During lockdown I think my life has taken even more of an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ quality, with a few chunks of ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ for good measure.
The Mad Hatter is of course unaware that mercury is responsible for his and all the other old hatters demise, whilst the March Hare, still preoccupied with riddles, cannot be surprised that some of us feel like the dormouse and are seriously contemplating sleeping in a teapot for ever.
I can sympathize with him after months of lockdown. I often struggle to remember what day of the week it is and just snuggle under the duvet again. My diary is empty of real events, life has lost its rhythm and rhyme. It has sometimes felt that some of the reason for living has flown out of the window.
I tend to be optimistic by nature, maybe just have a strong survival streak due to fact that I was born with a damaged mouth in the blitz in 1940. It took years of struggle to breath properly, pronounce many words etc all of which has had an impact on my whole life. Strangely, my mother did not tell me about this until I was 30, I wish she’d mentioned it earlier. Perhaps that’s what turned me into a reluctant clown in an effort to survive.
My younger sister was very clever and passed the eleven plus but still had endless problems due to the fact we were the daughters of puppeteers and destined never to fit in! But on the bright side we had the advantage for many years of what might be considered home schooling. We lived in a house of creativity which belonged to our grandparents, who had barely recovered from the impact of the Great War let alone the second.
Granny was always taking people in, one or two ended up living with us for many years, others became somewhat irregular childminders for my sister and I. After the war father was unable to settle into civilian life so we led a life of constant insecurity, but with the advantage of learning about modelling marionette heads, creating a fairyland of characters. My mother wrote scripts and dressed marionettes. In the early years they created a real theatre in our front room with tip-up seats and a paying audience on Sundays.
We used scenes from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ a lot and left the world of school and its discipline for summer seasons in seaside resorts. So a Cheshire cat could appear and disappear, a white rabbit have all the right cards up his sleeve and, to my mind, still does! Thank goodness I was always aware that the tale ends with that pack of cards cascading down on the courtroom and Alice emerging, like me sane, sensible.
I guess fear of getting the illness so late in life and a creeping sort of loneliness has been the scourge of covid for me. But I still managed to transfer a poetry group I had been running in a local cafe for ten years to zoom. I am proud of that!
It has not been easy that my partner has health issues, so we are even more cautious about going out, but he plays several musical instruments and can happily practice for long periods, while I shut myself away in the chaos of our spare room writing poems and attempting to edit my old films etc.
Most of all I miss those off peak rail trips up to the galleries, the Summer Exhibition at the RA, a visit to the Tate or the South Bank, the Poetry SchooL.. It all seems like a lifetime away. How I miss London stations, St. Pancras, Victoria, the magic of the station clocks, a chance to pop into Paperchase, search for a notebook or a card, always finding something reduced! Anne Marie-Fyfe’s poetry workshops at The Troubadour.
How I loved catching the train to Victoria, the bus to Brompton Road so I could see all those wonderful shops, the glamour of Harrods, the stately architecture of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The buzz, the music, the wine, the company, the drama, listening to invited poets and from time to time even reading a poem myself at the Troubadour. Rushing for my bus at 10pm, grabbing a Chinese takeaway to eat on the train going home.
I started life trying to keep safe. I am lucky to have a home and a garden but it still seems very strange. I stopped watching the news months ago. Friends have lost loved ones and the distress of old people in care homes without visitors makes grim reading in the papers that I also currently avoid. I know a bit about care homes, when I was unable to care for my granny, she went into one. I got used to hiring a wheelchair at weekends to to take her to the park.
In my lifetime I have been at the bedside of three members of the family in their last hours, in very sad circumstances, but at least I was there for them.
So counting ones blessings! Food, kind neighbours, friends, grown up grandchildren in different parts of the country, one in the medical profession. I have sons and daughter sin law who were in various tiers and visited when allowed. I get regular long distance technical support from Robin my eldest son, so have edited two very short films with new editing system.
If you type in ‘Ann Perrin’ and the following titles, you can see these on youtube
1. Paris 1948 and Poem – Music From Another Room – from “The Puppeteer’s Daughter” by Ann Perrin
2. Poetry from Postman’s Park in London
My little poetry group have written poems all through the last lockdown and Maggie, one or the poets asked for two poems from each person and produced a handmade anthology. What a wonderful gesture!
It was a tough old year I had to give up my allotment, I need my eyes tested and yes there have been a few days when I have just stayed in bed all day. but the spring will come, I’ll be back in the garden.
Now I have started again I’ll be back writing my blog, after all it’s about 12 years old and in December I had hundreds of people reading old posts on a daily basis. So guess I am doing something right!