I recently watched the musical ‘Oliver’ again. For those of you with good memories and/or a passion for this spectacular production, the title is a song sung by Fagin, played by Ron Moody. For the last few months I got worried I was descending into real depression – did not want to get up, no plans for the day, everything that WAS planned cancelled – daily crises (real ones, tiles off, no hot water) and struggling with bureaucracy. I have been a stern critic of self-pity, and here I was, wallowing in the hopelessness of the present, and watching too much news. The Apocalypse was here, now, on my door-step – Macron shuts France down, and I couldn’t even go out to lunch. Having steadfastly avoided the temptation to drink too much – what the hell! I had half a bottle of champagne while watching ‘Strictly’ – but champagne drunk alone is depressing, you need to ‘effervesce’ with others.
The ‘situation’ comes down to self-criticism: keeping standards, active mind and body, keeping well, that is not adding to doctor’s burdens and being fit enough to travel when and if it becomes practical. The first ‘guilt’ was not wanting to get up – top of slippery slope. But really no point getting up early – just makes long day interminable. So wake up, turn on France Musique, open curtains to see geraniums still on terrace, if back hurts turn on electric blanket, then – relax and enjoy, then coffee, bread shop, e-mails and Moodscope. I make sure the minimum of hygiene is maintained, me, my clothes, my house. No point in bothering with looking smart, not seeing anybody. Ditto face – see horrible white image – make-up pointless, covered in mask anyway.
Keeping the ‘glooms’ away is another challenge. Drowning sorrows in alcohol is NOT on – at my age not worried about units. But too much will give me a headache, also will dull reactions, and although not doddery get a bit shaky sometimes. I have to admit that for a time last winter and during first lock-down life seemed so hopeless that I ‘wangled’ my sleeping pill prescription so I always kept enough tucked away for the ‘escape’ route to be there. Never really serious, and stopped now. My appetite has reduced, so no temptation to ‘comfort’ eat. Often real nuisance bothering to eat at all – not good news at my age. Friends who have always been alone cope OK, but until I was 82 I don’t think I had eaten alone more than a few times in my life.
I’ve stopped ‘pushing’ myself when I am tired, or it’s cold and windy. Had guilt feelings that this was ‘letting go’. But, without going as far as cocooning in a blanket and never going out why get tired, and risk getting ill because you feel you MUST walk, do exercise, get fresh air? Complicated outlines of travel also binned, nothing can be planned until you see who survives the economic crisis. Well, another song from ‘Oliver’: here, ‘Consider yourself one of us, consider yourself one of the family’ (Artful Dodger).
A Moodscope member.