Pandemic diary 63: 'A surreal sense of our shared somnambulant living'

A somnambulent surreal orange Clem under a coloured sail shade

GDPR when it came this day in May two years offered a fantastic declutter. I slowly unclogged my email and moved everything over to take-or-leave RSS feeds on Feedly. I kept only about five excellent email subscriptions. One is Roden from Craig Mod who lives and walks in Japan and writes beautifully and does lots of interesting creative stuff.

This month he wrote about the repetitious detail of our days at the moment. A snippet:

But it’s the singularity of the repeated details that has been a jolt — the way the knife feels coming out of its block each and every morning or the sound of the coffee hitting the grinder gears or the pot of hot water rising up to boil. Of the folding back of my sheets in a fixed way, even the detail of the weight of now — this surreal sense of our shared somnambulant living — as being precise, singular, and a detail that I thought would go away but hasn’t, is still here. There’s a tick-tock synchronicity between the days. And it’s the texture of these repeated hyper-specific particulars that has only heightened the sense of unreality. It’s amazing how so much of what we tend to assume to be recondite or miraculous is there, in minute detail, day after day after day..

Roden 039, April 2020

I really felt this. Without the whirlwind of the outside world, focus has switched to the small components on which our days are built, like a set of David Lynch normal-made-abnormal details running in slow motion in a dystopian world.

As people die in their tens of thousands (actually now over 101,000 worldwide as of today) in a global pandemic beyond the front door, inside there is the daily closing of the bedroom window when local kids start playing/screaming, a watering of seed crops for the allotment, a coffee and three biscuits from the jar mid-morning, a sliding off of the tarp to get the beanbag out in the garden, a sunset walk, an evening TV show over dinner, a book in the bath.

These details are now the fabric of our restricted world. Something we are all sharing. A weight. On dozy repeat.

What are the details of your routine that is keeping reality from entering your front door?


Today I enjoying having at least the sense of a bank holiday – not setting the alarm, time out from the deadlines of work and guilt-free lounging in the sunshine. Today feels like a holiday.

I'm also thankful for the karmic delivery of a variety of squash plants from someone who was on my Rhubarb run yesterday. Thank you Anne.

Pete built this window on the world, meets sun-shade (tarp hanger), meets garden folly – it's bloody brilliant

Commission/hire me: fiona [at]

3 thoughts on “Pandemic diary 63: 'A surreal sense of our shared somnambulant living'”

  1. We have 10.30 chocolate biscuits in the kitchen and tea at around 4 on working days which is quite a nice routine. I am running 5 days a week two weeks out of three, so I seem to have a routine of doing a big wash in the middle of the week and one at the weekend. The sound of loud meetings drifting up the stairs and a lunge for the window if I hear running feet …

  2. Interesting perspective. What’s keeping reality from entering my front door, I’m wondering?

    First thoughts: to me anyway, it feels the other way around. The frenzied, pre-Covid life world was pretty detached from reality (for a multitude of reasons but including climate change inaction, prioritisation of money over people, apathy to homelessness…).

    And my current lockdown routine involves less pointless frenzy, less social conformity, fewer mindless tasks, less consumerism. Just fairly hard work. More focus on people.

    Am staying aware of what’s happening too, even if the horrendous scale of suffering is at arm’s length for me.

    Maybe, despite the rising death toll, it is easier to face the scary reality of both our current and future world, because there is movement: easing of lockdown, plans for reopening of schools, shops, places of work.

    Which means much processing and planning.

    Which means hope.

    (Whether the current lockdown-easing decisions are informed is another matter.!)

    Downside to reconsidering a future where the pandemic crisis phase is over: more headspace to think about the much greater crisis of climate change.

  3. keeping shizzle from my front door…………..a) don't read the news – sfa you can do about it !!

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