In these unprecedented times it’s hard to know what to say. One of the advantages of being autistic is that I often turn to just saying what I want to at these times, rather than falling back on meaningless platitudes. It doesn’t feel like a time for platitudes, it feels like a time for honesty.
As I’m writing we’ve just been told that schools will close on Friday and the isolation that has felt imminent for a long time might finally be arriving. I have felt like there is a small cat circling and pacing on my chest for the past few weeks. It’s been difficult to sit still and concentrate with too much nervous energy. I have planted far more seedlings than I had intended to. Each time I sat down to do some work at the computer I would receive another cancellation, either for The Duck or for my own work of public speaking and training events.
Meanwhile other events such as The Edinburgh Festival have announced that they plan to go ahead, but the Crowd Funder I had planned and that was set to go live end of March to raise the money for Edinburgh suddenly felt really crass and out of place in this new world.
I was driving to pick the children up from school yesterday, knowing that there are only two more days before they shut for an undefined amount of time. People were chatting on the streets and everything seemed normal as I drove through villages, but I felt the same thing that I experienced driving through shortly after my son was born; the whole world is different and no one seems to really know that yet.
Currently some of our performances in June have been cancelled – completely understandably (check here for updated events), this is a time when we have to put the health and safety of our audience first. I would never forgive myself if I was the cause of someone’s poor health.
Unfortunately this also means that our other means of raising funds for Edinburgh Fringe are reduced, and alongside the fact that I am self-employed and have had my other work cancelled too, this is no small concern. We have already signed a contract to pay for the venue in Edinburgh in advance which is due shortly, and at a time of financial hardship this could see the end of Autact’s journey.
I am so grateful that writing is already giving me a creative outlet for my worries. I am writing a poem a day for as long as I remember to; to help me process all the change and difference on the horizon. I have planned as much as I can. I have problem solved to my limits.
There is an idea that autistic people don’t need people in the same ways as others do, but that simply isn’t true. We tend not to be good at the ‘little and often’ approach, we tend to prefer to binge on socialising and then rest like a torpid snake. Isolation is going to be difficult for everyone and we need to look after each other as much as possible.
When all this is over we are going to need the Arts to come together again. We are going to need to work through what has happened and celebrate the heroic efforts of those on the frontline throughout this; our cleaners, our shelf stackers, our checkout workers, our nurses, our porters, our doctors, our delivery drivers, our paramedics, and so many more behind the scenes working to keep things going so that we can protect ourselves.
Whilst we are out of commission you can still enjoy The Duck from the comfort of your own home. I have recorded and audio reading of The Duck, which may not compare with Lucy Theobald’s beautiful performance, but it a soothing and lyrical way to experience the play. There is also my poetry collection available now on the kindle if you like that sort of thing.
If you have bought tickets for any of our shows already then please get in touch with the venues directly.
Above all we wish you health and happiness.