Andrew Travers

Andrew Travers is a designer and researcher. He’s the author of Interviewing for research.

Don’t call it a week note

Posted on 26 May 2020

Miscellaneous lockdown ramblings.

Like everyone else it would seem, I’ve watched The Last Dance, mostly in binges. Basketball isn’t my sport, Jordan isn’t my hero. The game is so high scoring and the technical levels so high that the action is kind-of monotonous to my eyes, but it remains a really engaging series, largely down to its minor characters.

I found the episode that centred on Phil Jackson the most interesting of the lot. Jackson turns the Bulls from a team with a superstar in Jordan but little unity into a team that works for each other and, crucially, where Jordan is prepared to take a leap of faith and trust his more limited colleagues. I’d have loved to know more about how Jackson and the team did that.

I kept thinking about late-era Thierry Henry while watching the series. Not the grinning, carefree Highbury Thierry Henry, but the surly, sciatic Emirates one. Not unlike Jordan in some ways. Eventually Henry left for Barcelona and the team, Fabregas in particular, were briefly liberated. Jackson, you could argue, channeled Jordan’s drive and desire better than Wenger, latterly, was able to do with Henry.

The end of May is, in normal times, the end of the football season, so almost every day feels like an anniversary. May 25 is Celtic and Lisbon; eleven pale Scots singing ‘The Celtic Song’ in the tunnel; their 45 shots on goal in a European final; the players’ false teeth in Ronnie Simpson’s bunnet; ‘John, you’re immortal’. May 26 is Anfield '89 and bouquets; George in his blazer, eyes ablaze; McMahon signalling ‘one more minute’; Brian Moore’s rising ‘Thomas… charging through the midfield. THOMAS...’. That football seems a world away right now.

I’ve found concentrated reading during lockdown difficult. Always easier to scroll fretfully through a timeline. The two exceptions have been two books about childhood: Pete Paphides’ ‘Broken Greek’ and Gavanndra Hodge's ‘The Consequences of Love’.

There’s such generosity and open-mindedness in the way Paphides writes, whether it’s about ABBA, his family or his surrounds. You feel he’s always prepared to love something. What a great default position.

I demolished ‘The Consequences of Love’ over the course of a Friday night and Saturday morning. I’m lucky to know Gavanndra a little, so this story of a chaotic and often disturbing childhood amidst lines of coke and heroin wasn’t entirely new to me but the way she writes is hypnotic. At times it’s staggeringly matter of fact, a story told without self-pity but with a lot of love.

Lockdown has made me reconsider a lot of priorities, and cutting back on stuff that, more than ever, seems an utter irrelevance. More modest living in difficult circumstances. I’m up to a saving of £1,720 per year at the moment. I feel ashamed even writing that.

I’m missing my neighbourhood but I’m not missing the city.

And finally, totally burying the lede, I’m gradually trying to be a bit more open about the anxiety and depression issues that I’ve been dealing with - or more to the point, not dealing with - for years. I’m forcing myself to share stuff like this, uncomfortable as it is, because I know it’s what I need to be doing. People are lovely and incredibly supportive it turns out. Who knew. To Anna, James, Tom in particular: thank you.

I’ve got so much better in recent times at understanding what my coping mechanisms are. In short: running, meditating, no booze. Handily, each of these things helps to reinforce the others. But I’m keen to understand more about how I’ve come to feel the way I feel and that’s the journey I’m belatedly starting out on. Perspective and understanding, not to be ‘fixed’.