Author Tim Wickenden
The only thing they feared...
The only thing they feared was the sky falling on their heads…
It is a while since I have written anything for Pembrokeshire.Online and the other day Kitty asked me if I might write a piece. I haven’t written much of anything over the past six months, at least not on paper. Most of the time, as I go about my day-to-day chores, I am churning over ideas for stories and more particularly the current novel I am writing, Lüdke’s Game, the second Max Becker thriller.
Kitty asked me to comment on my experience of living through the Covid pandemic and how it may have affected me. It seems that the two things are mutually exclusive and fit nicely together. On the one hand the pandemic does not seem to be much of an issue, not in any real sense: as far as I am aware no one I know has been seriously affected by it. On the other hand, it has thrown an invisible blanket over everyone, pinning us inexorably in its grip. To some the experience has been life-changing and devastating, but for most of us it has become a tiresome, confusing inconvenience that no one seems able to comprehend or effectively deal with.
Personally, it has affected my business, but I have been able to work (when I am not writing, I am a carpenter) and it has most certainly affected my writing, or my ability to sit down and spend any time concentrating on things. I have felt strangely unsettled and restless both of which have made it hard to write, at least in the physical sense. I can do so in small bouts, but even posting on social media and blogging have ground to a halt. My head is full of words and ideas, but I have not been able to connect my mind with my hands. Writing has always been easy for me, so I can only conclude that my lack of productivity must be a direct result of my emotional response to this monumental change.
A few days back, I caught a cold, brought home from school by my son. I did not have any Covid symptoms (a relief), it was just a regular, boring old cold that many of us experience at least once every year or two. The following Monday, having had a quiet weekend, I sat down and got back to my book. I wrote a new first chapter and then set about editing and rewriting the 20,000 or so words I had written earlier in the year. I was back; it felt good.
I can not quite put my finger on what has changed, but something has. I know it was not a flash-in-the-pan as I came home from work on Tuesday and carried on writing and editing, and the same the next day. I still feel confused and frustrated with Covid, particularly as more areas are back in lockdown and more people are being struck down by this awful virus. I can only think that the cold brought me back to a sense of normality, something familiar and kicked my stupid brain back into gear.
The other day, I was listening to a radio programme and a GP was saying that he has never had so many mental health cases presented to him. The truth is, I believe every one of us has been physically affected by Covid in that it has altered our emotional compass. To some that may have been a good thing, and I do know people who have told me that the lockdown and change of life has been of benefit. To many of us, like me, it has caused a change in mental stability that has been subtle but undeniable.
I still love reading the Asterix comic books by Goscinny, if you are not familiar with them they are about a Gaulish village during Roman times and are quite brilliant. In the stories the only thing the Gauls fear is the sky falling on their heads, and I often wondered what that really meant. But of course, now I know.
We all do, don’t we?