Thursday, 25 November 2021

Books, Browsing, Spontaneity, Reading, Escaping, Boosting and Kindness


this weeks post it notes, the ever beautiful James Mason (oh be still my beating heart) who I adore and who I was talking about with a chum earlier this week, my lovely fountain pen that I write my journal with and my current reading matter - and a book by an author and series I absolutely love and I am now rationing the last few pages as I have rattled through it far too quickly and there is no more Cazalet Chronicles to read after this as I've read them all and this was the last one E J Howard wrote before her death in 2014, I picked it up from the Little Free Library at the side of the canal in Rodley the other weekend.
I am still a devotee of actual paperbooks rather than reading on a kindle or listening to an audiobook as such tho I do listen to a lot of serialisations on Radio4 Extra or on BBC Sounds - I still mostly don't listen to live Radio 4 as the hourly news bulletins are just too anxiety and anger provoking. 

No matte medium transfers this week to share with you other than the ones on show here and here as I've yet to send the 35mm film off to be developed (oh the excitement of waiting in these instant digital times is both exquisite and agonising)  plus I've been concentrating on getting the xmas presents I'm making finished instead and I'm on schedule and had the concentration span to read lots too... 

It might still be too early to call this a habit again but I have definitely got a bit of my blogging mojo back and it's becoming a bit of a regular thing again. I am still hoping it becomes properly habitual again - as it both helps me formulate and gather my thoughts as well as punctuate/define the week a bit.  Not least because I am proper old school and although I do stream some tv programmes I still sit down and watch some at the time they are being broadcast. 

How very retro in these netflix, amazon prime, youtube and i-player (other streaming services are available) times I hear you say and just as Thursday is starting to become update blog day, it's also Justice day. Justice is a tv series from the 1970's currently showing on Talking Pictures TV 8pm on a Thursday night and it features the very marvellous Margaret Lockwood as a barrister and it is both of its times and ahead of its times and quite gripping and it is also fun to location spot bits of Leeds that either have changed very little and are still recognisable or are now almost beyond recognition.

It's also or rather has been as it is the finale tonight -  new Drag Race UK day - I've liked all of this seasons competitors but my favourites are Charity Kase and Chorizo May but in terms of finalists I  think I am TeamElla as I fell in love with her from her first runway which celebrated the striking women from the Ford Factory at Dagenham.  My heart however continues to belong to The Boulet Brothers and all their works and I also have a very great fondness for Peaches Christ and her very marvellous indeed Midnight Mass podcast - if you love horror/quirky cult films then give yourself a treat and give it a listen.

It's an understatement to say that the pandemic has disrupted my (and everyone elses) usual habits almost completely though at the same time I am bewildered, depressed and frankly frightened by those who seem to be carrying on as if nothing has changed or happened at all. I put this down to some people just being fed up about it, misinformed by conspiracy theorists but also down to the pisspoor lack of leadership and good examples from the government but I could rant about those corrupt selfish liars forever so I'll stop there and get back to my original point...

So some new things for me have become regular fixtures and frankly a lifesaver in these ongoing uncertain and bewildering times, things like the Arts and Minds Meet and Make Space on a Tuesday lunchtime, chatting to chums on Zoom for instance and thankfully some pre pandemic things have become a thing again - twice weekly gym sessions and going to the local little greengrocers, delis and butchers at least once a week too. 

I do the latter for various  reasons - it's a good walk, the food is so much nicer and not covered in plastic and it's also nice to see money go to a local business rather than a big corporate group plus it keeps me in the habit of going out and interacting with actual people in some way. Though part of the appeal of these particular shops is that they have excellent ventilation as they either have their doors open all the time or are mostly outside. 

One of the things I am missing most and have missed the most is spontaneity - not that I was ever a really spontaneous person but things could be done without additional thoughts and precautions like have I got a mask on me, have I got some handwash, will there be good ventilation, how busy is it going to be etc etc... and lack of fear around being inside a building with other people without visible open windows like a cinema or a theatre. Though I have managed a theatre trip I have yet to manage a cinema trip.  

I had my booster jab last Saturday at the big vaccination centre at Elland Road and I am hoping that it will make me less anxious about going places, mixing with other people but for the time being I'm still being and feeling cautious and I will continue to be a fresh air fiend as well as testing when necessary, regular handwashing and mask wearing when indoors with others. 

I was rather anxious going for my booster - I don't like needles, it wasn't at my local surgery that I know well and I was slightly worried if I'd have any unpleasant side effects from the vaccine as well as the welcome actual effects. It took rather longer than I would have liked as they asked a lot of questions before administering the jab as well as insisting on a 15 minute post jab wait and I just wanted to be in and out again but all the staff were empathetic and professional.

But it was the kindness from and the conversation I had with one of the volunteers who brought me a paper cup of water after I'd had my jab as I felt a bit woozy straight away afterwards which really affected me. I don't think my feeling a little woozy was down to the contents of the jab but rather the whole situation around getting it.

She saw the book I was carrying and reading from in an attempt to distract myself and feel less anxious. It was A Single Thread by Tracey Chevalier which I had picked up from Meanwood Community Shop (aka one of the best secondhand bookshops ever) and it is the story of a woman whose fiance died in the trenches of World War One and how she makes a new life for herself and becomes an embroiderer. 

The volunteer told me that she had completely lost her reading mojo (her words) and she had a pile of unread books at home and since the pandemic began she had found it very difficult to concentrate or read for any length of time and that she could no longer read anything in which anything horrible happened - especially to children and was no longer able to read fiction in particular.

I found myself tearing up as she told me this, partly I think because I was just feeling a bit overwhelmed but also because I just felt so sad at the all the ongoing personal unseen effects of the pandemic that don't get reflected in the statistics of hospitalisations and deaths and economic impact but also because for as long as I can remember reading has been my refuge, distraction, delight and on occasion despair. 

I rarely go anywhere without a book in my bag, I still usually have 2 or 3 on the go at any time - a serious one that's either a textbook or historical, a bit of brain bubblegum fluff fiction and a serious more literary piece of fiction.

The times when my anxiety or depression has been so bad that I cannot sit and read have been the worst as I haven't been able to escape into another world or time or been made to think about something I never have before.

It made me feel so sad for her that she had lost her ability to read and transport herself, partly because I could totally empathise with that but also because she had been so kind in bringing me some water and not making me feel like I was being a wuss. When I was leaving I thanked her for her kindness and said I hope she got her reading mojo back soon.

Jabwise my arm felt like I'd been hit hard with the flat side of a cricket bat for a couple of days, didn't have the best nights sleep and was very sleepy for the day afterwards, then felt okay then felt rubbish again and had very vivid dreams and a blotchy red rash came up around the injection site but that's faded again now and I feel okay again. Let's see how I feel tomorrow... 

                                             Thank you for reading

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