Distractions by Barbara Nadel

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Last week author Sebastian Faulks wrote an article about what events, activities and responsibilities distract him from writing. These were things like going out with friends, playing tennis, attending writers conventions, watching cricket. I can relate to a bit of that, although the going out with friends bit is a tad theoretical in my case. Like me, most of my friends work and so unless we stagger about exhaustedly on a Sunday, that’s not really happening. No, the things that distract me are really dull – or rather they were until about a month ago.

Time was when my distractions consisted of cleaning howlingly smelly cat litter trays, un-bunging the sink, trying to get the vacuum cleaner to stop falling in half and attempting to find insurance for my car costing less than a Faberge Easter egg. Oh and shopping, feeding the animals, supporting my very scattered family, living with a dodgy thyroid and trying not to go mad.

But ever since 23rd June, I’ve had other things on my mind. These include the outcome of a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU which didn’t go the way I would have liked. OK that’s my business and my choice, but what happened next was nothing to do with me. Basically all those who supported so-called ‘Brexit’, together with our Prime Minister, buggered off and left us to it. Our currency went into free-fall, the economy shuddered, our opposition party went into meltdown and people who had voted for Brexit began to wish they hadn’t. Now we have a new Prime Minister, the people who voted Brexit are even more perturbed and the opposition is still in disarray. Oh and there’s a lot more racism about now. Some very nasty bastards have decided to flex their muscles lately. There’s a lot to absorb and be disgusted by as you can imagine.

And then, last Thursday, Bastille Day, a delusional individual decided he needed to kill 84 people in the French city of Nice. He did this by mowing them down in his vast truck. Afterwards, ISIS claimed him as one of their own, but who knows? The world is full of people, or so it seems, who want to kill and die for something. That, or they want to have a ‘legacy’, whatever that is.

Nice was followed by a failed military coup in Turkey on Friday night. My immediate response to this was to sit up all night watching rolling news and waiting to hear from loved ones. Luckily everyone was, and is, OK. But poor Turkey is not OK. The coup was thwarted but over 200 people died and thousands were injured. Now the news is of purges, of violence in the streets and of divisions in society that will take a very long time to heal. Things were bad before the coup, now they are worse.

So these are the sorts of things that take me away from my work now. Now I long for the days of putting the vacuum cleaner back together and cleaning the bog. And I will do those things, because there’s no-one else to do them. I am also working. But underneath it all I know that our world is more un-right than it has been since the very deepest depths of the Cold War and I also know that feeling is not going away any time soon. So my distraction is justified.

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