DAY 2: Sun 15 Mar

On which I realise I may have rather a lot to do

A peaceful night’s sleep followed by breakfast in front of the TV,  swapping between the BBC, Al Jazeera, Sky News and Russia Today. UK Health Minister Hancock on Marr inspires far less confidence that South Korea’s well composed Foreign Minister.

Then a leisurely bath catching up on the latest edition of Searchlight and a chapter or two from Bill Samuel’s delightful ‘An Accidental Bookseller’, his  personal memoir of Foyles. 

That got me to thinking about how many books I shall be able to get through over the coming months. I am just finishing Jenny Erpenbeck’s prize winning ‘Go Went Gone, which explores the transformative impact of refugees on one man’s sheltered life in Germany. Then I must then complete ‘The Colour of Smoke’ an epic novel of the Roma by Menyheret Lakatos, born in a Romani settlement in Hungary in 1926. 

But there is a mountain of largely untouched volumes awaiting my attention, some of them enormous tomes. In alphabetical order”

Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald; Ballpoint by George Moldova; Breaking News by Alan Rusbridger; Citizen Clem by John Bec; Kids by Camila Batmanghelidjh; Leo the African by Amin Maalouf; Second-Hand Time by Svetlana Alexievich; The Burning Land by George Alagiah; The Clanking of Chains by Brinsley MacNamara; The Forty Days of Musa Dagh by Franz Werfel; The Maamtrasna Murders by Margaret Kelleher; Then the Walls Came Down by Danny Morrson

Meanwhile my kids have donated – possibly with no sense of irony at the time – Prime Minister Boris and other things that never happened by Duncan Brach & Iain Dale, and Martin Jacques’ When China Rules the World.

I have listed them here so I can measure how far I get. I have a sneaking suspicion I may get through a few box sets before this lot have been consumed. I may need to stay in solitary for a year or two.

Having compiled that list I thought I should also enumerate the house hold task that need doing. A good spring clean once the sun comes out; oh, and there’s a room full of boxes containing 40 years of notebooks and memorabilia that need sorting out.

Plus, of course, I should finish the history of the private madhouses of Fishponds which I have ben researching for the last 18 months, and complete the translation from the French the memoirs of an Armenian member of the Resistance who survived four nazi prison camps. Not to mention putting together the story of the East End News Co-operative, which I helped to found 40 years ago. And I have just committed myself to compiling a history of the Stephen & Matilda Tenants Housing Co-operative, which I helped to found more than 45 years ago.

When all is said and done, perhaps self-isolation could not have come at a better time. 

I checked my weight after the bath. I do not intend to announce what the dastardly scales revealed, suffice to say that perhaps comfort food should not be a part of my new regime, and my exercise equipment might need some exercise. Should things work out, maybe I’ll publicise any improvements to my physique at a later date.

Then it was time for a WhatsApp chat with the grandchildren. Later the hospital told me my godmother is fine and will be going home tomorrow. And there has been good news from Ireland, where a colleague and his wife are now in lockdown too. 

The sun has come out, so it’s time to let the chickens have a run. 

An afternoon of writing and more phone calls, and then preparing a wholesome supper – steak, mash & greens washed down with another red from Naked Wines. Sounds wholesome enough to me; after all I had no lunch.

Then I shall find a decent movie on MUBI and retire early. Or should I delve into Belgravia? Decisions, decisions…

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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