My brave face

Never measure the height of a mountain, until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.

Dag Hammarskjöld, Markings, 1964

A lot of people are struggling today – sick, grieving, exhausted, fearful, stressed. The reasons are sometimes obvious, often not, though they all come back, one way or another, to a collapse of normality so sudden and comprehensive that it’s still hard to grasp. What it’s done to us is sometimes obvious, more often not. We put on a brave face and get on with it. No one wants to complain: there really are people much worse off. So we draw on unexpected reserves of courage and knuckle down, each with our own, particular struggle. Still, sometimes it’s good to remember that a lot of people are struggling, and acknowledge the truth of it. (I wish politicians could manage that.) Mostly, we can’t help, perhaps take a bit of the strain, but that’s not easy in isolation. More helpful might be to accept the reality of it, without asking questions or offering solutions, just being present with unqualified love or friendship or solidarity. Don’t expect too much, of others or ourselves. A lot of people are struggling today. It’s hard to say so here, but I’m one. I don’t want help; I just need not to have to behave as if everything’s fine. It’s not, and that seems completely normal to me in the present circumstances. If you’re struggling too, I’m sorry and I sympathise. That’s it; that’s all I wanted to say. Thank you for reading. It will get better, because nothing stays the same, but until then, be well and be kind.


  1. A rare level of honesty and ability to express and share what so many of us struggle with at the moment. Thank you. Hang in there, because you are right: It will get better. We WILL come out on the other side, and not only that, we will come out more focused and determined on what matters in our lives. Some will even say, enriched. This is a time where the arts make such a difference, in particular singing, in the way that it brings us together. We realise who we are, and how connected we are.

  2. Thanks for all your posts and your honesty. I’ve really appreciated them through this crisis. They have replaced some of the chance encounters I miss having with artists who I used to come across in the course of my work.
    We will get through this. I think whatever we can do now will become the seeds of what will follow. I believe even the smallest acts of kindness and encouragement do really make a difference.
    Stay well!

    1. Thank you for this, Eve. I am conscious of going further than I would normally in some of these posts, because that seems to be demanded by the situation, so it is reassuring to hear that they speak to you. I hope you are managing okay in this hard times and that we’ll be making art with people again before too long.

      1. Yes.
        I must add that I am in the incredibly fortunate position of being able to continue the paid work I do with the learning disabled Rocket artists through our improvised ‘virtual studio’ (
        In addition, I am dedicating one day a week (voluntarily) to keeping in touch with the participants of my weekly ‘Pop-up studio’. Some of them are contributing to our own portion of the ‘Coronaquilt’ project (
        Keeping connected and making whatever creative work we can feels more important than ever right now.
        Thanks again for all you’re doing! It really helps keep us all connected with what matters.

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