Throughout 2020, like many, not all, of you, I have had too much time on my hands. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and months turned into nothingness. I could have spent the year getting fit, writing a book or just reading. Instead, I just spent the year in what feels like a vegetative state. In some ways, this horrible year feels like a wasted opportunity and specifically when it comes to reading, it has been.
I have piles of new books to read that are assuming Everest-like proportions and they have mostly been gathering dust. I wondered whether there was some kind of explanation for it and then it came to me when reading a Guardian interview with the brilliant TV cook Nigella Lawson: I have reader’s block.
I am not convinced this is an actual condition, never mind a medical condition but it is, in some bizarre way, crippling. I do know about so-called writer’s block which in my case manifests itself not so much in stopping my writing but by reducing its quality (or making it even worse, depending on your point of view). However, my reader’s block is far worse.
You know you are officially old when you read a physical newspaper. I am pretty sure no one under 50, and perhaps under 60, buys a newspaper but old habits die hard. Until this year, I had a voracious appetite for reading every single page of my Guardian. Now, I find myself skipping articles I am actually interested in and abandoning other articles and columns as I find myself losing interest and concentration. How on earth can I get it all back again?
A return to some kind of normality would help and that’s only going to happen when the COVID-19 vaccine arrives. I’m not so much frightened of dying of the virus – although my preference would be to not die – but the change to my life, your life and everybody else’s life has been numbing. My guess is that loads of people, whether or not they are mental health basket cases like me, are feeling the same way.
Hopefully, reading my ever increasing mountains of books will resume next year when things are like they used to be. Hopefully, I’ll be reading more and I’ll be doing all the things I have put off doing in the past. The few brain cells I have left will need to be put into good use sometime soon.