Eleven Months a Councillor and Everything is Cancelled!
3 weeks ago I was campaigning for the next local election, counting out and bagging up leaflets and letters for local delivery. I was standing again this year due to the uncanny result in the last local election.
Then COVID-19 kicked in and the election got cancelled.
2 weeks ago I was walking Norwood Ward with posters of cancelled surgeries then the planning committee and all our council meetings got cancelled.
1 week ago I was confined to my laptop, fearing asthma and the virus would get the better of me, fielding enquiries from residents, link workers, small businesses, people in need of help from voluntary groups or information about council services. It seemed life as we knew it had been cancelled.
This week I am thinking.
I am reflecting on stillness.
I am grateful for what was called
during World War 2
and what we now call
I am grateful for
ALL those people who keep on
I have been thinking of the war terminology that is used to deal with the pandemic, the World War against the Virus the politicians have declared with Churchillian verve.
I have been thinking how we are living a blockbuster disaster movie FOR REAL with no real escape when switching off the TV. When the war is over what will it be like?
I have been thinking about what I have to offer so I thought I should write this for what it’s worth.
3 weeks ago I was stressing about how unfair it was that I hadn’t even had a chance to prove myself as a councillor, had been denied a four-year term and compelled to do the whole election thing all over again in order to get the full four-year term. Pretty petty of me if you think about it.
2 weeks ago I was walking around Norwood Ward wishing I had instigated the Ward Artist idea regardless of what anyone thought. No point in crying over spilt milk.
Images from the leaflet produced in collaboration with Tim Jeeves and Lena Simic both councillors on Liverpool City Council.
1 week ago I found my creative voice again and allocated time to what I know I can do vowing to stick to it while this is on and when this is all over.
This week I have a timetable:
Monday is Council Work – whatever is in the emails, and I sorted out my folders. I scoured through the .gov emails that give more information than the politicians and health professionals tell you in their bulletins. I sent a lengthy string of ‘to dos in the ward’ to our totally reliable operations officer who will get things done as and when you ask for them, and if she can’t will find out who will. I have taken a leaf out of her book this year and I have also taken a leaf out of one of my fellow councillor’s books: I have MADE an indexed contact book from a notebook given to me by a resident who thought my scruff book was past its sell by date. I have a habit of not writing down phone numbers and names then end up searching through the scruff book only to realise it was on a scrap of paper or an outcard in some pocket somewhere.
Talking of which it was such a relief to bin the leaflets, the letters and the outcards from the cancelled election. The smell of new print was so strong in the house and the weight of the impact on the planet too much, so the recycling bin was a welcome receptacle. But now there’s no room in the bin for household stuff and like most people we’ve had a deep clean a de-clutter and a clear out to boot!
Tuesday is a Creative Day – whatever is in the emails. There is often a lot from Luke Crookes the musician I am working with at the moment. I am also digging out material for an obituary to a fellow artist who wrote the first performance I made professionally and who has sadly died not from the virus but too soon either way.
I want to do him justice so I have spent time collating materials for his memorial in May which probably won’t happen now – live that is.
Wednesday (today) is Council Work again and I am focusing on the ward. I try to ring members through the Labour Party’s Dialogue system and yet again it doesn’t work. I consult my spreadsheet of resident enquiries and am relieved there are a number of ticks in the ‘completed’ column. I look at the unticked cases and find myself writing after the virus for most things because they involve some kind of face to face work.
I hear from our Adult Health and Social Care officer and I forward from her the best video I’ve seen yet on the virus. Thanks for that Debbie.
Coronavirus: a lecture by Martin Kiernan (51 mins)
I have one or two planning enquiries then it’s lunch then I write this blog. After this there is a map of the ward I’ve produced by scanning and enlarging and sticking it all together – in a home-made kind of way – the ‘poor theatre’ style I applied in my Welfare show ‘The House’. I miss the ward walking I could do before the virus when I could dream up creative projects that I might do in the ward and plot out all the happenings during the year.
Thursday is another Creative Day and I am working on my writing so the obituary for Peter is top of the list. Then I’ll look at the myriad of other things I started and never finished. Then the film edit I am working on about my explorations with Luke Crookes – the MA session we did in early February. It was the first time we shared our duo work together with a public. Sure the interruptions will come through the internet but I‘ve turned off my notifications and I’ve noticed I have more peace yet can still keep informed through catching up once a day.
Then it’s Friday – got a conference call, then a FaceTime session with Luke then I’ll finish the MA film edit.
Usually the weekend is something to do with canvassing but it’s not happening so the garden, the cleaning and the decluttering continues. Then make a plan for another week.
Other Lockdown activities in a week include: three 30 minute runs, two to three yoga sessions, a daily meditation, some serious Netflix sessions, a dose of Eastenders, a walk if I haven’t run, the odd shopping trip but it’s not very pleasant, FaceTime and phone calls with friends and family and lovely surprise contacts from long lost friends and finally the interminable press conferences that happen daily.