The great disease of 2020

No, I’m not talking about *that* disease. This is a disease which isn’t talked about, except amongst writers, artists and other creatives.

It’s a strange disease, to do with lockdown, to do with anxiety, to do with a general feeling of unease.

And it has meant that us creatives haven’t been very … well, creative. I know, Jemima learnt to play the Flügel horn, and Benedict has been sharpening up his ancient Greek proverbs, but for many of us, we’ve just been feeling a bit … meh.

Initially, I thought it was just me. I do have a tendency towards laziness – I prefer to call it ‘being efficient’ – and the early days of lockdown were filled with unending news updates and government edicts, and rubbish daytime drama on TV (step forward Midsomer Murders).

And then it went on. And on. And on. We didn’t go out, except to hunt for handwash, sanitiser and toilet roll. Eventually, and without personal hygiene disasters, new stock was found and purchased.

We’ve stopped going to the pub once a week. We’ve stopped having lunches and/or breakfasts out once a week. We steered clear of other people with a zeal which put religious zealots to shame. We did our weekly shop, dutifully lining up outside the supermarket, not only avoiding proximity to other people but also eye contact. Maybe you could contract this thing through eye contact, and they weren’t telling us.

For weeks, my social media timelines were full of charts and graphs and videos of Joe Bloody Wicks. Fortunately, the mainstream media soon tired of showing the grinning faces of Jemima and Benedict and mummy as they all did their morning workout together.

Gradually, but gradually, like the feeling in your leg when you’ve been sitting on it, the desire and the inclination came back. The dwindling bank account may have had something to do with it, too. All workshop activities in schools and other community events had stopped, stone dead. Maybe we should make use of this time by, you know, writing a book or two.

We are not in a new normal. We’re not wearing grey two-piece Spandex suits, flying hovercars to the local Morrisons for a collection of dehydrated vitamin tablets and expensive water. We are in the same normal, that normal we started the year 2020 with, only it’s a bit crap.

Sometimes, I avoid TV and news and politics. I’m tired of young, fresh-faced white people telling us how dire the economic situation is, and how we need to get back to work and the chances of contracting anything nasty are way less than they used to be, and anyway, even if you do contract it, the chances are nothing’s going to happen. Yeah, try that if you’re old, or ill, or from the BAME community, or overweight, or asthmatic. I am more than one of those things.

So, young and energetic fresh-faced things, you go back to work if you like. In fact, please do. Me? I’m going to be hiding away in my hut, re-finding my writing mojo. Because that’s work, too.


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