Lockdown stories

Ewan has asked me to share ‘what I did in my lockdown’. What did I get up to when I wasn’t playing and singing for the Heath Street Home Companion or settling into a Sunday coffee Zoom call? Well, I’m so grateful for the HSHC and those Sunday chats. They were highlights of the lockdown!

I doubt I was alone in spending more time than usual on my doorstep in those early days. It was a liminal time. I would take my morning coffee and sit in the doorway, watching.

My initial response was to compose into it. In the first nine days I wrote a short piece each day. These became the Lockdown Lyrics for two voices and cello. Each text has three lines of nine syllables, in a nod to the sense of emergency and constraint. They were also a way of processing the ups and downs, such as when my friend from college days became very ill with Covid.

I live with three other performers. All of our performing work was cancelled, of course. One of us (not me!!!) is an acrobat, and his training regime of six hours minimum per day, six days per week, had to continue. The way that he just got on with it was inspiring.

A fair amount of my work moved online. Then there was the silver lining of having extra time. I continued composing a piece that I am writing for the Finzi Trust about mountain hares. I also completed a companion travel book about the research process. So I have now written the first draft of a book about composing with mountain hares in the Cairngorms!

We live in Forest Hill, South London. I discovered that I could get on my bicycle and be in the North Downs of Kent within an hour and a half. A couple of spins out there were really helpful. Also one of my flatmates discovered that he could make millionaire’s shortbread and proceeded to make it regularly – another highlight of lockdown! We even had a couple of lessons in how to do a handstand….

See you all soon,

Love,

Bill Carslake


My garden has been another room during lockdown. Spring seemed even more beautiful, the birds singing louder without traffic noise and the sky such a clear blue. I have enjoyed trying to make it less wild. A friend gave me two tomato plants, and it’s exciting the tomatoes are now changing colour. I have planted more flowers. I found lockdown heightened all my senses. Besides this, I can now cope with Zoom and a bit more technology, though I still have a way to go with that, and have gone back to knitting. Four months of not going out seemed daunting at first, but I got used to being here with myself in a different way and I am very fortunate to have a garden. But it is wonderful now to go for walks and meet people outside. This poem sums it up.

I thank you God for most this amazing
(Poem by EE Cummings)

I thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes.

(I who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Susan Le Quesne

 

 


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