Difficult Times

Right now, at this minute, I’m finding this difficult. I’m scared. Not really for myself. Well, a bit. But mostly for other people I know, and like, and love, and don’t want to lose, or for them to feel scared, or vulnerable.

It’s the uncertainty. The invisibility of it. The sense that, as time passes, you’ll hear of someone related to someone you know succumbing. Followed by someone you kind of know. Followed by someone you definitely know. And so on. The sense that this thing is growing exponentially and getting closer. All the time.

And in the meantime, everything has been turned on its head. Normal life has been suspended. Kids aren’t going to school. Shops, pubs and restaurants are shuttered. The skies are quiet. The roads are quiet. At a stroke, my livelihood and the livelihood of hundreds and thousands of others is under threat.

And why? Because a microscopic virus made a leap from the animal kingdom to human patient zero. And from that one, random occurrence, over thirteen thousand people are dead and civilisation has pretty well closed down.

It’s easy to get mired in the detail. To consume all the news, the details, the latest lockdowns, the deaths. To scroll endlessly through social media. To see human behaviour at its best and its worst. To weigh the examples of human kindness against examples of exploitation and advantage-taking.

To dig deep and find some impetus for creativity in the face of this has been difficult. The positive thinking that I have worked on so hard to develop over the last two and a bit years has, at times over the last few weeks, and especially this last week, deserted me. Replaced by, as a friend recently put it, a feeling of ‘existential dread and fear’. It’s easy to give up. To sink below the waves and give one’s self up to despair, inertia, inaction and a presumed inevitability.

I won’t do that though. This fucking virus will not beat me. If anything, I’m determined to use this time of dislocation to sharpen my focus, to use my creativity and determination, regain my positivity and move on past it.

Not much to show for the week, unfortunately. Cancelling exams, while not as time-consuming as organising them, still takes time. I didn’t want to do it by email. I wanted to talk to teachers, to gauge their mood, to listen to their frustrations, to show them I understood, and to offer support. And then the rest of the week was really taken up with working out how to move our exams online, to examine remotely in an era of social distance and isolation. And that, let me tell you, has been pretty positive and exciting.

Anyway, I painted those poppies onto a tuna can. A little overworked and fussy but it’ll do.

That’s 11 cans now, waiting for a major candle making session …

I carved a heart from an avocado stone …

I tried to carve a freehand face from a piece of wood. It’s been a while since I carved anything from wood so I’m a bit rusty. This is poorly proportioned and definitely not pretty, but it does like like a face at least …

And then, yesterday, I bought a new toy. A scroll saw. Here it is …

It’s effectively an electric fretsaw and with it one can effortlessly (well, if the wood is thin enough) cut shapes in wood. Like this one …

I’ve had this old soda syphon in the garage for years. I’m pretty sure it came from my mum’s house when I cleared it out after she died. It was dusty and corroded so I cleaned it up yesterday and I think it looks pretty good now. The glass is amazingly thick.

Finally, a friend sent me this. I’m passing it on.


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