Rob Olins Lockdown

By Rob Olins FRSS, Trustee

I’m looking at my wall chart that has my events written on it planned pre-Covid. Right now I should be running workshops with blind and partially sighted people at the University of Bath physics lab and Anechoic Room. These were to be very crowded, intensive sessions and would no doubt be accompanied by jammed meetings in the tiny cluttered offices that the professors have. All good fun, all completely impossible now. 

For Ella, my partner, and I it all really started when our daughter rang to say she couldn’t get out of Spain, where she was working on a temporary contract with the Erasmus Programme. We had arranged to go and see her but for various reasons didn’t get round to making the booking. Just as well, as we would all have ended up hanging around in with her Gibralta waiting to get a flight home. Then things slowly started unwind as one by one events, deadlines and meetings were cancelled.

Suddenly the wall chart was looking very empty. However, as we all know, nature abhors a vacuum and other things soon came along to fill the void.

One project is, despite the times, quite social really. I am currently chair of a local arts charity and we thought we could see if we could raise a bit of cash to keep us going along with putting out a call for a series of micro-commissions. Well..and God bless Arts Council England.. we got the loot so its looking like the next few weeks will be busy dealing with that.

The other project is more personal. At the rear of our house are some old junk-filled pigsties. The roof has caved and I’ve been meaning rehabilitate it in order to hide some of my newer junk. Standing precariously on a crumbling wall removing old pantiles I suddenly had a vision of my very young self, playing in an abandoned car (Ford popular I think) in wasteland near the North Circular Road, suburban London.

It was the strong aroma of elderflower that had unlocked these memories. Both the sad old Ford Popular and the rather romantic pigsty ruins were surrounded by these ungainly plants and this week their aroma has reached its zenith. Work on scent-associated memories is a project I was working on last year and really need to follow it up but it’s finding a space on the wall chart that is the problem. 

RO 05 June 2020