Diary of a Booker Winner (in waiting) – 11

Literature, Libation and a Look out of the Window

“I’d much rather be someone’s shot of whiskey than everyone’s cup of tea.”
― Carrie Bradshaw

April 11 2020

A world still in lockdown

And only the one topic of conversation

My week in summary:

Non-Convinced Nods to Nature: 1

Sessions with Mr Motivator or Joe Wicks: 1.5

New (quickly becoming cherished) habits formed:  1

Disturbed Dreams Due to Overconsumption of Box Sets: 1

Ventures Outside the Front Door: 2 (Sainsburys 1, Tesco Express 1)

Proud Literary Related Achievements: 0

The aforementioned new habit is to fondly partake of a glass of whiskey before bed – if we can’t be kind to ourselves now then when? And there is of course sound literary backing for such endeavour.

“Whisky is liquid sunshine.”
― George Bernard Shaw

The last week has been another curious one. 2020 is already a year like none other. There’s a new déjà vu. Days are melding into one. Routines are repeated on much smaller scale. We’re living in boxes now more than ever. We’ve time on our hands and little demand on how we use it. I should have been creating copious floods of flowery prose but instead allowed the TV another victory. And then let the lower-brow echelons of the internet secure a solid second-place.

TV wise, I finished my re-watch of the twelve seasons of Trailer Park Boys, did the weekly Better Call Saul, gave War for the Planet of the Apes a go, watched The Mum Who Got Tourette’s, then succumbed to a trending Netflix show about Tigers and their somewhat eccentric owners. It was no doubt that gem of a mini-series that afforded me a deeply disturbing dream in which the old lady two doors down had a bad-tempered Black panther loosely tethered in her garden. (Our fences are short and somewhat flimsy and when lain in bed I’m never fully convinced that I’ve remembered to lock the back door.)

I woke with a start and immediately looked to my left. The bottle stared back. I immediately remembered another recently discovered observation.

“The light music of whisky falling into glasses made an agreeable interlude.”

(James Joyce, Dubliners)

But no, a habit could easily turn bad. I got up, checked the back door (it was firmly locked) and returned to the safer comfort of the duvet, successfully avoiding the lure of liquid interlude.

The next day I determined to switch my allegiance and so the TV stayed blank. My new would-be ally, the radio, promised we now had more time to witness and appreciate nature. It seemed logical (and surely harmless) advice. I drew back the curtains, looked out of the window and almost immediately witnessed two pigeons copulating on the garden fence. I was a bit cross. Offended even. It seemed they were somewhat flaunting their freedom. Performing a carefree and flagrant fornication flouting all the current social acceptables being adhered to by their non-feathered friends.  Not one ounce of sympathy or decorum was evident during their frenzied flapping.

And it had only just turned 11 am.

On a Tuesday morning.

It was shortly after that unsavoury sighting that I turned the radio off and transferred allegiance to the World Wide Web. But that soon threw up worrisome concerns and dilemmas. Brow-furrowing moral questions for this new Covid-infused era. For example, was it okay to shop on eBay and hence heap pressure on the Royal Mail?  Would the postman’s journey be elongated, unnecessarily endangered and increasingly stressful thanks to my successful bid on a Bob Marley t shirt that urged ‘Don’t Worry’ ?

And what of the poor seller having to traipse to and cope with the Post Office? My local one is very narrow-aisled – surely rendering the two metres something of a pipe dream. “Half a dozen stamps, a guide to DIY PPE and a full decontamination please.”

No, the web wasn’t the answer. I knew that. Deep down I was convinced. I innately knew I could lessen my anxiety without reminder from Robert Nesta. Instead I should stick to doing what I was convinced I was supposed to do – to what I believed to be my destiny to do. My duty even.  I should be writing. Something that (ironically) I truly enjoyed doing. But if I knew all that then why had I been so distracted, unfocused and wayward? Why had I procrastinated and shied away from what was truly worthy? And how could I regain my literary mojo? My scribbling discipline?

Perhaps if I searched for another helpful quote…

“There is indeed one person who can help solve “writer’s block”. His name is Mr Johnnie Walker.”
― Ashwin Sanghi

Hmm. Well, maybe a slightly larger glass tonight. But strictly just the one.

And following the final sweet sip, I’d swear a solemn vow that next week I would do so much better…

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.

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