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Covid-19: the view from Casa Frugal

Updated: Apr 23

When I set this blog up, it was with the intention of writing about my experience of engaging with the Arts in the beautiful part of the world that I am fortunate enough to live in. I had various events, concerts, readings etc lined up, some as an audience member and some as a contributor. We all know what happened.

My lockdown isn’t much hardship. I live on my own but am well connected with friends and family. What would this have been like thirty years ago, without Skype and social media? The former is certainly a blessing (on Saturday we’re attempting an extended family reading of a seventies farce) and the latter, while it can lead you to some dark places, is on balance working for me. I may be fortunate in my friends, but so far there has been a lot of funny, uplifting stuff on there, with more genuine interaction and less shouting across the ether than usual. The mainstream media is more depressing – the analysis shallow and tentative, and the same video footage played over and over for days now of a guy packing PPE in a Midlands factory. The only thing the government seems to be ramping up is the use of the phrase “ramping up.”

There’s been a lot of sharing of favourite music tracks, and confessions as to artists we’ve just never really got to grips with. One friend – a musician indeed - attracted massive attention, not to mention a degree of concern, when he admitted to having never really listened to Joni Mitchell. With a dozen fantastic albums to get acquainted with, he’s sorted through till the summer.

I get out a fair bit. In a previous post I mentioned my dog walking gig. That’s a daily ritual, and for those who are interested I am now a black belt at poo-picking. (See a previous post to understand what a journey this represents). Everyone in my little town seems to be being sensible. I’ve heard few cross words and lots of cheerful greeting and thanking. I know it’s fashionable to knock Tesco but the staff at my local supermarket are staying remarkably positive, and I feel very grateful for what they do. I’ve seen the police around a fair bit but it’s all quite chilled.

I was supposed to be promoting Mentoring Mr Singleman just now, but a couple of events were cancelled and in the first week or so of the heightened awareness it didn’t seem entirely sensitive to keep banging on about it. Before the travel ban (if that’s what it is – nobody seems quite sure) kicked in, I was offering a half-price doorstep delivery deal for over seventies, but that’s now on hold. Yesterday I did an email “interview” with a publicist, which was stimulating – testing questions about the characters and setting, and not always the ones you would expect.

I haven’t actually been writing anything, although you would think this would be the ideal opportunity to begin work on the Difficult Second Novel. I was however moved to make a contribution to the emerging genre of Coronavirus cover songs, in the guise of Frugal McDougall, an occasional alter ego who hawks his dubious Dylan adaptations around folk clubs and farewell parties. There's a video on Facebook somewhere.

Wherever you are, I hope that you are in good mental, physical and emotional health. If you have children to keep amused and happy you have my particular sympathy, and if you are a frontline worker of any sort – thank you so much.



Onward and Upward.

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