I write on the fourth last day of 2020. Why on earth have I allowed six months to pass since I started to draft, and failed to get going with, my last draft? And why did I allow five months to pass before that without a word on this web site? I don’t know is the answer, but I don’t think an answer lies in one reason.
2020 has been a very strange year, as anybody who has lived through it knows only too well; and undoubtedly the pandemic of a killer disease called Coronovirus or Covid 19 has contributed to my silence. But before the virus struck and forced England into lock-down in mid-March, I had lost interest in both painting and writing – almost as if I was struck by my own anticipation of what was to come. In fact, I was aware of the existence of the disease in January but only watched too casually, and then with growing concern, as it spread across Asia and then raced into and through Europe. But even when it laid low first Italy and then Spain it was difficult for me to grasp the reality that it was going to invade the UK too. Yet, after an anxious nine months, I was among the first of the over-80s to receive an anti-covid 19 vaccination on the very first day, 15 December, that saw the beginning of the huge project eventually to immunise the whole of the population. I just wish my jab could have been given to someone – a nurse, doctor or bus-driver – out there on the pandemic front-line. My jab is supposed to have given me 60% immunity to infection (a second dose follows in January) but perhaps it has also given me the spur to start writing again. I painted on Boxing Day and certainly feel more lively in being a lucky recipient of the results of a modern medical miracle.
A more pragmatic reason for my five and then six lost months of activity on this page was solely practical. I ran into technical problems and, despite the best efforts of my friend and web-manager, Bob Foyers, and after wasting hours and hours of technically illiterate time, failed to reconnect with my webpage; so I gave up in July, until today. Meanwhile, I have painted nothing but wrote a short novel for children during the dog-days of August. The two big events of this autumn were that my studio was invaded by vermin which made it unusable, as it still is even though we have got rid of the rats and mice. The animals made such a mess of the store of paintings in the roof space that the bulk of my oeuvre, accumulated over 15 years, had to be destroyed; so, in two truck loads, I lost nearly all my framed and glazed paintings and those on stretched canvas: over 200 of them. Here’s the first load about to begin its journey to destruction: