Lockdown life is different for everyone. I’m the first to admit that my cunning plan of going straight from the Maldives to Switzerland was a good one – no quarantine and a remarkably liberal attitude to social gatherings, restaurant, bar and shop openings up until Christmas, when the shutters come down on all but socialising privately with up to six people – and this is really a blessing.
Sadly UK rules mean that Tommy is not able to join us for xmas but we have a jolly time with our cousins and various friends in Champery. The weather in December and January is decidedly below par with lots of snow and rain and only a few sunny days.
Nevertheless we manage to get out and enjoy the good days – we feel so privileged to be able to use the chair lift and ski without the crowds – apart from Super Saturday, so-called by the Swiss, which has the fatal combination of fresh powder and azure skies. It seems like all of Switzerland and half of France come to join the party. We go up and come straight down again. With few lifts and none of the French side open it means that lift queues are long and the slopes far too crowded for peace of mind. Ross is undeterred by all of this as he simply puts on his skins and shimmies up the mountains…
Throughout January my mind is preoccupied with the launch of my book, The Boy from Boskovice: a father’s secret life. We have a lot of to and fro with the publishers, Unbound, about the best way to organise the launch. Eventually we agree on a webinar managed by us with my reliable technical assistant in charge. There are all sorts of last-minute panics however, including the whole plate section missing from the kindle edition…explained by ‘lockdown and Christmas’. Covid has become a convenient excuse for some things which it should not be used for!
On the night we have 150 registrations with many of these doubles, so an audience of well over 200 to witness my dear friend Katya Krausova direct half-sister Bonnie and me with grace and intelligence around a series of questions and discussions. All who attend are suitably impressed by my fellow-performers! And they seem to like the book too!
It’s doubly hard publishing a book virtually – no bookshop visits, no warm white wine events, no face-to-face interviews…but in the end we manage well with a couple of podcasts, several interviews and a marvellous blog tour where even people who don’t know me seem to love the book! And the good comments from friends keep coming too. I have to admit to being nervous as the book is so personal that readers might not warm to it; however it seems to resonate with most. I am mightily relieved.
Oh and there’s another event at the Wiener Holocaust Library on 16 February at 7 pm, chatting with my friend, writer Sarah Helm, author of If This Is a Woman: inside Ravensbruck Hitler’s concentration camp for women, about researching historical works. Click on link to join.
Once publication day has passed I can concentrate on life: I keep getting summonses from London to get my jab: my annoying shielding status suddenly comes in useful. With this carrot and the stick of the incompetent government threatening to beat us into expensive hotel quarantine, we decide to leave Switzerland on 31 January and sit out the rest of lockdown at our lovely home.
Despite all our anxiety the trip home is a doddle: Geneva airport – empty; plane – half-empty; Heathrow – empty (only took 35 minutes from landing to being in a cab – a record with luggage!).
It is wonderful to be home, to see Princess Pickle and to see how the garden is doing. We soon settle into a routine of exercise, work (I’m still on four boards), cooking and television or movies. Despite setbacks – like Louise’s Bench disappearing from Chalk Farm Road (at time of writing still not found) – there is still so much to be positive about. I have been jabbed, Ross will be this week; Tommy, Anna and Hector (the cat) are all well; and PP seems to have forgiven me my absence. Although snow blankets the garden it will soon be spring!