May Day or MAYDAY?

Hooray, Hooray, the first of May! Outdoor f***ing begins today!

Jilly Cooper

I last wrote on Good Friday. May Day is another marker of time passing. Not much chance of any outdoor pastimes, saucy or otherwise, just now.

This is my randomly chosen Tarot card for today. The Wheel of Fortune is a transitional image, halfway through the Tarot journey. Fate spins the wheel while the figures wait to see where it stops. Free will is of no use. The world is a system endlessly beginning and ending.

Someone suggested we might face another year of restrictions. For those of us over seventy, a blanket ban on contact with family and friends seems unthinkable. One friend says he doesn’t have a year to waste. A fit, energetic man who has spent retirement travelling the world, walking, climbing and interacting with family including six grandchildren, he has much more to do. I feel great sympathy. I miss my family and close friends terribly. I miss physical contact, always important to me. Not something I had much of as a child, it’s been important in my relationship with my children and my close friends.

I was talking to Cannyrob about this and he suggested I look at this http://www,5lovelanguages If you can get over the tabloid tone of the site, there is some useful stuff there. Although it is aimed at couples, I think it applies equally to any relationship. A quiz asks you to find your preferred style of communication.

  • words of affirmation
  • acts of service
  • receiving gifts
  • quality time
  • physical touch

I think about interactions with my children and grandson in this time when hugs are not an option. A parcel arrives from Older Daughter. Always the giver of thoughtful and unexpected presents, she sends us home-made marmalade and two Good Food magazines for Cannyrob. Son emails me photos from his everyday life: his tidy garden, a newly mopped floor. I send him audio recordings of a favourite childhood book. These could be ‘acts of service’. The time I spend on Skype sharing the Minecraft keyboard with Wee Boy is ‘quality time’ for both of us. Younger Daughter passes on Wee Boy’s reactions to a story we read on video. He loved this one! At one point he said , show me the picture and you did. He was amazed. How did Grandma know? Grandma just knows. ‘Words of affirmation.’ All of these things make me feel loved.

We are connecting in different ways, maybe more than we might do under normal circumstances. Once a week I have a video chat with three friends, all former colleagues. In ‘normal’ times we meet for lunch, perhaps every three months. Our weekly chats connect us in a way that reminds me of staff room conversations, often about books, but we also have plenty of laughs. I think these chats bring us closer.

This beautiful connection that’s going on reminds me of how people were in the 50’s and 60’s. People have time now to think of others, to contact them, to keep in touch.

JPG (see below)

Now that we have a kind of lockdown routine, I’ve wanted to do more drawing, play more music. Last Friday in our Zoom Pilates class our Teacher suggested we channel Rubens and imagine we had large pillowy buttocks. I came home with images in my head, did some sketches, found some Rubens paintings online. This was the result (pastel on crumpled waste paper strips 48 x 24 inches)

Nude Pilates

Tomaso del Garbo, a Florentine physician working during the 14th-century Black Death, wrote that those who could not “flee the pestilence must “use songs and games and pleasant stories that do not exhaust the body”. A 15th-century revised edition of Aldobrandino of Siena’s Régime du Corps, which circulated widely during epidemic outbreaks, told its readers to “read joyful and strange things”.

Katherine Rundell, the Guardian

Singing songs and telling stories are things I want to do just now. I played Nina Simone singing Mr Bojangles on repeat on my half hour walk yesterday. I think it will be the song I will associate with this time. The man who keeps on dancing, no matter what life brings.

Quick sketches of Cannyrob doing Zoom Zumba

On television, fantasy drama like The Witcher (Netflix) is absorbing. Cannyrob is enjoying National Theatre productions like Twelfth Night. I am enthralled by The Great British Sewing Bee which lets me know it’s Wednesday. A friend is losing herself in the Game of Thrones books, others are re-reading Georgette Heyer and Susan Cooper. I have Rosemary Sutcliffe’s Eagle of the Ninth trilogy waiting to be read and another favourite from childhood 1066 and All That on order.


Title of notice in pet shop window
Photo by Freddie Ramm

I find myself looking for a theme on my morning walk. This week it has been tulips which seem exceptionally bright this spring


I want to mention JPG (quoted above), a very good friend and fan of my blog. She’s not online, so I send it by post. In response to the last one, she sent me a long, beautifully written letter, such a rare treat. I appreciate all the feedback I get, in whatever form. Please continue to respond in any way that suits you. You can reply below (scroll down) or email me privately at: I have just added a page with new drawings and paintings alongside my older SKETCHBOOK page. You can scroll down to leave comments there too. To see these, click MY RECENT ARTWORK (desktop or tablet view) In mobile view, click MENU then MY RECENT ARTWORK. (Thanks to MC for pointing this out!)

1 Comment

  1. It’s great that you can use creative outlets during lockdown!

    I’ve come across the 5 love languages before and they are so interesting to me. Useful to understand that people show love differently. The desire for physical touch feels so heightened at the moment. Not fulfilled by Zoom calls sadly!


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