Are you in the doldrums? I am, metaphorically speaking because although also a shorthand term for inaction and stagnation, the doldrums are an actual place. The Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone or ITCZ (apparently also known as “the itch”) is a belt round the Earth extending approximately five degrees north and south of the equator.
According to the US National Ocean Service, whose website I am plundering for this, the northern and southern hemisphere’s trade winds collide there. The way the air circulates means there’s little surface wind, so sailing ships can be becalmed for weeks. Thank goodness for the internal combustion engine.
Unfortunately my engine is running out of fuel. This lock-down is so much harder than the first one when many of us embraced, however forcibly, the opportunity to explore time-consuming projects like mastering the art of sourdough. Then, it was spring-into-summer and those of us lucky enough to have gardens could go and grub in our borders and veg patches or just bask on the lawn, and everyone could at least take a walk in the sunshine.
Now it’s winter, our gardens and parks are probably seas of mud or frozen solid, and we’re all thoroughly fed up. Our hopes are mostly pinned on the vaccines which have been rushed out but here in the UK it seems to be a postcode lottery and not all of us have had our tickets yet.
I am still beating this week’s recipe into submission, hence it will be next week’s. I feel a moral obligation to entertain you with something amusing in lieu but it’s hard to be funny to order. It’s perhaps no coincidence that many famous comedians have suffered from depression, not that I’m famous, a comedian or clinically depressed. It feels like Groundhog Day but without the weird American rodent. Or Bill Murray. Can’t say I miss Andie McDowell though, the only thing I liked her in was Sex, Lies and Videotape.
It has been a hard year for all of us and the light at the end of the tunnel feels like a pinprick sometimes. It’s the little things that make me happy at the moment – the promise of spring with the emergence of garden bulbs, a glimpse of blue sky, the antics of our cats, being able to hug my husband (not necessarily in that order).
Another pleasure has been my introduction, via Nigella Lawson’s Twitter feed, to the amusing Dreyer’s English desk diary. Anyone who has ever edited a book, subbed copy or is simply a grammar fiend will love it. I am moved to misquote Dorothy Parker: “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of [Dreyer’s English]. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”
And as Dorothy also said, in one of her less mordant moments, “living well is the best revenge”. Live well, my friends, see you next week.