Week One is here.

Week Two is here.

Monday 6 April

Today has been difficult. I’m impacted by mood swings. They’re not extreme, but frustratingly subtle. It’s as if I’m being pulled in several directions. There’s a need to show face, whilst fearful for my future. There’s an expectation to do normal things whilst normality is a thing of the past.

Hearing that our Prime Minister had been admitted to intensive care brings a new emotion into play - foreboding. I pray for him, his family and our nation.

The past and future press down on this evening like a steel press. It feels eerily quiet outside, there’s not a breath of wind, the trees are still.

Tuesday 7 April

I’m awake in the night. Check in on the news. Molly jumps onto the bed, purrs, checks in with me.

I’ll never forget the first time we saw her at the animal sanctuary. We’d gone in search of a cat after losing Mags. Our search was faltering until I noticed a cocoon-like cat bed perched on top of a ramp at the last enclosure. Unlike the other enclosures, which had two or three cats in them, this one seemed to be empty. I walked around to the side enclosure and looked inside the cocoon. It was dark inside, but I could just make out a feline form. She cowered back into the shade. Char came and looked, but the cat was reluctant to show her face. We shrugged and left the sanctuary. Before we left, I made a final glance back, and saw Molly tentatively looking out of the sleeper at us. We edged over and gently coaxed her out. She was jumpy and anxious. The attendant let us in to the enclosure, and we coaxed her over to stroke her. Then she bit me.

Molly in her enclosure at the animal sanctuary

There was something about her behaviour that was needy but fearful. She seemed afraid of a raised hand. We took her home, hoping we might change her behaviour. Months of biting and scratching ensued, but we persevered and around three months ago, it stopped. She took us on. Although she is still a sensitive cat who we think has been abused at some stage, she’s now rewarding our patience with unfaltering devotion. She has a particular way about her, which is endearing. Whenever our paths cross, without fail, she stops and bows to greet us.

The 'Molly Bow'

Molly is our key worker. She’s mopping up our stress, flattening our anxiety curves. It’s comforting to know that there’s another universe out there filled with life that doesn’t depend upon events raging like torrents through our lives. There is a parallel world of continuity. As we fret and worry and wake in the night - the earth is warming, the green shoots of spring are pushing their way through every particle of soil, the birds are building their nests, and the world keeps turning.

The weather here is lovely today. I head out through the Woods opposite and spend an hour walking through the understory taking photographs with my iPhone. It’s good to be focusing on something creative. When I finish, I feel like I’ve surfaced after swimming with Dolphins. I spend the afternoon putting together a Lockdown Photography tutorial. I’m back doing things I love.

Link to: Lockdown Photography

Wednesday 8 April

The sudden changes in emotion are the most difficult things for me to get to grips with. I’m trying to develop a routine, but when momentous news is a constant, it throws the inner compass off kilter. Monday evening is a good example. Char and I are catching up before turning in - until we’re halted by the ping of a notification that says: “BREAKING”. We look at each other - should we? Or should we let the evening drift along? I open the notification. Irrespective of our political persuasion, the news that Boris Johnson is in intensive care is deeply shocking. I read it out to Char and we look at each other, speechless. There’s a stomach churning, gravity to it all - a doom feeling.

Today, with the news that the Prime Minister is stable, Monday evening seems like a different continent away - did it really happen? Were we in such shock?

I always think of momentous events like World War II in factual terms. A data set of dates and names - D-Day or the Battle of Britain. I imagine that’s how we’ll record our current crisis. In 50 years from now, kids will learn the start and end dates of the Covid-19 crisis. They’ll know about Boris Johnson’s hospitalisation and look disbelievingly at photographs of empty streets. But somehow, that wouldn’t do this experience justice. Now, with my covid lens, I’m getting an idea as to the emotional snakes and ladders that the nation went through in the World Wars - those earth shattering epochs that lie within living memory. I hazard to think how I would have coped when confronted with years of heartache, uncertainty and change. I can’t even imagine what people in current conflicts such as Syria are going through with the added horrors of a pandemic.

It’s conceited to compare our pandemic to a World War. Maybe a better comparison would be the societal changes under the reign of Henry VIII’s Reformation with the dissolution of the monasteries (and subsequently the fabric of society) equating to the temporary dissolution of our way of life.

Snakes and ladders. One minute I’m buoyant and grounded and the next I’m hard-swallowing, breathing deeply, looking for meaning in all of this. Stockport has a chap that dresses up as Spiderman on his designated walks. Before lockdown I felt like Spiderman swinging through the city, anchoring from one building to the next, moving forward and making progress. Now, there’s nothing to anchor on to.

After more difficulties this morning, I realised that my resistance was the biggest culprit. Every time something happens, or there’s breaking news, I bring out the boxer and start punching for a fight.

It’s futile.

I’ve realised that the only constant at the moment is change, and that I just need to let it happen. This morning I took up Tai Chi again. When I first started doing Tai Chi many years ago, I wrote down some quotes from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu. I read through them this afternoon, and one particular quote stands out:

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

There’s another quote which is a portent of these times and is symbiotic to the ancient words of Lao Tsu. It’s from a book that I’m reading at the moment by Richard Smyth called An Indifference of Birds. His quote relates to our relationship with the sparrow, but it resonates on a universal level:

One day the meaning of us will change a little more, and then a little more, and there will come a point, one day, when we simply won’t be the ‘we’ we were...


The Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings has invited me to take over their Instagram for a day. They’ve asked me to choose eight of my favourite photographs and add a comment on the process behind taking them. Whilst reviewing each photo, I time travel. I become absorbed in the pockets of memory that each image evokes. I realise how precious the times before the pandemic were. The photos are like those little bubbles of entrapped air that scientists have discovered in Antarctica - hidden by layers of snowfall for over a million years - but now with glacial melting, they’ve released their secrets.

There are special times of the day that balance on a pivot. They occur around sunrise and sunset when golden light melts into twilight blues. They are protected from stress and anxiety. Because they are at the day’s peak, nothing can hold on to them; bad news slides off like water off a duck's back. They are polarisers of the present, enemies of the past and future. Light levels drop - nature becomes luminescent. You can almost believe the angels are watching. I cherish these times - twice a day - first thing at dusk and last thing at night. It’s the day’s first breath or its last sigh. Nothing can touch them. Inhabit those moments, allow them to drift over you.

Thursday 9 April


We’ve been together for fifteen years and we’ve never bought Battenberg.”


Post-apocalyptic...there I’ve said it.”


“What’s wrong with the apple in the hall, is it compromised?"


“So we can’t kiss, but we can drink from the same bottle?”


“Thanks for the present by the way although I haven’t opened it yet, it’s still in quarantine!”


“I’ve got to go now, I’ve got Tai Chi lessons in the snug in 20 minutes.”


Time on my hands and sifting through stuff. I come across a diary of mine from 1975, when I was ten years old. It’s called the Collins Cat Lovers Diary. Inside, there’s a brief introduction to cats. As well as information on grooming and training cats, there's an entire chapter on studs and how to mate a queen. By heck, they didn’t pull any punches back then! On the 18th January I’ve put in a reminder to watch The Sweeney. Would we regard that as appropriate for a ten-year-old now? But then, I find my non-PC moment. If I were famous, this is what would end up in the tabloids. On Friday 15th January I write: ‘Cross country boys and girls, beat all the girls.’ I beat all the girls at cross-country again on the 16th.

As well as the shock of my gender stereotyping, it gets me thinking about the things that make me who I am. I’ve had the time to think about that a lot, with Char being at work.

I only realised today, after reading my childhood diary, that I’m not on my own. I keep bumping into other versions of myself. I chamfered these off during pre-covid times. Now they’re coming out to play.

They manifest themselves in the grumpy, clumsy, self-sabotaging inner critic. I’m not plagued by dour thoughts, but they come along intermittently in this climate.

There’s one shining light in all this, I’ve made a remarkable discovery: Picasso. I know that I’m probably behind the door on this - but after experiencing the full gamut of emotions - uptight, tacky, triangular and stiff - I can now relate to Picasso’s cubist portraiture. His disjointed paintings depict my emotions far better than any selfie.

Friday 10 April

100,000 deaths reported worldwide.


Dystopian Futures: Cast into UN Law - every person has a right to their own 2m cubed airspace. Night wearing moisturising hand muffs. Back garden, office-pods on the rise. They nationalise Skype. Anti-viral coatings abound - nail booths become key booths. Instead of their hands, people spread their keys out to be painted in the latest anti-viral coating. ‘Covid-Cocky’ - word coined for those that have survived the virus and regained freedom on the other side.


I call Carole. A few weeks back I photographed Carole as part of a project on portraiture organised by Bury Art Museum. I ask her if it's ok to write about our photo session for an Art Museum blog. We talk about the day of the photoshoot.

During the photoshoot there occurred a moment that’s difficult to define. For the briefest of seconds, whilst looking through the viewfinder, I saw in Carole’s face, her younger self. It was as if a ten-year-old had popped up to say hello. It brought tears to my eyes. We didn’t know it’s significance then - distanced around two metres apart, but still blessed with the capacity for profound human connection.

I’ve set up a movie station in the back garden under the gazebo. This evening we sit on our inflatable sofa and watch a Netflix documentary about Oasis. We giggle at the fact that they’ve subtitled Liam and Noel’s conversations. Part way through the dulcet tones of the Manc ‘Mad for it’ vernacular, we have a visitor. It alights about a metre away from where Char is sitting. It’s a wood pigeon.

We’ve had them in the garden before, but this time it seems intent on staying. We watch it duck and bluff and eye and peck for several minutes. As the bird feeds into the twilight, its downy feathers morph from a dullish grey to a pearly mauve and then a glowing pink. The only constant is change: rippling and shimmering powdery down. Stuck within the confines of our garden, to a backdrop of ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, we are drawn into the avian worlds aurora borealis.

Or, as Char puts it: Bury’s answer to the northern lights.

Saturday 11 April

There’s a cough at the end of ‘Roll With It’ by Oasis that I thought was edgy when I first heard it, but is quite unsettling these days.


I walk into the woods first thing. I take the same route that I’ve been taking every day this week. Each time I’ve noticed something different. Losing my freedom has led me to gaining much more: I’ve got my senses back. I’m taking the time to stop and stare. Today, there’s an altercation in the canopy. It’s between a nuthatch and a squirrel. The nuthatch has lodged a nut into the top of a broken branch and is trying to break it open. The squirrel forces the nuthatch from its perch, but the bird fights back, flitting and diving onto the intruder. The nuthatch eventually gains dominion as it forces the squirrel onto another branch.

I’m consumed by the entire thing.

It occurs to me that my former digital-driven life has stripped down, isolated and sanitised my senses. Here in front of the squirrel and the nuthatch, I’ve not only got them all back, but they’re all working in tandem, symbiotic, purring away and melting into each other.


During my walk, I photograph a few 'signs of the times'.

Sunday 12 April

Three weeks ago when lockdown began, I took my wedding ring off for hygiene. Now, with hindsight, I see it as an act of remonstrance at the difficulty of the situation that I found myself in. This morning I put it back on.

When the government set lockdown at three weeks, I decided that I’d write my way out of the anxiety - at least for that period. I’m making this my last entry.

It’s difficult to write about these things, but at the start of this enforced period of isolation I felt as though I might edge into depression. I feel a little foolish about it all. What’s struck me about this three-week journey is how well others have coped with the situation.

I haven’t felt depressed since I was in my thirties - when a series of circumstances brought about a year long bout of depression. Miraculously, through a kind of journeyman therapy, the depression lead me to my career as a photographer. Photography and architecture were the key ingredients to a soothing poultice that helped me move forward and thrive.

During the first week of lockdown I felt the wolves circling, and it frightened me.

Being uprooted was the principal cause.

I kept the wolves at bay by writing these words, which settled me enough to pick up the camera again.

The final piece of the jigsaw came on Thursday when I made myself a sandwich. It’s a Joey Tribbiani sandwich with the bread flattened and buttered to perfection.

I layer its ingredients with the utmost attention, with just the right mix of texture and moisture. Plated up, I take it into the sunshine outside, and just before I bite into it, I get a call off Steve. I put the sandwich down on our inflatable sofa. Steve’s been enriching me with his musical knowledge - he tells me of the music of Joan Baez and June Tabor and Joni Mitchell. He regales me with stories about Eric Clapton, Stevie Winwood and Ginger Baker.

All the time, I’m looking at the sandwich.

The phone call ends, I throw myself down onto the inflatable sofa and the sandwich hurtles into the flowerbed.

There’s a moment - it could go either way - but suddenly I’m laughing.

But it’s not only laughing for laughing’s sake.

I’m laughing at myself.

"Walk along the river, sweet lullaby, it just keeps on flowing,

It don't worry 'bout where it's going, no, no."

Joan Baez.

(With thanks to Steve)

"Walk along the river, sweet lullaby, it just keeps on flowing,

It don't worry 'bout where it's going, no, no."

Joan Baez.

(With thanks to Steve)

Life in Isolation - Week One.

Link to: Life in Isolation

Life in Isolation - Week Two.

Link to: Life in Isolation

Link to: Lockdown Photography