The O on my Imac doesn’t work. The zero, I mean. It’s frustrating, improvising with an O. Which doesn’t look right. Apart from that, and a neighbour who doesn’t understand boundaries, I love lockdown.
I was already in lockdown and social distancing long before everyone else was in lockdown and social distancing. As a writer, only child, and single mother, I feel my life has been one long isolation. Even when I was married, I would collect my belongings as though I would be chucked out at any minute (which, ironically, he did try). This isn’t a plea for sympathy, I’m just outlining the context. I do love lockdown.
As a travel writer, although I have visited places in groups, and met wonderful and interesting people on the way, mostly I’m by myself. I am able to explore, interview, challenge myself – alone. Listen, observe and report.
And so it has been with the last few months, where I have felt like Jesus in the wilderness – and everyone has joined me. I would take a daily walk in the park – social distancing, of course – with a hello and a smile to others; although Richmond isn’t exactly a cuddle bunny sort of place, so although people may offer a smile and say hello, it’s usually only if there’s a dog or two to break the ice. Otherwise, people naturally social distance.
As a novelist, I have also found this time a fountain of nurturing creativity, observing as everyone grasps the hope of the new normal, not realising the old normal was not normal at all. It wasn’t sustainable, it was inequitable, and the value system of the social constructs were not only inept and dishonest but frequently back-to-front.
As a travel journalist, I feel like the little boy with the clothes-less Emperor, as travel journalists continue to have webinars about what they should write about. There is no travel. Well, there is, if you’re fortunate to afford private jets, but otherwise there is no travel. The quarantine will kybosh any opportunity go abroad (unless you have a holiday home, in which case most will be happy to self isolate for two weeks), but most people will not be able to afford holidays and those who do, will probably hole up somewhere like Babington House or similar Soho House hamlet – if they haven’t already. If the recent Cummings debacle has taught the great unwashed anything, is that the views expressed in the film The Riot Club are alive and kicking in the upper echelons of every establishment – not that we didn’t know that already, we were just living in hopeful denial.
But less of the finger-pointing. Where was I? Oh, yes, why I love #lockdown.
I’ve discovered gardening. It took a global pandemic to do this, but I have enjoyed digging up old roots and planting azaleas and lilac trees and wild sage and other plants I can never remember the name of but look pretty. And I’ve realised my neighbour is an a*sehole – only on one side. Of the fence, that is, not his arse. I knew this already because they would take up the parking space, turn their music up, and behave as if no-one else existed, but recently I found their dead wood strangling my lilac tree, which drew me to my conclusion. It’s a metaphor for me being the bearer of their selfishness if ever there was one.
As for creativity, I’ve written two novellas – The Witches of Richmond and The Redundant Travel Journalist – two children’s books – The Amazing Book of and Fourteen – and am busily researching a biography, Love Laterally, about the physician and psychologist Edward de Bono. I’ve read many books on thinking, and written about thinking, and teaching yoga every day, all of which has kept me balanced. If you want balance, watch sixteen mini yogis in their little boxes on screen hovering in lotus pose each weekday morning. Ahhhhh.
In fact, I’ve taught more yoga in lockdown than out of it. I’ve acclimatised to Zoom. Oh, and because I live in Richmond, I have not missed the planes one bit. The travel industry had lost its way. Too many planes and not enough appreciation of what travel was about. It was, and everyone was, going in the wrong direction. The lockdown is a wake-up call.
However, my view – and it is only my lowly view – is that people will go back to as they were before. More’s the pity. I liked the quiet, the simplicity, the distancing, the need to observe rather than judge. I liked that I didn’t watch the news or daytime TV which became more banal as the days turned into weeks. And I never watched the politicians because they were never asked the questions that were needed to be asked, and they looked more shifty and imperious by the day.
Of course, the lockdown is diabolical for many. I’m fortunate to have a garden. The park is within walking distance. My friends and family, thank goodness, are OK, although I keep a check on them just to make sure. And when I feel down, I am able to go out and walk, and hug a tree or have a good cry – which I have done a few times. More than a few times, admittedly, but it’s good for me.
They say the secret of happiness is to have someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to. That’s it. That simple. Although I don’t have a partner, I do love my son (safely ensconced with his father in the South West, probably with enough organic provisions to last three years, an air rifle and baseball bat to fend off any Londoners wanting to buy some sugar, knowing him). I have plenty to do and something to look forward to. I’m starting a PhD in Education at Cambridge in the Autumn – virus permitting. And if my neighbours p*ss me off again, I’m going to write a novella about them too.
I am very fortunate. I know it. It just shouldn’t take a lockdown to make people realise what is important. After – if and when it is over – I wonder how many people will still remember what is.
The Amazing Book of Brilliant Balances, Super Stretches, Terrific Twists, Brilliant Breathing and Excellent Energies: Practical Yoga for Children and The Redundant Travel Journalist are out now and available from all good stockists.
For more information about Sarah and her work, please visit sarahtucker.info.
Illustrations by Nick Roberts