Day 41: Two weeks to go

Sunday, 26th April

Two weeks to go. I can’t wait.

No going back

Of course life won’t go back to the way it was before. We will have to keep up social distancing, probably wear masks, have to avoid public transport, not be able to go to museums/cinemas/cafes or restaurants for a while… but ohmygod, we will be able to move around freely. Perhaps not travel for a while, but that will come. I hope we can go and see my father. In the meantime, we are making the best of the situation and finding ways of enjoying this holiday at home. The kids and I go out every day. While we avoid crowds of any kind, I confess that we often stay out longer than the authorised hour. And we are not alone: many parents carry erasable pens in their bags together with the “attestation de déplacement” – which must feature the date and time you left your home – and make small adjustments in order to stay out longer… we have had only two police checks in one and a half months, and both times the officers were very friendly. They, too, have children.

Will anyone hear me?

This week I had a surrealist professional experience: I recorded the English version of an audio-guide for a major exhibition at a museum here in Lyon which may never be heard by anyone… it is due to end in July, and no one knows when museums will open again. It’s unclear whether they will be able to extend the dates as many of the pieces on display are borrowed and will probably have to be returned in due course.

The effects of lockdown

The world of culture is suffering major collateral damage. There have been ads on France Culture radio calling on people not to seek refunds for cancelled events at smaller venues in a bid to help keep them afloat in these times of crisis. My friends who work in performance art are without work and worried. One of them, a stage manager who normally works flat out going from one event to the next, said to me the other day that she wasn’t sure she would work again in 2020. Hard times.

Elsewhere in the world, lockdown in the West has had dramatic consequences: with major Western retailers cancelling all orders, low-paid garment workers in countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar (check the labels on most of your t-shirts) are out of work. In Cuba, a growing number of NGOs is calling for a loosening of the US embargo, arguing it is having a an “an even more harmful effect than usual” on the island, which imports 80 percent of its food and is suffering from shortages.

Here in Lyon, we are of course privileged, but everyone faces their own challenges: a close friend of mine whose grown son has autism says some days can be very difficult for him. What he needs more than anything is a routine, and having it totally shattered by the lockdown is very disturbing for him. This has an impact on the whole family, including his teenage siblings. Hopefully he will be able to get back to a new kind of routine soon.

For now, we have another week of school holidays, and will endeavour to make them as enjoyable as possible for everyone. Otherhalf is home this coming week on what was meant to be our family holiday. We will try not to get on each other’s nerves – after six weeks of confinement, we’re not doing bad, but there are times when the usual family conflicts flare up out of proportion… and there is nowhere to go to let off steam. The kids are mostly doing a good job of trying to keep themselves entertained (it is boring being home ALL the time) – thank god for their fertile imagination: today they set up a science museum in my son’s bedroom (which consisted mainly of lava stones, plastic dinosaurs, and various old trinkets meant to be “antiquities”). And yesterday, my son was a dog, and my daughter was taking him for walks around the flat.

I think we are all ready for de-confinement now!

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