The Past is a Different Country

Dr Kara McKechnie

Part of the Invisible Diaries series:

Week 3 / Day 5

Week 3 / Day 4

Week 3 / Day 3

Week 3 / Day 2

Week 3 / Day 1


Yesterday was a tricky day. I have coped well with lockdown so far – I often work from home anyway, we have a garden with songbirds and frogs, and I am able to structure the week with my academic job, voluntary work and dramaturgy for Slung Low. I can save my anger for the bigger picture (see previous blogs), because there’s no anger or cabin fever going on. There are students to look after, there’s work to do in accompanying Slung Low’s adaptation to current times and needs, there’s a mother with complex health problems and spiralling anxiety to look after over the phone, there is voluntary work, there is concern for people who are struggling. It’s not about me. But yesterday, it suddenly was.

Elbow (I love Elbow, don’t @ me!) have been doing a weekly request session, and yesterday’s was 'Mirrorball', which contains one of my favourite string sections over the words ‘everything has changed’. Enjoying the moment of being transported back to when there were concerts, my glance wanders across my desk and rests on a childhood studio portrait of my dad.

My Dad, Gordon McKenchnie

My Dad, Gordon McKechnie (1943-2018), ca. 1948.

Dad poses and smiles accommodatingly, hair slick with Brylcreem. There was a lot of ‘everything has changed’ in his younger life: from theatre to opera, from stage managing to directing, from England to Germany.