In the last few weeks my husband has taken it upon himself to redecorate. My house is an absolute shambles with carpet pulled up, paint pots, big and small, dotted around the place, old sheets strewn across the underlay that is now the only thing between us and the concrete. There’s masking tape on all my window surrounds. I’d say he’d nearly tape me up if I didn’t make myself scarce at times. You can imagine the scene and between you, me and the gatepost, I’d put money on the pandemic being over before normality is restored in our household. It will be lovely when it’s finished, I keep telling myself. I’d even lend a hand only I’m next to useless after a spinal fusion, only good for keeping the household in clean clothes and hot dinners. And with the keto diet I’m on, the latter is proving a challenge and all.
Don’t get me wrong; it could be a lot worse and it is for so many right now. With schools closed in Ireland, my sister, a teacher, is holed up in Cork with the one son, while the other son is working in a hospital in Dublin. We don’t know who to worry about more; the nephew at the front line or the older rellies in lockdown in care homes. Or indeed my mother, living alone. She and I are the ones most familiar with self-isolation. She’s been doing it more or less since my Dad died years ago, God love her. Life just isn’t the same without him, but she makes the best of it.
As a writer, I spend days alone, but I always had the option to push myself out the door and go and write in a café. Even if the writing isn’t great on a particular day, at least there’s material going in by osmosis or something like that. Still, they say a writer must read, so I’ll have more time than ever to indulge that particular passion. Except the first thing the husband asked me to do when inspired to redecorate was pack away the books so he could move the bookcase. And how typical, it’s the very books I’ve had a mind to read or actually needed that are sealed up. Even on Saint Patrick’s Day, I had to google the recipe for soda bread. The shame of it! Never a confident cook, I’ve always consulted the Little Irish Cook Book I received from a dear friend about twenty-five years ago.
With the writing inertia that seems to go with continuous updates on the corona virus, I thought to finally read the works of Henry Lawson I’d picked up at a school fundraiser to broaden my limited knowledge of Australian literature. Packed away of course. The only books left out are dictionaries and texts on writing. In amongst them, thankfully, is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. To be honest, the way the uncertainty around the virus is going, I could do with a bit of Liz’s magic to push me out of my current funk. Having just received an offer of another two-book deal, I have work to do. In my head, I’m trying to focus on life after corona and being ready for it.
As borders close, I’m demented from fraught conversations with adult children about where to be and how quickly to get there. I have the one home, with another who just moved from Adelaide to Hobart for study currently packing and booking the boat back to be with her boyfriend in South Australia. But I’m keeping the head down, keeping calm and carrying on as the advice goes. I will get to my writing, I will reopen those boxes and read those precious books and hopefully we will be spared this deadly infection and have a brighter, fresher house and future to look forward to by the end of it.