I have a cold. This means a self-imposed quarantine of long, quiet days, spent waiting for recovery. The kind of sick day that used to be alluring, when I was working, or before I had children. Now, it means solitude, until the collection of my children after school, then the normalcy of weekday life reverts in the evening hours, but with congestion, a headache, aches and sniffles.
I am left with my thoughts. When unwell, it’s hard to imagine being well again, which sounds ridiculous but is true. My body under viral attack, I trace back to when I last felt this way as if I can identify the rogue bug and eradicate the possibility of repeat. It was last winter; skiing, a dormant French hotel room. My efforts to stay healthy border on obsessive, I have little patience for this. My life is predicated on my being well; the cogs don’t turn unless the engine is running. My children look at me reproachfully when there’s no bread in the house.
I watch too much Netflix – end to end ‘Killing Eve’, that pink dress! – and documentaries about the environment. I feel so fretful about the environment I have to check myself. I am being brainwashed by the scaremongers. But the more knowledge I have, the worse it gets. It seems, in this instance, that the scare mongers might be right. I’ll tell you what. When global temperatures rise by 2 degrees, and the ice caps melt, and the planet is too hot to even go outside, I’ll see you on that last piece of remaining, un-flooded land, and we can watch the plastic containers float by, and wonder whether it was worth it. It’s a dog’s dinner, or, as my friend messaged me last week: ‘we are fucked’.
In a flurry of luck, in my sickened state, I got Glastonbury tickets on Sunday. I’m almost ashamed to admit this because they are so desirable, and so hard to come by, especially this year, that I remain incredulous. Early morning; multiple devices, an incentivised teenage son sitting next to me, rapid refresh, mouse clicking, abject frustration as the connection drops, we get booted out. The registration page, the payment page, the confirmation page, all flash up in a striptease, pressing forward, click, click, click. A bizarre technological dance which abruptly ends with ‘BOOKING COMPLETE’ and I feel adrenalin like I’ve scaled a mountain. Surfed a wave. Done something other than sat in my pyjamas. I wonder if I want them so much simply because they’re hard to get? Then I remember how much I love Glastonbury and how utterly freeing it is to stand in a field and experience music so loud it makes your organs vibrate, and to do it with hundreds of thousands of other humans.
I start listening to the audiobook of Deborah Levy’s ‘Things I Don’t Want to Know’ and find it cripplingly, awe-inspiringly good. It’s the kind of book I want to write. This has a dual effect. Half inspiring, half terrifying. Deborah’s written it already. Deborah can write the innards of my mind, as if un-spinning a knot of wool. I’m only a smidgen in, and I know I will love it already. And hate that its been done. This is how it goes with writing. No longer do I have thoughts and allow them to pass through. Now my thoughts have become a thing I must capture, I must write down, I must turn into something that is work. Quit your job. You’ll be fine.
I observe the shit show of American politics playing out on the news and feel the bile of conflict. Everything feels off. Theres’s conflict with the process, conflict with society, conflict with the commentary. I read a lot, and liberalism seems to pervade my newsfeed as I realise I have concocted a partisan following in support of feminism and an egalitarian sensibility. I read a lot of women writers who suggest in their language that all men who are accused of sexual misbehaviour are guilty, because, well, because…men. This troubles me, and I wonder whether any of those women have teenage sons who are about to navigate the treacherous water of gender politics in coming years.
I watch old family videos, trying to locate one of my daughter, aged one, laughing, giggling uncontrollably, the baby girl she was. The DVD is no longer compatible with our machine, and I wonder how I can regather those images. Later DVDs obligingly play, leaving me questioning why the one from 2002 is considered defunct? What happened in 2002? In 2003 I look young, and brown-haired, and really, really slim, despite doing zero exercise at that time.
I feel viral, weighed down, and shuffle around my house wearing a weird, old, dowdy Alpaca cardigan that reaches my knees. The postman comes. I discard the junk mail envisaging land fill; rotting catalogues for things I never wanted. I make mushrooms on toast (I went shopping) as a comfort food, like my mum used to make me, sautéed in butter, with garlic, and scattered with chopped parsley.
I message my writing group and they put me straight; ‘just write’ they say. We console each other. The virus is making me jaded. I turn to the blog because it’s the least demanding way to write. Type. Preview. Publish! Oh so easy! So here it is.
*Craig Ward typographer.