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That's how the light gets in...

It all started on Friday the Thirteenth. Of March.

I had been working in Derry and Belfast, helping deliver a series of workshops on peace journalism with colleagues, specifically to students and with the collaboration and attendance of many media professionals.

That was the last day I worked outside my house.

WFH has many, many advantages. As a freelance, I usually embrace them. But as a freelance, I usually travel around, going to meetings, seeing friends and having the odd lunch or three. But none of us were prepared for what was to come.

Less than a week later on 16th March, lockdown began. It was the day before St Patrick's Day. The next day, as I joined those streaming to the supermarket to raid the shelves for toilet roll and hand sanitiser, I remembered what Saint Patrick had said. 'Avarice is a deadly sin.'

I'm sure it is. But back then, it seemed you could never have too much toilet roll. Though I did hear of one miserable customer who tried to sell back the toilet roll they had hoarded in that first full flush of greed. It struck me as a shitty thing to do. Sorry...

T S Eliot said that 'April is the cruellest month'. And at the start of April, as lockdown began to bite, so did my blue period.

Unlike Picasso, whose three year period of depression was marked by the stunning creativity that produced some of his best works, I simply rooted myself on the sofa, watching gastro porn and eating chocolate, paralysed by inertia.

I had responded to lockdown by going into blockdown.

To be fair, there were other factors.

Just like Lemony Snickets, a series of unfortunate events had knocked me for six.

I'm not going to detail them here. We all know that life is what happens when you're busy making plans. You just have to get on with it.

Some days, I couldn't get up from the sofa.

Other days I got sucked into a vortex of work, only to collapse into apathy. Someone described that state of mind as veering between torpor and hysteria.

Whoever it was, they nailed it.

What helped me was the realisation that no legislative barriers can impose a lockdown as punitive as the barriers we erect around ourselves.

Over the last few weeks I think I've broken the back of my lockdown.

My family have been there every step of the way. And it literally has been every step of the way that has got my mojo working. I've been averaging 50-60 miles a week, and last week I managed ten miles on two days. My whippet, Pablo, thinks he's died and gone to doggy heaven.

I couldn't have done it without them.

Nor without the help of my personal soundtrack.

There are two pieces of music in particular that made all the difference to me.

Funnily enough, they are both called Anthem.

The first is byThe Sensational Alex Harvey Band. For sheer, rocking, rousing exuberance, it just can't be beat.

Listen to the end, then tell me you don't find it up-lifting.

And the second is Leonard Cohen's beautiful song of the same name.


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