Seasonal variations


It’s not yet 8am on Sunday, but I’m up and about feeling restless. With a bit of luck, I’ll find my way back to bed after this.

It’s a couple of days after Christmas and, before me, a couple of weeks of vacation time. This morning I made a couple of decisions I’ve been stewing on.

I was expecting to travel down the coast to Wye River to spend time with friends. I’ve opted out of that, basically because I can’t really face it. I’m not really in a social mood and troubled enough that the thought of being among people for a few days is too much to contemplate. The trip away might be beneficial in other ways, but the effort at pretence becomes a burden when you’re in this place.

I also had an invite to an NYE dinner party I’d have been happy to attend – the food is guaranteed to be top-notch, and the company (all strangers to me, but one) sounds interesting (I can put on a show for a few hours). I’m not going though. It sounds corny, but I feel a responsibility to JV, who is by himself. We’ll likely have a lame NYE together, but I can’t abandon him.

I was at his home for Christmas dinner. If you recall, I was ambivalent about being there. I was right to be, as it turned out.

I got there, we exchanged presents and had a drink. While JV prepared the dinner he’d so carefully planned, his daughter went upstairs to play. About 45 minutes later, we could hear loud, theatrical sobs audible over the sound of music playing. JV went to investigate and returned shrugging his shoulders. He suggested his daughter was unhappy she wasn’t getting the attention she thrived on.

After another 45 minutes, we heard the same sobbing. He went to check on her again and returned grim-faced. She’s going home, he told me. She’d called her mum already, asking to be picked up because she felt ‘unsafe’.

I was shocked and angry. We were about to serve up the dinner JV had crafted with so much effort. As his daughter is intolerant of many foods, it had been put together to cater for her – now it was just the two of us eating it, and pretty miserable it was, too.

His daughter has been over-indulged forever, particularly by her mother. Because she has special dietary requirements, she tends to be picky with everything, and a tendency to feel special due to it. I’m reluctant to condemn an eight-year-old child – kids will be kids, and they’ll grow out of many childish foibles. The problem is that she’s now an only child growing up with her parents separated and well aware of the power that gives her. Ever since I’ve known her, she’s been the same – a bright but entitled brat. JV is well aware that she has to change.

I felt so sorry for him – his first Christmas as a single father and putting his heart and soul into making it right – only to have it ruined very cynically by a child who felt she wasn’t being indulged enough.

I left early feeling flat. It was enough for me to remind myself that I can’t have another Christmas like this. It was a weary acceptance without any heat to it. I felt sad for JV; me, I can take it.

Yesterday was a lovely lazy day sitting on the couch, watching the Boxing Day Test. Towards the evening I felt melancholy again, but I recognise it as the seasonal variant, as it was on Wednesday. Christmas is hard for many people. I wouldn’t say it’s hard for me, though it was one year. More often, I’ll have moments when it comes to the surface, and I’ll be pervaded by sorrow.

There’s no mystery to it. I have a lot of memories, and many of them lovely, but all those times have passed, and I’m reminded of the people I loved who have gone, and the happy occasions I’m no longer part of. It’s a part of my problem, perhaps, that I’m able to swallow it up generally and rationalise it in my mind. It’s how I’ve endured for so long and kept going one step after another, but I’ve come to believe that it’s unhealthy in the long-run. I carry it with me like a stone, and sometimes I feel it. I need to dispose of it and move on.

I don’t expect any revelations over the next fortnight, but I hope to come to some understanding within myself. I’ll busy myself with day trips and reading and writing, knowing that I must return to the grindstone soon. All I want, really, is an idea of what I really feel, and what I really want.

A Christmas bone


It’s Christmas morning, and so far I’ve had a coffee in bed and read for an hour, exchanged a message with a friend, replied to a work email, and had a shower. We went for a walk then, Rigby and I, much as we would on a Saturday morning – only it’s Friday now, and Christmas as well, and Cheeseboy and Bailey weren’t there waiting for us.

Still, I stopped at the cafe, which is our usual meeting point. It was open for the morning, and as I have for weeks on end went to order a coffee – which they well and truly know by now. After exchanging a Merry Christmas, they convinced me to buy an almond croissant also. A few minutes later, one of the staff we’ve come to know well, a French woman, came out to us with the coffee. “Made with love,” she said.

We’re home now, and will be until later in the afternoon. I’m happy to keep to myself. I have strong memories of Christmas past, and I think it was the memory of that which cast a shadow on Wednesday. It’s become a Christmas ritual of my own, the melancholy recalling happier days, and loved ones now past. I’m back on the straight and narrow now.

While I was out, I exchanged friendly nods with passers-by and Christmas greetings. Going out and coming back I observed a kid of about 10-12 zipping around the block on his (presumably new) motorised skateboard. I remember that feeling myself, though it’s many years past now. One year I got a bike, and as soon as we’d finished unwrapping presents I was out on the road with it, showing it off to friends and getting a load of the exciting stuff Santa had left them.

Later today, I’m off to JV’s for a Christmas dinner. He wants me there, so I’m happy to attend, though I feel a bit funny about it.

Initially, his parents – from Sydney – were due to be there also and I was happy to attend. I have great affection for his dad and was happy to join their small party. They never made it, and now it’s just me with JV and his young daughter. I feel like I shouldn’t be there – I’m not family – but recognise how forlorn it would be just the two of them acting it up for Christmas – this is his first Christmas as a father and single man. I’ll be there then, getting in the festive spirit, or acting it out, anyway.

Other than a friend in Sydney, I haven’t contacted anyone today. After the mad headlong rush first thing Christmas morning, I expect that I’ll start getting messages through on my phone and Facebook. I’ll respond with good cheer, and in fact, as I write this, I have Christmas carols playing in the background.

I have things to do before then. I’m bringing a dish and must make it first. I might make some egg nog, just for the hell of it. And I have yet to give Rigby his gift – a delicious big bone to chew on. What more could you ask for on Christmas Day?

Free days


So, I’m on leave now, and suddenly everything is the nearest it’s been to fine for a long time.

Last week was a real struggle. I don’t know if it was the realisation that there were only a few days to go, or if it was the things happening that made it so. Probably a bit of both. I was busy all week. On Friday I went to the office for meetings and to head off to a Christmas function, and I was late leaving because there were still things to sort out. And at the function, which I attended from a sense of duty, I was still unsettled.

But that night I caught up with JV and Donna for our Christmas dinner. I was tired, but it was good to relax. We had a lovely meal and the customary lively conversation. We exchanged modest gifts, and each of us looked ahead, to Christmas immediately before us, and the new year beyond that.

For a bit of fun, we touched upon Seinfeld and had a session airing our grievances. It was intended to be a bit of a laugh, but it unearthed some interesting things.

JV was the first in the firing line. With a smile, I accused him of being ‘too nice’. It’s true enough, he’s a lovely guy, but it’s hardly a vice – except that sometimes it means he lets others get away with things they shouldn’t. And that’s what it boiled down to as the discussion progressed.

Next, it was Donna, and it was no surprise that JV mentioned her serial unpunctuality. To my surprise, tears came to her eyes, and I thought we’d misjudged the moment. She was okay, though. She smiled through it, and I know it’s something she’s been working to improve. She’s had a hard year.

After that, I invited them to come at me. I wanted the pleasure of taking me down to distract them, but I was wary of what might come out of it. In my own mind, there were traits I thought worthy of criticism, but they struggled to come up with anything. Finally, JV said I need to open myself up more to women. His major contention was that I don’t really give them a chance and was quick to judge – my mum used to say the same thing.

I replied, with a typically deflective grin, that I was at the age where I’m quick to judge everything. But he was right, and I conceded the point. I think openness is the critical factor here.

On Sunday, the kids – my two nephews and niece – came over for lunch, along with their golden retriever, Grace. It was not something I was looking forward too. As has often been the case lately, I felt off physically. I longed for a quiet day. But then they came, and we had a fine time.

The dogs frolicked together – Rigby was particularly excited, and we set off up the road to have lunch at a nearby cafe. It was a lovely sunny day, and people were out and about and the vibe hopeful and happy.

I’m out for lunch today catching up with someone I haven’t seen since well before Covid. It’s a rainy day, but we’ll be sitting indoors in the Royal Saxon, in Richmond.

Tomorrow night, I have dinner with another friend. On Christmas Eve, JV will visit, and the following day I’ll be joining him for Christmas dinner.

The rest of the time, I’m catching up and doing little things. I got a new MacBook Air delivered last week and am having fun setting that up. I made a curry yesterday. For the first time in over a month, I did some writing. I called to catch up with my aunt and uncle and to give the annual apology for missing Christmas day with them. And I’m taking time to read.

One thing I hope for through this period is to replenish my physical stocks. I’m actually heading to a physiotherapist this morning. I have to heal my mentality too, which might be the bigger challenge. I don’t know if I’ll figure anything out, but I hope to come out of this with a general idea of the direction I should be taking.

It’s only been a few days, but I feel much better.

When the sun’s out…


It feels like a marvellous day today. The sun is out and the sky a brilliant blue. I was out before with Cheeseboy walking our dogs by the beach. We’ve seen every mood of the sea in the last few months, from moody and tempestuous to still and serene. There’s always something to draw you in.

Today the sea had a shimmering stillness to it. It was a darker blue blending into the paler blue of the sky, like a Mondrian painting. Here and there divers dipped and surfaced, and others, on standing boards, paddled the still waters. The sand was golden, and in the distance, the yacht club with yachts at anchor looked splendid. We both stopped at the sight. We could be in the south of France, I said, and Cheeseboy agreed.

Today is a day like hundreds more in memory, perfectly composed end enduring. For some reason, I’m reminded of my childhood mainly, and long, summery days with the sound of mowers humming in the distance and kids playing in the street – though I remember too, days when I was older when I felt as if all of life was ahead of me.

We went for a walk yesterday, as well. Afterwards, I went for lunch at a friends place where we sat in the shade and had a beautiful meal of Kobe barbecued with an Asian dipping sauce, chicken wings, asparagus, corn and home-made flatbread with creme brulee.

Rigby came with me – he’s welcome with this friend, who is a grand cook and a kind soul. The novelty was being out in the car and driving across town to visit someone in their home.

The night before JV joined me for a few glasses of wine and tapas at a wine bar in Hampton street. That was the true novelty. We’d had to book ahead, and to sit down for the first time in months and be waited on was a great pleasure. Tomorrow, we’re talking about going to a pub for a counter-meal and to watch the Melbourne Cup races on the big screen, just for fun.

And Friday I visited Southland for an eye-test. It’d been ages since I’d been to a mall, and I was surprised it wasn’t busier. A few shops were closed, and at others, long queues were waiting to get in because of social distancing restrictions. I avoided those shops.

It feels now as if summer is coming and a new world opening up. Strange to see what’s happening in the northern hemisphere in parallel to this. England is locking down for a month (sure, right), while we’re heading towards the promise of elimination and holidays at the beach. Cases are through the roof in Europe and the US and thousands dying, while we have it under control (touch wood).

We’ve been lucky, no doubt, but we’ve worked hard for our luck. I don’t know what next year holds, but after yesterday – when my friend agreed to look after Rigby after Christmas – I’m looking for a few days down Wye River with the Cheeses before the year is out.

When life is good, it’s really good here. Australia!

What’s on the box?


I’ve had three nights out since March, and when I say ‘night’s out’ it’s very loosely defined. Two of those were early evening visits to pubs in Richmond where I would have a beer and a counter-meal in the two hours designated to me. On both occasions, I was home by 8pm. Cray, eh? The other night was a visit to the Cheeses in that brief period of relative freedom. We had dinner, a bottle or two of wine, and watched a movie. I walked home afterwards.

That’s the size of it. I used to complain about my social life. In my heyday, I’d be out 3-4 nights a week. Those days are long gone, and I don’t think I’d want to return to that. As a general rule, though, I reckon you need at least one night a week out being social. Though I complained, mostly I managed that over the last year. Until lockdown.

Being in lockdown means you have to find other ways to keep yourself entertained. In the absence of the give and take with friends, and the general distraction of other places – a pub or bar, a restaurant, a footy game or the home of a friend, and so on – the senses need something to distract from what isn’t there. There are few options.

For me, at least I read, but it’s possible to read too much. It’s like most things, you need a variety of tempo to keep things interesting, as well as different senses engaged along the way.

So I have books, lucky me, and I’ll listen to music too, and wending through my days are audiobooks I play when I’m preparing dinner or doing housework. There’s sport on TV these days, though much of it is uninspiring – the physical constraints of our times make for a poorer standard in general.

That leaves TV more generally, and streaming services more specifically. I reckon everyone has gone crazy watching Netflix and the other streaming services throughout this period. Listening in on social media, it seems that many have experienced the same as I have – we’re running out of shows to watch.

This is the uninspiring reality of our times. It exposes the shallowness of lifestyle but given there are few other alternatives, this shred of clothing is preferable to seeing the emperor in all his naked glory.

The other week I signed up to a month’s trial of Amazon Prime to find something new to watch. I found a few things, but there was one show particularly that was great.

Tales From the Loop is a funny sort of show. It seems as if set in a parallel universe to ours, very similar, but different in unique ways. The Loop itself – some groundbreaking technology unlike we have, is at the centre of the show. There are robots wandering the countryside and tractors that hover over the ground and everyday little things that seem quirky to our eyes. It’s very approachable though, almost modest, the technology accepted as if it is nothing special – which is what I guess what we do with the marvels we have come to take for granted.

The aesthetic is familiar to anyone who grew up through the seventies and eighties. There’s a cosy glow to it that made me feel nostalgic at times. At the centre of it are families, a small core group of them and their circle which the stories revolve around. It has a very relatable intimacy to it that is at times quite heart-rending.

As someone who writes, it’s the sort of authenticity you strive for. They’re the things you absorb more through your skin than you do your mind. You know them suddenly, you recognise the truth of something that perhaps you’ve never considered until that point. They’re like submerged memories coming to the surface. It’s a very human experience, and it’s our humanity these tales tough upon.

Some of these stories haunted me afterwards. They had a poignancy that comes from being real. You’re left afterwards thinking about them, and reflecting upon yourself. The music, by Phillip Glass, has a subtle melancholy that gets under your sin. It’s great music, and it is the perfect accompaniment to the story – non-intrusive, but it deepens the viewing experience.

I’ve watched the full series now and hope there will be another. It’s a hidden gem I probably not have encountered if not for the strange times we live in. I’d recommend to anyone, though I think the sensitive will get most out of it.

But, what’s next now? I’m watching The Marvellous Mrs Maisel and enjoying it well enough. Others are hit and miss. We’re going to be in this for a while yet, so I’ll need more recommendations.

Seasons passing


We’ve had some wintry blasts and the rainfall so far this year is at near-record levels (more than all of last year), but right now the weather is near perfect. The nights are clear and cold, and the chill persists into mid-morning. By then the sun is brightly shining in a sky almost bereft of cloud. It warms up slowly but becomes very pleasant. It’s a pleasure to go out in such serene weather. I’d happily settle for this 300 days of the year.

It’s funny to think that winter is less than two weeks away – though the weekend before last was cold and wet and I was so uninspired, so lethargic, that all I did was lay on the couch and watch Netflix.

I was more productive the weekend just gone. Friday was my designated day off, and its quickly becoming my favourite day of the week. Come Thursday night I feel released, though work is hardly a trial at the moment. I sleep in Friday morning and read. When I get up finally I set myself to do things – cook, clean, do some sorting out. Basically, achieve something. Every Friday I’ve ticked something more off the list, generally listening to Spotify or one of my audiobooks.

Though weekends are theoretically different now, they feel pretty much the same for me, and I’m generally doing the same as I would if I was in the office Monday to Friday. The only difference is that most Saturday’s I go for a long walk with Cheeseboy and the dogs down by the beach. Otherwise, I do the normal stuff – a bit of grocery shopping, a kitchen clean, maybe some cooking, and in the afternoon I’ll write. On Sunday I’ll cook myself breakfast, though avoiding the programs I used to watch about politics and sport. Once more, I’ll end up writing. Late afternoon I’ll put my virtual pen down and run a hot bath and shampoo my hair.

Like many others, I’ve left my hair go in lockdown. My last hair cut was in February. My hair is undoubtedly thick now, and growing to a bohemian length. I’m just passing through the awkward, in-between stage, and it should soon look a lot better. I don’t plan to get it cut until I have to, and then maybe not even then. I like having long hair, and I’m figuring I might adopt a summer-short hair/winter-long hair cycle.

I’ve been shaving every 8-10 days throughout this period, but am considering letting that grow out too. What counts against it is the itchy stage, and the fact it looks so fucking grey. Maybe I’ll get it coloured?

Regardless, I have time to make my mind up. Though restrictions are easing, it was confirmed this morning that we won’t be going back to work until July at the soonest. Even then, it won’t be all back.

I’m in no hurry to get back into the office, but I’m hanging out for a social beer.

 

My way


In lieu of all the overtime I did in preparation for lockdown, I’ve taken off today and tomorrow. I’m probably due a day or two on top of that, but this’ll likely do it.

It’s another cool day slowly weeping rain. We went for our walk before, Rigby and me. It was colder than I thought. The streets were quiet and damp. I came across a mother with her son walking their dog and exchanged a good morning. We did the loop, the chill setting in despite the activity, before making it home to a warm house.

I’ve fired up Spotify and made a cup of tea. I caught up on my emails and the news. I’ve mapped out this week’s menu – less meat this week than last: jollof rice, a roasted carrot and tomato spaghetti recipe, a Balinese curry, and maybe a French recipe come the weekend cooking chicken in milk. Lunch today is leftover soup (roasted carrot and parsnip) and dinner the leftover chicken dish from last night, which was delicious – a spicy, Indian inspired tomato and coriander chicken dish.

(For those interested in these things – few, I admit, though I’m one of them – I keep a database of recipes I’m constantly adding to. I cook, and I rate them, adding notes about how I might it improve it next time. Most of the recipes I make are new recipes because I like to try things. Anything with a rating 4 or above is a keeper. It’s a tough kitchen).

What I don’t miss this morning are the online meetings. I chafe at routine at the best of times, especially meaningless routine, but it’s gone to a new level in lockdown. I understand, there’s an inclination to make up for working apart by creating an artificial structure, which includes these meetings. And I understand that some will welcome it because they need it. I don’t. I would handle it better if the meetings were more spontaneous, but these are locked in and repetitive, same time every day. There’s a lot of earnest try-hard in the inspiration and conduct of these meetings, and I tune out 80% of the time. I just want to get back to doing the work.

But today and tomorrow I don’t need to deal with that. What I’ll do is return to my writing. It’s a good antidote to work because it drives everything else out of your head when you’re doing it. It can be exhausting, but it cleanses your mind of things that might otherwise longer.

I’ll stay in the warmth and perhaps later I’ll spend an hour reading. I’ll treat the mind. At some point, I’ll have to treat other parts of me, but that’ll have to wait.

For the record, despite a recent spate of infections, I expect we’ll be back in the office, more or less, by this time next month.

Restoration


Except to pick up the newspaper from the driveway, I didn’t walk out the front door yesterday. It was a quiet, indulgent day, and exactly what I needed. I put the heating on and lay on the couch and watched TV.

It blew outside, and sometimes it rained and throughout it was cool. There comes a time every year when the seasons change. That’s usually around Easter, but Easter is later this year, and the change has come regardless, I think. There’ll still be warm days, just as there were chilly days before, but the balance has tilted the other way. I don’t mind. It’s fine to be cooped up inside when it’s wintry without.

It did have a cosy feel yesterday. I watched an old footy match and most of a couple of movies before, mid-afternoon, I got into bed, fully clothed. I read for a while with an eclectic soundtrack streaming in the background. I grew tired and set my book aside. I closed my eyes and to the sounds of the Four Seasons, as vibrantly re-composed by Max Richter, I fell into a nap.

All of this was just what I needed. I was so weary, but with it, I felt a little off, as sometimes you will when you’re so tired. Out of sorts, I guess, my physic uncalibrated. My strength replenished itself as the day went on. By late afternoon I felt notably better than I did on waking up. Today, much restored, I am better again.

I finished the day watching a rerun of Se7en and later in bed reading again, before plunging into sleep.

I plan to take it quietly again today, but I’ve already been out to give Rigby the walk he missed out on yesterday. The wind is high in the trees. It reminds of the way surf sounds. The sky is low with clouds, and there’s no-one about.

I want to consolidate the gains I made yesterday, but I also plan to be a little more active today. I’ll cook a moussaka later. I need to bottle the tomato sauce I made. I’ll clear out my study a little more and, if I can manage it by myself, will move the filing cabinet to the garage and bring in my bike. I have a kit to turn it into a stationary bike, handy in times like these. And I expect the delivery of a new office chair later.

There’s work again tomorrow, but I hope and think the peak has passed for me. I sense around me in the meetings I have and what I read on social media that people are working, but mixing it with other things. I think that’s natural, but while I’ve set myself tasks every day, I complete them in my own time pretty much. I’ve been diligent, and have been working 9 hour days through this. Maybe I can begin to ease back. Once BAU returns, it’ll be a lot simpler – and Easter, not that it means much, is less than a week away.

In control


It’s just after 5pm, and I’ve knocked off after what feels like another busy, but productive, day working from home.

As it has been the last few, it’s a pretty day. The sky is blue, the temperature mild. Streets are quiet too, but then that’s the new normal.

It’s too early to say if I’ve formed a new set of routines, but it feels quite comfortable and seamless. Much of the routine is set for me. Every morning I have scheduled team meetings at 9.30 and 10.15 via Teams to catch-up on what’s going on. Today there was a much broader online catch-up at 10.30 for the whole department. I was on mute throughout as I didn’t need or want to say anything. It came as a distraction to me, and as I listened, I continued to work.

What becomes clear in times like these are the different ways people operate. It’s been said that extroverts will struggle in this current environment, and I can hear it in the too enthusiastic contributions to these meetings. I get nothing out of that. In fact, to be honest, I find it mildly irritating. There’s a lot of frivolity and mucking up, much more so than normal. These are abnormal times though, so it’s permitted and I turn a blind ear to it.

There was a clamour at the end of the meeting to make it a weekly thing. If today is anything to go by, there’s not much meat on the bone, but it’s not about that. It’s about contact and connection, and probably a lot of things I wrote about yesterday. The everyday routines are slipping away, and in times like this – for many – a meeting such as this is like clinging to a bit of wreckage in the sea after the ship has sunk beneath them.

I’m self-motivated, self-directed, self-sufficient. I draw from the inside, not externally, which paints me as a typical introvert. I prefer to be independent and do my own thing. Working from home presents no great challenge to me as I don’t need to be led or told (and prefer not to be). It works well for me now, and probably will continue to, but it’s something I need to be wary of.

My instinctive reaction today was typical. I get nothing out of what seems to be an artificial frisson, but then I’m the man who’ll do go it alone even against the best advice. I don’t like being needful or dependent or entangled, but it’s meant that when I should have asked for help in the past, I never did. That was a mistake, and something I need to be better at in general.

Today I got plenty of exercise, and perhaps I have those routines in place. This morning I went for a walk up to and behind the shopping centre, and to Hampton station. I climbed the stairs of the overpass and returned the way I came, just to make it a bit more strenuous. This afternoon I took Rigby for a walk in the sunshine. As it stands, I’ve completed a bit over 7,000 steps today.

I’ve also made a big pot of tomato sauce, and dinner is in the oven. Tomorrow I plan to make myself an omelette for breakfast before my first meeting. I feel in control.

 

Day two


Now that I’m working from home for God knows how long I’m facing the same challenges as thousands of others having to suddenly adapt to it.

I’ve done it before, and once FT when I had my own business, so not a huge stretch – though all the stuff around it is very different.

I’ve often found it much more productive working from home. There are not the distractions or interruptions of the office. You won’t waste time going up and down in the office (I race between floors), nor the general pointlessness of meetings. You work to your own natural rhythm. I generally start early-ish, then might drift off to have a shower or breakfast. Often times, I find myself to caught up in work that I look up and find hours have gone by. I’m always having lunch late. And sometimes I’ll work in the evening also, dipping in and out.

I’ve got my home office sorted after taking delivery of another monitor yesterday. I’ve got a Surface Pro, which is nice and portable, but not ideal for heavy-duty working – I’ve got it hooked up to two monitors in the office. Here I’ve got the one.

I think it’s important to create a routine in situations like this and to make an effort to remain active. I wake at the same time as I would if I was going to work. Instead of showering and getting dressed I make myself a coffee and check the important email from overnight, and respond as needed – I’m working if an offshore team. I’ll head back to bed for about an hour then catching up on news and social media, and maybe a chapter of the book I’m reading (currently, James: Varieties of Religious Experience).

I have online meetings first thing, but after that, I make an effort to go up the road to get a take-away coffee, while I still can. I’ve set myself goals in terms of activity, and won’t walk out the front door until I’ve had at least a thousand paces under my belt. I’ve got a bunch of exercise rituals I’ll tick off through the day, and I’ve committed to a minimum of 6,000 paces daily – at work, it’s nearer to 10,000, and around 13,000 more recently.

Here there are no stairs to climb, no place to roam come lunch, nobody to see – I’m not allowed. I go for my morning walk, and I walk Rigby in the afternoon or evening.

I plan to take a break around 4pm to do some cooking – a rice pudding, today. Tomorrow I’m making zucchini and feta fritters. For dinner tonight I’m having a homemade pizza. I also have a bunch of ironing to do around 5.30.

I’ll do a bit of work after that, have my dinner, and maybe I’ll have a hot tub after that. I was severely fatigued up to this morning, but some good rest has had a restorative effect. I still fancy in a bathful of radox tonight.

I’m umming and ahhing over my appearance. I dress casually through the day, naturally. But the haircut I had booked for Saturday has been cancelled, and it might be a while until I get my next one. I might go long then.

I’ve carried a beard since Christmas, but I thought I might shave it off in lockdown, which sounds counter-intuitive. It’s a close-cut beard that makes me look rugged – very much like a Viking. It also makes me look about ten years older because it’s predominantly grey, with pale sandy blonde bits. I like the beard, but I like seeming younger, too.

This is day two. I reckon there’s probably another month of this at least, and possibly much more. Whatever I do now will evolve into something more, as will the situation itself. I have a job now, am busy, but as the situation deteriorates – as we all know it will – what will come?

The old cliche, one day at a time.