The last time I blogged here was in July 2018. That year I’d been blogging every week, nearly every Sunday over six months. I’ve missed doing it. I think I’ve also missed the self-discipline that was involved in doing it. So here I am again. I’m back.
I had actually intended to start blogging again on the first Sunday of this year – Sunday 5 January, to be exact. It was one of my many New Year resolutions: to write more regularly (on many projects), to lose weight, to drink less, to read more, to get fit, walk more (at least 10,000 steps a day with the ‘MyFitnessPal’ app), learn the piano, learn to draw or paint, improve my Spanish, learn Catalan, try and perform comedy again (or maybe not), sort out all the old family videos for my kids, spend more ‘quality time’ with them and with Juliane, relax more and ‘de-stress’, try yoga and mindfulness, enjoy life, smile more, enjoy ‘the moment’, enjoy all moments, actually – and to generally be nicer to everyone (seriously) and try to help people who need help (somehow).
I often write some of these aims on yellow post-it notes, especially around midnight before I pass out, just to remind myself what I should be trying to achieve the next day. I often wake up to see a post-it telling me to, ‘Seize the day! Run!’ – and I normally grunt, ‘Fuck off’. The next post-it I usually write is, ‘Go to bed earlier! Do NOT open the second bottle!’ My post-it notes are a bit like Donald Trump tweets, full of exclamation marks!!!! I should just write a post-it that says ‘Do NOT write post-its!’
My hair has begun to scare me. It’s begun to scare Juliane, too. Like everyone else, we’ve just completed the fifth week of lockdown here in Spain and my hair now has a life of its own. My hair is not in lockdown, or at least it’s trying to break free. I have bushy hair that grows upwards and outwards quite quickly, sometimes overnight. I first learned how to plaster it down with Spanish glue or gomina when I was living in Madrid in the late eighties, when for some reason I thought I should try to look like a pijo banker (I think I’m spelling banker correctly).
I was due for my monthly (more or less) haircut on Saturday 14 March, the same day that the Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez announced the start of the ‘state of alarm’ Coronavirus lockdown. My barber normally refers to my mop of hair as the ‘Lion King’ even after not seeing me for just a month. I cancelled the 14 March appointment, thinking it could wait a couple of weeks. It clearly couldn’t. My hair has been in a state of alarm ever since. Two weeks has become five, and it looks likely to become eight.
Because we don’t see anyone, apart from on video calls and brilliant Zoom parties, I’ve mostly given up on the gomina. I asked Juliane to cut my hair but instead she wants it to become a sort of lockdown ‘experiment’, to see how long it can get. Sometimes I look like Einstein or Brian May from Queen, but normally I just look deranged. Even our dog has started to give me funny looks.
I had some of these brilliant Zoom parties last weekend, for my birthday. I’ve already posted about it on social media. It’s a birthday I’ll never forget. With so much sadness in the world right now, I felt very lucky to have had a wonderful day, thanks to amazing friends and family. Many glasses were raised – not just to me at all – but to all the health workers out there and to those whose families have been personally affected by this pandemic.
I didn’t want to start this blog again writing about politics or even current affairs – that can all wait. I personally feel that we all need to help one another to get through this crisis first – and that in the meantime, party politics should certainly be put to one side. For me, the birthday helped to underline the most important things in life: family, friends, love, personal contact, laughter and health.
It was a ‘big number’ birthday, too. I’d never expected to be celebrating it in lockdown and it made me reflect where I’d been for my 50th birthday (Ibiza), 40th (Suffolk), 30th (Seville, via Madrid), 20th (Norfolk), 10th (Hertfordshire) – I was clearly a jet-setter. It also made me reflect where I’ll be for my 70th, 80th, 90th and 100th plus. For the 100th, I’d like to think I’ll be doing 100 laps of my garden like Captain Tom Moore, because that is simply the best thing ever.
When the lockdown was announced mid-March, I thought that I’d be able to finally get round to more of those New Year resolutions above – at least the ones that didn’t involve walking, getting fit or losing weight. I have actually started more of them, mindfulness included – and this blog again, too, now! – but I’m still writing post-it notes to remind me about the rest.
When we come out of all this, how are we going to start conversations again? ‘Hi! I haven’t seen you for two months – what have you been doing?’
I’ll be able to say that I’ve been a guinea pig in a hair experiment.