People are using the Covid tracer app now and the complacency is gone.
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I was watching the news last night and was incensed to see Trump denigrating New Zealand, saying that we had seen a surge in cases of Covid 19 and putting us in the same basket as the USA. Of course it was crazy talk; you can't compare a cluster of cases in Auckland to thousands of new cases daily in the US (and Johns Hopkins University stats show that 172,000 people have died in the US versus 22 in New Zealand).

But our government is taking the reappearance of the coronavirus seriously, with most people staying home in Auckland (now at level 3). Here in the South Island, we are at level 2, which means social distancing. It also means a lot more testing and a cold that nobody would have cared about in level 1 is something that makes you call the medical centre. Which is how I found myself with an elongated Q-Tip thingy up my nose on Monday lunchtime. I don't know why people are making such a fuss about this test as it is a lot easier than a blood test and not nearly as annoying as being pinched on the arm by my sister (it's best not to get near her on the first of the month).

Other than that things are pretty quiet around here if you ignore the kitchen/bathroom renovations (we have an indoor toilet and, as of today, electric lighting, woo hoo!). I have been working away in my studio in the garden which now has solar power from a couple of massive solar panels that I will need to hide with a significant hedge in the long term and sunflowers this summer.

I did go away for a thinking weekend. When I lived in Europe, the week between Christmas and New Year was a delicious dead time, a time to reflect on the year past and the ones ahead. It's not the same in the southern hemisphere in the height of summer with the lure of the beach or the garden. So I blocked out a weekend and went away to Moeraki.

It is less than four hours drive and the only distraction really is some giant rocks on the beach. The sea is a mite too cold to swim in in August.

I spent most of my time walking, thinking and writing plans that I need to put into action. I reflected on the near misses in my career:
  • A London newspaper (The Evening Standard) met with me a couple of times before passing on my Bridget Jones-ish comic strip (Shelflife. I wish I could find copies of it now) in the 90s.
  • Discussions with big publishers about my children's books (Hoover the Hungry Dog, FAB Club and one about a girl and her robot, which took over a year to be rejected, mainly because the marketing department didn't think I had a platform).
  • And of course, Arctic Circle, which was syndicated in 2007, just as newspapers fell off a cliff.
All of which led me to move into producing lots of my own books and comic content which I've put all over social media to build my platform. But reflecting on this, I wasn't sure that this was the way to go. Social media has made me uncomfortable for a long time. It rarely feels as genuine as an email exchange with someone who has engaged with my work. This makes me way happier than a like on Facebook or twitter or Instagram or whatever platform they come up with next. I'll carry on doing it, but I'd rather write to you directly.

My Moeraki weekend resulted in lots of plans for my cartooning/writing; I’ll keep you posted and I hope you'll keep reading.

One of the first things I'm focusing on is a collection of my Reasons to be Cheerful drawings. I'd love to know what you think of the three rough cover ideas I’ve had. You can indicate your preference or give me general feedback by replying to this email.

Cover 1: Happy Little Dog

Cover 2: Happy Yellow Dog

Cover 3: Text Only

I hope to hear from you soon.
Ta ta for now

PS. If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it on.

Copyright © 2020 Alex Hallatt's Cartoons and Writing, All rights reserved.

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