I’m upstairs writing this, Mum is downstairs watching The Frozen Planet or looking out of the window and wondering at the size of the trees across the road from her house. It’s about time I got her a cup of tea – she has forgotten how to make them, a combination of places and processes too complicated for her nowadays – she’s delighted to see me and, yes, would love a cup of tea. By the time it’s made she has forgotten the offer but is delighted to get the cup of tea. The world Attenborough and team are showing us is as absolutely real to Mum as the tea in front of her. We talk for five minutes. She’s happy. Mum and I operate in different time.
It’s March 2020, Ben (the Producer who works with Two Tonne) and I should have heard one way or the other about our application for funding for ‘My Echo, My Shadow and Me’ a show I was going to be making with Pauline Mayers and Andy Brook, Testament. All grant programmes have been put on hold as ACE works out how to keep heads above water as a whole industry grinds to a halt. Time is about to look very different for a lot of people as the waves of redundancy roll in. I’m lucky in that I have a small amount of work ongoing as a consultant with Dark Horse a Huddersfield based Learning Disabled company who I’ve been exploring their art and their business with. They, without a beat, shift online. Because care and the time it takes to ensure good care is simply part of their DNA and their actors are extremely vulnerable. Mum’s Elders Group has stopped meeting, she used to go weekly, it’s how she measured time.
It’s June 2020 and I’ve been marking periods of time in different ways:
- In Schitts Creek episodes
- In Korean historical Netflix fluff
- In conversations with my kids, both half a country away
- In conversations with a loved one in Estonia
- In my weekly work conversations with Amy Cunningham from Dark Horse
- In Mum’s meal times
I’ve turned 59 and I’m a bit battered but still here, as is Mum, tens of thousands of us aren’t though, the majority like my Mum – vulnerable but with a good few years left, except they no longer have. As of March 2021, The Health Foundation estimated that 1.5 million years of potential life had been lost to covid in the UK alone.
It’s May 2021 and I’m sitting in the Studio at ARC, Stockton around a table with Pauline and a computer with Andy’s virtual presence. My sister has come up to look after Mum for a week. ARC have been, typically brilliant. Producer Ben has been Herculean in getting us here. Successful R&D bid, all the gnarly bits around travel and accommodation and everyone’s availability because time has changed again. Planned projects, deadlines, have not gone away, they simply been bunched up, children are back at schools, partners have new jobs, I’ve turned 60 and have had a year plus to consider my relationship with caring in a way I hadn’t before. The time we have been afforded over the last year and the way it has changed not only our view of the world but our relationship to time and how time is not evenly, fairly, distributed ,how time has been disproportionately taken from the poorest amongst us has altered our collective view of the project and it’s making, which will, must, we agree in Stockton, take time if it is going to be anything like equitable and we do not all have the same relationship to time.