Last week started off gloomily with instructions from my local police force – and other police forces – that the UK lockdown meant people weren’t allowed to drive even a short distance to find open space to exercise. The thought that I’d be breaking the law if I drove somewhere nearby to stomp through woods and fields made me feel hemmed in, trapped and somewhat despondent. Luckily, UK police forces have since re-issued their rules interpreting government guidelines, and a short drive to access open, green space is no longer deemed a criminal activity. The problem arose in the first place from poor communication from the government. What did they mean by ‘local’? Never has the use of clear unambiguous language been more needed. English Language graduates and Communication Professionals, please go to Number Ten’s rescue to save me from despair!
I finished reading Margaret Atwood’s 2000 book, Cat’s Eye. After ten years of mostly reading and writing poetry, I’ve regained an appetite for fiction. I enjoyed the book very much and it felt luxurious to spend long days with the same characters, visiting another section of their lives each time I picked up the book. It’s hard to replicate that experience when reading poetry. However, at the book’s end, I wasn’t hit by a sensation of something profound, exact and transformative. I didn’t deeply recognise a human emotion conveyed in the story – or, if I did, the poet in me couldn’t help asking did we need 421 pages to say that? Could it have been said in 14 lines?
I’ve had some extremely happy moments this week: discovering that both of my now adult children can cook; watching my 19 year old son teaching himself to do handstands and cartwheels in our back garden; being in awe of my 20 year old student daughter’s ability to focus on her academic work in a houseful of people, one of whom plays his music ridiculously loud. We’re very lucky to be in lockdown together and not alone. I’ve felt guilty for feeling happy in the middle of an international crisis.
I’ve been trying to write a poem but I’m scuppered by the old adage of a watched pot never boils. I need to quickly look away and let the poem do some of its work without me.
I notice shadows more inside the house and I’m more aware of birdsong. How are you all?