Dan works a lot, so I needed to have a plan. I didn’t ask him, I just told him that we were going to do something outside the house every single weekend in 2020.
But that was a year ago.
Dan and I have been in lockdown since March 12. We’re in our ninth month of essential isolation.
We haven’t gone out every weekend in 2020. I don’t suppose that anybody has.
We’ve been living together, and working together and separately, in this house for twenty years, and in these two houses for twelve years. For virtually all of those two decades, we haven’t had weekends and holidays, and, when we have, they’ve been about stimulus for the work. That’s fine, we also happen to love galleries and museums, book shops and antique markets, and experiences. The ideas come from everywhere. Any time we went out to eat in the past two decades, it was about research, and getting as much as we could out of conversations with specialists, with scientists, artists, gamers… you name it. Those people are also friends, so work and play are inextricably linked, melded, inseparable.
Dan’s entire life is about his work. My entire life is about creativity and craft, whether that’s re-seating a tap, decorating a room, or knitting blankets, throwing pots, or making curtains. However busy Dan is, I can always be doing something, even if that’s only reading, or soaking up really good tv, or, maybe, writing a blogpost.
We’ve had a good life. We have a good life.
2020 has been as full of weekends as any other year; two days of every seven are devoted to things other than work, if you’re a 9-5er of course. We never were.
We have done a very great deal with our lockdown weekends. They have been stimulating and fun and productive, even if they haven’t been sociable, and even if we haven’t been able to explore new places or revisit old favourites. We have found our stimulus at home, and we have brought stimulus into our home. We have developed a routine.
Take newspapers… Newspapers are important. We take a print paper every day, and more at the weekend. Ideas come from everywhere, so one of my first jobs of the day is to go through the papers and clip anything that I think might be interesting or stimulating to Dan. Now, at the weekends, we sit together in bed with a cup of tea, each, and we go through the papers together, reading stuff out to each other and discussing ideas. We even get our brains ticking over by doing the crosswords and quizzes, guessing the ages of the people on the birthday lists, and checking obituaries.
Print papers bypass the filter bubble, they generate ideas, and they show us a version of the World, unfettered by algorithms, if not by opinion.
Then, on Saturday mornings, I take a long bath, while Dan showers, and gets started on brunch: bagels filled with cheese, meat, sauerkraut, mustard, mayo, and croissants filled with good cheese, and baked, always accompanied by lots of good decaf coffee. Brunch is eaten in the drawing room, while we watch something documentary… currently “Parts Unknown” on Netflix. Bourdain was a clever, funny, engaged man, so this isn’t so much about food as it is about people, politics, ideas, change, hope… All stimulating stuff when it comes to creativity.
Saturday supper, like weekend brunch is deliberately different from weekday fare. We eat junk on Saturdays, often very good quality or homemade junk, but junk nonetheless: good hamburgers, hotdogs, steak-frites, or the full English, eaten as supper, are all Saturday night favourites.
The evening will pass in a haze of Strictly, since we’re a family of dancers, with commentary on personalities and performances, not to mention the scores, and texts back and forth with the Dort, with lots of upper case and a mass of unnecessary exclamation marks: It’s a whole thing. Then there’s the check-in with elderly relatives, followed by more good coffee, tonight accompanied by fabulous syrupy apple cake made by our friend and neighbour.
Our weekends, this year, are not what we thought they’d be, and they’re not what we planned, but we’ve made them into something new and different. We do things that we’ve done before, things that we’ve done many times before, but the way that we do them, the routine we’ve mapped out for our weekends is new. And it’s lovely.