February 2023

Unlocked: Pandemic Portraits – or to give this book its full title – Unlocked: Portraits of a Pandemic. By A J Stone, this book is, as you’d imagine, an oral history drawn taken and transcribed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Front cover of Unlocked: Pandemic Portraits by AJ Stone
Front cover of Unlocked: Pandemic Portraits by AJ Stone

We all experienced and dealt with the pandemic and lockdowns in our own ways. No two people had the same lockdown. For my own part, life didn’t change all that much. I live alone, I work from home – and that carried on in the same way. Aside from missing my granddaughter, I mostly enjoyed that first lockdown. I mean wasn’t the weather glorious? No sooner were we pushed into lockdown than the sun came out. And it never really went away did it? Though, I’d have to say that, even with the sunshine, towards the end of it I’d had enough. I mean – I like me a lot. But even I’d had enough of me by then.

Anyway, while I was walking down the dual carriageway, just because I could, and buying leopard print loafers, Amelia (the A in AJ) was writing to funeral directors, Will writers and a host of other individuals and organisations seeking people’s pandemic voices to record. And Unlocked: Portraits of a Pandemic is the result.

Unlocked: Pandemic Portraits - back cover
The author, A J Stone with Junab Ali - he features in the book
The author, A J Stone with Junab Ali – he features in the book

A casual look through

And here I have to confess, I’ve not had a chance to read the book yet – I’ve not long since finished Badgeland. But the most cursory of flicks through Amelie’s book shows it features a wonderful and diverse range of subjects all dealing with diverse situations.

And it’s easy to see from my flick through that lockdown was a LOT harder for a lot of people than it was for me. Well …. I knew that anyway of course. So I look forward to getting my teeth into it properly.

From the book’s Amazon listing:

‘Moving from labour ward to funeral parlour, temple to pub, A. J. Stone examines these questions and more through intimate interviews conducted during and after England’s national lockdowns. From a mother whose neighbours fail to understand why she can’t keep her autistic son quiet to a boxer who succumbs to online gambling when all his sporting events are cancelled, Stone never flinches from the reality her subjects had to face. These are stories of joy and heartbreak, each presented in their raw, unfiltered glory. Their cumulative impact constitutes a fascinating oral history of our times. If you love true stories and learning about other people’s lives, join the readers who are raving about Unlocked.’

Unlocked: Pandemic Portraits - at Bert's Books
From left to right: Daniel Thuysbaert, AJ Stone, Alex Call, Angela Atkinson

As well as from a certain massive online warehouse, you can also get this book from Bert’s Books in Old Town – and #Obvs I urge you to do so! You’ll also found it in the shop in the central library if you hang out in that area.

More about Bert’s Books here:

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