A month of lockdown has come and gone and I’ve been in a kind of stasis doing bits and pieces of things here and there mainly because health has gotten rather grumbly the more I have stayed still. I think I do better when I’m gadding about all over the place on trains, to be honest. Wonder if there’s something in that?
Anyway, part of the way through last week it seemed time to slowly move off the sofa and to try and find the desk. It’s not actually that far away from the sofa given that my bungalow is rather on the compact side. It’s at the other end of the living room. I wheeled towards it in trepidation and was confronted by a massive pile of odds and papers, mail, at least 3 bottles of Tippex, 2 laptops and just a whole lot of gubbins really. Definitely time for a wee bit of a sort out and while I’m at it a bit of a mental tidy too!
During the past month while on the sofa Spring has sprung and the photo above shows the little Lost Thing Tree flourishing. We were given mini Christmas trees by the Royal Opera House production partway through the run of The Lost Thing in December. I kept mine in my hotel room in London for weeks, hopefully watering it and it has survived that plus the second half of a Highland winter and is looking decidedly perky!
I’ve returned to research at RCS and have managed to find a way back into academia and writing and thinking in that way but it has been so slow and like trying to get those cogwheels in the brain moving again through really thick treacle! The research department at RCS are doing really well in trying to keep the community connected and have been great at making sure I can be involved by using online platforms which have an auto-captioning feature or by booking an Electronic Note Taker/Captioner for meetings and talks. I actually feel more connected than when I could go in person, I think this is a shift in approach by them and by me and is heartening and encouraging.
The first month of a new artist residency with Drake Music in London has also passed. As with the work at RCS it has taken a little while to push through the patchy health and find ways to be productive in small actually possible ways. The residency and the organisation together with almost everyone and everything else has shifted to a different pace and to remote working. Thankfully even though I live somewhere quite small in the Scottish Highlands they do have excellent broadband and yes I know you probably think I’m making that up!!!!
It has been really really difficult to gain any sort of momentum lately, I have a feeling that many other folks may be feeling the same way? I wake up every morning and have sort of forgotten about the lockdown and how many lives are being lost and then something pings on in my brain and I remember …… then a small pit of anxious dread appears in the pit of my stomach. I keep reminding myself how fortunate I am and that my family & friends in Italy & Scotland are fine and that helps. I drink a glass of water, breathe deeply and get a grip.
During this first month of the residency, we have been getting to know the organisation and our fellow artists. There are 3 of us and we each have very different approaches and artistic practices and it’s this and being given “creative challenges” to get us going that has made this more than a bit startling and a swift kick up the creative nethers. In a good way, I hasten to add! We started off making new “hold music” for when folks phone into Drake Music and are put on hold, this was rather scuppered by everyone suddenly being away from the office and working at home. We’re looking at ways we might use the material we created later this week. What has transpired is a podcast and then a listening party that happened last week. Those are unlikely terms and not ones I had expected to encounter but a podcast was written in an intricate and unusual and difficult and triumphant way. I’ll include a link in the next “thrilling” blog instalment in May when it goes live. Here’s a song from the podcast in the meantime – Never Lose Heart.
Other surprising things this month have been thinking about things that you dread and avoid in a different way because you meet and work with someone who just expresses these in different and less scary terms. When asked the question “How do you present yourself visually online?” it was one of those moments where I just wanted to hide in the cupboard although unfortunately, the wheelchair won’t fit ……. so this is my homework from lovely Drake Music PR/Comms person, what could I do to find a way to build a new website that I feel comfortable with and can do so without posting my face and stuff everywhere ……. It’s going to happen on this here blog, the site will be expanded and developed because apparently, you can add “pages” or something!