Having overcome my earlier ennui, brought on by the lack of live culture and increased social distance, I feel I should be wildly productive by this stage. This is especially true given all the nominally free time of which I now find myself possessed. I regret to report that this is not case: if anything, without the pressure of the deadlines set by gig start times I have become less productive. It would seem that my sense of urgency has socially-isolated itself from the rest of me…
Nevertheless, I have made some progress to moving my life onto a pandemic-footing. You will be pleased to hear that I am now up-to-date with my filing and have finally managed to throw out some junk that I’ve been holding onto for at least 6.5 years.
I have also developed a compact hand-balancing routine (or indeed, small suite thereof) which I can perform in my tiny garret without excessive danger of injury either to myself or my furnishings: I just have to shuffle the dining “room” into the kitchen. OK, I did have some help in the development process. OK, yes, Freeflow Therapy did all the development, I just (mostly) managed not to forget the instructions (can’t a chap get away with some minor stretching of the truth? I studied topology and the truth and any stretched versions are basically the same thing). Having put the routine into practice, I seem to have discovered that working out at home is much more exhausting that at the gym: I have yet to decide if this is purely psychosomatic. To be honest, as I am now training at altitude (the first floor) I was expecting to see my personal bests come tumbling but there is little evidence to support this theory as yet… Still, the reduced space is, allegedly, allowing me to work on my finesse – so you may see me emerge from the current unpleasantness as a more graceful creature, but I wouldn’t raise your hopes too far.
Using the magic of video conferencing, late yesterday afternoon I did manage to constitute a virtual pub with a friend. We each acquired a beer take-out from a local hostelry and then did exactly what we would normally do in a pub – drink beer and attempt to come up with stupid ideas – despite being separated by half-a-dozen miles. There is a degree of latency, which in a less virtual pub session doesn’t usually kick in until quite a few pints have voyaged to their inevitable doom, but it seems an entirely practical reaction to the need to both be social distant and remain fully connected. Ideas and foolishness always flow more readily when two or more are gathered together (in anyone’s name) and this continues to work in the virtual realm. I find myself wondering if I can get a cloth backdrop printed (or embroidery or tapestry-work would be fine) which recreates the look of the Doghouse at the Guide Dog to minimise the disruptive feel of increased time at home?
My feeling is that the latency that exists on video conferencing means that musical sessions are not really feasible: although one of last night’s activities did give me some hope. Prior to this last week, I was only attempting to attend as many gigs in Southampton and its immediate areas as I could. Musicians (and others) seem to have responded to the enforced downtime and, in many cases, catastrophic loss of income, by staging gigs online. As a result, I am slowly working out how to “attend” live broadcasts on Facebook and Instagram (and I suspect other platforms yet to be explored: I’ve been hearing more about Zoom lately than at any time since 1982 when Fat Larry’s Band were riding high in the charts. However, without the need to be physically present there are even more gigs to “attend” than ever. Luckily, you can attend them for a period of time after broadcast: still, not sure precisely how long so am trying to “catch-up” within 24 hours just-in-case. Last night’s “gig” was the film made by Manu Delago of his album Parasol Peak where he and six other musicians ascended a mountain in the Alps, playing (and recording) tracks at various altitudes carrying their instruments on their backs in between. Some of the tracks involved clinging onto perilous rock ledges while using a cello or piano accordion (to name but two of the instruments I would be unwilling to climb a mountain while carrying). At times, they clearly couldn’t hear each other so he composed pieces for which this wouldn’t an issue: there was also some system of hand signals to maintain broad synchronisation. I have also definitely seen experimental music where each player chooses when to move onto the next section. I’m wondering if these approaches could allow a style of beat-free music to be played together via video conference?
However, the primary skills I have been acquiring this week will serve me best in the fields of larceny and espionage. I am becoming adept at carrying out a growing range of tasks without leaving a single fingerprint: avoiding DNA residue is still a work-in-progress. When away from the house, without recourse to gloves (a cheat’s way out and likely to rouse suspicion), I hardly need my hands to make contact with any foreign body: even if they ask nicely. I am also becoming good at reaching a supermarket being observed by the fewest people and at all times to maximise the distance between myself and those people. It’s only to be expected that these skills would come naturally to me, as any readers of Baroness Orczy will know, as the Scarlet Pimpernel was aided by a Ffoulkes (one Sir Andrew): so these skills clearly run in the family!
A less obviously transferable skill I’m gaining is greater knowledge of where my hands are and, in particular, if they are en route to my face. Prior to this week, they appeared to operate on the principle that any minute left without checking my face was still there could lead to disaster: without constant monitoring, my face would probably wander off on its own (or perhaps just fall off). I think we have now established that my face is fairly solidly bolted on and such checks can be reduced to a minimum.
So while I may not have achieved that much of use in the last few days, I do seem to have avoided going stark staring bonkers: so I’m viewing my adaptation to the change of circumstances as a triumph!