A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 25

29th November 2020

There is a growing mound of stuff by my bed, my launching pad to the mattress and keeper of me on it. Like the flower on the big deep-pile lily pad of the rug that A tuts at, as the room gets increasingly messy through these days of our lives.

A tangle of wires allows me the power to keep the laptop, phone and light as accompaniment through day and night. I try and sweep the untidiness under the bed, but that’s so crammed with ephemera (paperwork, old tech, sports equipment) it’s turned away. The bedside light itself now sits on the floor, being a tad too stark to be right by the pillow, glaring out into dramatic shadows between blinding light and pitch shapes that the form creates. The room looks like a witch’s eerie when it’s on, sometimes winningly so.

The laptop has a recent addition, a games controller, swamped somewhere in the clothes (jeans, t-shirt, longjohns), flung off before any time under the covers. A doesn’t like clothes on or in the bed, which is a sanctuary against the Great Outside.

A hairdryer sits on the side, an immediate giver of heat that I blast under the covers occasionally -it saves on the heating up of the whole room, with the old-fashioned radiators. For too long I’ve had to lie in funny shapes to get my feet and hands warm under an icy duvet.

A shaker holds the dregs of a liquid lunch, very handy when one cannot faintly be arsed to cook. A black rucksack sits waiting to eat it all or vomit more out, should I ever need to venture beyond.

On the tabletop an alarm clock emanates the time, temperature and date in series, designed to look like a wooden cube, which it genuinely is (how do they do that?), but a constant reminder of unnatural priorities, expectation, decay. A charcoal face mask thing sits alongside, as reminder, given that whenever I do remember it’s always in the bathroom and thus too late (it has to sit for 10 mins). Still never use it. A decades-old pic sits underneath, fallen as a bookmark. From a passport machine in wigs and boas, shades and hats, back when we were in love.

Two Tiger Balms stand sentry (pale and mild for the head, red and powerful for the body), but very much utilised as short-lived relief during migraines. A small bottle of hand sanitiser, given by a friend who stocked up in Taiwan back when it was worth it’s weight in gold, sits gathering dust. Along with a line of books I occasionally pop in and out of (travel guides), have started some time or other, or most wanted to start in lockdown and never fucking did. Murder mysteries, socio-economic study, ghost stories, social prize-winners, historical yarn.

I added a copy of Wilderness Europe, a Time Life book from childhood. Bought by subscription that was a big thing back in the day, and usually neglected as part of a wider series -but a nostalgic inspiration in interspersing non-Fiction and account, poetry with facts. I will always remember the passage on the quality of air over a Scottish beach, where clarity allowed the author from miles away to see, hear a Curlew turning glinting pebbles. So anonymous are the volumes, lost among dozens per collection, the authors don’t even get their names on them (Douglas Botting btw).

One tome in the row tells of a spookfest set on an expedition in the Himalayas, another a woman trapped indoors by agoraphobia, but whom witnesses a New York murder. A study on animalian maneaters and monsters in the human psyche, another how the rich oligarchies we live in are increasingly resembling failed states. A murder in colonial Beijing, the confessions of a female sociopath, the life and dangerous times of an Irish girl during The Troubles. The Writers and Artists Yearbook from 2017, bought for cheap due to its outdatedness, but increasingly worn and a reminder of life’s failure as it degenerates. A boardgame, Dixit, bookends the lot, bought for our enforced hibernation, but never used as we set up our separate, enforced hidey-holes in different rooms.

On top of all this is a model plesiosaur, made by a German firm called Schleich, and that excels in creating artistry out of natural form. The ways they pose their animals show the perfected designs of evolution, where the streamlined grace of a body made to flow through waves is offset with the warp of a whipping neck, -a three dimensional u-bend from differing angles. The globular torso contrasts with the sharp blades of the flippers, yet united by the same teardop shape, that if you notice, mirrors the ‘small’ head too (that in reality would be the size of a man’s torso). All moulded in plastic -a throwaway medium now elevated to an artform of accuracy, in the patina of skin, blush of colouring and age spots, glinting eyes and teeth, and even, if you flip it, a perfectly placed arsehole equidistant between limbs. Overall it looks like a sinuous, smooth strip of animal -dynamic, weird, beautiful. Schleich has found its plastic models are being collected by adults, rather than kids.

Behind all this an old self portrait, one to go with a similar painting of A on the other half. I’m looking cold and unclothed, weird colours in a barren snowscape (a line of telegraph poles behind), while A sits on his knees, eyes downcast, yet in vivid tempera. Neither of us see them anymore, they are wallpaper.

This basically is my nest. It keeps me furnished on the same spot on the left side of the bed, everything within reaching distance, and where I am as I speak. Pretty much, right now, my world and all I need for it. Day after tomorrow will be the last, back to Werk, back to all that moneymaking that we call a life, and end of the blog. Urgh.

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