With the pandemic putting a pretty serious crimp in the activities that would traditionally fill my evenings and weekends, readers might (quite reasonably) be asking themselves about the very poor volume of GofaDM output in recent weeks. They may, of course, be grateful: irrespective of the cause that has, at least briefly, stemmed the tide of nonsense – but I’m not here to pander to the readership!
I have taken on new, or modified, activities as part of my response to the reduced gig going opportunities with the resultant reduction in social contact and increased risk of the author running amok in some way. Writing the occasional quiz and attending and making silly remarks at other people’s quizzes along with preparing increasingly baroque adventures in both Generic Fantasy Landia and the kitchen (for the monthly Quaranstein) do take up a (perhaps) surprisingly large amount of time. I have done these things not as a result of any special virtue on my part but more a combination of rearguard action to hang on to the tatters of my sanity and a set of stupid ideas that got slightly out-of-hand and have now developed a life of their own. So, I was frankly gobsmacked when, last week, I was presented with card saying worryingly nice things about the author (clearly my attempts to conceal the real me have been wildly successful) and an apron decorated in a combination of appliqué, collage and embroidery with most of the key memes from my lockdown social life. I am fortunate in my life and friends far beyond any level that I could claim represents my just desserts…
Work has also become really rather busy in recent weeks, leaving me rather less energy to write after a busy day of modelling or script-editing. Still, it has probably acted as a welcome distraction from the major life event which has occurred since the last post.
On 12 September, I became a demi-orphan (I think half orphan is the more common phrase but we seek out the uncommon and uncanny here at GofaDM) with the death of my mother. We’d had a few days to prepare for the likely end, with several family conferences to try and make the appropriate end of life decisions but the exact timing remained uncertain (until it wasn’t). I think it was as good a death as could have been achieved given the severe dementia: though I really have no way of knowing.
I find that I have been oddly unemotional (insofar as I can tell) about the event, but this may be because the dementia has meant that I have been losing my mother by instalments for the last 3 or 4 years. Or it may just accurately reflect the fact that I am an unfeeling monster: we will never know for sure. I have continued to think of things I’d like to tell my mother but now can’t, though to a significant extent that has been true for the last two years.
I now find I am unexpectedly knowledgeable about the wide variety of coffins now available in all price ranges and their ability (or otherwise) to provide sufficient kindling for the incineration of a human body. Holding a funeral during the pandemic is not ideal, but we had lovely weather and I don’t think we lost out on too much as a result of the restrictions. There were more masks in evidence that is traditional (outside of Venice or the MCU anyway) and we couldn’t really have any sort of do afterwards. Still, my father and sister – with modest input from me (I may be pretty good at quizzes but I have a very shaky memory of my own life, it turns out) – put together a jolly good eulogy and our celebrant (slightly improbably named Candy) did a good job running the service: even my eyes slightly moistened at one stage!
Death-related activities and the importance of spending time (as much as feasible and feels safe) with my fairly small family does mean that I have driven more in the last few weeks than I normally do in a couple of years: my car must think it’s been stolen! Despite regularly shuttling the length of the 27s A&M, I still feel a terrible fraud as a driver and constantly expect the next roundabout or right-turn will leave me (a) found out and (b) unable to break into the traffic flow and so living out the remainder of my days as an obstruction at a moderately busy road junction. So far, this has not happened – though I’m taking nothing for granted – but I still find driving very tiring and do tend to start each journey before 6am to dodge as many other road users as possible.
The last month has also seen a modest re-starting of live gigs at indoor venues in the vicinity. In the last month, I have been to four gigs in a building with other people and it is both exciting and rather poignant. The expressions on the faces of both musicians and audience make clear how important live music is to people and what a difference doing things together makes. Social distancing means venues feel very empty, even when sold out, and though this has definite benefits in terms of legroom and sightlines it really can’t be great for the economics for either venues or artists. One wonders how long even this limited re-opening can last but I shall enjoy it while it does…
Very belatedly the government appears to be taking time out from its self-appointed task of spreading largesse in the direction of totally unqualified suppliers (who, in one of the least surprising events of recent years, turn out to be entirely unable to deliver on their piecrust promises) and organised crime to offer some support to the Arts. Some of this support appears very oddly targetted, and that which seems better aimed misses huge swathes of the live events industry and is probably barely managing the overdrafts for those that have received funds. It also seems weirdly sinister, and somehow reminiscent of a totalitarian state, that recipients appear obliged to be publicly grateful to the Arts Council and/or government on social media for any money they do receive. I do feel that both the bodies wishing to be seen as Lady Bountiful would do well to remember that the money they are disbursing is not theirs but ours!
I shall now dismount from my soapbox and attempt to melt away into the crowds before the authorities feel my collar. While I continue to miss so much that was taken for granted prior to March, I seem to have made the transition to a decent back-up life which will hopefully see me through the return of Greenwich Mean Time and the winter that is to come. I shall be keeping an ear cocked for the belling of the hounds of Spring…