Hello out there, dear readers. I thought I’d share with you how I’m getting used to living in the new normal of a global pandemic. As yet, our household of four adults isn’t showing any signs of having the virus – no continuous coughing or high temperatures. Our daughter is a student at Oxford University where there are, I think, nine (or possibly more) confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) although not in her college. All face-to-face teaching has ceased and she has been asked to vacate her college accommodation, so is coming home today. She is, understandably, heartbroken at having to leave her lovely rooms and wonderful friends so abruptly and in her final year of study. At the same time, she acknowledges all her privileges and knows that she’s in a better situation than many others but some of her dreams and her university experience have been crushed. She is in the process of finishing and handing in her dissertation and preparing for final exams – which are likely to be affected by the pandemic.
Our son is a student at Goldsmiths, University of London, in his first year. Face-to-face teaching has ceased there, also. As yet, he hasn’t received information about when or if to vacate his accommodation so I’m unsure if he will be coming home soon. Oxford Uni has been better at communicating to students what to do, it seems to me. There are also confirmed cases at Goldsmiths but, again, not in my son’s direct circle, as a far as I’m aware.
My husband, Andrew, works in IT and, although he is often on clients’ premises, he can usually carry out his job remotely, so he will be doing that as much as possible. He’s on leave this week, in any case. We were thinking of visiting Rome but obviously decided against that. Our home set up, and Andrew’s requirement to often work remotely, means that he has an office at the bottom of our garden. We’re hoping that, even if he is at home more than usual, we won’t notice the difference.
I work from home all the time, as a writer. In recent times, I’ve commandeered our middle reception room as my writing room. We used to call it the children’s playroom and it’s a great space, double-aspect and overlooking our back garden. I’m about one third of my way through writing my next poetry collection but I’ve put that on pause for the moment while I concentrate on writing prose (as I hinted at in my previous post). I’m working on a collection of interconnected, semi-autobiographical short stories to do, in part, with my experience of growing up in a family dependent on state benefits for income. I had signed up for a weekly writing fiction class at Bristol University (Department of Continuing Education) but classes have been sporadic (although very helpful to keep me going) because of teaching staff strikes and now the virus.
My most recent publication was in 2018 (my poetry book, What Are You After? with Nine Arches Press) and I didn’t have any events or residencies planned for this year so I haven’t had to make alternative arrangements or cancellations – something that is affecting a lot of writers, I know. My income is already low, I don’t think the pandemic is going to make it lower, and Andrew is fantastically supportive, so I’m not in need. I have savings which I accumulated from working in various part-time jobs over the past few years.
I’m the Poetry Society’s Stanza Rep in Trowbridge so I will, I’m sure, need to notify members about the group soon. I will send out a newsletter this weekend.
I don’t have much to add at the moment. Do share your diaries or thoughts or strategies for coping during the pandemic. I’m using the tag #coronadiary #CoronaDiary as a way of keeping track of these posts.