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Spot the difference

April 1, 2020

April Fool’s! Yes, I know most people think it should be, like theatrical, sporting and every other type of event, cancelled this year in favour of 2020 Fool’s.


Nonetheless, it does seem like a good day to tentatively state that I’m launching another six-week challenge to be a writer again for at least 15 minutes every day for the next 42 days. If I fail spectacularly, I can always claim I was joking.

So, yes, spot the difference…

If you are a regular reader, you will know that I am involved (as either an actor or director) in three or four theatrical productions a year. After last year’s panto I had three and a half months (the dark days of winter) to kill before I was due to start directing a play last week. I cannot tell you how much I was looking forward to getting out of the house on a regular basis. Oh, ha, ha. Like the final two performances our one-act play festival, rehearsals for my play have been cancelled.

Now we are in an indeterminate period of social distancing and self-isolation. The only difference between this and my normal state of being is the word “self”. Between productions I can easily go from one week to the next without speaking to anyone who doesn’t work in a shop. Yes, there is the Bad Girls Book Club once a month (irony apparently knowing no bounds, the book up for discussion earlier this month was Emily St John Mandel’s post- apocalyptic pandemic novel Station Eleven) and maybe once a month I’ll meet mates at the pub for the Wednesday night burger and beer special. That’s pretty much it. Social distance is pretty much my life.

This being the case, the first couple of weeks of government-mandated isolation had a somewhat surreal quality. (Isolation? As opposed to what, exactly?)

The library is closed, but I have four foot high stack of unread books beside my bed, so no problem for me there. The pub is closed, so no chance of a game of pool with my 98-year-old neighbour Pat. The restaurants are operating on takeout and delivery only. I’d like to support them more in this, but I can’t really justify the expense – especially as I have a well-stocked freezer.

The grocery store, pharmacy, hardware store and (very importantly) the liquor store remain open. It’s almost felt like business as usual.

The shit didn’t get real for me until the shop attached to the petrol station (which I thought was a safe bet to stay open) shuttered its doors last week. This was the only place on the island where I could buy my brand of cigarettes. Yikes!  Fortunately I still had five packs of Camels left in the last carton I bought. I’ve been rationing them, but the day is rapidly approaching when I’m going to have to face my toughest pandemic choice: start smoking some other brand (I hate Canadian cigarettes) or get the ferry to Nanaimo to hunt Camels there. I really don’t ’like either of these choices. (Before anyone starts leaving a comment, yes, I know there is a third choice. I could quit smoking. Get real. That is not going to happen.)

Meanwhile, friends and acquaintances on Facebook post about the projects they are tackling (and completing) now that they suddenly have extra time. Fuck them. I have the same amount of time on my hands that I had in February or January or any other non-production month of any year for the past five years. Just because there’s a global pandemic doesn’t mean I am suddenly, miraculously going to finish one of the half dozen novels and plays stalled by the old black dog. Nor am I going to wake up in the morning eager to spring clean the house. Like quitting smoking, ain’t going to happen.

But maybe, just maybe I can manage to write something – anything – for at least 15 minutes a day for the next six weeks.

See you tomorrow? No, screw the question mark. See you tomorrow!

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