In the days when I travelled I found myself stuck in many strange places. On an Arctic island in a snowstorm, waiting for rescue planes in the South American rainforest, in Khartoum waiting for someone to take us safely across the Ethiopian border. Now, thanks to lockdown, I’m stuck at home.
I thought it would be boring and frustrating but it’s quite the opposite. I’ve begun to notice and take real pleasure in the small things.
Instead of sitting down staring at my screen and throwing occasional glances out of the window, I now stare out of the window and throw occasional glances at my screen.
It’s spring-time and there are wonderful things out there. A few feet away from me a wisteria has entwined itself across a pergola. For the last few months it’s been a dry and spindly thing, but almost overnight it has burst into life and from being a purely functional perch for birds it’s now a thing of beauty in itself, it’s branches tasselled with long purple-white blossom.
And around it I can see birds whose lives are clearly not in lockdown, working hard on their properties and their sex lives. Not laid up like us, they can go where they want, when they want, as often as they want. I envy them.
But Out of The Window means more than what I literally see. It’s also about observing how different the world is now. Letters from the Prime Minister drop through the letter-box, food deliveries arrive, revealing that you’ve pressed one key too many and ordered 400 teabags instead of 40 and the Archbishop of Canterbury conducts Easter Sunday service from his kitchen.
But some things never change. Like multi-option phone calls which have given me a lot of grief recently. You know the sort of thing…
If you are calling to ask about why something has not happened press 1. If you have a query that involves non-availability press 2. If you have previously called and are already in the system press 3. If you have made an application press 4. If you have not made an application press 5. If you have made an application but wish to withdraw it press 6. If you are from Germany and have left your bicycle in this country press 7. If you are called Anthony and play cricket press 8. If you want a straight answer to a direct question press 47.
I’ve imagined this one. But then imagination is the biggest window of all.