Lockdown Unlocked – A blog from a social distance by Thomas Willshire

Numerous friends and friends-of-friends have been nauseatingly productive during the lockdown. It’s awful. Scrolling through my social media right now is akin to attending the music halls of old. Tickets are free, the virtual playbill is crammed with resourceful comic turns and despite being a packed house there’s infinite standing room available. So here I am, sat front and centre, resenting and admiring the endeavours of my vaudevillian pals in equal measure. “Bravo!” I cry, “But no fucking encore I beg you…”.

This blog is to be my reaction. Not a response and certainly not a review (I quite like having friends, after all). No, this is definitely a reaction. The herd are bleating and I’m joining the shrill chorus with my own nasal blog-shaped keening. Tantalising stuff I’m sure you’ll agree.

To wilfully misquote Sir Andrew Aguecheek, I was prolific once too. I started writing ‘properly’ from about the age of fifteen. Thanks to the wonderful Birmingham REP I had plays put on throughout my late teens and that led to writing for the Royal Court Young Writers programme. I spent my twenties writing plays and putting them on with various groups of wonderful friends and very nearly got one of them picked up by a big American production company. I was never hugely successful and what little success I had you can attribute to my inherent social privilege and the support of fantastic people. A lack of success, however, never really bothered me because I was unfailingly, consistently, reliably industrious. I had a quiet faith that somewhere along the line I’d reap a particularly good crop from my fertile creative soil and that would that. Sadly, since turning thirty, that has never even gotten close to that. To tortuously extend the analogy, I concluded my third decade and promptly closed up the farm and bought in the suburbs.

Since then I have done nothing. I have written so little I am ashamed. I’ve been suffering at the hands of this malaise for five years now and it’s miserable. A lack of inclination. A lack of drive. A lack of something. To call it writers block would suggest I’ve been making several creative parries only to have them blocked by an agile, faceless opponent. That’s not been the case.

My situation is more static. There’s me, then there’s an object, full and heavy with nothing. The object in question hasn’t needed to be immovable. I’ve been thoroughly resistible thanks to my total lack of force. I didn’t turn 30 and stop having ideas. I turned thirty and a part of me gave up. I’m embarrassed to write it but it’s true.

So. This blog is my honest stab at giving up giving up. I can’t promise much but that it will be honest. Thanks for reading.

Thomas Willshire is a writer/actor/comedian who just about lives in London with his wife, Polly and dog, Fergal. He considers himself the fortunate product of a supportive and loving environment.

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