Ian Haysom’s coronavirus diary will appear here regularly.
Self-isolation is a time to be creative. To find our hidden talent. Shakespeare, we have learned recently, wrote Macbeth and King Lear while he was in quarantine during the plague, so why can’t we? But don’t write an updated Macbeth or Lear. You’ll just depress yourself. Quarantine has a lot to answer for.
My favourite contemporary artist David Hockney suggested in an interview I read the other day that we should all go out and paint something. It will keep us calm and escape the lockdown during this period of stress.
View this post on Instagram
“Do remember they can’t cancel the spring.” Happy and truly grateful ? that the great David Hockney has allowed us to share this poignant and positive message and beautiful spring drawing – sent from his current complete lockdown in Normandy. This – and many sunny days ahead, according to the Danish weather forecast – gives some welcome respite in a time when we must help each other keep our spirits up! • [Do remember they can’t cancel the spring – courtesy of ©David Hockney] • #davidhockney #daffodils #letsstayintouch #springisonitsway #louisianamuseum #hopespringseternal2018
He painted daffodils, with Brushes, the online app, which is very cool since he’s 82 years old and is still playing with various artistic media. Problem is, his daffodils look like perfect retro-Impressionism. Mine looks like someone barfed up a banana.
But we should all go and use this time creatively – because, apparently, we’re going to be in solitary confinement for a whole lot longer yet. It’s a perfect opportunity to create something worthwhile. To do something you’ve put off. And, frankly, you can only binge on so much Netflix before going crazy, and there are only so many coronavirus jokes you can send to friends.
That said, here are three rather good ones:
- Homeschooling is going well. Two students suspended for fighting and one teacher fired for drinking on the job.
- This morning I saw a neighbour talking to her cat. It was obvious she thought her cat understood her. I came into my house, told my dog….. we laughed a lot.
- My body has absorbed so much soap and disinfectant lately that when I pee it cleans the toilet.
So find your inner muse. Sure, you don’t have to write a book, or a musical, or paint a daffodil. You can sew a quilt, learn how to use Photoshop and do weird things with your family snaps. You can go on YouTube and learn the guitar. You can paint the toaster after you’ve stopped talking to it.
And you don’t have to be too creative. One of my favourite books, Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon, is a kind of motivational book based on Pablo Picasso’s quote that “art is theft”.
Essentially, it’s all been done before. So you just adapt it Nothing, says the book, is original. You just adapt what’s been done before.
It quotes the poet T.S. Eliot who said, “Immature poets imitate. Mature poets steal. Bad poets deface what they take and good poets make it better, or at least something different.”
There’s an idea. Write a poem. Go and wander as lonely as a daffodil, or something.
Or you could just find a book to read that will challenge or inspire you. Or cheer you up.
I wrote a book earlier this year (it will be published to wide acclaim later this year and be a huge bestseller if there are any bookstores left open) but my plan for this next period is to play Intermezzo on the piano.
Intermezzo, by Pietro Mascagni, if you haven’t heard it, is one of the most beautiful, moving, enchanting orchestral pieces ever written. When you hear it, you will want it at your funeral (sorry, didn’t mean to bring up death, this is supposed to be an upbeat column, an oasis in the desert of daily boxscores of contamination and destruction).
Here, to inspire you, is the music. Listen to it, close your eyes, and forget everything for a moment.
I heard the piece once at a Symphony Splash in Victoria’s harbour. And the next day I went out and bought the sheet music at Long & McQuade, vowing to learn the piano version immediately.
That was about ten years ago. I still haven’t mastered it. It’s not even that long a piece of music, but life and procrastination kept getting in the way. Oh, and a lack of talent. But I’m going to do it now. You just see.
I rode my bike past the local tennis courts yesterday, and they’ve taken down the nets and put a chain across the entrance to the courts. The local golf course is closed. I can’t walk in the local provincial park anymore, or Butchart Gardens or kick a ball with my grandkids, so, yes, I’m going to have to get creative.
I mean, painting a daffodil can’t be that difficult. Right? Hand me that paintbrush.
Read the previous diaries here: