It’s the middle of winter, it’s freezing cold, we can’t go anywhere and we’re in the grip of a deadly pandemic. If I was to apply the term “work-life balance” to my current situation, then I’ve long since fallen off the tightrope, bounced from the safety net into the dressing room, changed out of my trapeze costume and I’m currently sipping a cappuccino in the circus canteen.

Somehow the first lockdown felt less claustrophobic, less repressive than the sequel. In fact, if you were to compare them to Hollywood movies it would have to be Jaws and Jaws 2. Like Spielberg’s blockbuster, both lockdowns are equally as deadly and terrifying, but the original lockdown had far more memorable moments (Catherine Calderwood’s second home visit, Dominic Cummings’ eyesight test, bumbling Boris catching Covid and Captain Sir Tom Moore’s marathon walk) that gave us plenty of reasons to shout abuse or clap our hands.

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This time round, well, it’s lacking a decent script (lots of U-turns, vaccine delays, fines for drinking coffee in parks), the plot is depressingly predictable (rising death count, job losses) and the main players are over-exposed and repeating their lines.

In keeping with the big screen analogy, I’ve been delving into motion pictures on a much smaller scale and a lot closer to home during my recent week off.

With short breaks banned and even a day trip to the seaside out of the question, trying to unwind properly when your workplace and home are essentially the same thing can be a challenge.

However, thanks to my wife’s suggestion, I set myself the task of reorganising our honeymoon/first baby video tapes into some semblance of order.

With the ease of filming offered by smartphones, my old Canon hand-held camcorder had been gathering dust for about eight years. But after a quick recharge, it sprung back to life. And from the second the film began to roll it was as if the storm clouds of Covid had parted and the sun was filling me with hope and happiness.

I’m a sucker for nostalgia, and revisiting footage of our helicopter jaunt round Mount Cook in New Zealand or seeing my oldest son’s unabashed joy at watching Thomas the Tank Engine was a sheer delight. It bathed the room with optimism. I needed it.

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The beauty of recalibrating and taking time out is it gives you the chance to put everything into context. It’s easy to become overwhelmed very quickly when you consider the problems of work, schooling, health, relationships, family and so on. The pressure can be exhausting, and is not helped by that silent intruder “anxiety” as it grips you in the early hours and blows everything out of proportion.

Let’s face it, none of us are going to master the piano, become super fit or write that novel during these days – getting through it is achievement enough. But if we step back, take it a little more day to day then the inner child might return. And before you know it, it will be lights, camera, action once again.

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