As an audiobook narrator, spending considerable lengths of time alone and in confined spaces is something you get used to. It’s self-imposed and related to work, but entirely optional – it is currently my chosen profession and working at home is not going to be a problem. During the current crisis, it seems that changes to how we live and relate to each other are becoming mandatory, in some areas, and it will be interesting to see if they have any long-term effects. Although neither myself nor any family members have (yet) been affected by coronavirus in terms of health, it has today denied me the opportunity to audition for a touring production of Antony and Cleopatra. The tour has been cancelled due to concerns over infection. It would have been unlikely that any audience for the production could honestly be described as a ‘mass gathering’ (but you never know). It’s a shame, as I had put a lot of preparation into the audition pieces, but definitely NOT a disaster for me.
Perversely, I discovered a very old (1963) copy of Albert Camus’ ‘The Plague’ on my bookshelf, that I must have bought decades ago, as it had ’60p’ inscribed on the inside cover. Its original retail price was ‘3 shillings and sixpence’ – pre-decimal money for non-Brits. I haven’t read it in years, but will do so again as I find Camus’ style (or this translation’s) sublime. With an economy of words, his narrative is full of strong images, believable characters and a gripping story – I only wish my French was good enough to be able to read it in the original language.
The book describes events in the Algerian town of Oran in the 1940’s, before, during and after a visitation of the plague – probably bubonic – and its effects on the inhabitants. With themes related to materialism and community, combined with a subversive attack on fascism, it has lessons for us at this difficult time. I cannot recommend it more highly.