A Stationary Feast
Updated: Apr 12, 2020
Notes from London Lockdown
Little cause for feasting, and certainly not the moveable kind, with the world on pause. I’ve migrated to the western fringes of London, where I’m very fortunate to be locked down with company, a garden and a cat.
Stretches of time with no timetable or preordained end are a fearsome thing. Now’s my chance – we all think – to revisit abandoned projects; tick off those books we usually pretend to have read; get the complete works of so-and-so under our belt. But if there’s anything more daunting than having a lot to achieve in a limited time, it’s having a lot to achieve in an unlimited time. After all, if it’s waited so long, surely a little longer won’t hurt?
True to form, I arrived with an extensive library including the likes of In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, Winter in Sochko by Elisa Shua Dusapin and Sudden Traveller by Sarah Hall – all books that have been eyeballing me from my bedside for several months. Yet progress is slow (partly due to freelance work commitments), and lately it seems my primary creativity outlet is in modes of procrastination: cooking, snacking, static exercise regimes.
I wish I could say I was much-occupied with maintaining friendships, yet I find myself battling social inertia. Adapting to my shrunken world like a tamed animal afraid to leave its cage, my mind struggles to reach beyond this microcosm. Just as my limbs get heavier with every run, so my WhatsApps become briefer, tardier, more reluctant. And I'm not alone – friends report similar feelings.
However, as the news continues to get bleaker, and with social distancing a physical health imperative, the mental health benefits of human connection are clearer than ever. Contact – whether via video call, phone or social media – is a lifeline. No matter how advanced digital communications become, nothing can ever quite replace the ritual of sharing food with others – something we're all about at A Moveable Feast.
Whether you're religious or not, for many people Easter is an occasion to gather with friends and family (and gorge on chocolate); it's sad that everyone will be celebrating separately this year. Although we're all in our thirties, we've organised an egg hunt here. A strange childhood regression? Perhaps, but traditions are something to cling to when everything else is unfamiliar. And necessity breeds creativity: people are turning to all kinds of activities to stave off lockdown boredom. Has Instagram ever seen so many homemade hot cross buns?
The other night, I rewatched American Beauty for the first time since it was released in my early teens, and was struck by how well it’s stood the test of time. The satire’s still sharply subversive, the performances still wickedly gleeful, the balance of darkness and humour still perfectly judged. In this excoriating vision of suburban malaise, family meals are war zones in which marriages are shipwrecked and teenagers' respect is irretrievably lost. It's a timely reminder to preserve the connection however possible (Zoom quiz, anyone?) – even if we feel paralysed by uncertainty.
It’s hard to imagine what the world will look like at the end of this – the lasting impact on how we work, travel and socialise – but hopefully the desire to engage and share will be keener than ever.
How are you faring? Share your lockdown experience, activities and reading list @amoveablefeastlondon.