La Retraite

Posted by on March 17, 2020 in Art, Blog, Leisure activities, Living today | 3 comments

Opera singer Laura Baldassari/AP

Retreat, entrench, dig a hole.  No, that is not how I want to frame this.  Last weekend I celebrated my birthday with friends, eating out and having some superb musical entertainment in a public venue. As the curtain went down at the end of the performance and we clapped and cheered till our hands ached and our voices went hoarse, I reflected that for the foreseeable future entertainment was going to be of a very different flavour.

So if it’s not going to be cinema, theatre, concerts, exhibitions, gigs, festivals, poetry readings, raves, mass parties, choirs, stand-up (delete as applicable), how are we going to entertain ourselves in the coming months when it seems that our lives are about to be turned upside down?

Yes I know there’s always the telly, and we are spoilt for choice nowadays, as Verity so eloquently reminded us in her blog Box of Delights.  This is well complemented by such choice offers provided by BBC Sounds, Audible and Spotify. Then there are all the books I haven’t got round to reading.

But somehow the non-hedonistic side of me is whispering that TV, radio and literature won’t quite cut the mustard.  I am beginning to feel a yearning for accomplishments, for the ability to entertain in my own right. So what are my options? Well that of course is totally dependent on my range of talents. One of the earliest blogs I wrote for damesnet lamented my lack of artistic ability on any front. Art for Art’s Sake spells this out in a blunt, cold fashion.

Thus no select gatherings of friends or family while I sketch us all picnicking en plein air, no sharpening of pencils or mixing of palettes for me. What about music? My piano skills could be brushed up save for one missing item – a functioning piano. And I won’t be emulating the opera divas of Milan singing from their balconies as they wait for liberation from lockdown.  

Nevertheless I can sing a bit, so could perhaps learn a few of my favourite operatic arias in Italian, thereby putting to good use the hours I have spent over the last few years studying the language. On that point, I sincerely hope that the (now cancelled) plans we had earlier in the year to tour the northern end of Italy this summer did not in any way contribute to the severity of the virus outbreak in the region!

I have started looking at knitting and dressmaking patterns for some of the younger members of the family. Here I am on safer ground, for at least I have a bit of a track record in this field. This won’t exactly count as entertainment, but hopefully will give pleasure to some people in the long term. (I am of course choosing to ignore the opportunities afforded by the arrival of Spring, in terms of cleaning, tending the garden and redecorating.)

And finally, I’ve just remembered that another member of the family asked me to make some curtains for their sitting room about five years ago. Perhaps the time has come…


  1. Your blog is just what I wanted to read in this time of doom and gloom! At least you are not a social pariah as you are not OVER SEVENTY.
    I’m sad at missed holidays ( we should be in Tenerife) time with the family (alas now on hold) and the gym restrictions.

    But, counting your blessings could be another activity although its appeal may wane after several weeks. At least we can get out at the moment. The thought of three months of house arrest is terrifying.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the curtains . . .

    • I think we are all social pariahs now! My gym is doing virtual classess and I am starting the same with my yoga. Take care and yes, we have to count our blessings!
      Dame B

  2. I have this vision of you singing opera while knitting, maybe playing the piano with your toes at the same time …Enjoy!

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