Yesterday evening, on the phone to my son, O, I reminded him that I was on holiday this week, and then went on to complain that I’d not got anything done. ‘Isn’t that what holidays are all about?’ he said. ‘You know me,’ I said into the phone. An extended yes came back, and we changed the subject. I do always say to people that I’m very bad at taking time off, and that, to truly relax, I actually need to get away from where I live. And that’s not the talk of a spoilt man who wants luxury, but one of the few significant disadvantages of having worked from home for over 21 years now. If you work from home, all the days become the same, and you’re always drawn towards doing something because your tools for doing are around you all the time, even if you try to separate your work space from your living space. In my case, where I do all my writing in the same space I carry out my day job, the boundaries blur even more. Of course there are significant advantages, too – I am forever grateful that I had the flexibility for much of my children’s younger days, to be there for them most of the time, to have been able to drop everything if they needed me, because I could always make up time when they were in bed and/or the crisis had passed.
What I did do yesterday was finally to write three out of the four email letters to my (Tory) MP, Chloe Smith, that I’d been intending to send for weeks. In the first one I asked her if she’d already sent her letter of No Confidence in Johnson to the 1922 committee, and if she hadn’t why hadn’t she? I also suggested she might at the same time want to send a letter of permanent resignation as an MP, seeing as she and her colleagues carry collective responsibility for backing Johnson, collective responsibility for over 175,000 unnecessary covid deaths, collective responsibility for Brexit which is having a significant adverse impact on the cost of living, and collective responsibility for poor state of the UK economy. In the second one I asked her to finally send me an adequate response to my letter of September about the Health & Care Bill (essentially a bill to privatise the NHS) to which I’d previously had a response that addressed a question I hadn’t even asked. Finally, I sent her a letter about the incessant low-flying military aircraft over Norwich (and we’re being buzzed again right now by one with an ear-splitting basso profundo roar) which are a clear and present danger to people in this city (it would be a massacre if one of them crashed), and which are creating sound and air pollution, I told her that I expected her to ensure that this practice would cease as soon as possible. Needless to say, I’ve not yet had a response to any of these letters. And if anyone says I’m just one of thousands of constituents, that’s not actually the point – being an MP is an act of public service and sacrifice; it shouldn’t be self-serving act (but is for most of these MPs, especially those with second jobs). The fourth letter, which I will try to write today will be about the totalitarian Policing Bill the government is pushing through Parliament right now.
Radio show – tick.
Daily walk – tick. Actually, more than a tick. I ended up walking over eight km round places in Norwich I’d not been before. It’s always interesting to do these pavement walks (especially when Mousehold Heath is too boggy to contemplate because it makes it difficult to build up any sort of rhythm), but at the same sad to see that Norwich, like all other larger cities has areas of appalling deprivation sitting right next to areas of vast wealth. I walked past huge houses with huge gardens, and the next moment passed rows of terraced houses with broken-down garden walls, smashed glass, heaps of litter, and primitive roof and extension repairs. The fact that it’s always been like this the world round is no consolation. What was a consolation yesterday was to see that quite a few households still had Christmas trees and lights up in the front rooms – we need all the cheer we can get.
Phone call to O – tick (he called me actually, and it’s a great parental joy when your children voluntarily call you rather than the other way round).
Phone call to T (sister) – tick. She’s off to Australia from Germany today, so we wanted to have a quick chat (which ended up not so quick a chat).
Pick up A from Norwich station after one of her occasional road trips to see friends – tick (and it was 23:35 by the time we got back).
That’s why I’m up late this morning. I can’t quell my adrenaline after I’ve been out, even just on a simple trip like this, and stayed up until 1am reading. That’s something I need to work on, compartmentalising wakefulness and the need for sleep.
Oh, and I got another letter from G, my old friend from the writing group. That was a joy.
Doing nothing is hard work. And I got no writing done