Monday 30th March
I have put together a Lockdown Art Kit for my brother Mal. He is a very able sketcher (most people are but he’s really, really good at observation) and I am always trying to evangelise him to develop a regular sketching habit. Now that he cannot leave the house or do pretty much anything else, I sense weakness and I feel I will never get a better chance. He made the mistake of sending me a sketch of a penknife he did the other day and I am pouncing. I put a few things in a bag to send to him in Dublin. Here is what the Lockdown Art Kit contains:
- A 55-degree fude pen
- An A5 sketchbook
- A vial of waterproof brown ink
- Two magnetic clips
- Two sable / synthetic blend travel brushes which are a loan
- A converter for the pen
- A small box of artists’ quality paints
I know he has no need to use it as a portable kit while he’s at home but you never know….he might like to carry it from room to room. Okay, I know other people don’t do that so much.
Marcel and I go out for a walk up the road. This is the first time we have gone out for a walk together for years. Or a year anyway. It is beautiful outside, the sky is silvery gold and the sun is starting to set. Two donkeys run about and chase each other in a little field. “They chased Reuben the other day,” says Marcel. “They had escaped. They were trying to kick him. They wanted to kill him, and he had no idea of the danger he was in. I saved his life and he didn’t realise it.” Donkeys! We have had or share of bold dogs who chased everything that walked, drove or did nothing at all, but little Reuben doesn’t chase anything except birds many metres above him in the sky. On the walk, I am wearing a face mask because I want to drive home the message to everyone, everywhere, that that’s what we all do now. I am getting very pissed off with the government and their advisers for telling us that masks don’t do any good. This is utter claptrap. They said at first that they were ineffectual. Now they are saying they have to be kept for HSE staff, that they are expensive and that they must be taken off properly to be any use. This is invalid because (a) we can all make our own, or make lots and share them; (b) it is much more expensive to lose your economy to the disease; and (c) we are not idiots who cannot figure out how to take off a mask in a hygienic fashion. I cannot stand patronising people who feel they must talk down to the plebs. And I don’t want to hear about the size of the virus. I don’t want to hear about glasses getting fogged up and poor plebs not being able to cope with that. I don’t want to hear that it will make things worse. And most of all I do not want to hear that a mask will not protect you. It might protect others from you. And that is good for everyone. I am so sick of our egocentric me-me-me society – of which I have hitherto been an enthusiastic member, it must be said – but this is a WAR. As soon as I have my book submitted for once and for all, possibly even by the end of the week, I am going to get a little sweatshop going out here in my studio. I will give as many as I can to the HSE. Everyone else can buy them from me because I have to buy the bits and pieces for them…and I haven’t stopped entirely being about me (and my bills). My girl Liv (15) wants to mess about making skirts and stuff: she can’t use a sewing machine, so I have told her that all the has to do is make a few masks and then I will facilitate her skirt-making to her heart’s content (cunning plan: I know my Liv, and I know that if she makes one she won’t be able to stop).
My mum is undefeated. She has opened both side gates outside her house and she is doing laps. She puts a lead on her little dog Babette, who wags her tail the whole way around. After 20 laps Mum tells me the little dog isn’t enjoying it as much. I think my mum is indomitable and I am very proud of her. Dad is accepting of the new regime…or so Mum thinks.