Busy, busy, busy...
Published on: Monday, June 15, 2020
By: Sylvia Howe
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Pic Credit: AFP
Busy busy busy

Isn’t it strange that when we think we have nothing to do, and lots of time to do it in, somehow the diary fills up and you wonder what on earth you did when we weren’t in semi lockdown!

We must value this time, though. I can’t remember having had this sort of space to think, write, read, without being rushed. I have taken up painting again and I am watching lots of good You Tube videos with the aim of getting better.  I have managed to paint my sons; the older one looks as he should, but the younger says (rather unkindly I feel) that he looks as if he has been squeezed from a toothpaste tube. I am doing my best to improve him (in all sorts of ways!) but so far I have to confess that there is the tiniest bit of truth in what he says. 

A bonus, not a right

Black Lives Matter is a movement that is long overdue. Of course they do and of course they must.  I am trying to recognise my white privilege, and appreciate my advantages.  I have had them, simple because of where I come from and what I look like, and even though everything hasn’t been a bowl of cherries, I do see that they exist.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to be nervous when I walk down a perfectly ordinary street, just because of my skin colour. I am horrified when I hear of successful black people being stopped because they look smart and drive an expensive car. Is this ingrained in us? Is our first thought ‘drug dealer’? I’m not sure, but I am taking a look at my unconscious prejudices and trying to see how they affect my reactions.  And I also try to bear in mind ‘bad things happen when good people do nothing.’ I am not going to run about knocking down statues of 18th -century slave traders (although that’s a conversation too) but I’m going to try to be aware. I’ll get it wrong many times, I’m sure. I am not a saint and I quite like my privilege, but anyhow, it’s a start.

33 years and counting 

I am still looking for something to do to celebrate the enormous number of years I have been married. 33, since you ask. If anyone had said that this would be the case as I said my vows, I wouldn’t have believed them! We booked at Gaya Island Resort – Residents’ Package as I think I told you recently. But it keeps being delayed as the lockdown rules are adapted to circumstances.  I would like to go somewhere nice to mark this event. Not too far from KK. Near or on the sea if possible. Nice food.  Any suggestions?  We will get to the resort eventually but it rather defeats the object if it’s not on the day.

Post haste?

For those of you who care – my parcel still hasn’t arrived, but some brilliant person has managed to track it down and apparently it will be delivered in a couple of weeks.  That’ll make it about eight weeks in transit then. Apparently there are hundreds of thousands of parcels at the Post Office because of course a lot of people have been doing mail order during this lockdown. They might do worse than hire a delivery service to help them out. I say this from an entirely unbiased point of view of course. 

Up and away?

Rumours about travel abound.  Can we go to KL? Will we go into quarantine if we come back from abroad? Who is demanding quarantine and where? I believe interstate travel is OK but not anything else. Are planes allowed to come to Malaysia from abroad?  Confused of Kota Kinabalu

In the UK you can do it at home after you arrive, and you are spot checked by health professionals. That seems fine to me. I am not sure if I would be as sanguine if I were not allowed to stay at home in my comfortable surroundings. NO idea whether the UK will be demanding quarantine when I plan to return in November. Many travel companies are against this, so we shall see how long it lasts. Health v economy? Both important, but I would like to feel well enough to enjoy any economical plusses. People are also saying that the virus is gathering its forces for another surge. Seems plausible to me, as long as we don’t have a vaccine. So may I urge you (my opinion only – I am neither an official voice, or your grandmother) to bear this in mind, and not to relax your guard or lower your facemask yet. Soap and water is our friend. 

Goings on

The Tanjung Aru library has opened from 10 – about 5. Each person is limited to two hours, so enjoy!

And on Wednesday June 17 there is a Zoom webinar : Art: what next? A panel of curators, artists, art educators, museum directors and journalists are going to discuss the future of art in light of the pandemic. Should be interesting. To register text +63 917816 3685 or email [email protected] Still lots of streaming for free, or not very much. Keep an eye out online for plays, opera, discussion, ballet and all sorts. You Tube is a goldmine for this sort of thing. Also Portrait Artist of the Week – a celebrity sits for a painter, and we are all invited to join in at home.  So far Bernardine Evaristo, who won this year’s Booker Prize, and also Akram Khan, the remarkable choreographer. And no doubt ones I’ve missed. Grayson Perry, the ceramicist (and a very arresting and intelligent man) is also running art from his studio. Keep an eye out – there are treats for us all, and it’ll stop when all this is over.

Nothing earthshattering to report this week. Just plodding on, enjoying the cooler weather, watching my plants gulp down the rain, and having the occasional socially distanced lunch with a friend. Writing my book, painting my portraits, reading my books, eating the food I cook. Not bad, really, is it? 

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