Lockdown “silver linings” – some positives

Despite day 107, Level 3, Stage 2 ….. Liz at Lancaster is well-prepared

Level 3, Stage 2

South Africa is currently in Level 3 Lockdown (with 5 being the most stringent imposed at midnight on 26th March 2020 and 1 being the lifting of all restrictions), PLUS we are Stage 2 load shedding (rolling 4 hour power outages), with temperatures below freezing at night and a bitterly cold wind.  On top of all this Craighall Park and surrounds suffered a total 24 hour water outage on Day 105 of Lockdown. 

All of us at Liz at Lancaster including two Lockdowner guests are grateful that we are well prepared with emergency lighting, gas heating, internet connection on power back-up  and borehole water.

But in a different vein … on Day 107,  I’m writing  about some of the personal positives for me during LockDown. 

Any “silver linings” are not meant to minimize the devastating, and as yet immeasurable impact of Covid-19 and Lockdown 

Seeing the positives does not mean that I am under any illusions about the horrendous and far-reaching dire consequences that the Corona Virus, Covid-19 and the impact of Lockdown (globally but particularly locally) have and will continue to have for many years on the social fabric; the economy; poverty and human hardship; and in the political arena.  So noting some of the “good things” is not in any way to disregard the human suffering of the poor, the unemployed, the homeless, the retrenched; the extraordinary sacrifice of front-line health care workers and civil servants; the devastating fallout on the hospitality industry (including Liz at Lancaster); the shutting down of cultural events and its terrible impact on creatives and all those involved in organizing events, productions, exhibitions; the hugely negative effect on business and the manufacturing and retail sectors – from the informal sector through SMMEE’s to “big business’; (apart from those who were able to react flexibly and creatively to a gap in the market); nor the anxiety and sadness of families separated by national boundaries in times of celebration (births) or terrible sadness (deaths);  and of course separation of families in the same city; and so much more.

Well, that was a long paragraph to start off a post on the good things (for me) of Lockdown.

Thank you Mother Time

So perhaps, in a nutshell the most valuable “commodity” that LockDown has given me is TIME. BUT it has taken well over three months for me to get to the stage where I’m able to take advantage of this most ubiquitous but rarest of commodities.  Broadly speaking TIME during the Corona Crisis has offered me the opportunity to focus on process rather than outcome (although I am still way too goal orientated to abandon outcome completely!). And also to experience the extraordinary positive social power of the internet. (I am one of the very fortunate in that Liz at Lancaster has high speed fibre optic internet connection). Again, extolling the advantages of social media and the internet is not to disavow how social media has given a deafening loudspeaker to Twitter trolls, verbal farters, fake news consumers, racists and uninformed morons; and the internet has given these people a global and anonymous audience and community… but that it is rather to acknowledge some of the positives.  So taking Internet, Zoom, What’s App as the tools, here are 10 positive things of Lockdown (for me personally) in no particular order:

10 Personal Positives of Lockdown

  1. Being the recipient of incredible personal kindness and caring: My accountant, totally unasked, right at the outset indicated that he was not going to charge his usual monthly fee. He then helped hugely with all my various funding applications – which were not for the faint-hearted. Thank you Marc. A wonderful friend arrived at the gate masked and distanced and said “Here is your Cappucino delivery’. I was at that “say-anything-gentle-and-caring-and-I dissolve-into-tears” stage of Covid-19. As the tears welled up, he gave me another cup filled with vouchers for 20 more ‘free’ coffees. What a mentsch! Thank you Clinton.  My brothers (who live in the UK and Canada) deposited money into my bank totally unasked – a massive help with initial cash flow until drastic cutbacks had been set in place here at Liz at Lancaster. And once liquor could be transported and sold, my son in the UK had 4 bottles of special red wine delivered to me by courier. Barbara gave me a manicure and pedicure voucher for when that sector opened up. What treasures – all of you!
    Courier delivery of 4 bottles of wine
  2. Social connection despite physical distance: With more people working from home and with the zeitgeist of anxiety and global trauma, there has been a general trend of reaching out and ongoing connection. (I’ve got ideas for a further blog looking at the trajectory of the tone and content of Social Media communications as the realities of Covid progressed.) I think I have had more chats and connection with friends and family (especially non Jozi-ites) post- Covid as compared to pre-Covid.  And while initially my son and his family were staying here at Liz at Lancaster (so a very full Lockdown level 5 and 4 household), after moving back to their house where building work had been completed, I continue with reading and chatting over zoom with my little grandsons. Not the same as a real hug, but it makes separation whole lot better.                                                                                                                                              
  3. Following natural body rhythms: It has been a real luxury for me not to have to “report present and correct” early every morning 7 days a week for breakfast, check-outs and the day’s commitments. Sleeping in a bit, slowing down, reducing admin, and not having to juggle 10 balls in the air at once have led to more time for reflection. There is no doubt I have become a bit lazy and the eye for detail that Liz of Liz at Lancaster has become renowned for, has perhaps waned a little? But this too will return! 
Lewis is not the only one who appreciates a lie-in

4. Access to world-class international productions at home: Some of the highlights have been the weekly productions from National Theatre streamed on You Tube. From 2nd April to 16th July, a new play has been released every Thursday for a week’s free viewing. Sadly I missed quite a few: Small Island, Coriolanus, A Midsummers Night’s Dream and Madness of George III but I loved Jane Eyre, Treasure Island, Frankenstein and The Deep Blue Sea (currently showing

Tom Burke and Helen McCrory in The Deep Blue Sea. Photograph: Richard Hubert Smith

Unfortunately all good things come to an end and the last play, Peter Schaffer’s Amadeus, starts on the 16th  and can be viewed for a week. There was some amazing English Ballet with a highlight being Broken Wings drawing on the life of Frieda Kahlo. It seems it is still available for viewingAndrew Lloyd Webber was also incredibly generous with the screenings of his productions. 

5. Accessing book launches, talks and virtual tours from my own home:  The proliferation of virtual meetings and talks via Zoom and Webinars have enabled ongoing access to book launches, political discussion and debates, and even virtual tours. I joined a fascinating and informative zoom talk/tour yesterday on Art Deco in Jozi run by the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation. Here is next week’s virtual tour. 

Johannesburg Heritage Foundation Johannesburg Public Art Virtual Tour 18 July 2020

They run every Saturday afternoon at the very reasonable rate of R40 for members and R80 for non-members. I HIGHLY recommend them.  Contact Eira Bond on mail@joburgheritage.co.za. Become a member of JHF and get access to a whole range of amazing offers. 

And instead of having to fight the end of day traffic to attend book launches and interesting talks, I can connect from my desk.

Telita Snykers Dirty Tobacco

Telita Snyckers interview about her book  Dirty Tobacco Spies, Lies and Mega-Profits was outstanding. Highly articulate, Snyckers is clearly a brave, dogged and extremely competent researcher. The blurb describes the nub of the book:

What is more profitable than cocaine, heroin, marijuana or guns? Illegally trafficked cigarettes . . . Reputable tobacco companies have – for decades – been complicit in cigarette smuggling. In this gripping exposé, former SARS lawyer Telita Snyckers uncovers the dark underbelly of the tobacco industry. She recounts the instances where big tobacco itself was caught redhanded and explores not only why a listed company would want to smuggle its own product, but also how it was done.

  1. Bridge on-line: I started bridge lessons more years ago than I care to remember, but with working full time, sons still at home and running a scaled down version of the current guesthouse, I never managed to play in between lessons and the whole process remained more confusing than the Enigma code. However, shortly before Lockdown I started having weekly lessons with the wonderful Gill Brown and I slowly began to emerge from the gloopy fog of confusion. Now I play several times a week with friends and both locally and internationally and sometimes with Mr Rob Ot (no stress and tension, lots of laughs). What a bonus!                                       
  2.          Cooking:


    Roasted peppers a la Liz at Lancaster

    While I am on a roster for a soup kitchen (have not been called upon yet) and a huge pre- prepared pot of soup and a gas hob enabled all Team Lancaster to have a hot supper during load shedding last night, I have not planned meals, bought ingredients and tried new recipes for a very long time. Somehow I never had the time to forward plan for myself – cheese and biscuits were my go-to in the evenings.  Now I am trying new budget meals and enjoying the process without the pressure of having to attend to other immediate issues.  And the wonderful addition of an air- fryer (huge thanks Andrew and Clauds), has made a big difference to “cooking for one”.                                                                                                                                                   
  3. Listening: They, of the air-fryer gift-givers, also gave me an AMAZING blue tooth speaker. I have not had any sound system for years (there’s a lot I have not done for years!).  And now I love the luxury of great music, wonderful sound quality and an astounding range of choice via Apple Music, played from my Iphone …. while cooking … and looking…!                                                                                            
  4. Looking: And on the subject of the senses, I’ve been only too aware of how much time I spend at my desk and “in my head”. Sewing, knitting, quilting …. any craft work are sadly not for me, but I have often been told that “anybody” can be taught basic drawing skills. So now once a week (in an on-line drawing class) and sometimes in between, I rise to the challenge of really close looking. I’ve progressed over the weeks from copying the drawing of a sphere and its cast shadow, to drawing directly from an object (a mug) which ended up looking like my 6 year old son’s pottery attempt for Mother’s day, to copying drawings and photographs of subject matter more complicated than a sphere! But no examples being posted here!                                                                                                                                                                                                           
  5. Reading: One of the fascinating things about the Covid Lockdown is how many of my friends who are voracious readers have not had the focus to read at all during this time, including me. It is only now that I am starting to convert ‘reading by osmosis’ into actual reading. With at least 4 shelves of unread books I have a supply that will take me well into 2021.                                                                                                                                                                  
    Just a few of the many books waiting to be read!

So to get back to where I started – now that I have moved through the various emotional stages of the CoronaCoaster, (some of which I re-visit on random occasions), I am relieved that I am starting to make the most of the one commodity that Lockdown offers – TIME. 

Of course, I am only too aware that with this dreadful virus all this could be overturned tomorrow. I take nothing for granted which is maybe why I have written this post. 

Stay as safe as you can everybody. 

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