Who doesn’t find these times difficult? No one I know. But regardless of the virus, these few months were going to be an in-between time for me anyway. I finished a book last year, we went to Australia in January and early February, and when we returned, I’d planned to set about catching up on things I’d put off before, leaving them until I’d completed the book. Media pressure telling us to keep busy, motivated me to clear up my unattended tasks in record time, and with my new book, Otto and Frankie, not due to be published until September, I had to think about what I’d do next.
Although there was plenty of tidying up from winter, and spring/summer preparation to do in the garden, I was kind of relieved when an old rose arbour showed serious signs of imminent collapse. This was an immediate danger. The arbour roof was tiled, and should it have collapsed, which I was sure it would do at any moment, it would have crashed to the ground, smashing the stone path and crushing all the new green shoots in the nearby border – let alone slicing my wife’s or my or both our heads open should we have been close by at the time of its self-demolition. There was nothing for it but to take it down. The morning after I’d discovered its decline, relieved it hadn’t fallen down in the night, my wife and I started to take it apart. Apart from the fear of being buried under it, should it break away from its last remaining supports, we knew, in the current circumstances, we wouldn’t have been welcomed at A&E. We completed it without any damage to the garden and us, although until the tips reopen, its dismembered parts are stacked out of site.
I thought about starting on a new book but binned the idea quite soon after – I had no idea what I’d write about and found concentration hard in these troubled times. In the hope I’d find inspiration for a short story, I started revisiting my past writings. I found a small piece, no more than 600 to 700 words, that I’d written some years back for a local publication. It was about a man who found his lost father, and it inspired me to write The parents I did not meet.
My version of Paul Simon’s classic song 50 ways to leave your lover, changed to 50 ways to stay in lockdown follows this post.
I’ll be posting more about Otto and Frankie, due out in September, later. In the meantime, follow the link.