Corona Diary, Day 20

Saturday, 4 April

A rather pedestrian day working on translating some divorce-related legal documents and on practical arrangements in the flat. I made a more rational structure for my medical documents, which were previously rather arbitrarily scattered in a white file (archive/historical), a blue file (current) and  green file (nebulous mix) into two more logical files (resisting the temptation to number the files from MAL 001 to MAL 999 according to the specific malfunction).

And I attacked one of the large containers of mixed documents resulting from several moves and storage during my nomadic pre- and post-divorce period. A lot of memories as letters from my mother and old friends appeared for the first time in decades so I probably spent a large part of the day staring wistfully into the middle distance (not part of my plan). From an archival point of view, friends who divorce are a nuisance – you have letters from couples pre- and post-divorce and from new partners. It didn’t seem harmonious to have them all huddled together in the same box. And just now I can’t get hold of new boxes without going into town and don’t want to be infected with Corona because of an inability to control my desire for an archive box. I think about the ideal archive box to resolve this situation, a box which could be divided into several self-contained compartments according to the shifting constellations of friends’ lives. I imagine myself explaining this in my local Office Depot store, the attendant looking furtively around for reassurance that heshe is not alone in the store with me. The trouble is though that one of their attendants is a wonderful person, who has been in similar situations before with yours truly when I wanted to try to find a good way of storing my Bangla letters (to practice the alphabet). I was full of admiration for his ability not to be panicked by my unusual request (the desire to learn the Bengali alphabet has not yet penetrated deeply among the population of Uppsala). His eyes didn’t glaze over but we walked around the shop, considering various possibilities. In the end, his proposed solution didn’t work but I admired his attitude and method, his ability to set aside preconceptions, concentrate and focus on the customer’s needs. Not sure though whether he would cope with the advanced archival course, storage boxes for letters and cards from persons divorced.

I did manage to maintain some of the new habits I’ve been aiming at. I steered clear of dairy abuse at breakfast and made porridge and cooked my dinner from the raw materials that I had left over of the week’s supply before they went bad (also in fact raw materials of mostly local provenance).

But it wasn’t much of a day for the intellect. I did make a bit of progress with Pierre Broué’s biography of Trotsky, which I am reading as my bedtime/awake in the night book (no discernible impact on my dreams as yet). This wasn’t part of my planned reading but I stumbled across it in Kungsholmen’s library recently. It was originally written in French and has been translated into German and Swedish, but not as far as I know into English (perhaps the publishers thought that Isaac Deutscher had said all that needed to be said on this topic or at least all that could be profitably said). But this book is interesting as it’s written by someone who was politically active themselves and shared many of Trotsky’s ideas, which raises particular problems for writing a biography. I didn’t like it to start with as it felt too hagiographic but my attitude softened as I got further into the book. It does provide a good description/analysis of the process from 1917 to the late 1920s, the years between Trotsky playing a key role in the military victory of the Bolsheviks to the Left Opposition and his exclusion from power and subsequent exile. Better than what I remember from my reading of Deutscher (admittedly a very long time ago) when I found that process hard to understand.

Back to Norman and Anglo-Saxon architecture in Dorset tomorrow, which feels a rather peaceful retreat from the turbulence of the world. I’d best not move back to the West Country, I can better shield my dream world from corruption if it stays in my head!

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