JournalPART 1

Covid and me: some highs and lows

The theatre bar at Alphabetti, Newcastle. Very much missed in Covid times.
Peter Lathan particularly missed the company and conversation at Alphabetti Theatre and other venues

Peter Lathan trawls through the first eight months of his “Covid and Me” journal for Highs (depressingly few) and Lows (even more depressingly many). Day 1 was Friday 6 March when his isolation began.

Day 46, Sunday, 19 April, 2020 – Lamentations of an Isolated Theatrical during Covid

That’s the title of the article I wrote on the British Theatre Guide today, and this is how I finished it:

Somebody asked me what are the top three places I would go to once my incarceration is finished. That’s easy. I’d head for the bar at Alphabetti Theatre in Newcastle, the bar at Live Theatre, also in Newcastle, and the bar at the Customs House in South Shields. Not for the drink — I’ve got plenty of wine and single malt at home — but for the company and conversation of like-minded theatre-lovers. For I have missed all that so much.

How long, O Lord? How long?

Quoting Psalm 13 about wanting to be in a theatre bar! How mad is that? Six weeks of isolation and I’m turning seriously weird!

Day 78, Thursday, 21 May, 2020 : A Distant Memory of pre-Covid times

It seems a long, long time ago…

Long, long time ago
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile…

I can still remember how seventeen days ago – that’s two and a half weeks! – two things happened in one day. Two things!

And now?

A distant memory. As if a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Nothing since. Not even one thing in a day, any day. Just a procession of sameness. A slow march of nothing very much. A shambling shuffle of dragged feet.

Listen.

Look.

Nothing happens.

Just seventeen days ago? Feels more like seventeen weeks. Or months.

Day 130, Sunday, 12 July, 2020 : Fat Feet!

Of all the woes that self-isolation bestows, of all the problems I expected to face, I anticipated loneliness, cabin-fever, lethargy, loss of muscle tone (well, what muscle tone I had, which wasn’t a lot!), boredom, aches and pains, and more. But fat feet…

Fat Feet!

OK, I’ve just worn slippers, no socks and shoes, since 6th March, but still…

I couldn’t get my shoes on my feet this morning.

I mean, I expected to put on weight round my stomach and on my face after being so sedentary for so long, but on my feet…!

Something must be done!

Steps must be taken!

And bad jokes avoided!

That sinks below the depths of even my bad jokiness, although I am the king of the crap quips, the putrid pun potentate, the aristo of “arrrgh”, the paranomasiac prince, the doyen of double entendre, the archangel of ambiguity, the duke of double meaning, the marquis of mockery, the wizard of wisecrackery, the master of mirth… and all the rest that I can’t think of off the top of my head.

But fat feet!

FFS!

Day 147, Wednesday, 29 July, 2020 : Words of Wisdom of the Aged

The old, we are told, are the repository of wisdom, so I feel it is my duty to share what my 77 years have taught me.

Here, then, is the first pearl of wisdom to fall from my agèd lips:

Cod loin should always be pan-fried and served with triple cooked chips, while smoked cod loin should be loosely wrapped in foil, cooked in the oven and served with new potatoes boiled with sea salt & black pepper. Neither should be served with mushy peas which are an affront to God, man and fish.

More wisdom will follow in due course.

If I can think of any…

Day 204, Thursday, 24 September, 2020 : More Dreaming

I keep having the most weird dreams. Last night I dreamed I was in a bar in a B&W film, a sort of film noir NYC setting: lots of mahogany and a massive mirror behind the bar. The two bartenders were black. One had a grey goatee beard and both wore black bow-ties, white shirts with those elasticated armbands which prevent sleeves which are too long from covering your hands, black waistcoats (but no jackets) and long white aprons wrapped all the way round the waist. They were polishing glasses as I sang to them:

Oh, ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus.
No, ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus.
No, ye cannae shove yer granny
‘Cos she’s yer mammy’s mammy
Ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus.

They just listened and carried on polishing. No expression. No reaction.

Just what the hell is going on in my mind?

I mentioned this in a Facebook post earlier today and a pal of mine asked for the address of my drug dealer!

Day 237, Tuesday, 27 October, 2020 : An Unexpected Bright Spot during Covid lockdown

Well, she was the last thing I expected to see when I answered the knock on my front door this afternoon.

She was really beautiful, even with her face half-hidden by her mask. Mid-twenties, I suspect (although I’m no judge of age nowadays. Anybody under fifty’s just a bairn as far as I’m concerned). Hi-vis jacket, lanyard with ID, clipboard in hand. Mixed African / European heritage, I would think.  Shoulder-length dreadlocks. A big smile apparent even under the mask.

“Hello,” she said. “We’re in the area talking to people about their fuel costs…”

I shook my head and held up my left hand. “Sorry,” I said, smiling as I did so. “But no.”

She returned the smile, even more brightly if that were possible.

“Thank you for your time anyway,” she said, and went to knock on my neighbour’s door.

A moment of beauty and brightness in another depressingly dull Covid day.


Part 2 of Covid and Me journal

You might also enjoy reading Jim Walker’s memoirs.

Please follow us on social media, subscribe to our newsletter, and/or support us with a regular donation