Contact

There is often a big difference between the day I had planned and the day I achieve. A bit like the way this year has been for most of us.

Driving across town to feed the snake I found myself thinking how unusual this all is. Of course it is. But we are getting used to it now so it’s worth repeating.

 

This pandemic will give us language and behaviour for generations. Unusual things have become usual. Nobody thinks it strange to stand at the bus stop in a mask. I often see people driving in otherwise empty cars but still wearing one. In the pet shop today a friendly guy was discombobulated by my “Free Hugs” T-Shirt. “That makes me feel sad and weird and I think it’s funny,” he said, a measured distance from me, happysad. “I wear it because I’m in mourning,” I replied. “I print silk screens. I’m gonna make myself one.”

When we meet somebody new a bristle of energy takes place in the dead space between us, as happened with that lovely pet shop guy. He didn’t get his free hug though. We created a ball of energy between us instead.

This always happens anyway, but now we can’t try to redirect or crush it with a handshake or a hug. So we stand a few feet from one another and look and talk, and hold the ball between us for as long as we choose.

It’s gonna be a really useful acting note. Inexperienced stage actors usually want to grab each other, which shuts down sightlines and dissipates the potential. The director spends ages trying to teach them to electrify the space between them and not just go in with the thumbs right away. We all got bruises from fingers in early jobs. With the memory of this pandemic we’ve got a universally understood reference point that helps people not get grabby. “Just pretend it’s Corona and you’re about to visit your aging aunt. You really want to touch him but you mustn’t. Let that conflict play out energetically in the space between you.”

I’m reading of plans to open the theatres soon even as the borders shut down harder. There’ll be no more daytrips to Paris with two weeks quarantine on either side. And many of the pantomimes aren’t going ahead for those of us who are trapped in the UK. We are going to lose some theatres, no doubt about it. But perhaps with care the Christmas season will work…

I think this’ll change the way people get sick. We are all going to be a lot more Japanese, probably for the rest of our life. Masks when you’re sniffly, bowing at the start of the meeting instead of handshakes. Distance. I’m sad about it as there’s terrific power in touch.

I went and let Hex clamber on me for a while as he’s been my source of physical contact through the worst of this lockdown. There’s even an energy of sorts between us. He feels gentle and stupid and hungry and ancient.

I didn’t do any of the admin I had planned. Instead I tried to clean a load of smoke damaged busts in the bath…

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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