Today I managed to see my long time friend – Tom Cahill, of sometime American, occasionally French and now mostly British personage, a Quaker, Anarchist, Cyclist, Tai Chi practitioner and ‘old guy’ who lives near enough for me to avoid arrest for unnecessary travel and who needed some shopping. We sat a long way from each other and he snooped on the comings and goings of various people in his building, finally moving chairs so he could see who was out and about. In his 70s he is still one of the best connected people I know, so his phone buzzed constantly, people turned up with further deliveries and he answered the occasional call on messenger whilst we discussed the fall out from Boris Johnson becoming ill and the possible impacts on society of long term social distance and isolation.
On the way home I saw more evidence of the solidarity and support for the NHS that also found expression in the coordinated applause across the country last night.
Are there small indications of something changing beneath the surface, a reaching out to neighbours and a desire to share common experiences that are other and more joyful than those a virus might have us share? The emergence of a commons that could be strengthened and sustained perhaps?
That we now have ‘mutual aid’ groups everywhere, is something unexpected, tender and beautiful.
Working from home today, the rest of the day, was all about preparing online tasks in an attempt to render the abnormal as normal and the strange as routine. Ironically, to prepare a class on the ‘freedom of association’, just at the moment we have little choice, but to avoid it. It’s a real pleasure to engage with students, albeit some are now scattered to different places and to home countries, and despite responsibilities outside work making the synchronous nature of that engagement more difficult than might otherwise be the case.
So to the ‘domestic’ and photography, I fear when the spring light is finally extinguished by the low pressure gloom of another inevitable weather front rolling in off the Bay I might struggle for a subject. Already the absence of interaction with an outside, with the street, or the expanse of the Lakes and Dales that I had thought were on my doorstep, but are now considerably further than I can travel, stretches me. The absence of the spaces where people engage, become close, watch and are watched hinders my imagination. Interior landscapes, are so much less landscapes without a diverse population of characters to animate them, the visitors, neighbours and wider family. And of course Gwyn, Dylan and Joel will only humour me for so long.
Over then to the spring light that continues to give some form to the mundane, even though it remains resolutely mundane.
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