the arrival of an actual guest (as opposed to a delivery driver).  A guest.  Who wants to come in to my flat.  And sit on the sofa.  And drink a coffee from one of my mugs.  And use the loo.
Please!  Just do as much as you want here in Chateau du ShittinghellI’veonlyhadmyselfforcompanyforthreemonthsandshe’sprettyannoying.  I might just stand in the corner maintaining 2 metres distance and stare at you in awe for the first hour, but please don’t let it make you feel uncomfortable.

I can’t wait to be able to go back to the beach and take a paddle on a Summer evening.  I think by then, I won’t even care about the uncomfortable pebbles or seaweed.  Will happily decorate myself with the latter if it means being able to swim.

I can’t wait to be able to have a polite conversation with a passing stranger in the street without it feeling entirely awkward for both of us.  To be able to look somebody in the eye whilst speaking to them, and not having to fret or worry about how far breath travels.

…Isn’t it telling that most of these are things easily taken for granted in the past?  Maybe many of us are learning that actually, we already had everything we needed.

I can’t wait to appreciate all of these things – and everything else I’m missing – again.  More than ever before.

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View of Faversham as seen during a recent one-daily-exercise.  Visible towards the right of the centre is the unmistakable lattice spire of St Mary’s parish church.  

C-19 INTERNAL MONOLOGUES PART 5: HEROES AND VILLAINS

The second week of lockdown:

There are times when you see the lighter and brighter side of it all – like the opportunity to pause and reflect, and catch up with friends and family – and then times when the gravity of it all concusses you with anxiety, fear, and that general gobsmacked, sicky feeling which makes you feel guilty for even entertaining the positive side when so many others can’t.

In the past week I’ve looked at the news more often than I think is healthy.  Each time I’ve read the headlines – which seem to have got scarier with each passing day – I’ve experienced that exact feeling, and felt a sense of helplessness.  We are all beginning to accept that the road to recovery from all of this is going to be very long indeed.  Longer than we may have originally anticipated.

Whenever I’ve checked the news I’ve semi-wished I hadn’t, but I do believe it’s important to know what this situation really looks like beyond the comfort of the sunlight-drenched kitchen and coffee tables which I look at every day.  It’s easy to become lost within a bubble whilst in quarantine, and in many ways that’s a good coping mechanism, but to lose sight of the bigger picture of what’s happening right now surely feels disrespectful to all those who can’t – the thousands of front line key-workers, and the victims, and all of their families, who have to face up to the brutal reality of this situation every single day, and just carry on.

There were a couple of photos that struck me in particular this week.  The first was of a dozen or so body bags in the back of a refrigerated truck in the U.S, and the second was of the funeral of a thirteen year-old victim.  I thought about the people in the truck and how only a couple of weeks ago they were probably planning for the future and dreaming about what they wanted to do when we finally awake from this really bad dream.  And how suddenly they vanished.  I thought about how they would have had to have died alone; no option to hold the hand of a loved one as they set off to sleep.  I thought about how degrading it is for the final image of somebody to be of them in an anonymous bright orange bag on a truck.  And then I felt angry at the press for taking a picture of this.  But then I thought, “Actually, maybe we do need to see this…”

I tried to think about how it must feel to lose somebody to the coronavirus.  To not be able to say goodbye.  To not even be able to go to their funeral – or, to be able to go, but not be able to hug your fellow mourner. To know your loved one died alone.  To feel like they were ripped apart from you by an illness that should never have grown to this scale.  A really unnecessary illness, originating from filthy practice.

We think this situation is tough because we can’t see our loved ones and we worry about money and not being able to buy eggs and losing things – yes, all be some of them big – but for thousands of others this situation is so much tougher – a game of life or death with each passing day.

When – eventually – things do return to some degree of normality, I hope that we don’t forget just who the heroes were during this time.  The ones out there fighting to save as many lives as they can whilst endangering their own – and those of their family – by doing so.  I love that we all clap our hands at 8pm on a Thursday to thank them, but I hope this gratitude lives long beyond the lifespan of the virus.

And I also hope we don’t forget who the villains were.  Billionaire business owners who are treating their staff appallingly whilst they self-isolate in the comfort of their private yachts and islands.  Citizens who are (still) laughing in the face of the social distancing rules  by hanging around in groups because they don’t care about anybody else.  Celebrities who are desperately finding ways to make the situation about them because they’re finally realising how pointless they are.  People on social media (usually found within local resident groups) who are using all this additional time at the computer to have petty arguments with people online about who really owns a particular footpath.

We won’t forget you beyond the lifespan of the virus, either.

 

COVID 19 Internal Monologues Part 4: Live TV

Any moment now, the end credits will surely begin to roll and we will have that moment of realisation where we simultaneously understand not only the script but the subliminal meaning behind it.

An advert proclaiming the powers of Veet EasyWax will appear and bring you crashing back to a sense of normality after an hour transfixed to your screen, and your partner or friend or whomsoever is with you at the time will alight from the sofa, picking up the bowl of Dorito crumbs for washing, and say:

“That was pretty realistic wasn’t it?  I’m going to have bad dreams tonight.  It’s crazy what technology and special effects can do these days”

You’ll have been watching a programme – of the Black Mirror ilk – in which an invisible virus that takes days to manifest, originates from a seafood market in a distant land and then – within a matter of days – brings an entire planet to its knees.  Thousands of lives will be lost.  Business will stop.  Economies across the world will crash.  Everybody, everywhere will be barely able to leave their homes.    Even world leaders will not be spared, our Prime Minister tested positive today.

All the things we normally take for granted will suddenly be the things we dream of once again.  Automated, annual social media memories will fill us with an envy for the past, and the times we could meet a friend for a drink, or ramble among the countryside for hours on end only to finish up with a pint and Sunday roast.

I even find myself missing being sat stuck in rush-hour traffic on the A249, thinking about the leftover stir-fry I plan to re-heat for dinner when I eventually get home.  It did have a nice sauce, afterall.

There will be a great number of lessons from all of this, surely, and we are only starting to learn them.  I would hesitate to think whether we have graduated beyond the Beginner stage yet.  I hope so, but looking at the news, I’m not so sure.

Either way this is still just feeling very, very strange.

Hey – you – can you do me a favour, and try pressing the “TV Guide” button on your remote, so that we can see what else is on?

I fancy something a bit more upbeat.  Those endless repeats of Only Fools & Horses I normally avoid or something.  Paris Hilton’s maudlin search for a new best friend. Or anything whatsoever on the Smithsonian Channel.

COVID 19 Internal Monologues Part 3: Escaping the Supermarket, and the Stroll

21st and 22nd March 2020 (two days before Lockdown)

I’ve changed my mind about supermarkets.

The other day I was quite excited about them, because they are still a surefire way to see people after spending the rest of the day alone.

Now they just terrify me.  Not everybody appears to be adhering to this concept of social distancing, and you’re more likely to see those uncooperative people in supermarkets, because those are essentially the only place people can congregate still.

I needed to buy some bits for my parents in Tesco.  I had to spend an hour or so psyching myself up to do so before marching into the store in my disposable latex gloves, snood (who would’ve known the Action Challenge branded freebie from the 50km walking challenge in the Cotswolds 2018 would have come in so useful!) and sunglasses.  A trio of people standing near the entrance looked at me in disgust as I wiped down my trolley with a Dettol wipe, “The world’s gone maaaaaaad” said one lady, in a Marge Simpson-meets-rusty-washboard voice that sounded like she smokes fifty fags a day.

I did feel slightly embarrassed by her shaming, but didn’t let her words get to me too much.  I had only to witness other shoppers coughing and sneezing, and kids running around touching stuff, to know that I was doing the right thing by erring on the side of caution, even though in many ways it might’ve seemed a bit overkill.  I don’t like to automatically distrust people, because most people are good and taking care right now; but when this virus stands to harm so many, my view is that you just have to treat yourself as a carrier, and treat strangers as though they are all carriers too, and keep your distance accordingly.

Coming out of the supermarket, I felt something similar to when you’ve overestimated your ability to hold your breath whilst diving down into a swimming pool, and face a long, desperate rise to the surface.  I knew when by the bread that I was at the furthest point of the store to be able to retreat back out from.  The question was – how to avoid the various perils I may encounter en-route – the coughers, the touchers, the sneezers and the wheezers.  Those who should be isolating, and the invisibles with the bug awaiting.  Gaming metaphors seem to be the trend here, and this particular moment felt like Frogger.  Or that curly copper wire thing you used to pay to try at school bazaars, usually manned by a grumpy looking girl, where you had to run the loop on a stick across it without touching the wire.  If you did, it would emit a sound that would simultaneously perforate your eardrums whilst making you leap back in terror.  In this instance, that sound is the coronavirus.

Later on, I took myself on a long, solitary walk around the town, but keeping away from the centre to help ensure I was sufficiently distanced.   As a result of this I experienced parts of Faversham I’ve never felt before, and walked down streets I’ve never before been down, like the residential roads over towards Bysing Wood, and out towards the church at Ospringe, returning home via the nearby paddocks that take you back on to the London Road.   The town glowed in the hazy springtime sun, evoking memories of Saturday afternoons as a child; celebrating the return of longer days and better weather by spending longer in the garden.  There was something incredibly peaceful about acknowledging this; a welcome juxtaposition to the chaos of everything else.  It felt relaxing; almost a way of making peace with the situation.  I relished the opportunity to see somewhere new too; even though it wasn’t far from home.  “Could this be one of the only gifts Covid 19 brings us?” I thought to myself, “a new way of looking things and appreciating what’s closest to home”.

I enjoyed the stroll and subsequent thoughts so much, that the following day – Sunday – I took myself on another walk in the opposite direction.  The craze with which this situation develops each day makes me wonder whether the opportunity to do even a walk may soon come to an end, so I was determined to get a big long nature fix whilst I still could.  I stuck to the desolate footpaths near the polytunnel farms (sorry dad, I still don’t know what’s growing inside them, in spite of this unexpected close-up inspection) and over towards Graveney before coming back along the railway line.  For a couple of hours, all seemed good with the world.  The rapeseed was out and glowing its bright yellow magic into the world.  Trees swayed smoothly in a light breeze.  Most incredible of all, were the number of bunny rabbits hopping about in front of me.  I can’t remember the last time I saw so many.

A Southeastern train passed by and I gave the driver a wave.  He waved back.  And that was pretty much the extent of my physical contact with anybody else today.

And it felt so important.  It felt so needed.

I took a look into the train and – unsurprisingly – saw carriages full of empty seats.  It won’t surprise me if they suspend the rail services soon.  An empty train splicing it’s way through the Kent countryside does nothing for our environment and for our fight as a nation to get through this battle.

But a simple wave back does make a girl feel less alone.

It really is the little things.

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COVID 19 Internal Monologues Part 2: The Town Centre and The Supermarket

**Basically a live stream of an internal monologue which is not designed to make a great deal of sense, because nothing about the current situation does**

After another bizarre day of not seeing anybody in the flesh until post-5pm – but having plenty of work-related phone-calls at a kitchen table ordinarily associated only with meals and personal gatherings – I begin to get extremely excited about the fact I have a letter to post. Excited, yet also somewhat dubious.

On one hand, I get to go outside! And there’ll be people there. And I rarely see those now.

On the other hand, I have to go outside. And there’ll be people there. And I have to avoid those now.

I walk and post the letter – envying the envelope’s travel plans – and carry on into the town centre. The charming Guildhall building on the square is lit up – as it usually is – but the cobbled pavements which surround it are completely empty. Nobody is stumbling out of the pubs after a few Shepherd Neame specials like they usually are, and I almost miss the cursing and burping usually overheard at this point. Benches are vacant. Restaurants remain lit up, but the view inside is just of a set of plain brown squares which represent empty tables.

The only people I see are dog-walkers, joggers or those who – like myself – are out alone running an errand. I pass them – but keep well away. It feels very rude.

In this town, we usually say hello to strangers when we pass.

But today we don’t, because we’re keeping too wide a berth, veering out into the road to avoid passing too close on the pavement.

It’s heartbreaking. But we just have to do it. Fight now, and celebrate later.

In the midst of the feelings of despair and fear that have dominated the last few days, I walk down Abbey Street.

Abbey Street. A place I usually just associate with my jogging route and tipsy walks to (and especially from) The Anchor pub. Abbey Street – the most iconic street in Faversham. Houses that have been there for more than century. Houses whose timber frames represent so much more than an historic method of construction. As I pass I imagine all the occupants of the past, generations who experienced times much worse than this – like the first and second world wars – but who fought through it. Who survived. Who morphed their challenges into the creation of stronger communities. Much like we will, once all of this is done.

And then I get closer to Tesco and suddenly I feel a sense of excitement akin to the one when you arrive at a friend’s house and know that in a moment’s time, you’ll be greeting somebody you care about. Or when you’ve been walking across remote countryside for hours and then stumble upon a pub full of people. Right now, the supermarket is the extent of your mingling with the outside world. The neon signs may as well be flashing in the manner of a ritzy club, denoting the lure of socialising.

The pubs might be empty of people, but the supermarkets aren’t. The one place at the moment where you’re guaranteed to see people and not feel alone. Comforting, but also mildly terrifying. A Dodgem experience where you literally do want to dodge them, and shudder at the thought of coming too close, but which you also feel a strange sense of excitement by.

A man seems to follow a similar route around the shop to me, distracted by a video call to a woman who is unknowingly announcing to all else within the Easter egg vicinity of the shop that, “Tonahht we’re playin a gaaaaaaame!!!!!”. The man chuckles.

The laws of social distancing mean that his presence unnerves me. I fear the distraction of his call means he’s not really thinking about where he’s walking. I skip away from him – past the juices – and whilst en-route bank the observation that Prosecco is on offer for £6 a bottle.

I’m sure there’ll be plenty of times I consider that information over the next twelve weeks. Good to know. Useful to put into practise.

I’d seen on social media that the supermarkets were lacking in supplies. I couldn’t believe it to be real as all had seemed okay as recently as last Friday, when I’d last been in one, but it was. No bread. No pasta. No eggs. No beer. A multitude of empty green crates where the fresh produce usually lives. You know you’re living in apocalyptical times when you have to embrace the fact that there was a severe yearning for every single cucumber that was recently in that box. Usually when I buy a cucumber, it’s pretty much a game of Jenga – trying to ensure that the one I remove doesn’t offset the rest into rolling around in chaos. Now it’s just a game of Blind Man’s Buff with no ending.

There will be many things we take away from this period of time, but the importance of supermarket staff will be right up there with the rest. They don’t have the blessing to be able to work from the safety of home right now but they carry on and smile regardless. Regardless of the fact there’ll be no respite for them anytime soon. Regardless of the fact that their public-facing roles put them in more danger of catching the virus than those of us who just get to stare at our kitchen tables all day. They just carry on smiling, doing what current escalating need dictates.

And when supermarkets are pretty much the extent of your social life, that is so, so important.

A Typical Musing of a Single 30-Something

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It’s not very often that I actually sit down and watch television, but I had read about Channel 4’s one-off drama, “I Am Hannah” and felt compelled to tune in.  Starring the talented Gemma Chan as the protagonist, the drama told the story of Hannah, a lady in her mid to late 30’s who was single, without children and – in contrast to the questions being thrown at her from her mother and various Tinder dates – not really set on an interest in changing either of those circumstances.  The only thing she was sure of, was that she wasn’t sure, but it was clear as the programme went on that the constant enquiries were wearing her out.  We saw her have a meltdown a couple of times.

The script resonated with me in a way that I haven’t experienced from television very often, and left me feeling an overall sense of relief.  I Am Hannah may have been a piece of fiction, but it was a real piece of fiction, no doubt influenced by the current state of society and the fact that more and more people are choosing to be single, and fewer people are choosing to have children, whether in a relationship or not.  Yet, considering the increasing volume of people making these choices and living this way, there seems to be very little acknowledgement or celebration of it as an option.

When typical conversations among groups of 30 year olds are about engagements, weddings, babies… it’s easy to forget that living any other way is actually pretty common, and an increasing number of people are doing it.  It’s easy to forget that happiness and purpose can be found down many avenues beyond the traditional ones, but it shouldn’t be, and it wouldn’t be, if only we spoke out about it more.  And if as a society we stopped with the echoes of defeatist mantras like, “you’ll find somebody!” when people say that they are single.  These only perpetuate the message that happiness depends on being with somebody else and that what you have right now will never be satisfying enough… and that’s a very dangerous realm of thought for anybody to get into.

I am 33 years old, in two months’ time I will be turning 34.  Tickedytickedytock.  For basically – well forever, since I am older now than I’ve ever been – I have sailed happily on a wave of open-mindedness when it comes to marriage and children.  It’s still very much my belief that life is a matter of fate, and is there to be enjoyed no matter what happens and which way you end up living it.  There is a massive part of me that feels more inspired by the thought of a non-conventional lifestyle – whatever that might entail – than one dictated by a set of milestones, and the race to reach each one “in time”.  Those milestones don’t stop (“So when’s the next one due?”) and quite frankly, I’ve not been to the gym enough recently to believe I have the stamina to cope with engaging with the race. That’s not to say I’m not interested in having a partner or children, there are many things about that particular avenue that are attractive to me too, but it just means I haven’t got my heart set on it.

But, whilst that may have been a useful and healthy way of thinking for 33 years… tickedytickedytock makes you put it underneath the microscope a bit, particularly when you see so many others out there formulating mathematical equations as to when they should meet someone, when they should marry, and when they should start trying for a baby.  Then you wonder if you should be doing that yourself.  Then you remember you’re not sure you want those things anyway.  Then you get up, go and make a coffee and get back to the billion and one other responsibilities you have as an adult – work, paying Road Tax, hoovering.  Then before you know it you’ve turned another year older.  TICKEDYTICKEDYTOCK!

“But what if I get to 40 then think I’ve made a mistake” says Hannah, to a friend who looks incredibly awkward about the question.  And therein lies the nutfuck.  The prospect of trying to prepare today for how you might feel in a tomorrow in which you might be a completely different person, that’s assuming you’re lucky enough to still be alive.  Yes, who’s to say you won’t change your mind and become desperate for a child?  Equally, who’s to say you won’t remain feeling indifferent to parenthood, or – even worse – end up regretting having a child?  But, the response to this dilemma isn’t like stockpiling bottles of water because you’ve heard a draught may be ahead.  You can’t apply that sort of premeditated logic to this. This involves human life, and I can think of nothing more inappropriate than going through the motions of having a baby I feel indifferent about now just in case I later decide that I want one.  I’d like to have a Wagon Wheel right now though, that’s something that I am certain of.

And actually; maybe that’s the only path which is a necessity to take in life.  Concerning yourself only with the here and now and letting nature dictate the rest.  Being fulfilled by what you have right now whether that’s a husband and kids or an evening with friends and a delicious lemon meringue in the fridge.  Making decisions on the basis of how you feel right now because that’s the only emotion you’re sure of.  Putting together the model kit that represents your life without any set of instruction or illustration of the final image, only working out on a piece by piece basis of how it’s meant to connect.

We’ll all have a completely different structure in the end.

And how cool is that?

Song of the Day: The Derevolutions – Spinning Twister Sound

This pretty unique band is so vastly under-rated yet they write upbeat Summer tunes like this.  What is going on in the world.

 

 

Monday Evening Motivations

I’m sure the people in my life are going to get quite fed up of me extolling the virtues of Faversham at some point soon.  Maybe they already are and are just being polite… but I’m pretty sure 90% of the stuff I bother to post on social media these days relates to Faversham in some way and I probably talk about it in similar proportions too! I can’t help it.  I just find it a really fascinating, bizarre, quirky place that is pretty much in a world of its own… but it’s a very nice world to be a part of.  Even when it’s not.

So – apologies – but this month’s post is only a continuation of that trend.

And one of the things which I am most enjoying about living here is that – particularly in Summer when the days are longer – I can spend my evenings after work in the places which were an inspiration to me even long before I moved here.  Oyster Bay House.  Seasalter Beach.  Oare Nature Reserve.

I’ve started to make ‘Monday Evening Motivation’ an unofficial official thing.  Time after work which I would usually spend in front of the tv, aka mundane Monday evenings, are now about being alone and immersed in some sort of nearby nature instead.  Walks I’d usually reserve for a weekend are now Monday’s desserts, and I love it.

I would encourage anybody who reads this to consider doing something similar.

These photos were all taken during such occasions:

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If you’ve not had a lone soiree with the great outdoors lately, I hope that these pictures might just inspire you to. So much to see and feel.

Song of the Day: Baseball Gregg – Pleasure & Pain

I don’t know too much about this band or this song, but it’s a perfectly chilled Summer tune.  Enjoy!