Lockdown arse

This week’s post is less an essay in miniature than it is a series of disparate paragraphs corralled uneasily together in WordPress,* courtesy of the ongoing interference in my head. Yesterday and today my mind has felt like the crackling snowstorm between channels on the little black-and-white TV I grew up with that had a dial for selecting the station (no, I’m not really that old, but my parents affected to have a crap TV for most of my childhood and adolescence. Even after the neurotic cairn terrier pulled it off the table by its cord in a panic c.1992, almost flattening herself in the process, it soldiered on).

These are some of the things I thought I might write about this week, but didn’t:

  • The secret ingredient the editor brings to the party, which is authenticity – this was to have been an attempt at actual content marketing!
  • The gap between stimulus and response, which was inspired by something I read in a book I was editing last week, and I’m still interested in reading more about.
  • Something uplifting about how my architectural education has positively influenced my subsequent professional life, also cunningly signalling one of my USPs as an editor. 
  • Psychogeography part 3, set in Wolverhampton (this was at a low ebb).
  • Living with gradual societal decline (this was at an even lower ebb).

Then yesterday, having no children to look after and not much in the way of urgent work, I set myself the challenge of writing a short story. I hadn’t written a story in months, perhaps longer now I come to think of it, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Possibly the last story I’d written before that was a grim affair involving a woman whose marriage had broken down being eaten from the inside out by flies in a heatwave. After that, I’d decided to give the whole fiction thing a rest for a while. 

Yesterday’s third-of-a-story was a grim post-pandemic affair (I didn’t want to write mere mid-pandemic-fic), set in a remote and beautiful beachside location, centred around a kind of cult/community where strangers actually touch each other. You kind of see where this is going, and no, it wasn’t going to be any good. It was going to involve tickling at some point. I’d tired myself out so thoroughly after 831 rather solemn and ponderous words that we needed to go out for a long walk in the hills in the afternoon to blow away the cobwebs. This made things immeasurably better, and then we came home and cooked together, managing to turn out a more-than-acceptable meal by using up things in the fridge, cracked open the ice cream, rejected the news, and watched art documentaries on iPlayer instead.   

My partner (let’s call him Lee), has noticed that he sometimes gets a passing mention in my posts. ‘You can use my actual name, you know,’ he’s said to me, on more than one occasion. I think secretly he wants to make a guest appearance here, probably because he’s not on social media, doesn’t really understand it, and I’ve let him think I’m some kind of influencer. He’s not to know I’m not bombarded daily with emails asking me to pose for my selfies holding this must-have red pen, or that hot new style guide. 

Anyway, a few days ago Lee had said he thought I should call this week’s post ‘Lockdown arse’. I’d coined the term in despair at not being able to fit into a particular pair of jeans despite my best efforts not to overeat, commensurate with my almost total inactivity. Of course, there are more pressing issues than the size of my rump, but sometimes it’s comforting to focus everything through the lens of one’s posterior, just to keep from looking too hard at anything else. 

‘I can’t call the post “Lockdown arse”,’ I told him. ‘It’ll look really shallow.’ But then the static snowstorm descended, and my head emptied, and here we are.  

*Fascinatingly (to an editor; I’m almost literally squealing), I notice that even though I typed this with just an initial capital, making a mental note to check it before publishing, it was automatically converted to camel case! In the backend, I’ve left it incorrectly capitalised. 

Liz Jones has worked as an editor in the publishing industry since 1998, and freelance since 2008. She also has legitimate concerns.   

5 Comments

  1. I wonder, if you type WordPress in the comments, does it also get corrected?

    I’m really glad you didn’t carry on with the tickling story – sometimes finishing a story isn’t actually necessary!

    Like

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