As Easter fast approaches, we’re all wondering what to do with ourselves now that the shops are shut, the beaches are a no-go and heading outside is a once-a-day luxury.
But hope is not lost. As we all reach for the TV remote to settle in for a four-day marathon session, leave it to a team of booklovers to prepare the itinerary for a long lockdown weekend. Yes, that’s right – the Whiteoaks content team, affectionately known as the Writers’ Pen, is on hand to fill the weekend with all the things they’re watching, reading and planning to do… indoors.
I’m a big TV fan at the best of times, so the current situation is giving me even more time to work my way through different series. I’ve just finished Hunters on Amazon Prime Video, which stars Al Pacino as the head of a group of Nazi hunters in 1970s New York. I loved everything about it – from the fashion and glimpses of retro New York, to the twists and turns and backstories of each of the characters. Next, I’m going to re-watch Spooks on BBC iPlayer. It used to be my favourite programme, so I’m pleased that the BBC has made it and many other older series available online – something I discussed in a recent blog.
I’m also currently reading Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, I’m about halfway through and really enjoying it. It’s set in and around South London, which is where I’m from so I like that I can picture a lot of the places the main character visits. It’s also a refreshing portrait of being a young woman in today’s society.
I’ve been listening to even more music than usual in the current lockdown. I’m currently revisiting some of the best tunes of one of my favourite 1980s bands, the Go-Betweens. Their music is very accessible but also blessed with clever, literate lyrics. The compilation Bellavista Terrace is indispensable but all the albums, even those in the 2000s, are well worth listening to also. It is also great to have a chance to do a little more reading for pleasure and I’m currently also pressing on through an excellent history of the Second World War by Anthony Beevor, which I started some time ago. Next on my list is David Goldblatt’s ‘The Game of our Lives’ which is a deconstruction of football in the Premier League era. On the television front, I’m catching up with ‘Life on Mars’ which I somehow missed first time around but is very funny, imaginative, well-written and well-acted.
I’ll be spending the long lockdown weekend living vicariously through an Antonio Tabucchi novel called Pereira Maintains. I’ve chosen this book because it’s set in Lisbon and I was supposed to spend last weekend in the nearby coastal town of Sesimbra. The novel is about a political awakening and an act of rebellion – not exactly how I would’ve spent my time in Portugal but I’m sure it will make for a gripping read. After the sun’s gone down I’ll be retreating indoors to watch Ozark – one of Netflix’s best creations, in my opinion. I’ll also be racking up the points playing against my girlfriend on Drawize, which is basically a low-grade online version of Pictionary, and competing against my friends in a pub quiz on Houseparty.
I’m trapped in Cornwall for the lockdown, which isn’t a bad thing. Although, a closed pub makes for a monastic experience. I should attack the three-cornered leeks and a bonfire of bay cuttings as part of garden-clearance operations. But I know I’ll bask in the sun reading newspapers, plodding on with Madame Bovary, watching trawlers and netters go out to sea and observing birds. And, the sunny weather has put me in the mood for PG Wodehouse. Let’s hope it lasts…
With two young kids demanding to be constantly entertained, the long lockdown weekend requires some serious forward planning to keep everybody happy. Thankfully, in recent weeks I have managed to persuade (gently force) my nine-year-old and four-year-old to try watch the first batch of films Netflix is showing by Japanese animation wizard Studio Ghibli, directed by one of my cultural icons Hayao Miyazaki. I started them off with the wonderful, if completely insane, My Neighbour Totoro. It features a giant ‘cat-bus’ – a large creature, depicted as a grinning, twelve-legged cat with a hollow body that serves as a bus, complete with windows and seats coated with fur. They loved it., In the same manner I’ve successfully got the kids to like my favourite films, ET, Back to the Future, The Goonies, etc. I have also managed to get them to enjoy my favourite classic video games – we are talking Super Mario, Zelda, Mario Party (if you know, you know!) This means the long weekend will also see some quality family gaming time where I get to be Competitive Dad for a few hours.
Now, I love nothing more than a Netflix blow-out of a weekend. So, I think I’ll spend my days finishing the Netflix limited series Tiger King (if you haven’t seen it… well. You couldn’t make it up) and continuing with my quest to watch every episode of BBC’s Waterloo Road, which my flatmate and I have been steadily working our way through for the last few months. The acting is questionable but the plotlines (collective gasp) are enough to keep you hooked – and as a die-hard fan of soap operas, it’s fair to say I love a bit of unrealistic drama!
I also received a lovely birthday present last year, which was a book-box containing all the things a bookworm needs to survive in captivity – biscuits, tea and a brilliant thriller. I’m planning to lose myself in the twists and turns of The Fear by C. L. Taylor, and if I finish that, I’ll probably dig out my old favourite – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. This is a novel I already know back to front but what can I say – when a book is that good, it’s worth rereading time and again.
And if I should have the energy after all that, I’ll break out my workout DVDs and irritate my neighbours downstairs by star-jumping repeatedly on the spot. Got to work off those biscuits in time for summer!