19th December 2020
Have been spending my time in the company of a computer game recently, chased down metal corridors on a spaceship and crawling through air vents as some evil extra terrestial hunts me out and tries to bite my head, as do creepy androids with steel punches. I’m not sure why but the joypad is the only thing known to science that gives me energy. The rest of the time I have a malaise in my bones, especially when waking where it manifests as a gnawing ache, and dear god it’s such an odyssey to get up for work, each and every damn day. Thankfully which I don’t have right now. Before the age of 20 I never felt fatigue, even running up hills on my commute, now it’s an absolute constant -some call it age -is it just me? Or some kind of chronic fatigue, or the after-effects of Lyme’s disease or summat. I mean, who the fuck wakes up in a ray of sunlight each morning, stretching their arms with a smile on their face and bouncing out of bed like in cereal ads? Pyschopaths, that’s what, on their first day of a killing spree.
So I am tinkering on whether to just dive into a bit of gameplay on waking, in order to boost mind and body, a bit like immersively violent yoga. Blasting people in the face with a glock, getting chased through industrial steam vents, and malleting labourers in the back -there’s nothing more brightening to start your day. Now, I’ve been known to get quite immersed into gaming (one of those people who sway to the side as the pixelated road takes a turn) and I reckon it’s my mind just switching onto threat, and pumping the adrenaline. I don’t think anything in modern life does that anymore, unless you are genuinely besotted with the idea of customer service, or commuting, or pigeons. Jizzing on the keyboards with the latest figures from Marketing and texting work mates about it, at home.
It was 4.30am (my usual waking hour) where I ended up beached, watching youtube foodie vids, then frying up some curry noodles by 10am and falling back asleep as per usual. Till waking again at 3pm. FFS. In 5 minutes I was hauled into the local community pool (ours still runs, given entirely to ourselves in separate sessions) and sitting in the hot tub with A and An, which we’d booked the day before. Swimming I must admit, does give one energy. It’s just the getting used to the cold bite of winter on one’s naked skin each time (changing, creeping into the waters, looking for sharks), akin to a Westeros saga or the 1993 film Alive, where in a cut scene the acid snow comes up and eats them as punishment for cannibalism. Or as a northern European calls it, air.
In my untold decades living in the UK I have never been able to get used to the weather. Ever. For 9 months of the year I feel cold to the bones, no matter how clad, and why it’s such a mountain to climb to throw the duvet off each time. Even my arm creeping out from under the covers, like a pale, angular creature to tap away at a keyboard each night feels dead within a few minutes, until it verges on pain. People always remark on just how rigor mortis-like my hands are when they touch them, and I want to scream it’s not me it’s you, fuckers! I’m tropical, my family’s from the jungle – poison darts n dinosaurs n shit. You people are eskimos, happy to be bathing in glaciers or fighting bears or whatever you do every morning. It’s not normal. 15C is not a balmy room to luxuriate in, with a small boy fanning you with a palm leaf. FFS.
The UK has a distinctive tine of humidity plus temperate weather, that makes the cold penetrate. I’ve heard rumour that many people from more northerly climes (the kind where they actually get snow) find it colder here, and people with muscle and bone problems, such as arthritis, hurt more. When I lived in Finland, where it plummeted to -15C as per norm, I found it true. The cold there kinda makes a ‘wetsuit’ reaction of the skin, encasing you in a shell of numbness while inside you stay warm -I found I was even able to nip out in a T-shirt if I had to, through metre high drifts, or jump into freezing snow after sauna.
That’s never been the case here where I keep a hair dryer by the bed (body produces no warmth so it’s still cold underneath) for a few seconds respite from unending discomfort. It constantly feels like I’m soaked in a puddle, in November, in Manchester. Not so much bathing in snow after a spa session, more chucked out nightclub > alley with a kebab stuck to the side of your face. It’s tough for me here, constant fatigue, constant cold while everyone else is having a bit of light tennis. I am an alien.
J is convinced I have some kind of disease, like Raynaud’s, when he sees how icy my hands are and he’s breaking into sweat. It’s not that, rather the fact -if anyone’s noticed -that every other animal but us at these latitudes is tightly encased in fucking fur or feather. Exposed skin is not for these parts. It is not fit for humans.
Okay, bitching over. I still love the UK. Despite the fact it’s Colditz. Warm pubs, glowsy fires, tinkly lights. Hot chocolate and warm blankets. It’s just till May you have to get used to it, wearing the longjohns.
So last night the announcement came, London is now Tier 4 as of midnight. A, who went out on his nightly bikeride in the rain (like a nutter) reported on the streets crammed with traffic within hours, as a good few million people made a break for Xmas before the giant sharpened shutters came down (Mad Max patrols, helicopters, flame throwers). Queueing outside shops -many whom stayed open till 11pm -booking all rail tickets and clogging up the motorways out of town. 21 million people have been affected, with Wales entering a Tier 5, which means even transport shutting down and birds being shot for moving. The main rail termini, of which London has 7, were all equally clogged up, St Pancras had a queue that went the entire length of one of the world’s biggest buildings.
1,200 miles worth of traffic surrounded London within hours
The city will likely enter Tier 5 at some stage too -we have in the past two weeks been infected by a new strain, said to have emerged in Kent, and similar to one in South Africa, though not the same. It’s 70% more infectious, but not more deadly -yet what’s worrying is the one in SA targets younger people than the norm. Our strain (there’s 4,000 different mutations out there) is being closely monitored by WHO; it’s in London, the Southeast and across Wales at the mo. The exodus last night may well have spread it, similar to how word of the first lockdown in Lombardy got leaked into the universities, and thousands of asymptomatic students took it across Italy.
We finished the day watching Silver Bullet -a Stephen King werewolf movie, very 80s and TV-movie-esque (in a good way), though quite a departure from his novelette. J is quite down, islanded from his beau now stranded in Wales, and no longer entranced by his work. We talked at length about these dark times and our dark pasts, over a flickering screen and some beer, it seems we’re both in the same boat. I watch horror movies when I’m sad, he sleeps. A smokes. Building up his case for cancer and being put into the ground one day, as will we all ha fucking ha.
I’m feeling quite dissonant to the world recently, the umbilical in my lap.
I’m angry. That I wasted my life, that we thought we could make it. Those futile dreams fresh out of uni, so many years trying to get our careers as writers or artists that might as well have been mf astronauts on our way to Pluto, even onto any rung of the shitting housing ladder and nothing to show for it but two emptied decades, no money and fresh mental health issues. Not wanting to end on a downer but fuck it, the world is a lie. Who the fuck wakes up for it?
Okay, down time for Aliens and armageddon. Blue steel for breakfast.