“We can’t just take this time of lockdown as an opportunity to stare out the window and do nothing,” said Paul Andrew of Salvatore Ferragamo on the phone yesterday. This was annoying because when Paul had called from Florence, he totally interrupted me: In London I’d been staring out the window and doing nothing.
Well, not exactly nothing: I’d also been reading the news. But the effect of reading too much news right now—like so many other things—seems freakishly amplified. I worry for my friends and colleagues in New York now almost much as I worry for my girlfriend, friends, and colleagues in Milan. I worry for my auntie and cousins in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, even though they live at the end of road next to a huge and uninhabited expanse of bush—a place that when the fires nearly took them in December was one of the dangerous places in the world, but which now might well be amongst the safest. Either way, worry. The news amplifies the anxiety, and the anxiety corrodes your clarity, and your clarity frames your actions.
What can you control? Your personal space, and your personal actions and interactions, and how much news you digest, remembering the more you consume, the more you feel out of control. Here in London—on lockdown officially at last!—we’ve been at home pretty much all the time since the week of Monday, March 9. Back then, staying in was in part in solidarity with my girlfriend and her sons in Milan, who began their lockdown the day before and remain in it. London was, and is, out of sync with Milan, but it seems to be on the same road. There can be no harm in stepping off that road a little earlier than strictly necessary when you know from the experience of your most loved and trusted that there’s a juggernaut heading down it from them to you.
I’ve got sons too, Rudy (14) and Zac (11), plus their dog Georgie, and we’re all in this together. With Zac I’ve cleared, dug and planted a vegetable patch in the yard (the yard makes everything possible now), made a deadly accurate (-ish) bow and arrow, and become better with the catapult too. Rudy is a quaran-teen. They have taken to the remote classes organized by their excellent schools with varying levels of gusto—but they are working. I am making sure they watch plenty of nourishing cultural material, especially South Park, the Die Hard movies, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure three times now: because “be excellent to each other.”
I could self-isolate early because for me working from home is possible, if not how I usually choose to do it. My absolute favorite place to work is in Milan, in a dog park there close to the Prada HQ and in the company of my girlfriend’s ridiculous hound Wanda: but that is impossible for a while. For now, whether by Zoom or WhatsApp or email or whatever, it’s been possible to stay in touch with and deliver work for my colleagues at Vogue Runway, Vogue Italia, and the Economist’s 1843 magazine.