A Journal of the Plague Year 3.0 Day 4

20th December 2020

So I’m trying valiantly not to have another political barney, but the force is strong (picture me at the breakfast table, the heel of my hand on my brow, shivering with effort). I mean shit has resolutely kicked off out there.

Thanks to the newly infectious super strain we’re currently entertaining on these shores 40 countries have banned flights and travel from the UK, Canada the latest, France the most damaging. This giant spanner in the works is due to the absolute backlog now blockading Dover, that normally handles 10,000 lorries a day coming off from the Channel Tunnel, under the world’s busiest shipping route (alone responsible for 20% of our offshore cargo). The ferries, tankers and Eurostar too of course.

Drivers heading for Britain are unlikely to commit to the crossing now as they’ll not be able to return, and be stuck with the miles of trucks now snaking through the Kent countryside, without even toilet facilities (they just have to go in a bush or dig a hole in the embankment), living out their cabs. Few are getting food or water either. This comes hot on the tails of the usual Xmas demand plus the stockpiling for the looming Brexit -a likely No Deal by all accounts. The PM is holding emergency talks with France over the next 48hrs, and maintains there will be no stay of execution for Brexit while he’s at it.

Supermarkets are already reporting gaps in their fresh produce and people are of course, panic buying. In terms of game theory we may well have to join them. This is what being the Billy No Mates of an international pariah looks like. Think Iran, North Korea, Cuba. Kent.

J booked a coach ticket for Wales, to spend his Xmas with his beau. He feels guilty for abandoning us but we’re more than fine; he has his own mental health to look after and no one likes spending their Xmas apart from the other half. I imagine them in a misty farmhouse in atmospheric dragon country, possibly with wolves worrying the local sheep. How romantic, in a Wuthering Heights kinda way.

As reminder this was London at the start of this month, coming out of the second lockdown, when everything was low in infection. A different country entirely. Traditionally Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus each get double the visitors of Times Square, Oxford Street 4x more, or 550,000 a day.

Then they noticed the infections weren’t lowering despite that lockdown. This is now, only six days after the new variant was identified, which doubled the sick within days:

Cooped inside I’ve spent the entire day watching youtube vids mindlessly, exhausting my algorithm (like a personal friend you can’t shake, perhaps I should give it a name, like Gilbert) so that it just stupidly chucks up the same offerings again and again. Then a movie for the evening -Interview With A Vampire -with J, who was a bit bored and texting throughout, until I’d conspicously clear my throat before a seminal section. The film is 2 hrs long, and quite wordy to stay true to Anne Rice’s cult book, but studded with exquisite scenes and images imprinting despite the understated nature of the work -it shows director Neil Jordan (the enfant terrible back in the day, fresh off from introducing gender bending to the IRA in The Crying Game) as a true master of his craft. Funereal black horses and carriage emerging from the Parisian mist, the vampires afire clawing at a ruined abbey, the graveyard statue looking at her husband for a caught second, as he becomes the damned and the undead.

This escapism is questionable, is it so far removed from the lalaland crazy outside? I doubt I will find the same haunting beauty of history being played out as the film so elegantly portrays, spanning three centuries in Gothic costumes, burning waterfronts and antebellum exorcism. It will instead be the queues and gaps under fluorescent lighting, the muffled coats and masks, the darkened, typically wet streets at this time of year. No Brad Pitt with long hair and wolfen eyes, a blonde, homicidal Tom Cruise or besotted Antonio Banderas to accompany me. But then nothing looked exotic back in their day either, to those contemporaneous eyes even in New Orleans, back when it was French and (d)ripping with Spanish moss and bodices. They likely moaned about the mud and stench, and you know, fleas, rats, smallpox.

Anyhoo, this is no cinematographer’s play, it’s real life and shopping. Maybe some basket banging with grannies over the last banana, which I can imagine I’ll swing to In the Hall of the Mountain King, or Rule Britannia. Time to grab the coat, and just fucking brave it. Bring it on.

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