I’ve been working on the next book about James Burke and I have a scene where he is fighting his way out of the Conciegerie in Paris. (This one is a lot of fun and a bit of a relief after the rather heavy story in Burke in Ireland.) I was looking up some floor plans of the old Conciergerie building when I realised that some key elements are still standing and the building is open to the public. I got quite excited. I could make a trip to Paris and explore the building. It would be fun and it would get me into the zone for writing Burke’s adventures there.

Only, of course, I can’t. Paris really isn’t a good place to be right now and, besides, the Conciergerie is closed.

It’s thrown me rather. I’m only working on the first draft and, unusually for me, my first draft is fast and dirty. (Most people say you shouldn’t edit as you go, but I can’t leave a mistake on the page once I notice it.) So I should be able to just leave this bit open and carry on with the rest. But writing (even though I write spasmodically) has been one of the things that I have been able to keep going through the last year. There has been little or no chance to dance with tango friends, going abroad to ski is out of the question, we have, for months on end, been unable to visit our son and even the street skates have been cancelled. Now covid is coming for my writing!

It’s disconcerting.

I think this period, where we are finally supposed to be able to leave home but all the places we might go remain closed to us – this is, in many ways, harder to deal with than just being stuck in place. As we re-emerge, blinking, into what I think will be a very changed world, we will, like all animals coming out of a long hibernation, find the transition back to daylight quite difficult.

Stay well; remember your mental health is as important as your physical health. Look after yourselves.

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