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James Willstrop

James Willstrop: Isolation Conversation

Former World No.1 James Willstrop keeps us up to date with his diary entries.

Read the first instalment from the Englishman below.

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Social media has everyone covered with trick shot challenges (Daryl Selby’s niche), and daily workouts, so I’ve nothing to add there. I was tempted do an online Windmill/ triple fake tutorial but I’ve forgotten how to do one. As anyone who put themselves through Shot and a Ghost will know I’m partial to writing a diary so I thought I’d share with you some of my entries over the last few bizarre weeks and perhaps going forward, if more than three people can bear them.

The diary is a great form for capturing all the juicy and mundane in daily life at once, the latter being very definitely a word of this moment, and of these days. I’ll go back to March 2nd, when we were all somewhat innocent and unaware, back when you didn’t feel like a criminal for driving, or breathing. Remember that?

Monday 2 March
First night of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The play I’m doing at Bingley. Missed lines, missed cues, all very seat of your pants. That’s the fun though.

Text from Alison Rose asking whether Canary Wharf squash is cancelled because of Coronavirus. Wrote back saying I didn’t know it was that serious. She said Triathlons are being cancelled in the Middle East. Really?

Friday 6 March
As the week’s shows go on, there is a feeling that gatherings in theatres like the one we are playing in aren’t too clever right now, when you consider the stuff that’s going about in the media. Shaking hands is becoming frowned upon. Hugs are suddenly hesitated over.

Italy are a country very much in trouble.

Sunday 8 March
Arrived at Canary Wharf into the player/ TV/ referee room and there were hand gels and packets of wipes everywhere. Nobody going that near anyone. All quite good humoured, even despite a vague hint of doom. Simon Rosner still found time to reminisce and laugh about the time he drove me to German League and I bollocked him for driving too fast. Lee Beachill was around, not knowing what was happening – SquashTV gremlins and Corona are running amok. The world is about to cave in. The great Joey Barrington looked thoroughly p***** off because someone had cornered him in to yet another handshake out in the corridor, which he struggles with even outside of pandemics. Looking unsettled, his hygiene neurosis is hitting new heights. A lot of squash players are quite used to all this hand hygiene business because they live on planes and detest getting ill. Funny to see the rest of the world partaking in the same rituals.

Friday 13 March
Meeting at University. Went to shake hands with someone and forgot the ‘protocol’, that offering to shake hands is now so 2019. I could have walked in with a machete and got a warmer reaction.

Saturday 14 March
Got the text from Nessie saying Grasshopper Cup is off. Looks like Canary Wharf were lucky. Not much training going on now but can’t think there will be much squash to play at this rate. Things are rapidly looking very strange.

Monday 16 March
Library. Went to ask librarian something and got asked to move back from him this time. Didn’t even offer the hand and got a warning. Cafe was still open but it looks like there’s a possibility such places might close.

Vanessa has been reading the news again this evening so I brace myself as she summarises. I was justified- more life changing information is released by the media:

It’s pretty much nailed on, she tells me. They will he shutting the schools, I’m sure. Possibly on Friday.

Oh right, I say. For how long?

Likely to be weeks.

WEEKS! What are we gonna do? This could literally end some parents. And if there are no cafes too how are we supposed to cope?

I don’t know. I’m sure you’ll find a way. Cafes didn’t exist once.
Soft play? (N.B people who do not have kids will not know what this is)

Those places close before anything else. They’re germ traps.
We are in big trouble.

Grandparents can’t help either. They’re definitely isolated. Everywhere.

This is looking interesting. Weeks of Batman and Robin and costumes and tantrums and tears. Not to mention the kids. All without coffee shops.

Make sure there’s wine in. We agree on that.

Come Armageddon come!

Bring it on!

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