So, everyone’s staying at home for a change and the positive effects of that are already visible on an air quality map of Europe I saw earlier today. For me, staying at home is nothing new but I can understand many people might be getting frustrated out there, so I came up with a list of 11 — because that’s my favourite number for no discernible reason — fun things to do while you Do What’s Right.
1. Read P.G. Wodehouse
There are few things more refreshing at a time like this than reading about the totally unrelatable problems of fictional members of the British aristocracy from a century ago. Wodehouse’s books are the most brilliant proof that it’s not about the story but about the way it is told. If I didn’t know all his novels by heart I’d start re-reading them.
2. Cook a really difficult dish
I hear Amazon is hiring 100,000 people to handle the surge in orders, so you don’t have to wander the empty aisles of your local supermarket. Cooking a really difficult dish has at least three benefits: one, it takes your mind off things, two, it strengthens your powers of concentration, three, it makes you mute or turn off the news, and four, you get some delicious food in the end. That’s three benefits plus a bonus.
3. Arrange your books
First by genre, then by alphabetical order within genre. That’s some solid amount of time to kill in a relatively productive way. In case you’re one of those scary people who have already done this, I can’t help you. Stay away from me. In case you’ve forgotten there’s such a thing as paper books, I can’t help you. I feel sorry for you, you digital native, you!
4. Clean your windows
This excessively repetitive, much hated chore will not only result in clean windows. It will likely bring rain, and this, in turn, will clear the air quite literally, viruses and all. Incidentally, if anyone knows what makes it rain after you’ve just cleaned your windows — or your car, in case it sleeps on the street and not in a garage — please share this precious knowledge. Thank you.
5. Make things out of your hoard of toilet paper
You’ve stocked up for a year ahead. I’ve already seen one Throne of Swords made out from toilet paper rolls but I’m sure the possibilities are endless. Seriously, why just let it sit there? Have some fun with it, build a fort or an abstract sculpture. Or, you know, share it with those in need who were slower at the supermarket. Oh, wait, you can’t. Self-quarantine is hard. You are now wiser than you were a hundred words ago.
I know how this sounds if you’ve never touched a needle but I assure you it could be a great pastime with the plus that if you knit, you get clothes. One of the greatest regrets in my life is that I can’t knit, not because I don’t want to but because my stupid eyes won’t let me. I get a headache a minute into it, so that’s one door to a world of wonders closed and latched for me.
7. Make your own potato/apple crisps/chips
There is an odd but pleasant sense of gratification in making yourself food that you have only ever bought. Then there is the pleasure of cutting something into really thin slices. I don’t know why it’s so nice. It might have to do with holding a knife, one of the greatest inventions of the human race. Plus, they’ll probably be much healthier than the sort you buy.
8. Iron something
That is, if you own an iron. I don’t, because the only way anyone could make me iron something is to pay me a lot of money but I’ve heard people are different and one person’s torture is another person’s pleasure. Besides, freshly ironed clothes smell nice. Nope, even the smell won’t make me iron a shirt. Also, we had to throw away our ironing board after the now late Victor peed on it. You can’t get the smell of cat pee out of an ironing board. It’s been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.
9. Clean up something.
Cupboards, bookshelves, the attic, the wardrobe, whatever you have that needs cleaning up that you’ve been putting off for centuries, now is the time. It’s only annoying until you start. Once you get going, cleaning up years of neglect becomes a superfun activity, especially if you accidentally break something and have to clean that, too. Long-forgotten memories, bad purchasing choice, a pair of old jeans that shockingly still fit? Cleanups are a treasure trove of surprises.
10. Binge watch The Walking Dead, seasons 1 to 5
It could be worse. Everything short of an actual zombie apocalypse can be worse. Remind yourself of that by watching this fictional account of the worst of the worst. But only up to Season 5 because it went downhill from there, and fast. For maximum effect, combine with reading — reading, not watching — World War Z.
11. Buy my book. And read it, obviously.
The Lamiastriga is fast-paced, dramatic, with twists, has humour and sex in it, and doesn’t have all-perfect superheroes. Also, I just heard back from the publishers and they will only take on my second book if The Lamia‘s next sales update is good. I have less than two weeks to push the sales numbers up since the next update will cover the six months to the end of March. I clearly don’t know much about book marketing but I’m trying.
Other than all this offline activity I’ve recommended, stay away from the news as much as you can, stay away from other people and rediscover — or discover, if you’re very sociable — the quiet pleasures that don’t involve a screen. Except, you know, for finding a recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon* that you feel you can conquer. Stay safe!
*I got that right on the first try without even checking with Google and yet I can never get university or government right on the first try unless I type slowly. Why, life? Why are you so unfair?
** Little C drew that heart with the wings for ‘the children without mothers’ at an orphanage to which we made a donation last year. I guess right now we’re all a bit like children without mothers, so have a hug.