Lockdown life in COVID-19 2020 – writing, singing, sadness and a dedication

Week four of lockdown and I’ve learned a lot about myself. Before I go on, I just want to say that I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well, and continue to be.

The past three weeks have been a frenzy of initial panic at the food shortage, then a glut of baking and cooking. In between that, I’ve been singing. Yes, singing! That is not necessarily good news for any one listening!

Sunday saw a Carpenters special on Radio 2 and I was astonished to learnt that I know the lyrics to all Carpenters songs played on the show. I’ve been singing along loudly along with lots of songs because it makes me feel happy in a time when I feel very sad most of the time.

Dancing too. My ability to throw shapes in legendary in the nightclubs of the North West of England. I discovered that Jarvis Cocker was streaming a Domestic Disco live in Instagram and I joined in – it was hilarious! Hours of fun, brilliant music and equipment failures. You can find him @jarvisbrandoncocker on Insta. Over the Bank Holiday Weekend there was a live streamed Hacienda House Party and I danced away an rubbish TV evening in my lounge live to the best DJs. You can find it as United We Stream GM @streamGm on twitter.

So. Dancing and singing? Yes! It’s my reaction to the deep sadness I am feeling at the COVID-19 situation. And writing. I almost feel guilty at losing myself in a song or with my characters because when I come back the bad stuff is still there.

On Saturday I got terrible news that a school friend had died of COVID-19. Ian, who was also known as Paddy, was a lovely person. I had a long conversation with him at the last reunion about life, the universe and everything and I would see him in Sainsbury’s all the time. My deepest condolences to Ian’s family. While he was not a very close friend, he was part of the beat of my local life and I will miss our chats.

Early on in the lockdown my friend Susannah Rickards invited me to take part in a Decameron. The original Decameron is a collection of stories curated by writer Giovanni Boccaccio in the wake of the plague of 1347 and was finished in 1353.

Our Decameron was ten days of writing and pictures to mark the current pandemic. The group chose themes and contributed their pieces. It focused my mind in what were early mornings of panic about my family and friends. My job and my colleagues. But it was strangely freeing. Almost like free-writing outside the constraints of genre and form.

The last day’s theme was, appropriately, #endings. I wrote this piece and posted the picture before he passed away, but I would like to dedicate this short piece to Ian Padmore – I am devastated at his loss but another school friend Susan Radcliffe is organising another reunion to honour Ian. And that is where hope lies even in loss – in continuation and remembrance.

I live and work in a built-up urban area next to the M60 so I take pictures of any nature as often as possible before it disappears. I took this picture about three years ago and shortly afterwards the trees were chopped down to make way for a hotel.

I cried when turned the corner and they were gone. I turned the radio up in my office as the electric saws buzzed through me all day for weeks. I mourned those trees and the birds who made their homes there for a long time. It was so final.

Then one morning I stopped and watched a bird picking up twigs from what remained of the trees, flying over the motorway and making a nest in the trees opposite. Back and forth. Back and forth.

I listened to the traffic and watched the workmen clearing the ground. The birds taking what they could and reassembling remnants of hope somewhere else as best they can. And I realised that what we often think of as the end isn’t really the end at all…

Decameron 2020 – For Ian Padmore