Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020
Can’t believe its nearly four months since my last post. But there hasn’t been much to write about. No sooner had I recovered from heart surgery than the great pall of Covid descended, and a quiet life became even quieter. Some good things came out of it. I’m a compulsive book buyer and coronavirus gave me the chance to redress the balance between buying books and actually reading them. I discovered the great pleasure of R K Narayan’s stories. An elegant, assured writer bringing the characters and the atmosphere of an Indian small town to life with colour and much humour. A delight.
If the days weren’t too hot and the garden not too tempting, I worked away on two writing projects – preparing a fourth volume of my diaries and beginning research for a book based on the short life of my Great-Uncle Harry who fought in Gallipoli and died on the Somme. In the short term I enjoyed re-uniting with Robert Lindsay for a Lockdown Theatre performance of A Bit of Waiting For Godot, with Jo Lumley as Narratress (her description). Also did some fresh interviews for a series looking back at my travels which will run through October on BBC 2. Michael Palin – Travels of a Lifetime. More details soon.
Being forced to slow down a far too frenetic lifestyle does have benefits. My heart scare reminded me that my body isn’t indestructible and if I want to keep it that way I must know when to stop working as well as when to start again. Over the last year I discovered a rather enjoyable equilibrium, a balance between work and relaxation that for the first time in my life favoured the latter.
Whether I can keep this going into the year ahead I don’t know. I’ll try. I shall indulge my curiosity but not be controlled by it. After forty years I’ve given up running, and taken to long walks instead. Running was a a fierce and competitive fight with myself, justified largely by how good I felt afterwards. Walking is something to enjoy at the time. It’s about noticing things, taking time, listening to noises other than the thump of your own heart or the slip-slap of trainers. And I treat Hampstead Heath as a phone-free zone.
Strange times. All my life I’ve been spurred on by the infinite possibilities ahead, now those infinite possibilities have been replaced by infinite problems, I’ve drawn in my horns for a bit.
Ah, sorry, that’s my phone ringing.