Lockdown, day sixteen and again a mix of experiences and emotions. A beautiful stroll in the mellow sunlight, around the rocks between the beaches of Cheltenham and Narrowneck with my walking friend. A pause to enjoy a white Labrador paddling through the bright green sea, grinning. The only creature in the water. On the return we encountered more windows filled with soft toys and the addition of big bunnies for Easter and colourful drawings of patterned Easter eggs.
Then this afternoon something brought my mood down and I wondered how to write about it. On a journal writing course I always say to new writers, ’Journal writing comes with an expectation that you will tell the truth. It is a gift. In the pages of your journal you can express what is really going on inside your head. You can go to the heart of things and write openly and generously about your experience.‘ I’m also of the opinion, if a writer is not prepared to reveal their inner world, then why bother. But this implies it is easy and it is not. There are ethical dilemmas that attach themselves to any journal writing project. Inevitably the entries will include some of the people who figure in your life. And they are entitled to their privacy. Occasionally with my own lockdown journal I have had to place restrictions on what I can write. While I want to really let rip and tell it like it is, I know I just can’t. For this is not a private record, written behind closed doors. I don’t have a little key and a lock on the side of my journal, nor a space in the woollens drawer to hide it away. My journal is public and thus I need to take care. But then again if I play it safe and slide around an issue a reader will surely detect my inauthenticity and grow frustrated and stop reading. So goes the conversation in my head.
What then are my truths about my experience of lockdown on day sixteen? The first thing I will say is that I’m sick of it. I want it over. The days pass by featureless, one after another and when I look back they all coalesce into an amorphous blob. I can’t remember anything much of what has happened. Today was Good Friday and I didn’t feel it. There were no hot cross buns because the Wild Wheat bakery nearby is closed and if I can’t have their buns then I don’t want a substitute. I’m aware that sounds snobbish but there it is. I am no longer a church goer although I sing occasionally in St Mary’s Singers, the back up for the choir of the Holy Trinity Anglican cathedral in Parnell. Today I found myself longing to take part in a tradition that links back to Easter at the parish church in the town of Leeston where I grew up. If I had been at liberty to attend a service in one of the historic churches in Devonport, I would have been there sitting in the congregation amongst the worshippers gazing at the coloured light falling on an angle from the stained glass while listening to a sermon. I would have put my breath and voice into singing the familiar hymns, lustily. Because although I have plenty to occupy my brain, I’m noticing that in some part of every day I find myself feeling aimless and a bit lonely. I long for a change. I long to see the people I love. I would do anything for a hug.
This evening as I sat in my rocky nook watching the sky turn from pale blue into a soft shade of pink I heard a sound coming from somewhere in the streets below, from under the pitched rooftops. It was a woman’s voice and it was raised. And then I heard the peal of a child crying. A dog barked. They seemed to be connected. I stood up and strained my eyes to see. I listened hard. There were loud voices. And then there was nothing. Silence. It stretched out.
It might have been something, it might have been nothing but it upset me. Since lockdown I have been worrying and wondering about people trapped in bubbles with people who are dangerous. I have worried about the ramifications of the lockdown increasing pressures on vulnerable families. What happens when people living with the perpetrators of domestic violence find their families facing new stresses caused by the fallout of lockdown - sudden unemployment, a dwindling bank account, no money to pay the bills or buy food. People living in dangerous situations fearing for their safety need support. They need escape routes and accessible safe houses. They need to be able to seek help from friends and supporters and be encouraged to phone the help lines. What do they do, if they don’t have their regular rhythms, their safe places during the day, whether it is at work, or school, or in the community to retreat to? How do they survive in this pressure cooker scenario locked up all day with bullies and tormentors and aggressors? And what, oh what is happening to the very vulnerable, the children?
When I opened the computer to find out what is happening in that regard I read there has been an increase in domestic violence and that the refuges are full and some people are being placed in motels. I can’t bear to think of the human misery.
I read that the government has increased the funding to the support agencies but I think this is the time to donate to Shine and to Women’s Refuge.
My photos are for the loved ones of domestic abusers.