Sunday 30th March
My daughter Liv (15) looks rather 19th-century and somewhat wan sitting in my rocking chair, and I sketch her as fast as I can. Looks are deceptive, however, and she is as fit and strong as an ox.
I continue to prepare and upload files for my American publisher. I am including this picture here as a sort of artistic interlude. If you would like to draw directly in pen, without using a pencil first, but find its permanence makes your confidence desert you, there is a solution. If you draw with the skinny side of the nib of your fountain pen, you can sketch away until you have found a line you’re happy with, and then use the broad side of the pen (or a thicker nib) to be a bit bolder. You won’t see the scratchy thin lines – they just add to the life of the sketch – and by the time you paint, you really won’t notice the wrong lines. I have shown many students examples of this and the answer is always the same – “What wrong lines?” Point proven!
My mum asks me to talk to Dad to convince him to stay indoors. I am confused and have not yet understood that the new directive, to cocoon the elderly, means they cannot leave the house at all. I thought they had to stay within 2km of the house like the rest of us but no – over 70s have to stay inside, full stop. But I don’t know this and have a surreal (and, it must be said, fairly typical) conversation with my dad about staying at home. He has taken a drive to Bray Seafront today, and gone for a walk with his beloved dog. I tell him he can’t go further than 2km from the home. He says it doesn’t matter since he’s two metres from the people he passes, who number just three. I ask him where he thinks the other 1000 people are who are normally walking the prom. It takes a while before I give up and answer my own question, which is that they are at home like good citizens. Then he tells me he can decide what the risk is, and I tell him that he can’t, it’s a legal matter. He asks me nonsensical questions (“so what if I am only 100m from the house and someone jumps up on me, within a metre, am I breaking the law then?”) and if I don’t give him a yes or no answer immediately he won’t say anything else until I answer the dumb question. On the one hand it’s impossible to make sense with him, but on the other hand it’s my dad how he has always been, funny, witty and feisty. It’s complicated by the fact that I was wrong anyway and didn’t mention that over 70s are in total lockdown – probably just as well. In the end I think that he has taken everything on board in its entirety, but is just reluctant to accept it.
I am not reluctant to accept it. To my great surprise I love staying here all day, every day.