What I’m watching
It’s a good excuse for binge watching. I’ve been catching up on Black Mirror, because it feels like we are living in a particularly s--- episode. My favourite series is Better Call Saul (on Netflix). And there’s a great French series called Le Bureau des Légendes (Amazon Prime).
What I’m listening to
John Lennon’s Isolation is a song for the times: “People say we’ve got it made/ Don’t they know we’re so afraid?/ Isolation.” Or Bryan Ferry’s Let’s Stick Together. The Boomtown Rats brought out a new album, Citizens of Boomtown, on Friday 13th to great reviews, then two hours later we were in lockdown. Theatres shut, tour cancelled.
What I’m reading
I’ve got two huge books on the go. I’ve been reading Vasily Grossman’s Stalingrad. He was a great Russian war journalist and it’s a novelised version of his experiences. It’s been compared to War and Peace. It’s too big to carry around but I can get stuck in now I’m home. I’ve got started on Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light. And there’s always poetry. My own book (Tales of Boomtown Glory) is out with Faber, and while I was there for a meeting I visited the great TS Eliot’s office. I’m reading The Waste Land again because it bears endless rereading.
The hobby I’ve taken up
I’ve gathered the family around me, the daughters are here with their husbands. It’s a big house (in Faversham, Kent), we try to socially distance, staying together by keeping apart. Now there’s a good album title for you. We’re getting ready for the long haul, making stews which can be frozen, getting on with stuff that needed doing in the house for ages. I’ve got a lawn to take care of. I’m very aware that I’m lucky, and so anything I can do to help other people then I absolutely will.
The thing that made me laugh this week
Seeing myself in the mirror with my stupid homemade face mask on. You can make them out of pillowcases and cotton shirts, and they’re 90 per cent as effective as surgical masks. I wrote Don’t Kiss Me on it in lipstick and went off to Tesco. The kids here in Faversham think I’m an idiot anyway so this just confirms it for them. I keep changing the message. Bug Off. I (heart) NHS. CovAid. I think some interesting creative stuff will emerge with so many people by themselves but tuned into everyone else. Meanwhile, do whatever you can to help the NHS see us through this. Be aware, be kind, be considerate, help the vulnerable.
As told to Neil McCormick
Citizens of Boomtown is out now on BMG