Striking the right note…

I’ve heard there’s this nasty bug going around… No, that’s too trivialising. EVERYONE’S GOING TO DIE! Alarmist, untrue. All things must pass: cliched but almost certainly correct. How are you all, blog followers (unless you’ve dropped out for which I wouldn’t blame you)? I haven’t posted for months, partly due to a second glaucoma operation (fitted in just in time) and partly now due to, well, this bug that’s going around. It’s high time I checked you’re all ok out there, and shared some positives from how I’m passing the locked down time.

This is normally a books and writing blog. books for blog 2Reading does help, it’s true. I’ve finished the latest Philip Pullman – very entertaining, very dark, perhaps a few too many meetings of the Magisterium to hold my interest and I’m not sure he’s quite as secure writing the young woman Lyra as he was writing the child – but as always brilliantly inventive, perceptive, unpatronising, chilling. I needed a complete change after that, so am in the middle of Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women. Just as chilling, in its way. Women are 47% more likely to die in car accidents, because safety trials use male dummies as default. Female pianists are 87% more likely to suffer from RSI due to the size of a standard keyboard. A male investor, faced with a business plan for an  innovative breast pump that outclassed the commonly used standard US models, recoiled in disgust. It’s wittily written, informative, and just as you’re despairing, it has messages of hope. Books for blog 2.4 (2)Then when I’m ready to return to fiction, my pile is not for the faint-hearted. Just as well we’re in lockdown.

I finished the 3rd edit of Novel 3 and sent it back to Agent X. Agent X expressed irritation the other day because authors were clamouring along the lines of “you must have loads of time for reading now”. So I won’t nag Agent X, but y’know, if I don’t have a publishing deal by midsummer, I’ll…I’ll…well, I’m not sure what I’ll do.

Still with an eye to words and writing, I signed up for the Curtis Brown Creative Weekly Writing Workout, if only because I have absolutely no idea how to follow Novel 3 and some of their ideas may help. I’m playing online Scrabble with old friends and relations – this site is marvellous because you can swap tiles, use outlandish dictionaries no one else has ever heard of, search for bingos and definitions…It’s more about placement and less about your own skill than the traditional board game, and there are no adverts to distract you, with unlimited games, languages and combinations all for $15 a year.

walk for blog (2)Every day we go for a walk. Sometimes in countryside within walking distance, sometimes through streets. We seem to be noticing more, and valuing it. Here is a garden in the next road, complete with sculptures and cowslips. On our walks I surreptitiously break off cuttings of overhanging plants, as I was all set to order for empty spaces in our garden when what one choirmaster calls “The Great Adjournment” began.

The ex infant teacher in me is lapping up the online ideas posted to help (or pressurise) parents trying to homeschool their children. As soon as we finish the next plastic milk carton, I’m going to make an Elmer. I don’t happen to have a stock of coloured tissue paper, but there’s wrapping paper, old magazines to cut up, my partner’s clothes…I may unearth my neglected mosaics kit, perhaps when I’ve exhausted the puzzle I bought in Kyoto art gallery (those were the days). Simple pleasures: a jigsaw, a good cup of coffee, and Jenni Murray’s rich, reassuring voice on BBC Woman’s Hour.

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Credit for the Elmer design goes to Amy Trow from https://www.facebook.com/groups/houseboundwithkids/

The days start with my home made version of yoga and stretches and then I practise my piano, fortuitously delivered just before lockdown. That means it hasn’t had its inaugural tune, but the friend with whom I swap 5 minute recordings of what we’ve managed today hasn’t complained so far. I’m not posting a recording here as I do have some pride, but the regular, extra time will surely result in a better technique and wider repertoire by the time lockdown ends – won’t it?

I’m very sad there’ll be no Wimbledon and no Dartington this year. I’m apprehensive about catching the virus. I’m concerned for people who were vulnerable before any of this even started – refugees, domestic violence victims, the mentally ill and the disabled. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t like to see my children, friends and Hackney Singers in real life rather than on Zoom, but otherwise the piano (2)simple life is rather appealing to me. I’m hoping we’ll all reset our values and habits as a result of this episode. Perhaps we’ll value home cooking more, and fashion that lasts, the company of our partners and our own company. Perhaps wildlife will thrive with less polluting traffic, and have you seen how clear the sky is without aircraft? Maybe our government will at last resource our NHS as it deserves and recognise how much low paid and low prestige workers contribute to society. In the West, at least, some of us had become decadent and spoilt. Perhaps as a species we’ll learn some timely lessons.

I don’t underestimate the difficulties, and I do sincerely hope you all come through unscathed. Take care, wash your hands, stay at home, count your blessings, and if you are a key worker of any kind, I particularly thank you and wish you well.

jigsaw (2)

©Jessica Norrie 2020

 

30 thoughts on “Striking the right note…

  1. A lovely post, Jessica. I have less time now, not more. Working from home, home schooling and all the housework and other things takes up lots of time. Especially work, has been incredibly busy for the past two weeks. I aim to use this long weekend to try to finish the second draft of my WIP. It will be about 110 000 words. I have started a YOuTube Channel for children and my boys are helping to create audio readings of our free books and baking and other videos. It helps keep everyone focused and busy. Stay well, Jessica.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Goodness me; all that and you still found time to read my blog post! Sometimes I wonder how we’ll all fit in the things we did before, when this is all over. Good luck with the WIP, with the home schooling, the YouTube channel and of course with your health and that of your family.

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    1. Hi Darlene. It does sound as though Spain is having a bad time, so it’s good to hear that you are safe. Writing doesn’t only need time, does it, it also needs focus and that must be hard. But I think we’re all sensible people here and if we follow the rules we’ll all see each other on the other side! Stay well.

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  2. It was good to see a new blog post from you, Jessica, and catch up on your doings. I enjoyed reading the Agent X post. I should think it would be a very difficult job. I hope all goes smoothly with your Agent X. Here in the US, things are very grim . . .

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    1. It’s pretty grim here too, Liz, so we’ve learned not to watch the news every day and which social media posts are best left unclicked. Our leadership is terrible and our health service has been run into the ground by ten years of terrible government. BUT the sun is shining and more people recover than don’t so here’s hoping… take care (glad you liked Agent X. S/he’s not open for submissions atm!)

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  3. Thanks Jessica. I’m bad at keeping up with your blogs – too much stuff going on usually! – but am determined to make the effort. Our lockdown equivalent to your RHO livestreams is the National Theatre. Watched One Man Two Guv’nors last night and next up will be Emma. The Community Council is occupying far too much of my time as we are the Co-ordinating organisation for all the volunteers supporting our high-risk and vulnerable residents. Not leaving me as much time as I would like for the garden and allotments,but takes my mind off worrying about A&E Doctor daughter on the front line in Gloucester. Clare meanwhile has evacuated from London to Mumbles so good to have one of my chicks nearby! I still have the Magic Carpet in my ever growing pile of books to read with even less time and too tired to read much at the moment. Take care and happy to FaceTime. Zoom etc. any time! Carrie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Carrie
      We saw One Man Two Govs when it was on live – those were the days, but actually I’m finding I prefer the comfort of our own living room! Can promise not to blog very often so you should be safe enough, and The Magic Carpet is episodic so can be picked up and put down… Kudos to you for your volunteering and particularly to Jess for her A&E work. Otherwise will message more privately as this is a public blog – I’m so busy keeping up with people there’s actually little time for all the pastimes I describe here, but didn’t want to spoil a good theme. Stay well xxx

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  4. You probably know that under normal circumstances I don’t often get round to reading your Blog but I really enjoyed this. You certainly looked very relaxed and happy last Thursday at the virtual pub. Good to see your smiling face.

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    1. Thank you Gary! As you see I mentioned the virtual pub as one of plus points, looking forward to the next one. Meanwhile feel free to browse past posts… and most importantly STAY WELL!

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  5. Congratulations, to the well gone surgery. You are just right back, for a little bit horror. However, its not an asteroid we have to await for a visit. This way, its only a bug. Have a beautiful weekend. Stay save and well. Michael

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  6. Good to hear from you and glad your eye is improving. Apart from the cloud of worry about the virus hanging over us all I’m rather enjoying the lockdown. As I was crossing out various events and appointments in my diary early in March I realised it was mostly with a sigh of relief. I don’t feel any need to find replacement activities – at least, not yet. I have a book to write (might even get on with it tomorrow – or the day after), my blog to keep up and others to read, a daily walk, pottering in the garden and a tbr pile which will easily last to the end of the year. I think when this is all over I will continue to enjoy my reclusive state. It will be nice to hug my son, though.

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    1. You mirror my thoughts exactly Mary! I just feel a bit guilty for sneakily enjoying so many aspects of it when I know people are suffering and losing loved ones – but I think also being used to working from home helps, and feeling that I’ve had lots of chances already in my life to travel. If i was younger I might feel differently. Take care.

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  7. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
    A lovely post from Jessica Norrie who has been absent for some time following her second glaucoma operation (that she is recovering from very well) She shares two books that she has read including a very interesting one that reveals some surprising statistics…Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez and also shares some of her worthwhile pastimes now that she is in seclusion… which I have decided to use instead of isolation. An entertaining read as always.. please head over to enjoy. thanks Sally.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes seclusion definitely sounds nicer than isolation, (although it did make me think of nuns). Hard to feel completely isolated with Zoom, WhatsApp, Messenger… sometimes need to turn them off even! thank you for sharing Sally, as ever.

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      1. Each to their own. I can’t think of anything worse than being banged up and forced to watch an Andrew Lloyd Webber show, but fortunately the Royal Opera will be streaming Handel at the same time…And with harems or nunneries we’re definitely between a rock and a hard place…

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