As the end of my self-isolation period approaches, with just one more full day to go, I start thinking about all the things I said I was going to do but haven’t yet found time for–my tax returns, sewing that button back on my chinos, dusting the skirting boards, buying and assembling a new garden shed. That last one is excusable, given how rotten I’ve felt for the first few days.
These reflections weren’t all glum, since they got me to sit down and type up a pile of manuscript for my very-almost-nearly finished novel that I thought at one point I’d get done by Christmas. Like Stephen King says somewhere in IT, when a man writes, he thinks harder. Most of my major blocks and hitches have been because I’m too busy of anxious to think through the kind of details of plot and character that could be solved with five minutes of concentrated reflection. And as I said last entry, it helps that the physical act of typing is so much more enjoyable on this new computer.
Squish and I spend a period working back to back, she at the table and me at the desk, which is a nice way to orient things. She’s dealing with a bit of a nightmare brief at the moment: a complicated product where the company is only willing to shell out for 30 seconds of explanation. It needs a lot of restructuring and fiddly cutting down–I help by eliminating the odd split infinitive.
Not one of nature’s home workers, she’s also a bit disappointed to be working from home until Wednesday, to give her non-vaccinated co-worker a bit of space. I’m also looking forward to going back into school. It’s odd how you start craving some of the stuff you’d never have thought you’d miss–reminds me of the month I spent backpacking around New Zealand in t-shirt and shorts, and how at the end of all that I had an odd craving to wear a shirt and tie!
We order sushi for dinner, which is very satisfying, because unlike the last time we did this I can actually taste what’s going on. Later, I type up my Day 5 journal for the blog, which turns out to be the 100th blog post I’ve written since 2012. Can’t believe how that number’s crept up. Occasionally I think maybe I should try moving to somewhere more trendy like Medium, but nothing here’s broken and a couple of past posts still get regular hits from interested Google browsers.
Pinch and a punch for the first of the month, I say, tapping Squish lightly on the arm. We lie in for a while watching Love, Death and Robots, an anthology of animated sci-fi shorts which gives us a lot to chew over. Broadly, we hate the photo-realistic shooting ones, which are far too much like videogame trailers–some of the others flaunt their adult animation by using nudity and sexual violence for mere shock value–but there are some real gems here, and some beautiful pieces of animation, and it’s interesting to recognise adaptations of short stories by sci-fi luminaries like Alistair Reynolds, J.G. Ballard and Peter F. Hamilton.
Not much else happens. I type up all the books I’ve read this June, for a long-interrupted blog series, and find great pleasure in the way my fingers rattle across the keys. Since I’ve updated my laptop, I’ve realised that a fair amount of my low writing productivity over the past months can be blamed on sticky shift keys and the general lack of pleasure associated with my old keyboard. All of these blogs have been written up from my handwritten diary entries, which is an enjoyably low-effort manual exercise, and gives me a certain degree of pride in my rudimentary touch-typing skill set.
It being a hot day, I sit out in the sunshine and doodle manicules in the margin of The Anatomy of Melancholy wherever I find an interesting passage–later I sit in and watch the tennis. I try to make a meeting on Microsoft Teams for form tutors at my new school who will teaching Year 7 from September–how exciting is that going to be, having my own tutor group–but I don’t find out what time it is due to differences in the Teams set-up between their email and mine. I come in at the end after everyone’s left and have a quick chat with the Head of Transition, who is very welcoming and understanding. Covid’s played havoc with my plans to visit the school and meet the department, but there’s hope I can squeeze a visit in this Friday, which is an inset day at my regular school.
By the sixth day of self-isolation, most of my symptoms have cleared up. Occasional coughs and sneezes are the worst of it–and sometimes I can cough so hard it makes my head hurt. But I feel I’m pretty much back to full power, and some faint sense of tast may even be returning, to judge by the tingling on the right hand side of my tongue.
It’s rougher on Squish, who is still struggling with the gastric aspect of the Delta variant, something which has happily passed me by. She manages a staggered return to work today, taking a little break between projects. With my job there’s nothing I can do from home, so I lounge about playing a bit of Metroid in between frantic two-player bouts of Doctor Mario, reading Simon Armitage’s translation of Pearl to round off the month’s books, and watching the first episode of Doctor Who: The Moonbase, with Patrick Troughton. This is an animated version of a missing episode, as with The Power of the Daleks, but I really like this style: it’s claustrophobic, shadowy and captures Troughton’s incredible range of facial expression well. It’s enough to make one regret that episodes 2 and 4 survive as live action.
There’s someone at the door while Squish is in the middle of a meeting–it turns out to be her mum, Lara, popping down after a visit to Squish’s grandparents to drop off another set of hardbacks, the silliest and most enticing of which is Her Majesty the Queen Investigates: The Windsor Knot. It’ll have to do pretty well to better Alan Bennett’s hilarious novella, The Uncommon Reader, but I’ll admit to a soft spot for royal family fan fiction.
It’s a flying visit from Lara–she asks if there’s anything she can get us, but I’ve already asked a friend if he can bring us a loaf, so we’re pretty good on that front. Nontheless, she turns up half an hour later with fancy choux buns, piled high with cream and fruit–and I can almost taste mine…