A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 10

14th November 2020

Well, turns out, it’s the weekend. Who knew?

Last night was another one on the tiles, or at least a bench in front of the fountains, where I cooled a bottle (always wanted to do that). Al and D pottered over from the other side of the Common and we proceeded to get though two alkie trips to the local Turkish (I think actually they’re Kosovan), complete with cocktails. A little light beer, cider, vodka, whiskey and tequila to loosen the jowls and chatter teeth in the cold to, with so, so much to say.

I was still up at 4am with J, dissecting a friendscape which by all counts looked populated with bitchiness and drama, straight out of an arrested development of art school (Goldsmiths). So much social commentary, narcicissm and agitation to go with postgraduate competition, and the fact no one in their circle of mistrust was still an artist. Thus loaded with bitterness.

We concluded he needed new friends, and I told him it wasn’t him. Friends don’t steal money, belittle, make one feel shit and drop each other at the first whiff of a better offer, often mid-event. There are two types of acquaintance, one the people you may hang out and enjoy a razzle with -fun, games, laughter, bitching, who’ll use you to prop up the numbers, and that you do likewise. Then there are the people you trust, who may be as much fun as a whelk, but you can rely on, and know their ways to navigate by. And which you’ll be there for, and vice versa. The trick is to know the difference, and don’t ever blame anybody but yourself if you confuse the two, expecting more.

Also feel free to find those gems that can bridge both.

Ah, the enlightenment of alcohol. I’ve discovered something about last night’s cocktailcoction in series, and should’ve written them down like a recipe. Till morning they embalmed me with non-stop energy, seriously like a Class A buzz, with nary a hangover to write home about (though I did wake at 1pm). Rum n coke working like Red Bull, as the new need for speed.

Highlight of my day, other than snoozing for much of it was tearing myself off the bed-bound kitten, map and food porn, and making Vietnamese spring rolls (the clear rice paper variety). Stir fry some sesame seeds, garlic, broccoli, leek and brussel sprouts with caramelised peanut and oyster sauce. Then throw in raw pea shoots, spinach, and diced carrot and onion, plus the leaves of a remaining uncooked sprout -the best thing about Vietnamese grub is the freshness, the mix of fried, caramelised and raw. Fry some chicken breast (tikka masala straight out a packet) with a dab or three of peanut sauce, and chilli. Coriander.

Dopp the lot into the rice flour pancakes (stiff as a reed, but softened for a few seconds in hot water) and smear some Thai sweet chilli like a drag queen’s lippo. Fold and roll. The last step was where I fucked up, they ended up looking more like giant fat maggots than bespoke cigarillos. But SO good, colour through the grey. There’s been blowing a storm all day, and it’s been nice to be inside and get glowsy by the box.

Gave some to J but he declined after the one, I don’t think he’s a fan of pea shoots.

It’s been great to socialise again, but I do wonder when it’ll be a norm once more to be merry indoors, in a crowd, with hugs, and not a CGI spectacular. The R rate has gone down to 1.1-1.3, which means for every 10 people infected they will on average spread it to 11 to 13 others. Although this is better news, daily infections have gone to an all-time high, at nearly 27,000 new cases yesterday. Deaths were 462 (though down from 595 the day before), and we’ve crossed the 50,000 milestone.

D, who is a civil servant (the spy variety with poison dart pens I like to think) reckons the government will be reluctant to return things back to normal once we’re done. Not back to bingeing, drunken violence, hate and sex crime, plus STD transmission that’s all associated with alcohol and is particularly high in the UK. No more clubbing, pole dancing, glassing. The last time I popped into the Two Brewers in Clapham, instead of the usual queues, lights and meat market, it was a vision of a few lonesome tables doing a pub quiz. It might as well have been the Working Mens’ Social Club back in Cockett, Swansea -glory days.

s

Back in the day lights out and last orders at 11pm was a collective effort to Blackout the cities during the Blitz. It was however extended when the govt saw what wonders the effect had on society, crime and health. But then we just started binge drinking straight after work instead.

I never did get the chance to witness Infernos a few doors further, one of London’s worst rated nightclubs and legend of bouquet de air freshener, spilled vodka and tears of existentialism.

The sorry instance in Berlin of the punters sitting cross-legged on the dancefloor, socially distanced but vogueing away to the beat, may be the closest to er, coolness we get, legally, for the next year. But tbh it’s not that big a price to pay -we have to remember that, you know, saving lives is worth it and a good thing.

So bottoms up to humanity, stupid and errant and lacking perspective as we are. Go fucking fly a kite. Go dogging.

Am watching Enola Holmes, a bodice burning, apparently feminist yarn on a big adventure. Trying to hammer home the message by usurping every sexist, Victorian trope expected of a young laydee -but while fussing and pandering to it, and worrying far too much what they think. Her working out clues (pretty much scrabble) is jawdropping evidence of her intelligence, against all the feminine odds. Playing tennis indoors and breaking their own expensive shit is the gloriously anarchic two fingers to the establishment.

And much of it is devoted to her swooning still for some suitably dishy marquess-marriage-material while being Sherlock’s little-known little sister. Oh bless me ‘eart, a Marquess. A Marquess fer bleeding sake! Makes me just wet myself at the thought, of him getting ensconced on a trainy chase from working class villainry, which is how they meet. As per norm with the aristocracy.

It makes you wonder if the writer would ever have allowed the ensuing escapades and shenanigans if he was genuinely some coal-smudged barrowboy without any hope of an inheritance. It just wouldn’t have had that frisson of excitement, investment and je ne sais quoi perhaps, that endless wads of cash romantically provides. It reads like a Mills and Boon version of the Sufragette movement.

-Don’t worry though, she decides him merely a passing fad in the end, ha ha! Take that Queensbury!

Methinks she doth protest too much haunts this film throughout a derisory script and blunt screenplay, often when she breaks the fourth wall and confides with the audience like in Fleabag. But without the tongue in cheek, or humour. The film ultimately lacks layering, subtlety, or realism.

But the backdrops are very pretty and atmospheric (though the scrubbed facades and Californian skies hint at an Industrial Revolution that never happened). And actor-wise it was quite pleasing to see some national treasures finally coming out as the Brit they were never allowed to be, whom many assume to be American. Yes, don those corsets and breeches! Free yourselves, I beseech thee.

Like Tom Hardy, Idris Elba, Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan, Gillian Anderson, Kate Beckinsale, Riz Ahmed, Charlie Hunnam, Lily Collins -the list goes on. Pretty much every star of a certain youth, who never touched JK Rowling, but made it big from playing the caricature Valley Girl, Manhattanite or Baltimore Hoodster, often opposite each other.

So once on home turf they go all plummy -that strange girl from Stranger Things (Millie Bobby Brown), Superman (Henry Cavill, who J finally conceded he’d swap a Regency book case for a night with) and the hawt contestant/ carer from Hunger Games (Sam Clafin). They each play it up to the edge of camp, enjoyably so, helped by titillating costumes and the dusky presence of Helena Bonham Carter, getting back into the period typecasting of her youth.

But now Enola’s doing Ju Jitsu. Against her mum. No, really.

Pray for me.

s

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