Back to normal?

I asked a question of my Facebook friends recently. It went something like this;

“When things come apart – when the kaleidoscope of our lives is shaken – there is an opportunity to see them put back together differently, and see a new way of doing things.

And we can start to think together, and work together, to decide the kind of Scotland we want to emerge from this crisis.

We still all face major challenges. Challenges in navigating the uncertainties that the virus has created, as well as rebuilding our economy and public services.

But we can go further than rebuilding, and look seriously at social and economic reform.

I am confident we can start to begin considering our futures with optimism because this crisis has taught us how we can achieve rapid results under the most demanding circumstances.”

(Nicola Sturgeon)

Could not agree more Nicola.

So- a quick straw poll of my FB friends- what reforms do you want to see? Dream big, but dream practically (and gracefully)

I had some lovely answers; stop buying things and start making them. Get factories to make things to last. End capitalism. Four day working week. Universal basic income. Move to economy base don wellbeing. Support home schooling and community resillience. Finally address issues of poverty. And so on…

The point here is this one. When all this is over – when the lockdown is done; when we can meet with family and friends; when we can trade and travel and shop – do we want things to be the same as they were before?

Think about that for a moment. Set aside the beauty contest/Eurovision wish list (‘I want world peace/end to wars/people to love each other’) and think about the world as we have known it, with all those problems that, no matter how dreadful, seemed impossible to change; climate change, rampant and increasing inequality, our addiction to oil; turbo consumerism; health inequalities; exploitation of the global south; sexual politics…

Well, for the first time in my lifetime, it feels genuinely possible that these terrible circumstances will act in some way as a kind of ‘reset’, during which real change (on individual, national and even a global scale) is possible.

So, the question remains- what changes do you want to see?

After you own great silence, perhaps you are re-evaluating your own life. Perhaps, after the enforced reduction of your income, you are realising that the wage enslaved way is not the only way to go. It is possible to earn less and be happier- either because you choose to do something else, or becuase you realise that a lot of the things you thought you needed to make you happy were not after all making you happy. It took me almost 50 years to come to that decision, but perhaps you did not need any where near as many.

Perhaps you are one of the many people who are starting to dream of simple, more self-sufficient life. If so, the planet congratulates you and hopes your dreams soon become reality.

After our nations great silence, we can no longer say that austerity is the only answer, nor that the only way to frame the question is neo-liberal economics. Neither can we say that the poor have brought their poverty on themselves through indolence, or that those living on the streets have chosen that as a lifestyle.

Already we are seeing interesting political developments. On the right, the thinktanks and scrabbling to put the genie back in the bottle, but even they are saying that a return to austerity policies is not advisable. Meanwhile, on the left, the progressive manifestos that failed in the last election have not gone away, and perhaps their time has come. This from todays Guardian

Seeking to seize the initiative on the country’s future direction once the pandemic abates, Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, has called for the plans to include creating a “zero-carbon army of young people” doing work such as planting trees, insulating buildings and working on green technologies.

Miliband told the Guardian that the combination of the economic damage caused by the virus and the imperative to tackle issues such as the climate emergency and pollution required ambition on the scale of Clement Attlee’s postwar Labour government.

“It’s a contemporary equivalent of what happened after 1945,” Miliband said. “It’s never too early to start thinking about the future, to think about what kind of world we want to build as we emerge from this crisis. I think we owe it to have a sort of reassessment of what really matters in our society, and how we build something better for the future.”

Under a timetable coordinated by Miliband and the shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, Labour will this week start a rapid consultation with businesses, workers, unions and others on how a green recovery could happen. Proposals will then be put to the government.

“I think we should be aiming for the most ambitious climate recovery plan in the world,” Miliband said. “That should be nothing less than the government’s ambition. The old argument that you can have economic success or environmental care is just completely wrong.

FInally, what next for the world?

Instability always brings risk as much as it brings change. There are always idiots like Trump and thugs like Putin willing to exploit and play power games with people’s lives.

But there are also signs that we are learning. After all, this virus probably came to us not from a lab in Chinaaaa as Trump would have it, but via the destruction of ecosystems that brings wild animals with their unique pathogens into contact with humans. If we are to make a difference, we have to find ways of co-operating internationally, both in the pursuit of vaccinations and to support the global south in maintaining the great wilderness areas that we have left.

Perhaps above all, we are starting to see the development of ideas that have global significance. I have been pretty excited by this one;

Vicky’s broken things (and other tales)…

A few weeks ago – in the early days of lockdown – I recieved a lovely thing through the post; a copy of this;

I met Vicky through poetry, during the gathering of poems for a poetry anthology I was working on for Proost (this one in fact). We discovered mutual interests and mutual friends and it has been lovely to watch her and Brian’s adventures develop over on the other side of Scotland.

Meanwhile, Vicky continues writing. This book is a collection of 15 lovely poems, circling around moments – transcendent moments, awakenings, encounters with nature that allow us to glimpse beyond back around into ourselves.

I need the night

blessing and balm

of the softening sky

as the day folds its hands, finished

You can order a copy of the book from the publisher (www.hedgehogpress.co.uk), from Amazon, or for an even more special treat, you can get a beautifully annotated copy direct from Vicky, who is also a talented artist. https://www.instagram.com/p/B-sBOWPjzFk/

One more lovely sentence;

I expected silence

to be peace

some sort of hard-earned joy

.

But instead I wept

as silence offered me

my own star-shrouded heart

The Great Silence #2

What next? Do we go back to the old normal?

I profoundly hope not, because we can do so much better.

I wanted to write a series of posts reflecting on our Great Silence. This is the second.

Trinity

.

in the old way of thinking, change

comes only through Great Love, or

.

Great Suffering – but both are hard, both

will break us apart, if we let them

.

then (like the third part of trinity) comes

the Great Silence.

The Great Silence…

What next? Do we go back to the old normal?

I profoundly hope not, because we can do so much better.

I wanted to write a series of posts reflecting on our Great Silence. This is the first.


Normally

.

Normally I spend my Saturday shopping

I take breakfast out of plastic and normally need

Two sugars in my rainforest alliance coffee cup.

I ignore the poor folk normally asleep in doorways

And keep my coin for normal things –

Like shoes that I don’t normally walk in

Sleek black phones that never ring

Burgers

.

Normally the world spins clockwise, always

Corkscrewing to the right, where rich people are richer

Although despite the finest food, not fatter

Normally, each summer, I follow the sun

Climbing aboard an airborne aerosol

Which normally arrives inconveniently late, but

Under normal circumstances I would not allow this

To disturb my holiday

.

Normally I don’t hear birds sing, because

I am woken by twitter, snared (as normal) by

Silicon, which sticks my gaze to a small screen.

Deadened by dull days, I long for weekends,

During which I compensate by over consumption

For (normally) what else is there? Better not mention

Meaning.

Resurrection…

There will come a time when this virus is gone, managed, part of our recent history. We will emerge from our houses and flats and blink in new light.

What world will we make? What will we have learned during our enforced furlough from the way things used to be? Do we want things to go back to how they were?

Do we still think that it is not possible to make radical political and economic changes in the face of a major crisis (such as a climate emergency for example)?

Do we still think that an economy whose survival is based on increasing GDP year on year into infinity is every going to be sustainable?

Do we think that inequality and poverty are prices worth paying to sustain our own small kingdoms or can we do better than this?

We need new thinking, new leadership.

Perhaps this might help;

Every Easter I try to write a poem that gathers together something of where we are. This Easter I am fortunate to be spending with my wife, my kids and Emily’s boyfriend. The sun is shining and the garden is blooming. Meanwhile in the real world, others are locked in tiny flats, lonely and with little to eat, stopped from even visiting their local parks.

What does Easter mean in this context?

I care not for your carefully crafted theories of atonement

Or the chocolate eggs you hid inside my hedge

Make it myth or firmest fact, or just

Some old and cold convention

Don old bonnets or blue bunny suits

Cantata or carouse it

But me, I search the sky for hope

I long for resurrection

.

I long for greens at the tips of trees

For stirrings deep in soil

For a pulse aflutter under brand-new skin

Marking an end of unpotential, when

Spring is carried in on warming winds

Letting souls unfold, like leaves

Like lengthening days, reaching out

For resurrection

.

Roll away the stone

For behold, all things are made again, and

We all need second chances

After silence comes the song

Comes the knowing right from wrong

And the grace to make things better

Let us make messiah from our mud and blood

And practice resurrection

Every subsequent spring…

Every subsequent spring

All things die

You know this, but know it again

Not so as to live in deaths dark valley

Or to let fear fence you from the joy of living

Rather know it so death does not fool you

So it does not rule you

Know it because, like last year’s leaves

(Or the spirit that stirs in oak trees)

Nothing is ever wasted, nothing rejected

Instead, all of us will come to participate

In every subsequent spring

From now into ever after

Amen

The one true sadness of God…

I process things by writing about them; you could say this this is my kind of contemplation. However, I have struggled to write much about this virus that has now suspended almost all our normal human activity.

Perhaps this might be something to do with a lack of requirement- a deadline can be very creative, after all. I have been toying with the idea of looking for some creative colaborations with other artists, but at present I am struggling to find a window to look through, so am not sure that I have anything to offer in such a partnership.

Facebook dulls and frustrates, full as it is with virtue signalling and foux-righteous indignation- I have enough of these things myself without being immersed in everyone else’s. I find myself equally repelled by the worship of NHS workers and the rants against hoarders and campervans. We might have hoped for so much more from such a vital communications platform in a time of isolation, but instead, it seems to be a conduit for cliche and condemnation.

The other day, in a moment of existential cynicism, I wrote the poem below. I hesitate to share it, because it is hardly a cheerful offering- in fact, feel free to skip past it – but in the end, I decided that it told part of a story that might be worth telling (you may disagree if you last to the end of this post!)

Barcode

While we shopped

While we stared at small screens

While we threw more and more plastic into our plastic bins

While we pumped full the tanks of our personal transport machines

While we told ourselves that consumption was a human right

And package holidays were reasonable compensation

For all our hard work

While we did all of these things, thinking

We could do them forever

The Earth waited

For the time when all this human hubris

Would become no more than a faint barcode

Buried in the strata of old rocks

Revealed from time to time

By waves of a clean clear sea

Reaching in from the far

Horizon.

I try to write what feels ‘true’, but if there is any truth in this poem, it is only partial, or perhaps situational. I (mostly!) do not think that humanity is doomed and best gone and out the way for the sake of the wider world.

But I do think that the human condition, COVID-19 or not, is a carrier of darkness. By this, I don’t only mean that we do bad things, which of course we do, but rather that pain, uncertainty, lonliness, doubt, fear, failure, despair and grief – these things are wrapped around who we are and what we are becoming. Positive thinking has it’s place, but tsunamis and viruses are not fooled.

If you are feeling some of these things now, you are not alone. I have even heard this collective howl at the heart of our humanity called this; The one true sadness of God

Through the last few months, I have been making my way slowly (with some dear friends) through a book by Richard Rohr called ‘The Universl Christ’. I have written about this book before because it is a beautiful, hope-filled piece of writing, exploring theology and philosphy in ways that seem ever more important and apt for the times we are in.

In one chapter, Rohr describes his acute pain at the loss of his dog after 15 years of companionship. I am not a dog owner, so the bond between man and animal is something of a mystery to me, but this matters not, because what Rohr was trying to describe was his own personal howl of pain and loss- how this individualised and seperated him, but then how in turn it became a connection between himself and God.

This is not the Talisman-God, worn like a medallion in the hope of warding off anything unwanted, rather this is the Christ, through whom all things live and have their being. The Christ who we glimpse deep inside the eyes of the other.

This is not the God of the prosperous and the healthy. S/he is not to be discovered on mountain tops, but dwells in the deepest valley, shadowed even by death.

To those of you who are suffering, this God offers no easy solutions, no promises that all these things will work together for good, if we could but understand his mysterious ways.

Instead, S/he offers this promise; I am here, where you are. In the middle of this darkness.

I wrote one more poem. I hope it makes sense;

The one true sadness of God

The black dog turned his face to me

And I stare into eyes that go on for ever

Like wells dug down

Into the wilderness of this world

Like weeping wounds

Nailed into the soul of God

For here are we, with hearts near broken

By all these broken things

Trapped between the birthing pains of our becoming

And terminal pains from passing

Blessed are we, for love comes not just as joy

It holds us too in suffering

Keeping ourselves healthy and sane in the age of the pandemic…

Understandably, there is a lot of fear around at the moment.

Most of us are living with background anxiety, which is almost unnoticed, a bit like the noise from a ceiling fan which we will only realise is there when someone switches off.

Then there are those spikes of things that approach dread and terror, perhaps when the threat posed by the virus comes closer to us or someone we love, or when we see empty supermarket shelves, or when we think about the consequences of our income security being undermined.

Some of us are suffering more than others- perhaps you are not sleeping, or noticing a spike in blood pressure. Perhaps the stress is triggering migraines or even panic attacks. If so, you are not alone. We are all feeling it, one way or another.

What can we do to manage this anxiety? I’ve been thinking about this a lot. It used to be part of my job to support people who were suffering from anxiety, back when I was a CBT therapist, so I really should know something about this stuff. In many ways this feels different though, because what we are going through is a shared experience, despite the fact that the lock down is putting is all into our own little boxes to suffer alone. It is like sitting in an Anderson shelter back in 1940, but the bombs are silent.

But that kind of thinking does nothing to dispell anxiety, right? And actually, the war analogies are perhaps being overdone. The comparisons between now and then soon come unstuck when you think about it.

What we used to talk about when we put together a plan of managing anxiety is identifiying things that do not help (in the sense that they perpetuate the anxiety) and trying to do less of them, and then indentifying some things that do help, and doing more of them. The realistic aim is never to dispell anxiety alltogether, rather it is to recognise it and reduce it when it comes in such a way that love and life becomes possible again.

So can we apply some of this thinking to our current situation?

Identifying the things that might be making things worse

In my old CBT days, we would look for two patterns; firstly, we would look in detail at some the last time an anxiety incident really spiked. We would consider what triggered it, and what ‘automatic thoughts’ arose in us at the time.

By ‘automatic thoughts’ we meant those ideas about ourself and the world that sit just below consciousness, shaping our actions and reactions. Most people struggle to identify these at first- after all, the are mostly subconscious. One tirck is to ask yourself some simple questions in relaiton to the incident; What does it say about me that I reacted like that? What does it say about other people? What does it say about the world? Pretty soon, what begins to emerge is a set of clues as to what is pushing us towards anxiety, and why we are being so hard on ourselves.

In coronavirus terms, some of us are more vulnerable to anxiety because of the automatic thoughts that we already carry with us. “I am not someone who copes well with things” “My mother always said I was weak” etc. The thing is, we can’t change these ideas overnight, but it can help to identify the pattern. Simply put, the universe is giving us a bit of a kicking right now, but there is no reason to join in. It is important to be kind to yourself, and realise that you, like all of us, are doing the best that you can.

The second pattern we would look for would be what we called ‘safety behaviours’, by which we meant those habits, patterns of coping and self managment that evolved alongside the anxiety itself. The strange thing is that many of the things we do to help us cope do not help at all in the long run. At best they stop our nervous systems from finding more healthy ways to deal with the anxiety, at worst they become a problem in their own right. Two examples that spring to mind from both ends of the spectrum are as follows; people faced with social anxiety will often use a mobile phone as a ‘fidget’ and way of distancing themselves within social situations. Nothing wrong with this, right- we all do it a bit. But then ask the same person to imagine going in to a social situation without their phone, and a pattern of dependency might be revealed that actually perpetuates the social anxiety, but does not make it go away. In this way, something that starts out to be a good thing, helping us enture the social sphere eventually leads us down an backwater which we find hard to escape from.

A more extreme version of this is somone who uses substances to suppress comlex emotions and anxiety- this might range from drugs/alcohol through food and even the dopamine highs of sex or anger. Which of us can honestly say we have not done one or more of these things? Having a drink might even be socialy subscribed within our culture, despite the huge problems this brings in to the lives of many people.

So, in the age of coronavirus, what safety behaviours have we been reaching for? Remember, this is not intended to beat you up- we are all being kind to ourselves, right? But perhaps it is good to be honest, and recognise where these might be potentially problematic.

here are three common safety behaviours that I would like to emphasise that I think we have all been drawn towards at present.

  1. Anger. Faced with fear and uncertainty, we humans have the propensity to look for people to blame. In most complex situations (such as a pandemic) it is hard to find a target for this blame, so instead we have this unfortunate tendency to scapegoat. We look for others who are ‘less than’- whose behaviour or attitudes can be seen as somehow reprehensible. This turns to anger because ‘they’ are ‘putting us at risk’ or ‘stockpiling food so that I can’t buy beans’ (the last one being one of mine!) Anger like this however is a dangerous drug. It reduces complexity to apparent black and white simplicity and it potentially makes victims in a situation where there is quite enough trouble all ready.
  2. Infotainment overload. Faced with fear and anxiety, we are all glued to our screens. Of course, the internet is an incredible gift to us in lock down, allowing us to connect and communicate in ways inimaginable a short while ago. Of course, it can all be a bit too much though, right? Do we really need to rolling news to be on the TV all day, cycling though the same tales of doom? Does it help us? Social media brings an even greater mixed blessing, as it enable people to vent anger and strong opinion. Screen based communication has this way of not being real, but instead being ‘hyper-real’- a polished up, simulated version of reality. We are not ourselves on Facebook, we are our hyperselves. The virus is not real on Twitter, it is hyperreal (with a load of expletives thrown in for good measure!)
  3. Stockpiling. It is not US who are responsible for the empty shelves. It is THEM. But how many of us have changed our shopping habits, even if just a little? This is not a phenomenon of the greedy careless individual (no matter how this might be portrayed on our screens) rather it is what happens when fear enters into the consciousness of every single shopper. So, I might buy 6 tins of beans when I normally buy 4 and then the twenty people after me do the same, which means the twenty first person goes beanless- which is a terrible place to be! I have also joked about panic gardening, because those extra turnips and courgetes might be the difference between life and death! Of course, there ain’t nothing wrong with a bit of veg planting, and actually I think we should all be doing it anyway, but I recognise that for me, this is a safety behaviour

Indentifying what we can do that will help

This emerges from the discussion above, because we are all different. However, I started to make a list of things that might help. Here we go…

  1. Limit screen time. Not for everyone, because we are addicted. But what about those books you were going to read? Is it time to get the guitar out again? How about checking the news just twice a day, and limiting Facebook to once or twice too?
  2. Switch off notifications on your phone. Related to the point above.
  3. Look for ways to help, if you are able. One of the best ways to feel alive is to love. Love comes in many forms. It might be doing some shopping for someone else, or it might be a phone call to someone you have not heard from for a long time but you know will probably be on their own. Inversely, those who get the most out of helping others are often those who need the most help themselves.
  4. Avoid worst case scenario thinking. There will be an inevitable time for asking ‘what if’ but if we stay there, it can become a worm hole into anxiety. Give yourself some time for these questions, then try to move on to something practical and positive.
  5. Keep your communication kind. At risk of getting all soft and squishy, social media is often a race to the bottom. We all get sucked in to a good scandalised whinge sometimes. Now more than ever, resist. Let’s try and out-kind one another.
  6. Divide your time into useful blocks. Particularly those self isolating or in lock down at home, the days can be very long. It can help to set a daily agenda- a bit like the morning ‘Parliament’ on St Kilda, where each day, the men (and it was just the men, the women were too busy) met to decide the work of the day.
  7. Keep physically active. Did you see the story about the bloke who ran a marathon on his 7 meter balcony? That might be a bit extreme, but nothing reduces anxiety like aerobic excercise. Make use of this each day- if you can’t get out of the house, there are loads of other excercise options. Remember those old Jane Fonda videos on Betamax in the back of the cupboard?
  8. Talk to someone. For intorverts like me, lockdown has some real advantages. I like to be in my own internal space, but I know too that if I am in there too long it is not good for me. If you are feeling isolated and alone, then reach out. Ask someone if they would be your virus-companion. A little can go an awful long way.
  9. Get outside if you can. Green spaces change things inside you. This is not just tree-hugging cant, it is scientific fact. Check this out if you don’t believe me. We have the gift of spring bringing renewal all around us, go and immerse yourself in it. Celebrate it.
  10. Do something new. Learn origami. Take up bridge. Write poetry. Use the time you have been gifted with for something new.
  11. Look for grace, not grievances. To a certain extent, fear arises not only from circumstance, but from the part of that circumstance that you attend to. If you look for cynicism and anger you will find it. If you look for hope and stories of human goodness, they are there in abundance too. Which ones will find greatest traction on social media? I refer you back to the start of this list. That is not to say that we live in unreality, but rather that we choose to celebrate the grace that is all around us when we can.
  12. Take moments for stillness. I read a beautiful poem recently in which the poet described what we are going through right now as ‘the great silence’. The best that could come out of this for our nation and for our planet is that we might take this time to pause and consider our path to this place and the road we might wish to take beyond. Perhaps meditation or prayer might help. Or perhaps it is enough to listen to birdsong.
  13. Laugh as often as you can. Look for the absurd in yourself and the world. We Brits are supposed to be good at this, right? After all, nobody espected the Spanish Inquisition, or Coronavirus. The other day we went for a walk and met a couple walking down a track. They looked terrified and scurried by, hugging the fenceline, keeping as far from us as possible whilst watching in case we made a movement towards them. Unfortunately, the woman walked into a tree. You have to enjoy that, surely?

It has been said that the most often used command recorded in the Bible is this one; do not fear. Easy for Jesus to say, harder for us to impliment. Religion is certainly no antidote to anxiety.

But we humans do need to search beyond our current cirumstance into the beautiful beyond. Don’t lose your wonder. Remember the mystery that is beyond everything. The universe is not done with us yet.

Keep safe friends, and let’s meet on the other side.

Poetry for the sociably distanced…

We are doing some new things, because in these uncertain times, the only way we know how to respond is to do so creatively. Our small business has fallen off the same coronavirus cliff edge as many many others. All workshops have been cancelled and most, if not all, of the galleries we work in partnership with have closed or are about to close. No point getting bogged down in the worry though- so many of us are in the same position and we will get through somehow.

We have done some things already- I have totally revampled our online shop, so if you are needing any special gifts for people, then please check us out. We’ll be adding more products soon, and probably doing a COVID-19 sale!

Both Michaela and I wanted to think of ways of linking to people on-line too. She is going to offer some on-line pottery lessons, but clearly these will still have to be fairly local, to get clay to people and back to put in the kiln. But poetry knows no such geographical restrictions.

Below are some details of some new on-line workshops we are planning. If you are interested, please get in touch.

_IGP2417

Poetry for the sociably distanced

The human animal is above all a social creature. How do we make sense of a world in which every-day social activities are suddenly forbidden? How do we continue to recognise our shared humanity?

We would argue that for such times as this, we have poetry.

Poetry connects us in at least two ways; firstly, it connects us internally with a deeper version of ourselves. Secondly, it connects us with the vulnerable humanity of others. Like many human activities, poetry is often consumed alone, but is at its best when shared with others.

We have often bemoaned the way flesh has been replaced by silicone, but now through the wonders of the internet, we can be together, even at distance. To that end, we have been thinking about ways to share poetry…

_IGP2348

Introduction to poetry; a short on-line workshop for the sociably distanced

Poetry does not belong to the elite few.

Poetry uses YOUR language, not someone else’s.

You have been reading/writing/listening to poetry all your life, even if you did not know it.

If you don’t like poetry, you’ve been reading the wrong poems for you.

Poetry is the way we say things that matter.

In this workshop, we will talk poetry and read poetry. We will decide together exactly which direction to take but expect to talk about tricks and techniques as we immerse ourselves in lovely words.

The workshop works in two ways;

  1. Individual, family or household group, connecting with Chris on skype or facebook
  2. Multiple venues/individuals connecting on skype of facebook (as a group chat.)

Chris will e-mail a selection of poems in advance that will give a decent spectrum of poems- although these are poems that he likes, so you might want to share some of your favourites too.

COST

£20 each

£40 For family/friendship group (either one venue or multiple)

IMG_4111

Writing poetry; a creative workshop for the sociably distanced

There are no experts here, just people who love words who want to encourage one another. This workshop will be split into two parts and conducted over skype or facebook (whichever is more convenient.)

In the first part, we will discuss what it means to write- our personal experiences, successes and failures and what we have learned along the way. We will then agree some challenges and go away to do some writing of our own.

In the second part, we will share our experiences and the words that have emerged.

COST

£20 per person

£40 per friendship group/family

Art and poetry for the socially (but sociably) distanced…

IMGP2374 (2)

These are worrying times. Faced with the known unknowns of Coronavirus, we are all having to take a step back from one another. We worry for our families and our friends. We worry for ourselves.

We also worry for our livelihoods. Our small business depends on gallery footfall and attendence at workshops, so it is likely that there will be some lean times ahead. But after a couple of days of anxiety about all of this, we decided that enough was enough. It was time to do something. It was time to reach out.

The internet, hitherto a mixed blessing, may save us all. It will allow continued connection, be a source of encouragment, and allow our fragile economy to return again to the beauty of simple trading, one on one.

To this end, we have been busy.

Firstly, we are updating our on-line shop, using a new platform. It has been a steep learning curve (for Chris – Michaela has no clue!) but we think it is working, and already looks mutch better. You can check it out for yourself here. We will be adding more pieces daily.

Next we have started to think about how we can connect with others who have found themselves cut off, in their own spaces. How we who are socially distanced become at very least sociably distanced?

you are wrapped up in me

What we are thinking is something along these lines:

Pottery for the sociably distanced

Online workshops, based around clay being delivered to you and then skype/facebook tuition. This might suit families/household groups, or groups of friends – who would not need to be in the same place, thanks to the joys of t’internet. We could deliver the clay locally, and get it back from you to fire it in the kiln.

Poetry for the sociably distanced

Again, online workshops, led by Chris. One will be an intruduction and celebration of all things poetry, the other will be an encouragement to actually write something. Again this might suit families/household groups, or groups of friends – who would not need to be in the same place.

Sociably distanced artists collaboration

Alongside the above, we are toying with setting up some online meet-ups for like minded creatives who might like to thing about a way to collaborate in response to these strange times. A poet and painter perhaps, or a potter and a fabric artist?

Watch this space for more news…