Isolation Consolation

One of my sons lives near London, the other in Sheffield. I see them maybe once every few months. I call them on the phone- no joy. They don’t do phone calls, it has to be conversation via WhatsApp. I send a message saying it’s easier to say what I want to say via a call. They text back that they are in the middle of something. Then there’s 20 minutes of intermittent texting to communicate something that would have taken 2 minutes on the phone. It’s a generational divide. At least we now have one.

Growing up I wondered when they were going to exhibit the generational rebellion I had shown to my parents. My dad hated it when I played Hendrix in the house. “Rubbish!” He would shout, “the Devil’s music” or most bizarrely, “That bloody Hendrix can’t even play the guitar properly.” Try getting your head round that statement. I loved that feeling of inhabiting a different counter cultural world to my parents. My offspring,however ,have been a massive disappointment in that respect. Sure at 8 years old they mocked my musical preferences; laughing at my Tindersticks albums, yawning at Leonard Cohen and running a mile at Hank Williams. Then it all changed. My music collection became “cool” and they were right of course. My unrecognised claim to fame is that I single handedly championed the music of Nick Drake when I was 16 and no one else was listening to his albums . Now everyone’s on the bandwagon and I tiresomely have to remind everyone that,”I FOUND HIM FIRST, HE’S MINE.” So, you get the picture, they love the music I loved and now own all my old vinyl. No generation gap there. But when it comes to communicating we live on different planets.

What now with isolation? Strangely I’m communicating with them more than ever before and they are even using voice calls or as we used to call them, telephone calls. The national lockdown seems to be making people communicate more than when there were no restrictions. Before lock down I didn’t see them for months and hardly spoke to them , now I don’t see them for months but I speak to them all the time. If I were cynical I’d say they are prepping me for financial support. But maybe they are being sincere, maybe they see me as part of the vulnerable group; male, over 60, overweight, and are getting in early – doing that connecting with my dad before he croaks it stuff.

The other possibility is they are bored and after doing all the other things; exercise, shopping, cleaning, cooking, hobbies, Netflix, sex, eating, more sex and toenail trimming they have run out of things to do and thought, “oh well nothing else to do, let’s call dad.” But I’ll take that and it might be one of the unexpected bonuses of this shitstorm of a situation that friends and family connect more and appreciate each other more. That seems like a good silver lining.

Which brings me to tonight. I’d never heard of “Zoom” until last week now I’m hearing about this videoconferencing app everywhere. Both sons have accounts and yesterday we even had a chat where there were four of us on screen including my ex, the boys’ mother. Let’s just say that was a novel and interesting social situation, good, just strange. The upshot is that tonight my eldest is hosting a quiz on Zoom and my ex and her hubby will be there, I’ll be there as well as my partner’s children. All dispersed but coming together for some fun and entertainment. Just as it often takes a funeral to bring people together so it now looks like Coronavirus is helping us connect more in some ways than we ever did when we were free to move around. Is there another lesson to be learned here post crisis? I think so. I hope so. In the meantime I’m going to read and digest some quiz questions and answers because those kids need to know that daddy knows best.Yes I am very competitive and I like winning.

So fuck off virus!

Stay safe everyone. Jim x

29 thoughts on “Isolation Consolation

  1. Dwight Hyde

    It is interesting how we respond and discover new ways to connect during difficult times. Being in this all together is a dynamic we haven’t seen on a global stage for quite some time, and there’s that innate desire to reach out and confirm we’re not alone…and when that happens a small bit of peace comes. In ref to questioning our kids “motives”, my mom always tell the story of when she always new when we were maturing and cared when suddenly after many long distance pone calls we’d ask, “How are you doing mom”. I have faith with my two that that day will come. I was a late bloomer in figuring out that precious love for my folks. Proud of you for trying new things to stay connected with your kids, Jim! That’s what we do right…love wouldn’t have it any other way😊

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks Dwight , I agree completely with what you say and the human need to connect has been made so clear in this current crisis. Here’s to love and connection being the legacy of this terrible disease. Jim x

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  2. drgettingsober

    I’ve loved Nick Drake a long time too Jim but probably not long enough to claim to have discovered him! We humans need contact and I think this has pushed us all into using the tech more and more innovatively. We had a family WhatsApp meet up to sing happy birthday and cut the cake for my youngest yesterday which was lovely; and I can’t keep up with the quizzes etc coming through! Not sure we’d be doing one with the ex though so I’m gonna high five you for that! Hope you enjoy it and stay well 💞💞

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks for that and loved WhatsApp birthday. It’s great to see technology being used for such positive reasons.
      One of the sad stories about Nick Drake was how despondent he became with the low level of sales of I think his second album. So pleased his music is so well known now.
      Jim x

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      1. Jim Simmonds Post author

        Very true although many of his songs make me feel strangely comforted. Time has told me was the first song I heard of his when I was about 15. Perfect music for an angst ridden teen. I was also learning guitar at the time, but unlike Dylan and Cohen who were quite easy to learn, Nick Drake is a fiendishly difficult musician to copy. It seems so sad to think how overlooked he was at the time. Anyway we all have plenty of time to listen now! X

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  3. clairei47

    My mum would say the same as you about my inability to chat on the phone. Maybe that puts you and I on opposite sides of a generational divide Jim? 🤔
    I think it’s amazing that your sons loved the music you enjoyed. That’s such a fantastic thing to share. My brother and my dad have the same passion and interest for music and it keeps them close. I also agree with Leafy, those boys clearly love you and why not, I can tell you have been the best dad they could’ve asked for!
    Claire xx

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Claire- that’s a really nice comment and sentiment, thank you. You’ve made my day. What is about you youngsters and the phone? Just pick it up and talk. Hope things are good for you and as a NHS worker MASSIVE RESPECT and THANKS. You and your colleagues are doing a great job! CLAP CLAP! Jim xxx

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  4. Lovie Price

    lol…my whole life ( well after age 15 anyway) i have loathed talking on the phone. something about holding a “thing’ and carrying it around..i need to be handsfree( don’t even like purses!my daughter laughs because i adore fanny packs) and blue tooth doesn’t cut it for me…haha.. But i get the sentiment. I so miss my grandkids and being able to see them even for just a few minutes in person. My daughter sends daily videos but its not the same. Also being on nightshift, very little interaction even online- people sleeping even more now than they used to( me included i guess but during the day)Glad though people are finding ways to calm some of the isolation irritation. technology isn’t bad sometimes:) hugs!!!

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  5. sobrietytree

    Wowwwwwwwwwww……. what a fabulous post. and. “Now everyone’s on the bandwagon and I tiresomely have to remind everyone that, ‘I FOUND HIM FIRST, HE’S MINE.'”
    Lol!!!!! I love that so much!!!!!! And I so get this feeling. Heeheehee. :))

    Seriously though… what beautifully written, and so many good points and relatable things… during this year of sobriety, there was a point when I realized how important family ties were to me, difficult as they could be… and if they ever called, I made it a priority to answer… thank goodness for that, since later my mom died completely unexpectedly. We can’t take people for granted. They might not always be there.

    I love the way you write so honestly but also with the possible-cynical, but “in-the-end, love-wins”-ing eye… with this, I truly jive.

    Thanks for a great read :))

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  6. Dana Pescrillo

    Love this! All so odd, all so weird, but your view point is dead on…now I hope you showed them Jim!! xoxo, Dana (Lia, No More)

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  7. nomorebeer2019

    Hiiiiii JIm 🙂 That’s great that you’re able to connect with your sons more. If you want to be cynical you should have them compete for the giant inheritance and perform all kinds of tricks for you on zoom !!!! On a more serious note, this made me want to try this out with my own family. I’ve zoomed with friends, and for work, but not with my family, and there’s 6 of us so it would be fun. TIME TO PREP FOR FINANCIAL SUPPORT BEFORE THEY CROAK 😉 No, but for real, stay healthy and yayyyy to filial connection ❤ xxx Anne

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Anne, where have you been hiding. Why did you have to tell the world about the giant inheritance , now everyone will be after my money! 😉
      Zoom family quizzes are great. Last week was fun mainly because my son uses zoom for work and knows all the tricks. Hope all is good with you 👍😀Jim x

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