Nine things

Nine things we are looking forward to after lockdown

AS the lockdown starts to be lifted, everyone has their own particular places they want to revisit, people they want to see and arts, entertainments and sport to enjoy. We have been missing the theatre and concerts hugely, so it’s not surprising they are top of our list. When the lockdown started we were looking forward to some exciting plays, concerts and events at Bath Theatre Royal, and Bath and Salisbury festivals, and we had tickets for three of Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Beethoven 250 concerts at the Barbican in mid-May. All cancelled or postponed.

We haven’t missed football, but we know a lot of people have, so it’s good news for them that it is starting again, albeit behind closed doors. We can’t understand why cricket can’t return, with fans, since cricket grounds are generally spacious with plenty of room to “socially distance.” We will miss Wimbledon and tennis generally – but tennis, like most sports, needs fans and spectators to heighten the atmosphere and the emotion, and tennis played in an empty court seems a hollow experience.

We know it will be many months before the theatres and concert halls reopen, but we can dream …so here are nine post-lockdown things we are looking forward to:

Going to the theatre – at this stage, when we have no idea how or when the lockdown will be eased, let alone fully lifted, we don’t even know how many of the theatres we love will reopen at all. There are gloomy forecasts from many – including Shakespeare’s Globe – of the risk of complete closure. Already, Southampton’s Nuffield Theatre has gone into administration, causing widespread alarm throughout theatre-world. We hope to be able to go to Bath Theatre Royal, Bristol Old Vic, Poole’s Lighthouse arts centre and Salisbury Playhouse before the end of the year. – but we aren’t holding our breath. Probably the most we can hope for in early autumn is a low-key resumption of rural touring with Artsreach in Dorset, Take Art in Somerset and Devon’s Villages in Action.

Going to one or more of John Eliot Gardiner’s Beethoven concerts, postponed to early next year, at Alexandra Palace – with every passing week, 2021 seems nearer, and concerts this side of Christmas seem vanishingly unlikely, so Beethoven at Ally Pally gives us something exciting to anticipate. It’s an atmospheric venue, with vast spaces that may allow for some social distancing, if it is still needed. It will be thrilling to hear those great Beethoven symphonies there.

Not feeling guilty if I forget something when I am out shopping and having to go again the following day – no matter how many lists you make, or reminder boards you have around the kitchen, there is always something. Under normal circumstances that’s not a big deal. But right now, if it’s something you have to get at the supermarket, rather than one of our town’s excellent independent shops, the idea of another hour queueing is dispiriting. I keep a book in the car, so that if I have to queue I have something to read and don’t notice the time.

Being able to browse in bookshops – browsing is part of the point of bookshops. Yes, you may go in with the intention of buying a particular book, but you always find books you don’t know, books that invite you in, books that you just know you have to read … and it’s only by browsing that you find them.

Re-starting work on Deepest Somerset – as the coronavirus started to bite, and before the lockdown, we had no option but to postpone the proposed publication of Deepest Somerset from autumn 2020 to autumn 2021. We still have a lot of interviews and photographs to do for this third book, to go with Deepest Dorset and Deepest Wiltshire, but we will also have to do a lot of checking and re-interviewing to see who has survived the crisis, and how it has changed their lives, their work or their organisation.

Having lunch at The Pig at Combe – the sheer simple pleasure of a delicious leisurely lunch of locally sourced, seasonal food, with friends, in an unspoilt setting (and the best selection of glasses ever in the bar!)

Going to the coast and not worrying about getting caught up in crazy crowds – anyone who saw the photographs and film of Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, or Bournemouth beach, over the last weekend in May, will understand.

Going to Scotland – probably the most achievable of our “going to” wishes. The parts of Scotland that we love most, apart from Edinburgh, are Dumfries and Galloway and the far north, where social distancing is a way of life not medical advice. Hopefully, in the autumn we can find a self-catering cottage, where we can take the dog and enjoy the landscape and the wildlife and the starry skies and good food, for which Dumfries and Galloway is particularly noted.

Going to California to see my daughter and her family – of course we want to see them, because email and the phone and WhatsApp are no substitute for being together. But it is very difficult to imagine feeling confident any time soon about taking a transatlantic flight. With threats here of a quarantine period for travellers returning from abroad, the probability of far fewer flights, which will doubtless be more expensive, and the stress of ten hours in cramped “cattle class” seats, it’s not a prospect that warms the heart.

Pictured: Bath Theatre Royal, the interior of Alexandra Palace, a favourite bookshop (this one is Hunting Raven in Frome), The Pig at Combe, the river at Dumfries, and Carmel, in California, where we will visit our 95 year old uncle.