Life in Lockdown
Published on: Sunday, October 11, 2020
By: Sylvia Howe
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LOCKDOWN again! For good reason, I know, but I must admit to a bit of a sinking heart. Last time it wasn’t the problem I expected - I found it rather interesting in fact that I was able to slow down and read and watch telly and paint and write my book and do online exercise. Since then I have educated myself to swim every other day, so as we learnt this morning that all facilities including the pool are closed, I am feeling a bit fed up. Especially as I find I eat more during lockdown, with nowhere to burn it off.

We have done a bit of research and found out that the SARS virus lasts one minute in chlorinated water - and Covid is very similar. I have suggested we limit pool use to adults only and one two people at a time, but this has fallen on deaf ears. I wonder if it is because Malaysia does not have a culture of swimming, so people are not really bothered. For them it is the least important of many issues while for me it is a real pain. 

I am painting away. I watch videos by Alex Tzavares and absorb as much as I can, putting it into practice - rather clumsily, but it is getting better. This gentleman is my latest effort in oils - by no means perfect, but at least you can see what it is!

I continue to write my book, although I remain creative about getting down to it - or not. I have been going at it, and think I am probably half way through. The story takes over sometimes, which is what every writer wants, I think. It’s when you have to grind it out that it becomes a chore. 

I read. I listen to stories on Audible.The radio comes into its own, and my husband and I rediscover conversation, which is refreshing. 

I shall bake, no doubt, but with baking comes eating, and I want to avoid that a bit. I enjoy a delicious pale pink wine with my supper of an evening called Gris Blanc, which I buy in small quantities from Merdeka, but I try to keep that to a glass or two. 

At the moment we have two weeks to look forward to. If it makes a difference, hooray. If not, we will have to gird our loins and stick it out for longer. Boring. But the only way to get through this, and get things under control. Malaysia remains however, one of the countries with comparatively few Covid cases, even though the numbers are growing, like so many others. Everyone must now keep their eye on the ball.

I shall hope that two weeks should see an improvement; We’ve had a bit of a shock but it is not easy to adopt these new rules of living as a matter of course and I for one have certainly been less vigilant. It is the new normal, whatever we think. However much we protest or resist. Or Panic, which is of course a complete waste of time. The rules don’t change - masks, washing/sanitising and keeping your distance. 

I am leaving Sabah on 3rd November, and who knows when I will be back. I have recorded two episode of Fresh Air with Ben Uzair, so that’s October done, and I shall be speaking to him on air from the UK when I get there, and will be able to give a first hand account of what it’s like there, under the Johnson regime. Tune in - KK12fm, Sundays, repeated on Tuesdays.

From Jesselton to Kota Kinabalu

With members of the NBHE (North Borneo History Enthusicasts) I have been working very hard on a book we h ave called From Jesselton to Kota Kinabalu. It has been quite difficult but so interesting! Some years ago they ran an event called Bonding with Gaya Street (Bond Street/Gaya Street - Geddit?) which invited people with photos and stories to share them. Many stepped up, and there is a collection of tales and pictures which is second to none in Sabah, dating from the late 1800s to the present day. 

I have edited and designed it, and am wrestling with the programmer In Design to make it as clear, classy and easy to follow as possible. That is the least of the effort. THe NBHE people (Rosemary Chin Garces, Susan Bansin, Tina Kisil, Yee I-Lan and so many others) have written up what they were told, checked facts, collected the illustrations, and they deserve a loud round of applause. Sabah should be proud. It is in the final throes of checking and re-checking, and it will be another week or so before it is ready to go to the printer. But when it is done, it will be available in KK and I hope you will buy it - it is very much part of a collection of history and information and images of everything that has led up to KK as it is today. Hold on to your hats!! 

David Attenborough: 

A Life on our Planet

Time for a bit of philosophising. Covid-19 is probably our fault. We have messed around with Planet Earth for so many years that it seems it has been pushed out of balance, in a way that gives rise to these threats. As I have said before, I think, it is good that we are brought up short by the consequence as of the way we live. And accept that we are not in control of everything.     

We watched David Attenborough’s programme last night - A Life on Our Planet, made with WWF. He is 92 years old, and he shares his experience of looking at the world around us. It was salutary, and to me, very hard to argue against. The image of a lonely orangutan up a bare tree trunk wondering how on earth he got there, and what on earth he was going to do about it remains with me. We can’t keep bashing our planet up; Sir David is very clear, and he backs up his powerful statements with facts, scientific research and powerful images. No wishy washy pleas to look after the world, but clear reasons why it is nearly too late.

The Jacaranda Letters is available on Amazon and also from me


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