Some people are spending this period of Lockdown being very creative, learning a new skill, taking up a new hobby, or catching up on books and TV they never quite had the time for previously. Others are bored stiff and looking for something to do. But some of us are fortunate (?) enough that they can carry on working full-time from home so that we are not bored. I’m not even getting back hours of commuting time each week, because my journey from bedroom to study is only five minutes shorter than my regular journey to work, so I still have the same amount of spare time that I always had.
It does mean that I am spared any feelings of guilt that might have come with not using this time for something constructive or educational. I know that I would not have embarked on some great bout of self-improvement. I would have played Age of Empires a lot, and got sucked into watching lots of YouTube clips of comedy or nostalgia. Instead I can sit and think about all the things I could be doing if I had been unable to work, and kid myself that I would actually have done some of them.
If there is anybody with time to kill, looking for something to fill those hours, here are a few recommendations.
You could start with my lockdown playlists on Spotify! Skuds’ lockdown playlist #1 is a couple of hours of songs with titles appropriate to the current situation. Skuds’ lockdown playlist #2 is my global pandemic playlist. Nothing topical except for the fact that the tracks come from all over the world. Its about 150 minutes long and I don’t think that any country is represented more than once – apart from France because I could not resist starting it off with Tonton David’s Peuples du monde, which is about as appropriate as the list gets.
Apart from that, there are some interesting recent albums that are worth giving a shot at:
- Hotspot by Pet Shop Boys
- The Night Chancers by Baxter Dury
- Jaime by Brittany Howard
- Rejoice by Tony Allen and Hugh Masakela
I’m still working my way though the DVD box set of The Goodies complete BBC shows, after which I have a box set of the sitcom Shelley to look forward to, but I can recommend these if you can find them on one of the various streaming services.
- Justified – an unjustly overlooked series with an endearing hero that makes you simultaneously want to live in Kentucky and very, very glad you don’t.
- My Name is Earl – not as well-known as it deserved to be
- Person of Interest – another show that got hidden in the late night schedules
- Hanna – the film is amazing and gorgeous to look at. Absolutely brilliant composition and camerawork. The TV version of it is a decent remaking and expansion of the film. Both hugely enjoyable and violent
I can thoroughly recommend Jonathan Coe’s Middle England, though it helps if you are a leftie remoaner like me to get the most out of it. It also helps to read the first two books (The Rotters’ Club and The Closed Circle) first, and there is plenty of time so why not?
With so much potential spare time its feasible to dive into some of those series of books with lots of follow-ups. Two that I recently got into are Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch and Jodi Taylor’s series of time travel books, the Chronicles of St Mary’s, starting with Just One Damned Thing After Another.
If time travel is your thing, then The ’86 Fix by Keith Pearson is a cracking read, and perfect for anybody who was young in the 80’s.
For a bit of non-fiction you can’t do better than Danial Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, which really is a life-changing book, and then follow it up with Michael Lewis’ book The Undoing Project which covers the story of Kahneman and his partner Amos Tversky which really is a gripping story for a biography of a couple of psychologists. Alternatively, read the Michael Lewis one first and then you will really want to read the other one.
So much to choose from, but you can’t go wrong with The Bugle: a weekly dose of satire with a huge back catalogue to plough through. Still with comedy, Richard Herring’s RHLSTP (audio and video versions) also has a huge archive of celebrity interviews.
Plenty to keep anybody busy there I think.