I lay awake the other night thinking of how the Coronavirus epidemic is likely to change communities, social behaviour, the world: a fog of mostly dark thoughts.
Personally, I felt quite content with the idea of time alone with my husband and cats, plenty of gardening to do, house decoration, printmaking, reading, cooking.
I wouldn’t get bored. We’re very sociable, used to lots of summer visitors, but we can talk on the phone, Skype, email and Instagram. But we are lucky: a large shabby old house, and a big garden.
And then I thought it would be good to do something positive and creative with other people during this strange time. Only Connect, as Forster said. And two thoughts gave me the idea for this project.
Firstly, the original owners of our house in the late sixteenth century (Robert and Elizabeth Younger) both died of the Plague (actually Robert might have been murdered by his son in-law, the playwright, Robert Daborne . . . but that’s another story). And I thought, well, we are a little more fortunate with this modern Plague: medicine, the NHS, good communications, the Internet.
Secondly, I remembered Mass Observation, the project from the Second World War, where people from all walks of life were asked (or volunteered?) to keep diaries, a record of everyday life. Fascinating documents.
And I thought, why not now, for the next twelve weeks, perhaps longer ? As it happens and unfolds. People’s observations, thoughts, feelings, reflections , fears, ideas, thoughts posted online each day. People from all over the UK and abroad. Not, on the whole, professional writers, but people of all ages, doing all sorts of things. Dark thoughts, funny thoughts, sad thoughts, factual descriptions, recipes, images.
I’m sure there’ll be plenty of bloggers doing the same thing, but I’d like to show a greater sweep and diversity of experience on the same site.
I’ll edit it, very loosely, just making sure there’s nothing too libellous being said.
My friend and collaborator, Sheila, leapt into action, and created this site. Her husband, Chris, started writing journal entries, and we’ve used his first one to kick the journal off.
I’ve conscripted a mixture of old friends, and people I follow or am followed by on Instagram, and have given them the brief to let me have their pieces by 3 pm each day (not every day necessarily) and we’ll post them online by 6pm. Huge thanks to my my collaborator, Sheila, for making this possible.
Here we go!
And if you want to contribute too....just get in touch with me !
Margaret, Norfolk, March 21st 2020