Diary of a Booker Winner (in waiting) – 8

A Bad Time for Imagination

March 21st

COVID 19 on the mind

Books Read (that I would recommend): 1:  Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine  (She was more than)

This week’s other worthy achievements: 0

Coronavirus conversations: More than numerous – see one such one below:

‘I know! You could write a book about it!’

‘Hmm. I imagine there’ll be hundreds of books and movies about it once it’s over.’

‘Yeah. And?’

‘Well, it wouldn’t be very original would it?’

‘Well, yes and no, you know what they say – there are only 7 basic plots and all that.’

‘Yes. I wish someone would come up with an eighth just to stop that cliché being bandied around.’

‘Yeah. It is a bit depressing really I suppose, if you think about it – it’s basically saying all our lives are simply a version of one of seven basic plots.’

‘Or perhaps at best a flitting between the seven. Yes, I prefer the assumption of plethorability.’


‘Mind you a wise friend stated this week that it was a bad time to have an imagination.’


‘I’d been enquiring about her current health status.’

‘Oh. Right. It’s a good question I suppose – is there ever a bad time to have an imagination?’

‘Maybe it can cause us more grief than good.’


‘I know. I wonder if maybe we should try to corral our imagination.’

‘Focus it you mean?’

‘Yes, no more free rein for the neocortex and thalamus.’


‘They’re the bits of the brain that do our imagining. Apparently. Them and a few other lobes and nodules and glands and stuff. It’s all a bit complicated. I didn’t really grasp it. Hard to make sense of it.’

‘Tell me about it. I once imagined there was a mouse living in the cutlery drawer. I ate with my fingers for 6 weeks.’

‘Maybe we should try to control it though? Direct it a bit at least. Maybe we should try and imagine that everyone will now show their better self. Maybe we should imagine they’ll only buy the groceries they need. Maybe we should imagine that world leaders will work together to find and share solutions. Maybe we should imagine the youth will want to save their elders and so be prepared to sacrifice their instinct and socially distance. Maybe we should imagine us all emerging as better individuals once these strange and dangerous days have passed. Maybe we should imagine we will all have a renewed love of life, a profound respect for community and an urgent urge to protect each other.’

‘Yeah… wow… I think your friend’s right though. We certainly need to try and curb our imaginings with regard to our own health at the moment.’

‘True. That might do for starters. Let me know if you need anything.’

‘Will do. You too.’



H. B. O'Neill

H. B. O’Neill is a London born writer inspired by the City and its myriad opportunity for comedy, pain, drama and adventure. He is a prize-winning poet and short story writer, a screenwriter, playwright and author. His much-anticipated novel According to Mark is due to be published soon.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jeff Scott

    Good stuff. I know it wasn’t the crux of your post, but the first thing that jumped out to me was “there are only 7 basic plots and all that.” I’d never heard that before.

    Thanks for the reminder to guide my imagination.

Leave a Reply

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.