A Journal of the Plague Year Last Entry

New Year’s Day 2021

Personally when I look back on the year it can boil down to how Hollywood sells every flick, as dictated by the screenwriter’s bible. The formula of each film no matter what the book is, whether it’s the Bible or Moby Dick or the Avengers, which might as well be the same story in different costumes. You know there’s a film out there in all this; money just has to be made.

Stage 1: Premise of struggle

The outlook on the disease in the depths of winter. The world on tiptoe, the unfolding horror. Will we survive? Shelves at the supermarket start to empty.

Stage 2: Incitement

The disgusting, uncivilised practices of the evil Chinese, The Party hellbent on a cover up. The equally disfiguring racism, spitting and snarling on the streets, from the tweets, in the news. Online calls for war. Trump as lightning flashes in the background.

Stage 3: A brave new world

The building of field hospitals, mass graves, food handouts, panic buying, bog roll bandits, flights grounding, markets crashing, borders closing… lockdowns, country after country. Clap for heroes.

Stage 4: Almost a kiss moment

A grey world -everyone miserably WFH or furloughed or with universal credit or protesting with BLM, and allowed to go out once for exercise (and maybe hang out in the park all day with some mates and lots of beer). Wait. Is this… is this… enjoyable? Is this… life? Flowering.

Stage 5: Midpoint

Watching the sun set on another balmy day, walking home alone thinking on things, news, life, family, love, boredom. Noticing that weird dog, carrying a man’s hand in its jaws. Thinking nothing more of it. Then Back To Werkkk FML. Back to life, back to reality.

Stage 6: Point of no return

Shit, autumn! Oh look, it’s lockdown again. Did someone say new strain? Deaths, starting again, Trump starting again, more lightning.

Stage 7: The twist.

Biden just won. Vaccine is announced.

Stage 8: Climax

It’s Christmas! It’s New Year! It’s Love Lies Bleeding! It’s Death All Around! It’s worse. It’s a terrible new mutation, zombies n everything. Bodies through the roof.

Stage 9: Resolution

Vaccines. Vaccines by the millions. Vaccine vaccine vaccine. Biden blesses everyone. Oh, and in other news, back to work tomorrow.

We are of course not at stage 9 yet, but in Hollywood years, that’s how it ends. Finishing on a sunset and people walking as the camera rises to take a vista of the world being normal again, someone selling balloons, possibly doves taking flight.

I look back on the first day I started the blog. At a moment just after watching some enjoyable film and feeling blissful (rare for me). Then suddenly the jolt of memory, of the here and now, the realisation. Would this be it -the end of days? Was I unlucky enough to be one of the people born to see it? Imagining the breakdown of society, the journeying across unforgiving lands for loved ones. Then that first trip out to the supermarket in a silent world, watching every handle, holding every breath and wishing for PPI. Each street windswept, each infrequent face grim, nearly bursting into tears when passing the more vulnerable -homeless, disabled, the very old and alone, clutching their bags.

The world had become that surreal mix of fantasy and history playing out, filmic even -relationships changed, objects looked different. Even the light itself either flickering doom from a screen, or corroding everything with the threat of infection, whistling at the windows. So strange to look at our former lives now alien and distant only a few weeks before -nothing had been set up for this: infrastructure, money, careers, priorities, regimens, lifeplans that no longer made sense.

Then slowly, the relinquishing of the doom when realising shit was still holding together, the decision helping greatly -and gratefully – that the museum was furloughing us. Enough to keep myself and A, now without work and no access to universal credit, housed and fed. To still be able to send money back to family. That the food shops still opened, that no one was busting out into barricades and Mad Max. This, the slinking into the new normal. The first foray into empty streets and shops, and looking for a life without shopping, that first clapathon, that addiction to screens.

In turn hit with the sunniest month the UK ever recorded, in May. And segueing into a summer of picnics and hanging out, night walks by the river -I’m positive many people will have fond memories, especially those growing into adulthood (before more shit comes their way), clogging up the trees with guitars, boomboxes and blankets. Not just them but the cross-fitters tearing up the bridleways with gurus doing yoga to swaying flowers, the families under leafy bough and everyone drinking up the streets. It was interesting to see how zones started manifesting themselves in the local Common -society as usual self segregating: the teenagers by the copse, the picnickers and partiers on the lawn, the sporty and fit slap bang in the middle. The new gay village decamped from Clapham High Street to the fountains, while the loners and tokers on darkened benches, watched a dying sun. And what a sky-stunned summer it was.

It is a decision one perhaps doesn’t consciously make, but happens one day: to stop caring. To delineate that line between your bubble and so many others. Despite the times, the virus deaths (albeit lowered to all time lows) it was a reflection of society as it’s always functioned -tutting at headlines or momentarily sad on others’ tragedy. Only when it does effect our own do we put our everyday things down, and redress those priorities furnishing our lives amidst the competition. But I mean, what is one to do? Stay in, close the curtains and spend your days grieving for no one you knew, to no avail? Do we have enough on our plates to not do so? Maybe we shouldn’t beat ourselves up, because we imagine others will if we won’t.

The NHS filled an estimated 500,000 positions for volunteers within a day after a call to arms (and 3 million in total). As it turns out they were barely needed if at all, as the health system managed to stay below capacity, and even the giant new Nightingale Hospital only ever saw a handful of patients. But I do wonder, how many of us would ever have turned up? I’m sure at the start of the crisis yes, but by the unofficial, unmissable, once-in-a-lifetime summer of love, perhaps not so much. Now, with the number of sick climbing stratospheric, it may well still come to pass.

And I know so many people where that experience was not the same. People genuinely grieving for loved ones, or destitute from lost employment, hounded by anxieties on top of the usual. Mental health has most definitely come to the fore as an issue, with many still alone and coping. It was not all fun and games all summer, in crisis after crisis. It’s said suicide increases in the sunniest days, as everyone else gives the impression of having so much glorious fucking fun; likewise Christmas.

Normality returned by August and September, vanquishing those heady days. I can’t say much about Autumn, a return to work that’s so catastrophically small-minded in every way possible I’d rather just, not. Nothing happens there but my depression, their judgement and our competition. Hell is other people.

Everyone pretending to worry and look crestfallen when announced we were again entering closure for lockdown, but inside jubilant as butterflies on pills, heading out.

Not just one lockdown but two to follow up, after a few weeks respite in between. Fast forward to now and it’s cold again. Everything’s falling apart. The lightbulb’s gone in the hall, the ones in the kitchen flicker interminably to the point of seizure -you literally can’t switch them off due to the buggered switch, and they burn all day, all night like a bad, bad disco. The heating’s shit and hugely expensive, stuck with old fashioned heaters that do nothing but spout bills and accidents -the one in the lounge also has the switch stuck (melted inside -no really), and the room’s now sealed off a tomb so cold you can see your breath. I lie in bed all day freezing.

I fucking hate London sometimes, beautiful and cosmopolitan as it is, yet how uber capitalist beneath. Like exclusive islets and vicious undercurrents in an outwardly inclusive, celebrated river that is the landing port of hope to so many. If you’re not rich you suffer for it -outside a world entire to the domestic, and the four corners one affords to call their own. Whenever things break down I’m reminded how poor we are, after decades trying to get on the first rung, any rung. In all this -we planned our lives wrong. I know I moaned a lot, but the poverty I didn’t really touch on. Thankful at least to have a wage.

Xmas has come and gone, lovely as always despite starkness without the clan, as has New Year -fizzle pop of no parties across the board, though everyone did some secret fireworks shopping it seems. Missed the family all year, now jobless and watching tv in their furnished prison I send parcels to in a hope it’ll relieve their imagined drudge. There is a level of pain one feels on behalf of another, amplified by worry and the inability to ever really know what they’re feeling or how they’re really doing. The disconnect of our separate bodies and minds that is this dimension, exacerbated aptly by social distancing. Miss A too, who lives in the kitchen now (even with the schizolights). But stop. Stop.

Still alive, it always helps. My motto to die for. It’s not all bad, and it’s not all been bad. It’s been quite the experience of life, and all that life can afford, equally wonderful and shit, to finish that damn quote by Samuel Johnson. And Karen eat your heart out -live, laugh and love, so much fucking love.

I do miss this city. It’ll be back.

I think it’s time to bid adieu. Things will go back to normal this coming new year, new you. Even if it is back to the same old same old, at least people all around aren’t dying for it. I look at the stats at the mo, the new strains viciously seeing infection rates treble despite the lockdown and only the other day near 1,000 deaths in the country, a shade shy from the 24hr record in April.

But the glimmer is in the vaccines now rolling out, slowly for some faster for others, but enough to innoculate the world. Just how fast for us on this small, forgotten island with the deadliest strains? Though at least less likely to take all of humanity down across the waters -that continent now ever more foreign as of New Year’s. We’re no longer in the EU.

The year will be a turning point likely too, for capitalism, for globalisation, for universal basic income, for working from home, for retail, for office, for tourism, for socialising and entertainment, for mental health awareness, for social justice, for faith -or the fall from it. For the changing face of our world, its new icons and the breathless rise of computing and streaming and social media and AI into our lives. For race, for politics, for borders and economies. Entire regional blocs have changed, wars have been fought, societies heaved. And through all that, I think the main thing this year has taught -you gotta love people, even the slightly shit ones, as we’re all we really have. Each other.

Oh and books. And horror flicks. And noodles. And trifle. And blankets. And werewolves. And staring out the window watching pigeons. Perhaps naming them. If you got no one just fucking enjoy that fact, and yourself. Another thing I’ve learned this year, make the most of it -everything really’s an opportunity, tobogganing through shit and sparkles, and we’re on the fucking ride anyway.

Thanks so much for being with mine for a bit.

Again, love. Lots of it. x

Now there’s a funny noise outside, barking. I think it’s a fox.

Yesterday

Lockdown 1

Lockdown 2

Lockdown 3

A Journal of the Plague Year 3.0 Day 15

31st December 2020

Happy New Year! Have been putting this off for a while. How to sum up such a year? The end of days indeed.

In a nutshell, we have over the months become experts in a new lexicon, and self professed mini-scientists in the making. This pretty much exemplifies how much we collectively as a species have gone through. Dictionary.com interestingly enough made pandemic the word of the year. Oh why, pray fucking tell? Well, let me light you the way, down a magical mystery path.

Coronavirus – a family of respiratory viruses that are studded by a crown-like (hence corona) surface, that attaches to other cells. They include in their bosom buddies the common cold and flu.

Corona – the bestselling beer that nearly went bust a month into the pandemic. No, really. Never underestimate the stupidity of humanity.

Covid-19 – the name of the beast, dubbed in the month it was found. Coronavirus December 2019. It’s killing millions of people.

Asymptomatic – not having the obvious symptoms of the disease despite having it.

Anti-vaxxers – nutters who don’t believe in vaccinations or see it as a threat. Unbeknownst to us it’s really an injection of microbots that will further enslave us to our reptilian overlords, such as Bill Gates and Hillary Clinton. The virus btw was started by 5G, a world changing spell sent out by dalek towers stationed surreptitiously throughout our towns and cities.

Anti-maskers – sociopaths. The stupid.

Antibody test – testing to see whether you have remnants of the disease after overcoming it.

Antigen test – to see whether you currently have it.

Bat soup – apparent evidence China’s cultural practices spread the virus, from a meme in which a Chinese presenter eats bat soup. It was the national dish of Palau in Micronesia, from a travel vlog filmed three years earlier -not a Chinese delicacy. She said it tasted like chicken.

Bleach – Leader of the free world, President Trump’s miracle cure to flush out the plague from your veins, that he worked out live on teevee. Something the world’s top scientists, and everyone else on the planet had never thought about and was lying undiscovered in everyone’s home! People died taking it. Really stupid people.

DNA – the building blocks of life. Like really, really tiny lego.

Genes, genotypes, alleles, epialleles, epigenetics, phenotypes, chromosomes, base-pairs, diploids, heterozygotes, single nucleitide polymorphism -erm, new types of Pokemon.

Epidemic – a major localised disease infecting large amounts of people

Endemic – something we’re stuck with like, all the time. Like Elsa from Frozen.

Pandemic – a disease that circulates globally. The Daily Mail.

Human to human – a transmission type that means we’re fucked.

Doomscrolling – reading through depressing news.

Face mask – the must-have look of 2020.

Flattening the curve – keeping infections spread out over a steady period -and low enough for a health system to accommodate. Aka sombrero flattening.

Frontline workers – came to mean those still working through the pandemic, at risk of their own lives to keep society functioning. From doctors and nurses, pharmacists and police, to supermarket workers and rubbish collectors.

Herd immunity – whereby so many people within a given population have had the sickness and thus have a certain level of immunity, it spreads less due to a lack of hosts. It then becomes a more low lying threat, similar to flu.

Hydroxychloroquine – the malaria medication suggested as a cure in the early days, touted by President Trump and bought up in its entirety by the US govt. Before they found out morbidity actually rose after taking it, and several people had poisoned themselves too.

ICU – Intensive Care Unit. Big, bulky, expensive equipment and machine needed to save lives. We don’t have enough to cope with a full blown pandemic, anywhere. For a while, along with PPE, they traded as a currency between nations, with some even robbing from each other.

Intubation – the bit where the ICUs are breathing for you, via tubes inserted into your nose and lungs. It marks a serious stage of an illness.

Lockdown – when everyone supports Netflix.

Pangolin – the cute scaly animal that rolls up, and that genomic sequencers found a 99% match for in the virus DNA. In short at some point it passed via bat to pangolin.

Panic buying – the communal spirit in Asda, any day of the week, any time of the year, any year.

Patient Zero – the first person to get the infection.

PPE – Personal Protective Equipment -stuff that keeps you more protected from infection, eg. masks, gloves, sanitiser, goggles.

Rona – our loveable, affectionate name for the infection that’s fucking the world.

Quarantine – a quick GOT re-run.

Racism – the inherent way humans see each other, with kneejerk distrust and superiority, especially when things go wrong, someone feels threatened, competitive or with low self-esteem.

R number – the rate at which the disease spreads. If it’s R1 an infected person on average infects 1 other person. If it’s higher than that (eg R1.3) the number of infected will rise for longer, and spread further. If it’s say R2, expect the number of infections to double (and without measures, start to climb exponentially, doubling again). The R number can chart the rise and fall and rise again of an epidemic.

Second wave – the second uptick in infections, as seen in previous pandemics, following a lull.

Shelter in place – the initial non-panicky, polite way NYC and California advised their citizenry to stay the fuck home, lock down, the shit’s hit the fan.

Social distancing – keeping apart at all times, say 1-2 metres as per government guidelines to lower the risk of infection. Please note: humans are not to be trusted -in the pic below they’re wallowing in the novelty by still trying to touch each other.

Super spreading / super spreaders – events or individuals that can infect mass amounts of stupid people.

Support bubble – another household or individual we’re allowed to mingle with indoors.

Toilet roll – the new gold. In times of need it’s the last paper-thin membrane remaining before revolution and the breakdown of civilisation.

Travel restrictions – where, when and who can travel to where, when and who. It’s complicated. Or sometimes not -just giant sharpened shutters come slamming down against all, for all.

Vaccine – the cure-all injected in doses, to make you impervious to the illness. Like Ironman. It doesn’t always work, can entail unwieldy storage and roll-outs, and there’s increasing distrust in them for no good reason other than we keep seeing zombie flicks where it all started from vaccines.

Vitamin C, D and I think E – homespun attempts at vaccines before vaccines could come out.

Astro-Zeneca-Oxford, Janssens, Moderna, Novovax, Pfizer, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sputnik V – names of some of the most popularised vaccine types, often named after their big pharma company, of which 200 are under development.

Vectors/ vector points – areas where the disease more readily spreads. Children.

Ventilator – the medical machine helping people breathe.

WFH – working from home. Some fucker checks up that you do, periodically.

WTF – most of the world in March

Wuhan – a big fucking city in China. 18 million people live there, it’s by a river.

Zoom – our new communication tool, allowing everyone to wfh or socialise.

Only Fans – our new communication tool, allowing everyone to wfh or socialise.

Body Mullet – being presentable for the cam: nice top, nothing underneath. See above.

Zoonotic – an animal to human transmission that defines the type of disease.

This is not to say that other shit didn’t happen round the world. It’s been quite a year.

  • Iranian Gen. Souleimani is assassinated by a U.S. drone strike
  • UK leaves the EU
  • The oil price falls by 30% after failure of the OPEC Deal
  • Tokyo Summer Olympics postponed till 2021
  • Black Lives Matter protests take hold round the world following the police killing of George Floyd
  • Space X executes its first manned flight
  • The first manned hyperloop is performed
  • Constitutional referendum in Russia nullifies the previous terms of Vladimir Putin
  • 2,500 tons of ammonia detonates in Beirut -the world’s largest non-nuclear blast -killing over 200 and making one third of the city homeless. Massive structural, economic, societal and geopolitical damage in an instant
  • Belarus presidential elections deemed fraudulent, spark massive months-long civil unrest
  • Russian opposition leader Navalny allegedly poisoned by Putin’s agents
  • Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo retires due to ill health, ending an era of economic growth known as Abenomics
  • China rolls out the Security Laws into Hong Kong, effectively curbing the territory’s freedom of speech
  • With Turkey’s aid Azerbaijan reclaims parts of Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia
  • Democrat Joe Biden defeats Republican Donald Trump in the US presidential election
  • Thailand protests the unassailable power and economic hegemony of the Royal Family
  • Ethiopia enters civil war in the Tigray region
  • Large scale bushfires lay waste to swathes of Australia, Brazil, Russia, Ukraine and the US

So yeah, happy new year. If anything we should all give ourselves a pat on the back we got through it, as it’s increasingly obvious how pants people are to each other given a chance. What we point a gun at, who we vote for, what we throw our cash at, and our pity. I’m going to try very, very hard not to sound like the Christmas Grinch now and still wish every fucker out there a lovely, restful period from all the slaying and bitching.

Despite the fact London’s usual fireworks extravaganza has been cancelled, the night is alive with a good zillion going off anyway. If ever you get a chance to hang out in a tower block on the night, try and get to the top and see the horizons light up. The neighbourhood’s been booming for a good half hour with people shouting out Happy New Year! and waving from lighted windows, which by British cultural tradition caused us to freeze, then pretend not to have seen them. Some bright spark lit the local skies up with an inordinately expensive display (including the shimmery waterfall ones that last for ages), our cue to feel all cosy and light.

This is the toned down, lightshow version from the usual fireworks A-bomb around the London Eye, for what it’s worth. Tomorrow will be the last blog entry for 2020. Joy to the world, fuckers.

Yesterday

Tomorrow

A Journal of the Plague Year 3.0 Day 14

30th December 2020

Okay I have no idea what to talk about, call it writer’s block if you will.

I could run through the derisory dregs that today has been, but why would anyone be interested in the fact someone stayed in bed all day watching a computer?

I could go on about what I encountered on my trip to Lidl, a tense safari into the anthropological phenomenon that is grocery shopping and capitalism.

I could moan about the past and the future, both as elegantly clouded as the inland sea of Japan on August 6th, 1945.

I could fire off reports gleaned from today’s headlines, though likely we would all have doomscrolled through that already, and seen the proclamations on social media.

I could decry social media and screentime, like the grumpy old fart I am become.

Perhaps I should have a spinny thingy, to pick my subject each day. Just 2020 has turned too repetitive. Might instead be time for pizza.

For the new year that beckons, I will choose to finish on a high note (okay, not too high we don’t wanna be Disney about it all), plus some random shit. I mean, wtf is there to this world?

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…So to start:

  1. Your cat can run faster than Usain Bolt (who runs at 34ft/ 10.3m a second) -30 mph versus 27.8 mph. Bear that in mind next time Mr Tiggles goes for the kitty bowl. Put it 100m away and time the little fucker if he gets it in 10 seconds.

2. -But humans can jump further than horses -8.95m versus 6.1m. Yes, Mike Powell (US) jumped nearly 30 ft. The triple jump record is 18.3m or 60ft by Jonathan Edwards (UK).

Phillips Idowu:

3. Cats are lactose intolerant, kittens aren’t

4. In 1919 the Toffee Apple Tsunami killed 21 and injured 150 when a 25ft wave of molasses washed away a Boston district. Yes, people drowned in treacle (told you it’d get dark). Thousands of Bostonians came to inspect the damage, walking bizarre through coated city blocks, then took their gooey footprints across the city. It was said you could work out everyone’s goings on.

5. An anaconda can be 90cm thick

6. The Titanoboa from prehistoric Colombia (of the Thankfuckitsgonic era), was twice as long -at 65ft. The one below’s eating a crocodile/ dinosaur.

7. When Tangled was released in 2010 it was the world’s second most expensive film (after Pirates of the Caribbean: World’s End), at $260 million. It cost more than Titanic, or Avatar.

8. Tianjin West is the second largest train station in Tianjin

9. If the sun was a football, the Earth would be 2mm speck -25 metres/ 82 feet away (look at the image below then scroll left for the length of a skyscraper to see the sun). As for the moon, it would take a commercial jetliner cruising at 450mph 5 weeks nonstop to reach it. Or half a swipe:

10. The Earth once had three moons, though not at the same time. Two crashed into each other to form the one we see today, which is why the side that faces us is smooth as a baby’s arse (plains known as ‘marias‘), and the ‘dark’ side -or the side that always faces away from us (as it has days and nights as per norm) is craggy and 1.2 miles higher.

11. The other ‘moon’ was a planet about the size of Mars, named Theia, that crashed into Earth 4.5 billion years ago wiping out any life. It turned everything into molten lava for 100 million years as debris slowly crashed back -one of which never did and gave us the moon we see today. This little ball spinning round us keeps us in check, the perfect size to keep our orbit in the ‘Goldilocks zone’ -not too hot, not too cold -for complex life to evolve. Lose the Moon and we’ll freeze to death every winter and ignite every summer.

12. Crocodiles aren’t dinosaurs, but they predate most of them by over 100 million years.

13. Frankenstein’s monster was a vegan: “My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment.” This is why he is sad.

14. The worst fireworks accident killed 300 (and some say as high as 800). It happened during the 1770 marriage of Marie Antoinette to Louis XIV, and deemed presciently unlucky.

15. On 2nd March 1657, a kimono inherited by three teenage girls -each haunted by a ‘beautiful shadow’ and dying shortly after (the original made by a courtesan copying the designs on a handsome visitor) was burned in exorcism. Midway through a sudden wind flared, setting light to 70% of Tokyo and destroying 500 temples, shrines, and palaces and 3,000 shops -killing 100,000. It was dubbed the Long Sleeves Fire.

16. The first modern warfare was in 1274 when the Mongols invaded Japan, employing Chinese gunpowder weapons: bombs, mines, grenades, flamethrowers and ‘fire lances’ (prototypes to the first guns), plus mechanised crossbows and Korean hwacha that fired 200 arrows at a time. Armed with Chinese armadas, Korean turtle ships and Mongol galleons they set sail with 900 ships, decorating them with the crucified bodies of courtier women. However a typhoon blew in after the first island, and their fleet was dashed.

17. In 1281 the Mongols tried again with a whopping 4,300 ships and 140,000 troops. They were beaten back with a new coastline wall and small attacks in which Japanese marauders would board vessels in the dead of night and leave with all their heads. -A second typhoon blew in a few days after the Emperor held a ceremony to swap his life for the nation’s, the storm creating the world’s largest underwater graveyeard -it would forever be known as the ‘divine wind’ aka kamikaze.

18. The temperature record for the UK -the same latitude as northern Canada or Siberia -is higher than Singapore’s (90 miles from the Equator).

19. Avocado means testicle in Aztec. Guacamole mean’s testicle sauce.

20. Before WWI children could be mailed. This annoyed the postmen.

21. The world’s tallest child for his age is Karan Singh at 6ft 6 (2 metres). He’s 8 years old.

Though no brainer as to why. Dad is 6ft 8 and mum 7 ft 2.

22. The biggest goldfish caught was 38lbs and may have been a century old, released into a US lake 😦

23. The record for an animal living without its head was Miracle Mike, a chicken that survived for one and a half years. He was fed with a pipette and would wander about attempting to cluck, peck at things and crow -producing a gurgling sound instead. At 25c a ticket he was soon earning his owner the equivalent of $50,000 a month. Mike finally died in a Vegas hotel room in 1947, after choking on a kernel of sweetcorn dropped down his neck.

24. During the filming of The Mummy (1999), Brendan Fraser nearly died during a hanging scene. Rachel Weisz said he stopped moving and breathing and had to be resuscitated.

25. Prepping for Bridget Jones’s Diary Renee Zellwegger gained several pounds and went undercover to work in a London publishing office for a month. No one recognised her and found it odd she had a framed photo of Jim Carrey on her desk -her real time boyfriend.

26. The clock on top of the Abraj al Bait in Meccah (the world’s third tallest building, and biggest skscraper) is as tall as St Stephen’s Tower aka Big Ben.

27. The world’s largest organism is a forest of Quaking Aspen in Utah, USA. Their interconnected root system makes it a single organism -called Pando, who has survived in one form or other for 14,000 years, with some estimates as high as a million. Note how all the trees are the same height:

28. Another competitor is a honey fungus colony in Oregon, believed to be 2,400 years old and weighing 605 tons. Mostly underground it covers nearly 9 sq km.

29. The oldest animal in the world was an Ocean Quahog, who was born in 1499, was 502 years old and named Ming, after the Chinese Dynasty at that time. Caught in Iceland they worked out how old it was from -similar to a tree -counting the rings in its shell. They did this by cutting it in half 😦

30. In 2016 they caught something older. A Greenland Shark measured at 512 years old, by carbon dating crystals in her eyes. Noone is sure how these zombie fish (bigger than Great Whites) catch anything at all, being supremely slow and spooky. They’re all infected with an eye parasite making them blind too -it’s thought they sneak up on sleeping seals. Our record breaker was killed as bycatch -byword for the billions needlessly killed when dredging for certain species, e.g. prawns. She, along with 28 others, was one of them 😦

31. This creosote bush in the Mojave desert in the US is believed to be 11,700 years old -multiple times older than any Giant Seqouia or bristlecone pine. It only grows at a few cm a year, in a ring that incrementally gets wider.

32. Humans have 21 confirmed senses, and 33 debatable ones. They include balance, pain, awareness of one’s body, temperature, hunger, thirst, vomiting, itching, acceleration and air pressure. The questionable ones include telepathy and the ability to find chocolate.

33. The world record for burpees was set by Stephanie Tennessen, at 716 in an hour. The previous record was also by a woman, at 709. Other records set by women over men are in the ultra marathon: Lizzy Hawker from the UK ran 320km through the Himalayas -from Everest Base Camp -and broke the record twice. Also free diving -Tanya Streeter from the US, diving to 160m/ 525ft, and Şahika Ercümen from Turkey, who hit 122m/ 400ft in the variable weight category.

34. Humans give off a tiny amount of visible light. We glow -though it’s mostly invisible to us.

35. By 2100 Lagos, Kinshasa or Dar Es Salaam will be the world’s largest singular cities, each nearing 80-90 million. Kabul and Niamey will have ballooned to over 50 million. The small country of Malawi will have its sleepy cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre (pictured below) each over 40 million.

36. London normally averages less rainfall than Tel Aviv, Melbourne and Mexico City. It has half the rainfall of NYC, and in summer the grass dies en masse. Every 20 years the city undergoes a 10 year drought (summat to do with the Gulf Flow) where technically it falls into semi-arid territory. It’s also hardly every foggy (which was a 19th and early 20th century thang, and was really killer smog).

But it is overcast, about 13 months of the year. Whenever the sun does come out UFO reports roll in and small children cry and run away.

Bonus – Wanda Marie Johnson was born on 15th of June 1953, eldest sister of two sisters and one brother. Wanda Marie Johnson was also born on 15th of June 1953, eldest sister of two sisters and one brother.

Both of the Wandas were former residents of the District of Columbia before moving to Prince Georges County in 1975, where they both became mothers of two children, attended to at the Howard Clinic and born at the Howard University Hospital.

They both owned 1977 two door Ford Grenadas – the eleven digit serial numbers of which were identical other than the last three. Their Social Security numbers had the same first four digits, and the following two, although transposed, were the same. They only discovered each other after a catalogue of mix ups at the hospital, paying bills, getting calls from strangers and the motor dept insisting one of them wear her nonexistent glasses for driving. They also resembled each other, though one outgoing, the other shy.

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Okay, now you see what I’ve been doing with my time. Welcome to my world; I might as well be clickbait.

Tomorrow, New Year’s Eve.

To finish off, some random pics of Honduran White bats. Enjoy.

Yesterday

Tomorrow