A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 21

25th November 2020

I am having a bad hair day/ life, in every way possible.

These people on the other hand are having an absolutely fucking fabulous hair day. They got it specially done, they went on a photo shoot, gave it some blue steel.

The Exotic Orchid

The Mod Helmet

The Texan Oil Well

The Sex Badger

The Sexsquatch

Days of Thunder
Days of Hiding

The NASA Lift Off

The Magic Mushroom

The Laser Bowl

The Pixielated

The Vienna Philarmonic

Perfected poise, pride and in public, where people were so impressed they sneaked pictures. Even social media took note.

The Caterpillar Cringe

The Roadkill

The Murder Cloud

The Stun Sting

The Shithead

The Samurai Blade

The Make Up Brush

The Dead Dad

The Cup Overfloweth

Strange Encounters

The Gloryhole

The Checkout

The Gothbot

The Why

The Why Not

The Emerald Waters

If only, to be so blissfully unaware.

Also it’s cake day bitches

Ok, enough culture for today. Such is the human spirit.



L x


A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 20

24th November 2020

Okay, mental health day. I’m a bit down, barrelling this past week.

Been in bed for days now. So much for the brand new me.

It is again that empty plain, with expectation rising like monoliths on the horizon. Stuff that would be a normal day of tasking, but now, lamped with so much lethargy it becomes insurmountable terrain. With vampires.

  1. Work will likely start at the end of this week. Literally cannot face it. There are no secrets in that place, it always gets out. Everyone knows what everyone says, ever, insofar as we have ears and eyes and brains and people tell each other anyway, or it’s so painfully obvious we can work it out, despite pretending not to. I wish folk knew that and maybe stopped the underhand daggers at every opportunity. Jobs should be a job, not a competition.
  2. Need to sort THAT THING out, which cannot be spoken let alone looked in the eye.
  3. Need to finish rewriting The Book. Need to face the reality that I may never get it published, wasting my time for a dead end, stuck with a non-existent pension and old age to look forward to. Yes, I’m getting old.
  4. I’ll never be a writer.
  5. I’ve wasted my life. Fuckers.
  6. I need to get kempt again. I am unkempt. My hair a mess, sleeping pattern a mess, not changing clothes. Not bothering to cook, to eat, to exercise -losing weight drastically. I weigh as much as I did as a teenager.
  7. Mum rang and I missed it, I need to ring her back, it’s been 3 days now. With the phonecall always comes the memories, yay, so always put it off till it becomes that giant spider in the back of the mind, wiggling its legs. Till I pull them off.
  8. Need to go shopping, the fridge is getting bleak and that jar of mayo lonely. Need to get out of the house. Need to go for a walk. Need to breathe fresh air and open the curtains and see the shitting daytime.
  9. Need to buy some medical equipment I won’t go into, about 400 squidaroonies.
  10. Need to apply for that job D sent me. Another epic, soul-destroying slog for 5 hours, signifying nothing.
  11. Need to drag myself off from the Net. I am netted, often living vicariously through youtube, watching people go on trips and chat about shit.
  12. Need to be sociable and hang out more in the living room or kitchen and be the life and fucking soul. Need to be happy.
  13. Need to write this piece of shit.

Oh fuck my life. Don’t need a fucking hug. Tomorrow’s another day and all that, yeah.



A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 19

23rd November 2020

We received today a noise complaint from a mystery neighbour, a tersely worded letter from management about the stress it can cause and not to leave washing machines on after 9pm; looked like the usual copy paste they send every time it happens on the estate. And so the sleuthing is on. It is like a lovely holiday in the sun and sand, or a spectacular train journey of luxury across continents, that two days in is helpfully relieved by the timely murder of a conspicuous fellow guest. Whereby you and your partner now embark on a new journey of discovery, gossip and international intrigue with an assembled mélange of the rich, bitter and deliciously suspect.

I don’t reckon it’s next door as they’re a bunch of twenty-something tokers who wouldn’t give a shit, a mix of Brits and Spaniards who we only ever see in passing (uncomfortably following one step behind, to land at our respective doors). Maybe they’re the ones with the noise and we’re mistaken suspects, though doubtful as they’ve been doormice since ever. Their only transgression being the smell of weed that used to permeate the corridor, until another terse letter to everyone in the corridor.

The flat below -now that’s where my roving eye is on. Just after moving in, I dragged a set of Ikea cupboards all the way from Croydon on my own (in loggerheads with A who felt we didn’t need them). No mean feat involving trekking out of town, traipsing through the ginormous superstore, spending a small fortune then heaving it all back on foot and two forms of public transport, that took up most of the day. I then proceeded to assemble my prize from the flatpack. It was about 3pm, and after a few goes with the hammer a banging replied from downstairs, the sound of some maniac ferociously thumping their ceiling with a baseball bat. Of course I stopped -but what to do? Just not build it, ever -staring forlornly at the instructions each night? Take everything out to muddy grounds and do it there, then try and drag the bulky unit back up? In the end I settled on building it in the stairwell. And in doing so broke the thing, the side snapping off.

Incensed with fury I then stomped back to the flat, slamming doors and banging as loud as poss up and down the hallway. No reply, fuckers. A half hour later, on my way out I passed a neighbour I’d never seen before in our private stairwell (only those on our floor ever use it), and that fitted the bill as to what I imagined a sound-averse, motherfucking curtain twitcher with no friends and no fucking life looks like.

In a previous flat we had one such Neighbourhood Watcher, an old guy living alone (of course), who’d spend days castigating everyone else on every little thing envisaged. He’d lie in wait at the entrance doors, and if you politely left it open for him he’d teach you a darn good lesson on the dangers of tailgating, and the prostitutes who’d use the abandoned sofa in the ‘lobby’. He was though quite handy in getting rid of problem tenants, notably the top flat reserved for council housing.

At first a young Nigerian girl who’d hold the odd soirée for bevies of the rich and not famous (gold and labels) but broke the cardinal rule of owning a dog -secreted on her person in daily walks, and we reckoned kicking it, from the constant whining. Then a quiet kid, but oozing chavness and smelling the whole place up with ganja. He gave way to another teenager, this time with baby, who introduced herself with banging night and day parties, blocking the stairwells with her lounging, toking mates. The last straw coming when she smashed her own window (surely just open it?), to scream at some guy walking past who’d done a dirty on her best mate and he screamed back yeahbitchyouweren’tcomplainingwhenyougavemeablowjobinnit.

Sometimes Mr Windowtitt’s alarms would go off, wired to every corner, wall and window no doubt, and set off by a mosquito sweeping past or him touching the glass whenever something waddled by. They were the sounds of nuclear attack klaxons, and would go on for hours until the appropriate authorities showed up, as he’d wait nerdily rather than manually fucking disable them, and upset procedure. Once, saddled with a vomitous migraine I screamed out the window, and he screamed back, albeit a little dispiritedly, that he had to wait. Concerned now that he was the ASBO. Such a fucking twat.

So he is always what I have in mind about Those That Complain. Some widower without a life, and a deep-seated sadness to be filled with letter writing to the council, endless phonecalls of untrammeled grump, and binoculars at the ready, sometimes jiggling methodically. So when I passed the lonesome looking fellow in our stairwell I had my lasers trained. Yet he was so affable and holding open the doors I got taken aback. -Or maybe methinks he was protesting too much. But then the other day, passing by their window the flat in question appears inhabited by a Mediterranean looking family. I will have to sharpen some bench tools in the yard, slowly, conspicuously, trying to catch their eye. Maybe licking an axe.

Ah such nostalgia golden in the sun, like re-runs of all your favourite episodes. On every estate I’ve ever lived poverty ensures mental health problems, and utter chaos. 24-7 Babyscreaming, pounding bass, pounding trainers, pounding faces, cop cars, fire engines, mystery vans, mystery suitcases. Bouncing balls, breaking glass, breaking bones, screaming sirens, hissing spraypaint, landing bricks, racist tirades, spit, vomit, shit.

The sound of the woman dragged by her hair and their mad sex after, the bully one-time screaming in terror from his house, the weed factory run by a Vietnamese slave, the town bike moaning with ecstasy through the hottest, window-open nights (we reckon alone the whole time), the old lady in the armchair glimpsed from immaculate gardens, downing a bottle. Trying to shag each other as 7 year olds, the local still famous for being the hunting ground for a fucking serial killer.

I thank God our neighbours never complained, because we were one of Them, constantly yelling and banging and throwing handily heavy /delicate objects. When we first moved in we were decidedly thinking ourselves above all that, Dad an academic from landed gentry, Mum the high-earning breadwinner. But a career on a factory line and cleaning floors paid to that belief, our furniture (insofar when we had any) decaying in the garden, the TV full blast all day, interspersed with our yelling and fighting. The stench of cigarettes and alcohol, cooking and rotting carpet, and piles of second hand crap tottering even up the stairs. Some rooms you couldn’t see the floor or hear yourself think, till you kicked a wall or two to get the headspace. Our neighbour an old lady who lived alone: quiet, reserved and with her own dramas behind closed doors. I once heard her Christmas Day in bed, sobbing through the wall.

Though now we’re no longer that ilk. Having left home and progressed into the echelons of the middle class again, if not in income in mindset. Yes, indeed my liege. -But like every southerner of a certain standing, throughout time and place and circumstance, we are now not to Interfere. It’s almost impolite to introduce oneself to the neighbours, cake in hand, as privacy these days is a closely guarded secret. Our last sanctity to an utterly different life to what’s on show to the public eye, and 8hrs of exhausting workplace comportment. This I find particular to these shores, and why sniff and binge drinking is such a thing, to let the hair down that’s normally so starched it’s been standing in fright all day.

Anyhoo, on with the day. I reckon the noise complaint was from J’s birthday though surely it can’t have taken two weeks to send the letter. Maybe he had a secret rave when we were out this weekend, or maybe he’s been screaming in front the box again. I’ve half a mind to do the same, throwing no end of shit out the windows in a show of devil-may-care, till the copshop turns up and we can do some hostage-taking. Little A mewling as I tie him to a bedpost, necking a cocktail of white wine vinegar and Alka-Seltzer, Netflix blaring Attenborough through March of the Valkyries. Then throwing down Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbooks and threatening everyone with antique golf clubs and hot tea.

Lockdown may just be starting to get to me. Time to change, time to just fucking embrace your true self.



A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 18

22nd November 2020

Have been binge-watching The Crown, and drinking in the backdrops, often missed. The most expensive series ever made ($130 million and counting) it is deceptively lavish. The crowds in impeccable period costume, glimpsed by the thousand as they line the streets, occasionally waving flags (recently they’re resorting to CGI, perhaps due to C-19). The endless parade of candelabras and gilt, Old Master paintings and landed estates, hired at great expense. Armies of peripheral servants, guards, horses and courtiers, sporting precious metal and polished antiques that emanate through the low light.

Even did a thing where I went through the big regalas, stopping, rewinding, on the adornments of anthropological, exotic ceremony. -The weddings (Queenie and Di), funerals and coronations, and their glittering cascades of cloth, furs and diamonds to a constant echoing of choirs.

But once again, it is all background. To the lives lived out regardless as focus to all the pomp and ceremony. Their loves and losses, trials and tribulations, affairs of desire, fears and dreams. Lived out in a gilded cage of spectacle and expectation, whereby they are rulers of all but their own lives. It’s not like they actually appreciate the thousands of man-hours that go into gilding these backdrops.

There is also the contrast, starkly so. The episode where 12,000 Londoners suffocate in the four days of the 1952 Great Smog, goes to pains to show a disconnect. In the dim dioramas of broken glass and brick alleyways, dingy bedsits and overrun waiting rooms, where the common people suffocate by the hundreds, that resonates today.

The Smog, powered by coal fires closed down the ports, airports and all major roads, as well as sport matches, theatres and cinemas as the audience couldn’t see the action. Swans and wildife wandered the streets, unable to find the river or parks, policemen carrying flares wandered in front of inching buses to light the way. The cloud crept into houses and left a slick of brown grease on the wallpaper, quietly suffocating the sick, old and young, notably babies. The morgues filled up within hours. 4,000 died in those days, but modern research puts it at 12,000 that spiked in that month, as those who contracted lung diseases succumbed after, some walled into their homes and not discovered for years. Many more may have died from cancer within the decade.

The episode where an intruder, Michael Fagan, breaks into the palace in 1982, and chats to the Queen at the end of her bed, also portrays a nation riven with unemployment, unrest and the scuddingly grey estates he harks from. He attempts to convey the truer picture outside to the Sovereign, residing over a country made too bombastic by war with Argentina, and the newer, crueller reign of Thatcher to notice. These were some of the darkest days in postwar history, when unemployment topped 3 million and took out 14% of the workforce (half of which it’s estimated was sacrificed by the govt to keep inflation low). A two year recession and separatist terrorism stalked the land, from the Irish Republican Army and the Welsh Army of Workers (who knew?). 400,000 council homes were sold in the Right to Buy scheme, thus ensuring a vastly diminishing pool for the genuinely needy, rising by the thousands every week.

So are we, these so-called have-nots separated by 40 years of economic rise and social progress, safely harboured in the First World, just as guilty as those pampered royals? Looking back on history, here we are living the millionaire lifestyles that back in the day everyone else yearned and died for, even from a few decades before. Warm goosedown duvets, central heating, double glazing. Video games, washing machines, microwaves, restaurant meals, plane tickets. Education, pensions, cars. Pot plants, pineapples, tea tree, pepper, bog roll. Living out life with the zest of being smallpox, syphillis, leprosy and plague-free. We even have slaves that make our clothes, paint our nails, service our vehicles, pick our fruit, and deal out handjobs in the Passat. Small black rectangles that hold all mankind’s knowledge -Library of Alexandria be damned -that we use to look at kittens and nudity.

Many of us even have ‘followers’ and quite the modicum of fame and attention, crossing borders with blizzards of posted Likes. Yet this is not what we notice. -Of course it fucking isn’t, constantly bombarded with capitalism and pop, exhorting us to try harder, buy harder.

Is the grass always greener? It’s no wonder that after some celeb dies we find out what a loser they were in lifestyle, chained to infighting, lawyers, wranglers, sycophants, fanbases, doctors, drugs, cults and contracts with no real interaction with real people. Shitting in the corners, getting 6ft Buddha statues hauled into private wards for their intravenous hits.

Lets pretend this is as good as it gets. It’s what you want to do with that fact that may change it.

Watching the empty streets of Central London swing by, at 5pm on a Sunday, now dark and rattling instead of the usual backlit crowds, I was struck by an eerie beauty to it all. Offices with huge artworks in their lobbies, designed to alienate and thus intimidate, lit for no one. Dynamic new shopfronts promising pizzazz beneath crystal walls of glass now frozen in bluish tinge. The buildings like long undiscovered monoliths, rearing into the gloom, lights off, their pampered residents flown to warmer climes to live out lockdown with a glass of Bolly by the sea. The wind blew, the bus trundled its roundabout way through a silent city, the only glowing node in a complexity of form. The other two riders like companions round a fire, or rolling shots on some film that I smiled at.

It’s the little things that make your day, and there’s something to be said in finding beauty in the nondescript. Even if it is the quiet drama of bleakness, and the sense of history pulling forward, interminably.

Chicken Kiev with cheese, now that literally can’t be beat. Coupled with crispy garlic sprouts (slice em, fry em with nuts, vinegar, rice wine, sugar, soya sauce, lots of pepper, sesame oil to finish). Happiness on a plate once home, in the soft glow of living room cosiness, and sitting down and talking to someone.

I have also had quite a revelation in chatting to K, who may be able to translate The Book for the Mandarin-speaking market, the world’s largest and something I’ve never thought about. Quite excited, not at the prospect, but just working together on it is enough, and feel things progressing.

Been waiting too long for the Grand Plan to start.

Despite the fact I’ve been in bed now for 3.5 hrs (writing to all you lovely people), my body aches all over (age), my arms are dead (no heating beyond the blankets) and I have an undying bitterness in my mouth (memories + morning breath) I will endure. Time to fucking get up.

A new life! A new me! I will exercise, I will eat out and walkabout. I will write, I will make cuppas and watch the birds and learn how to hold handstands (did actually try this out on the bed once and nearly broke my neck). I will watch a film and nap too, luxuriantly on the sofa, scratching my arse when the time comes. I will accessorise. x



A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 17

21st November 2020

Life’s been quite lovely these past few days. Hanging out with friends, taking time to cook and having clothing (even changing them). On occasion, as I am now, swaddled in a blanket and staring out at trees, one of which has a birdfeeder and occasional sparrows. Every time your head swivels to look at them they fly off like Godzilla just showed up. Tits.

I’ve looked at the phone the once all day, missing a call from Mum and about 80 Whatsapp messages on various groups. Werk has about 33 emails mostly entirely unconnected to my having to view them, such as a customer enquiring about a missing button, or the enticing update to get your printing requests in. An unwelcome reminder of other responsibilities, of a very real world beyond.

Can we all just agree to Universal Basic Income, aka luxury communism? The gobots do the work and the getting taxed, we do the fruits of their labour. Even if we do have the tech to set it all up and live happily ever after, I bet some fat cat, oozing shares, will demand it all carry on as normal, as miserably normal, as he’ll benefit somehow or other. Like being able to look through his glass floor and see financey people scurrying about in his name, or an extra diamond cushion in the penthouse he never visits.

They tried UBI out in some village in Canada back in the 70s. And found out instead of people blowing their windfall on a new pick-up or a wardrobe of the latest disco flares, they reinvested in their own education, retraining or attaining a new degree to build on. Likewise when Norway discovered North Sea oil and reaped back the dividends 40 years later. It put its profits into a sovereign wealth fund, that only ever invested in safe, middle-of-the-road returns (the Global Pension Fund), and made an extra $trillion. -Enough to gift each citizen into a kroner millionaire, or a population of 5.3 million trustafarians with a $188,000 to blow at the shops.

Already comfortably one of the world’s richest peoples, they did instead vote to reinvest the dosh back into their future generations. Britain on the other hand, that also grabbed a large chunk of the oilfields lost out on an estimated £250-600 billion, thanks to subcontracting the work to private middlemen and funneling off profits to offset taxes (in effect ending up in a series of property bubbles).

Switzerland, was another nation rich enough to try UBI, saddled with the hardships of being the world’s parasitical tax haven, and an inordinate amount of rich folk trying to smear money all over them year after year. Being Swiss and really quite used to getting money for free at the top of the capitalist pyramid scheme, they voted not to instate it, less it wobble the whole lovely structure. Yep, they voted NOT to have free money into their accounts each year, the equivalent to £25,000 p/a on top of any work they did. Oh, the Swiss, land of cuckoo clocks and neighbourhood watch.

I don’t want to go back to Werk. I like working for myself, being my own boss and all that jazz. I suspect most people, who’ve ever been in contact with other people, may share this world view. It can’t come sooner -Millennials and Generation Z completely fucked with their zero hours future (ensuring no pensions), and saddled with the debts of their forefathers. From global warming to what’s accruing as we speak: all those commercial rents those poor property moguls are losing out on, that is the main rippling cost of the pandemic on the populace and businesses alike. Won’t somebody, somebody just think of their children? Trapped somewhere in some lonely chalet school without a single airline to their name. And those yachts just aren’t going to staff themselves.

Maybe we’re all born in the wrong time, when in the future we could be swanning about in a luxury of no regimented schedules and non-commuting, investing our hard-earned cash in pizzas and onesies and trips to Morocco. We’ll maybe just pretend global warming isn’t happening. We’ll maybe just look at those scurrying below us, automated or otherwise and pray they never get sentient to the set up.

Am binge watching The Crown, where money and prestige only buy isolation, and a fucking nightmare of a life without power over one’s own. And feeling thoroughly sorry for poor little rich girls, which we all really are, somewhere in our whirring.

It is perhaps this we should be thankful for. Glass half full n all, that we have our loved ones still in the midst of a pandemic, and that the zombie apocalpyse never did manifest itself.

But then emails. And competition.



A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 16

20th November 2020

Home comforts

Today bedbound as usual. My sojourn into gaming has ended, though I will likely start it up again during the week.

In fact spent much of the day adding to yesterday’s post and prepping to meet some friends in the north, at the farther end of the Piccadilly line. Thus a shower, shave and comb has been in order, plus a pack or two of beer and chocolates.

A made a nut roast for lunch, which was smoky and quite a highlight. -Though the thing with nut roasts it’s all very nice but when paired with the other veg one traditionally gets it starts to resemble a plate of roasted salad, with gravy.

Our friends C and K bought along some home-made vegan cake. I dunno but I’ve always found the vegan bakes an improvement on the originals, notably chocky gateau. Today a gianduja level richness and buttery, yet still light. Highly suspect and something the vegans aren’t disclosing, a cabal intent on keeping the good shit to themselves. Probably pumpkin tears.

Has anyone noticed that Magners Pear cider (worst on the market) tastes surprisingly like champagne? Or maybe mine had low sugar in some industrial accident.

Wood Green was dark and damp by the time we hit the street, with a bevy of long time drinkers asking for change, or cadging 40p off a corner shop that refused to allow it. In the end a crusty, angry looking guy in a neighbouring queue gave it to the bloke, and told him ‘yeah but don’t you take the piss outta me again’. Big hearted though he didn’t look it, in a cold place.

We bought some chocs -Thorntons Xmas selection they were begging shoppers to leave with, alongside a whole range of painfully discounted Xmas stock. And it’s only November. R said he reckons the lockdown will be extended and Xmas badly affected, though unlikely it’ll ever be really off the cards. Even if there was an Xmas ban (no tinsel, no trees, Santa and his flying venison to be shot), it would be unenforcible. Other countries though have proven it can be done, despite our need this year more than any other to get together and be with our families.

India just canceled its own biggest festival Divali, as did the Islamic world with Eid. Chinese New Year (CNY), annually the world’s biggest migration, went kaput early on -though having a lockdown coincide with a month-long national holiday where most businesses would have shuttered up anyway certainly helped in the greater scope.

Normally CNY is planned expertly -all tickets sold online, well beforehand. Every terminal built like an airport with stadia capacity, and 700 extra train routes put on as millions cross the country to their homesteads, notably 400 million ex-ruralites. However when bad weather hits, and disrupts departures, as seen in the 2017 blizzards, the knock-on across the main cities can be terrifying.

Even without disruption these pics show the volumes of people we are talking about, that can spread a disease across thousands of miles and to saturation point within days. We can be thankful this never came about, or that we’re not any of these poor bastards.

In Guangzhou South, the world’s largest station tried to cope with a crowd of 100,000, many who spent the night outdoors. Tickets had to be distributed to even approach the station.

Anyhoo, back to 2020, back to life, back to ryalitee. Back to the here and now yeah.

Our’s was a more intimate setting and the night progressed with lovely company and swapping stories, many on yesteryear. They have the loveliest garden, and rare-looking plants everywhere including into their house, as C was a former botanist. It’s a veritable jungle. We got reminiscing randomly on the sexy, gender-fluid Antoine De Caune (and his sidekick Jean Paul Gaultier). Then Eurotrash, The Word, Terry Christian, Amanda de Cadenet, Magenta de Vine, the Rough Guide, Katie Puckrick -remembering their D List names being quite the game. Ah, icons of a certain generation and a vertiginous mix of art, bad production, tongue n cheek and sleaze -whatever happened to that lot eh? But a welcome glow of nostalgia, crossing from time.

Also got talking about families and how universally the set-up’s pretty shit if not unworkable. That the best catalogue-ready examples I’ve ever known still harbour deep, dark secrets like the time Daddy strangled Tommy, or when Mother gets the gin out. Basically it’s our animalian genomics at fault, this evolutionary psychology currently at in-betweener stage. An arrested development due to only a couple of hundred years -or even a few decades -that collectively we started living in cities, and forced society to function with them as template. These vast reefs of experience -good and bad -with crowds to feel lost in, or battle.

We aren’t lone animals, wanderers like the Great White Shark or Billy No Mates tiger. We aren’t singular couples either (though, how sweet) that mate for life and jettison the young (though not quite as sweet and Western society increasingly does anyway), such as albatross or magpies. We aren’t herding animals either like the verdant herds of wilderbeest or vast colonies of squawking seabirds. Our urbanities may resemble that but bear in mind towns and cities are a relatively recent invention, that until as late as 2007 was reserved for the minority. We are now becoming ‘metro sapiens’, but the growing pains and angst involved, like any spotty, emo-addled teenager is playing up in the flesh.

What is surprising is that we aren’t single family animals. And not for vast amounts of our history. The nuclear family has not been the norm for untold millennia. Look at our cousins, the apes: gorillas, chimps, bonobos and langurs. They hang around in mid-sized groups, made up of about 5 nuclear families and up to 30 individuals -classroom sized (12 -25’s a nice number). In other words a hamlet, and very tight knit. This isn’t to say discord doesn’t go on (one only needs to notice Frankie the chimp trying to kidnap his sister’s kid to eat it), but it’s infinitely helped by a larger, more immediate support network.

This is still the set-up in many parts of the world where cousins and castes live in the same neighbourhood. When mum and dad are too busy having a fight, shagging, or getting the bottle out the kids can run amok at uncle and auntie Flo’s instead. It’s never just one or two person’s responsibility to keep the entire household afloat plus raise them happy and stable and away from a lifetime of pschotherapy. An only child will have cousins as siblings, a single parent can rely on others to prop up support, old folk can be passed around and be surrogate parents themselves.

And yes, everyone will still annoy the fuck out of each other as is the leading hobby for humans in our natural environment, but there’ll always be an option of someone to turn to, others to get distracted by and remind one of a greater perspective on things. And less of an option of letting an issue fester if you are gonna get too close for comfort. Overall, beware toxic masculinity (read: bloodfeuds) that can upend all this anyway, but that society these days has mostly vanquished the worst of.

This has been the base M.O. since ever, though in the modern age some societies such as in Pakistan are increasingly having to marry their cousins to maintain the set up, and keep extended, garrulous families on the same street. -A culture built on never having to say goodbye, of never having to see your daughter head out alone into an unknown family, miles distant. Or everyone having the same fate of getting shuttered into an old folks home once no one can look after them. Smalltown Pakistan is attempting to bypass all this, but now starting to impose it through arranged, sometimes forced unions, alongside the genetic consequence.

It’s a sign that the nuclear family no longer works (if ever it did), that when people leave them suicide rates go down, as was recently seen in China when a generation of youth left for the biggest tier 1 or 2 cities. The modern world splits up these family groups every which way.

We also concluded we can set up our own family groups in a network of friends, some lifelong, some recent. That C with no kids has more meaningful relationships than his brother with 9 from multiple partners.

So here’s to meaning, regardless of blood and lines and crowds. To mates and chocolate cake too.

Night was lovely, and very much needed as it was a damn good semblance of community, of whatever, wherever, whoever one may consider home x.



A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 15

19th November 2020

Today I got the controller out (buried in a heart-shaped box) and played a GAME on the computer, it’s been a while old friend. Like how ex-smokers hide a final cigarette in wall cavities /floorboards for nuclear outbreak.

Increasingly I’ve realised internet addiction is a thing with me. They say more than 5 hrs a day and it’s a problem, so yes, I definitely have a touch if I’m on it waking to sleeping. If one’s resorting to gaming as a step up and out, that’s the state I’m at. My name is Wenzhe Chen and I am a Netaholic.

Thing is I used to be addicted to gaming too. Streetfighter IV Ultra Super Sonic The Hedgehog III.0.com is my go-to each time I ever dabble in the dark arts. Memories to when it was only on an arcade machine and I got so hooked as a kid I’d miss my lunch each day in order to save the quid (which afforded me five games). The venue was the tiny little video shop down the street from the gates, and those five goes would eat up a good few hours, coming home in the dark, still in uniform.

If I ran out of money, like any skaghead I’d search the streets for dropped change -once finding another quid, which was possibly the best moment of my life ever. I’m sure any longer on that road and Ida been mugging grannies, ransacking phoneboxes (remember them?), shoplifting and feverishly selling my gear/ body for one more hit.

I dreamed of one day saving up the £3K for a machine, with my £2 a week pocket money, though I worked out I’d maybe need to find an elixir to eternal life beyond the year 3492. Then it would be just me and my tiny empty flat, living the dream machine forever and ever. I saw beauty on the screen, in the way the graphics moved and correlated with the sounds -total ASMR. The way Chun Li thrashed her thunderthighs doing the Spinning Bird Kick, sounding like the throb of a helicopter. The way if you looked carefully, for a split frame Dhalsim would vomit a sparkling cascade when you kicked him the right place.

When we finally got a computer under the roof it had been the same story, same game too, played out on a keyboard with such gusto it creaked. I’d even start waking at 5am each day to put in a few hours before school (dragged inert through the carpet, raking nails). This was when the Commodore Amiga was the best thing since the Tele-Vision, as you could copy games (floppy disks) and swap em with your mates. Back before Se-Curity. We had an Amiga 500+, respectable as it had the sheer power of 1.5 MEGA-Bytes -and that Plus was very important, granting 500 bytes more than the lowly, laughable 500. Though Dan DeLancefort, living it up on the hill, had a 1500 – a whole TWO MEGA-Bytes his family had paid thousands for, that drew a respectful hush whenever he passed.

Commodores were a significant step up from tape decks (no, really -cassettes were your denizen for information storage and transfer). Plus a fat booklet that was the mode d’emploi to a better life, whereby if you wanted to play something you’d have to copy 14 pages of code from it. One typo or extra space would be catastrophe, resulting in the Matrix collapsing (tsunamis, fire tornadoes), and you’d have to feverishly check your script line by line. It was often easier to just start again. If you got things facistically perfect you’d then be able to throw a dot back and forth (the world’s bestselling game from 1982 till 1991), or cross a road through traffic, as a frog.

Years later the consoles came out. A step up with proper “Graphics” (256 colours! Three dimensions!) that would dim the lights when they loaded.

Also it was the budding shoots of a new line in porn, that would of course go on to overtake the majority of everything online to this day (like how they say the vast market for robots will likely become swamped, perhaps one day replacing real partnerships). To this day Pornhub has more viewers than Netflix, and one third of all traffic is Sexy Time related.

Back then it was a dangerous series of zeros and ones glowing on screen to make a distinction -and form. So that you could walk to the other end of the room and squint, and wank over the vague outline of a boob. Later on as the march of technology roared on it was a frenziedly duplicated disk entitled ‘Animal Farm’ that spread like wildfire through the school. It took ages to load but the result was a series of haunting gifs, involving animals and humans very much in conjunction.

History in the making, bitches.

So now kids, you look at your laptop or phone and be very fucking appreciative. Remember walkie-talkies, now coming back in fashion? Back when Jamie Doggering bought one in to become an overnight sensation. He’d entice us crowded in the locker rooms, rapt around the receiver, WHILE HE WAS IN THE PLAYGROUND. Describing Chantal Naylor, what she was wearing and doing in real time (chewing gum and scratching her leg), seeing a pigeon fly past. Telling us what the weather was like in a live feed. Locating at all times scary Mr Mountforjoy, even following him to our absolute glee.

Ah that was the war spirit, children.

Well now we’ve all grown up a bit and after a few stabs and a lot of frustration (about 15 goes to beat the end boss baddy), I decided to hang it up. Rocking, intense, sweating profusely as if executing the super secret moves myself.

But then who should come calling a little further down the list: Alien Isolation. A horror offering that’s flipping perfect for lockdown. Switch the lights off, send up the sound, then steal round a creepy ship somewhere near the belt of Orion. The others have just gotten jettisoned in a freak docking accident, as they do. So it’s just me, Ripley versus the beast on an abandoned mining station, all dripping cables and industrial dark. Some say it’s the best horror game ever, even 6 years after release.

So after an hour or three I’ve gotten stuck quite ‘early’ on. I’m now stranded on a sister ship and just made my way though an abandoned baggage depot via the conveyor belts. But there’s something I’ve missed. I’m a neurotic gamer, one that checks and double checks every cranny, opens every drawer and gazes out every damn window, to take the same vista.

Yet now I’m stuck. After consulting the oracle of Youtube and watching some other dude do it, there appears a trapdoor I’ve missed in the shuttered café de creep. Whoopdie doo I can progress, but maybe tomorrow. Maybe tonight seeing dark into day, fingers clamped in sweat.

It is a little spooky with the lights off. Every time some motion sensor pings I jump, or the ship rattles it starts to unstitch somewhere in my chest. I’ll literally scream if the Alien’s shadow even so much as darts across the screen or passes a lone lightbulb in the distance, making it flicker, which has happened. If it attacks me I’ll probably lunge about in real life, real time sending shit flying. Hyperventilating, possibly crying.

In retrospect one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten; thank you sis x

The whole Oculus thing (wraparound Virtual Reality) apparently can give you PTSD.

Back in the real world A has made some peanut butter and hazelnut cookies smothered in dark chocolate. They’re the health guru variety, made from protein-packed flour and sugarless, and surprisingly pretty damn good. The bed has become a tabletop for most of the day and I sleep in crumbs.

I tried to sweep my hair back yesterday as it’s almost the length enough to stay, if you dry your head under a hat. Didn’t work so half of it stands straight up now while the other half migrates the other direction to escape. But I’m beyond giving a shit. Even answered the door like that in my dressing gown (for a delivery), looking like Howard Hughes shortly before his demise. The richest man in the world discovered naked in his Vegas penthouse like Robinson Crusoe, nails like curlicue knives and a beard past his knees. He hadn’t been on the ground in a decade, and no one had seen him in years. But when you think about it, having every want in the world trollied up the 30-storey dumbwaiter, canyer blame him? Without want is without hope is despair.

Any deeper into this game and it’ll only be a matter of time. Of course in the future things will only get more realistic and immersive with the rise of VR and AI combined, part of the fourth Industrial Revolution. It took quite a few millenia between the ages of Stone and Iron, but now we’ve seen the Industrial Age rise only two centuries ago, the Information Age 50 years back with computers, and now already it’s Digital Age with robots and AI.

Computing is getting so powerful nowadays the batshit crazy idea that The Matrix film is real, and we’re all just trapped in God’s computer game while she’s off having a shit or getting told off by Mum is increasingly gaining credence, from scientific pontification to philosophical circles. At our current stage we have reached such advancement we can passably recreate about 70% the complexity of our living, dimensional universe, while growing exponentially as we speak. Bear in mind back in 2000 all the information of the entire World Wide Web could just about cover a streamed music vid today. Think Anaconda being the summit of 100,000 years of mankind.

The next step is when we start combining, at first having a handy smart phone imbedded, say in your hand. Then, why not, your mind. -So slowly, creepingly: the Replacement, whereby your avatar overtakes physicality -that pesky, imperfect blob of flesh that needs periodic feeding and watering and shitting, keeps getting cancer and instigating mass extinctions. But hopefully at some stage, bodiless and self-extinguished by our Age of Abstraction, we’ll all be living our lives in some amazing matrix as programmes. Perhaps jetting off to catch a Balinese sunset on a whim, or too busy exploring the sex coding of the Pluto cloud.

Maybe someday we’ll replace our own personalities, so personalised can we perfect things. Who needs aquaphobia, or anxiety, or jealousy, or addiction? But surely then that risks us becoming typical nodes with no wants, nuances or meaning and we’ll just end up agreeing to end the whole fucking exercise. So maybe not, we’ll put in that Law, like how Robots cannot harm Humans. A law forbidding a nirvana of non-emotive, non-want stasis of perfection, which would otherwise be an inevitable end-point. Buddha, so many thousands of years before charting the continual chase and progress of perfectionism, saw it coming.

Please pay attention, this is where it becomes new age cult territory.

-Maybe some day these avatars will be static, no longer procreating, gleaning only from those who have ever lived, and every memory resurrecting new life. Maybe what I’m writing into the ether will recreate me years from now. Yaaay.

**Edit * If I’m starting a cult it will be called Streetfighter, or maybe Cedric. We accept all major credit cards.

Meanwhile through all this, some lonesome solar-powered gobot will be tasked with keeping that little drive running, and the 50 billion lives stored within, bless.

-But what if he accidentally trundles over a cable and the programme switches off? And we’re all bloody stuck there, floating in darkness for the next few millennia because of the stupid little fucking fuck. Maybe this is what the promise of Heaven and Hell has always been, lying in wait so long and separated only from us, and each other by Time and twowheels-titface there.

Can we ever, ever get away from physicality, really? Insofar as the laws of physics rule our universe, it looks unlikely.

Oh well. Here’s to the whole Multiverse String thing.

Well, that was quite the rabbit hole. From Streetfighter II to the laws of the universe, God, Nirvana, and the state of existence.

Howard, once a great explorer and pioneer of human flight, was just born in the wrong era, to miss the meaning. So see y’all in Bali maybe, sometime. Or meet, embarrased in Darkroom 42, and pretend not to recognise each other.



A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 14

18th November 2020

I have an excuse today not contributing to society. Have been werking. WERKK.

Bedclothes all day, woke at 7am, checked the usual shit on the Internatz before the stuff in the back of your mind comes to start standing by the bed and breathing on your shoulder. Rent is due too.

First the multiple texts from multiple filming agencies to sort through, including one pleading for someone, anyone to be available for December (literally the fifth text and the fifth noISAIDNO). Then checking the emails flurrying into increasing drifts. FFS who needs three accounts these days??

And knowing I have to do a big rewrite on The Book, as well as apply for that job D sent me two days ago, but have been too scared to click on.

So after the emails got started on The Book, just to rid my demons. Then after two chapters fell asleep for half an hour into a deep, stilldrop place. A dark, dark pond by a big rounded rock. One weeping willow.

Had a Polish packet noodle, and some pretty delectable, super-cheap clams that A rustled up (£1.50 a pop from Lidl), the best I’ve ever had. Steamed in white wine sauce that came with the packet, and very soft. Reminded me of Belgo, and wondering if they’re still about -doubt it. But I can’t be wondering, wandering, enshadowed by priorities. Fucker still there.

So finally, finally the job. Clicked on it and it had been retracted. FFS.

So got onto the website, and started looking, took a while. To cut a long story short it’s now 6hrs later, I’ve finished the application for a different role and missed dinner. It’s 1.30am. What kind of job application takes 6 hrs these days??

Welcome to modern life, and all its bureaucratic wrangles, its hidey-holes and knots. It’s no longer queues at different govt departments these days, with papers to stamp and signatures to countersign. Now it’s an endless march of circles to click for some algorithmic cherry-picker, before check after check of online security and almost poetically stern, semi-autistic writing to tap out. There’s a set language that dries the tongue and mind, into nausea:

Achieved. Attained. Demonstrated. Directed. Disseminated. Maintained. Managed. Led. Liaised. Trained. Translated. Created. Communicated. Composed. Comprised. Qualified. Supplied. Scored. Staffed. Projected. Promoted. Registered. Resulted. Enhanced. Introduced. Initiated. Incorporated. Involved. Invested.

Responsibilities. Duties. Detail. Performance. Skillset. Agile. Analysis. Keyholder. Blue Sky. Waterfall. Knowledge. Pool. Precision. Deadline. Risk. Report. Upkeep. Brand. Band. Vendor. Customer. Client. Leader. Office. Official. Regional. Industry. Standards. Stakeholders. Issues. Initial. Intake. Interest. Investment.

LinkedIn has recently been making history with possible the world’s most annoying ad campaign since Grammarly, popping up like a gurning rash all over Youtube whenever you want to do anything ever.

Someone please, please -for the sake of her family, friends and other animals, get her A Fucking Life. That cold glow throughout is very, very apt for what they’re selling. The Billy No Mates on her sofa, talking to herself. It’s not lockdown, it’s probably her birthday.

Who the flip genuinely uses Linked bloody In as a social media platform? You do not want to go there, traipsing through industry reports and self promotion, looking for interaction and pals but finding only the dark succubus to meaning in life.

Filling in the pencil; it’s enough to never want the job. As if those who came up with the form really are the robots they present on paper: grey-suited, white-collared, biro-packing, spotless, emotionless. Sandwich eating.

amazing show btw

They better bleeding hire me, put my soul into that. Online tests, mission statements to write, 12 guidelines and info packs to read, and 6 forms to craft and perfect and stretch the bullshit over, though really it’s all true, just how you word it has to sound SO professional. One can’t really put down, yeah, I did all this but I can’t really be arsed to list it, would you fancy a drawing of a pigeon instead? Or a lifetime pass to my OnlyFans?

Yes, I taught deGrasse Tyson everything he knows. Yes I invented the world wide web. Yes I loaned Bill Gates that tenner back then. Yes I own a panda. Yes I can drive. I’d rather work for free for a few days or get sample exercises to do and be judged on that. Than ever have to fill out another form bigging oneself up. It’s painful, it eats the soul like Saturn devouring his son.

Applying for a job is pure existential fuckery to me, to I.

Am going to take the next day off.

I kinda need a black forest gateau right now.



A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 13

17th November 2020


Day 3? 5? of being in a bathrobe. It all melds into one, where the passing of time is irrelevant.

Marked only by my DREAM role, via a text from one of the agencies.

Put up as someone of interest among the crowd. Ah, all that training in ALRA, fulfilled! Headhunted now, my time has come where the future beckons as a Hallmark card.


FML, seriously.

Can’t even think of anything that I’ve done today. Will go out later to celebrate a friend’s birthday but can’t exactly write about that can I? Not when it hasn’t yet happened, this salient key to life right now. And doing it after, pissed, bike wobbly, headbutting the keyboard -ain’t nobody got time for dat.

nvb vbmn bvcmnnnnnnnnthedggdgmmmmmmm

Or can’t I? Here’s how it goes. We meet up near the river, I bring a bottle. We chat the opening niceties, progress into the lergy situation, than as the alcohol flows into gossip, then celebrity gossip it gets a bit more knees up Mother Brown. We talk about sex. Someone falls off an embankment, we chase a swan, I vomit.

Mirrored in a puddle I notice the Shard is on fire, from a freak sparkler, and come back to all you good people to report it. You heard it here first.

That does actually ignite a long buried memory suddenly.

Picture if you will through the mists of time. When Cai Guoqi did one of his firework installations across the Thames in 1999. Sold as a spectacular in which a blazing dragon was gonna breathe fire across brooding waters, swoop over the buildings and climb the central tower on the world’s largest modern art gallery, which thousands came to watch.

It was instead just a very, very long line of firecrackers looped across the river, then popping up the big chimney like Xmas lights on a tree. And at the end, it set fire to the Tate. We watched a sizeable blaze take hold on the upper balcony (flames over a storey high) for about 5 minutes before thankfuckfully it dwindled out or some blue elephant pissed on it. It was never reported.

Or the time I really believed I could open the plane windows and grab a cloud and it’d be fluffy.


Meaningless clichés.

I can’t be bothered to write any more. I mean man, what’s my motivation? Maaaan?

So where next on this winding journey of the mind?

To regale more down memory lane? Another diatribe down Politics Boulevard? Or a Youtube offering from Cell Block JZ? How trite.

There really isn’t more to it right now. I think I’ll watch people playing a computer game.

Or a reaction to someone watching someone playing a computer game. Life is but a dream. Like Inception.

I think some poetry is in order for times like this, to reflect and be still, and see a perspective too long shuttered by the ever un-present.

Yes, a little light haiku for the soul. It takes distance to see where one is standing, these instances of life’s stages, where one marries expectation with reality. -So many memories like the sun on a dusty bureau.



I was your favourite.

Sweet, honeyed tones in my ear.

But then you threw me.


Years Later

Mrs Brown! Such smiles.

Storytime, upon your knee.

You I once shat on.


You Said You Had A Big One

Slapped on the keyboard.

`1QWZ2A34ERS5XTD6CFV8GBH9N0NP-PJK,,,LM..;//’”’]== By your bedside I see

An old Blackberry.



Life fuck my life fuck.

My life fuck my life fuck my.

Life fuck my life fuck.



Hello! I am back. Shard not on fire.

Choices 1am

Said I can do it.

No! don’t need the train.

Vomit in my spokes.


Tomorrow. No, yesterday

Tomorrow, for real

A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 12

16th November 2020

I am valiantly trying to stay awake. For the past week I’ve been sleeping only in fits for about 5hrs, then 4 and now 2. With sleep patterns disrupted it usally ends in a lumping migraine, which at about 3am I take painkillers for, loaded with caffeine. There is an obvious self-defeating cycle here.

So what to keep me up?

Wrote some more of The Book, sent off an extract to some agent, realising only afer some tense mistakes and typos AAARGH. Typical, nothing’s ever really final.

Doing the rounds on the usual news fora helps. Some understated reportage on what is actually a milestone -the formation of the world’s largest free trade zone and economic block -RCEP (the snazzily dubbed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), which takes in China, Japan, S Korea, ASEAN, Australia and NZ, or 30% of world population and GDP. Riveting news I know. India walked out in November over pesky border skirmishes, but is currently an ‘observer’ member, pissed at the party and refusing the canapés, for the time being.

All in all it may well lift the world out of the current recessional doldrums, and the rather bad case of sniffles stalking the land. They all did a really big Zoom sesh in their bedrooms, with blue curtains yesterday, marking a fat line drawn under a period of economic uncertainty that’s played out behind our screens the past few years, and behind the pandemic. The global elite I mean, we are all set to get richer, and probably more exploitative too.


This is due to the contrast with the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) that the Obama administration originally set up to pivot trade around the Pacific and away from China -straight into the US -but that Trump canceled in his first week to ‘protect American jobs’. It resoundingly appears he missed the memo that global trade isn’t a zero sum game. Missing quite the trick too in signing it to the economic dustbin without getting any major concessions from China to do so – a schoolkid or a dolphin could have foreseen that as a mistake. Well that must’ve been quite the knees-up in Beijing, after years of dread, global repositioning and sweaty nightmares clutching a teddy bear.



Trump’s supporters declare he has an IQ of 145, a scientific gauging based on er, their online votes, albeit anyone who’s ever known him spurts out their drink and laughs for a good 5 minutes, occasionally howling and slapping a thigh. Before buying everyone a round of bleach.

Stable genius my arse.

His whole trade war’s also been an utter failure, with the trade deficit higher than it’s ever been in history, and the extra costs and tariffs stumped by the US consumer and corporations. This is why China so wants the reign of Trump to continue despite the battling and immediate threats -he’s utterly undermined in so short a span so much US influence in the long term, that took decades to build -the UN, NATO, NAFTA, WHO, WHAT, WHERE, the Paris Accord, plus trade wars with besties Canada, Mexico and EU. Perhaps also why they’ve put off congratulating Biden and sending chocolates until yesterday, when it got too painfully awkward.

And the orange buffoon proves quite easy to outplay as he doesn’t see long term, then miscalibrates his own competence or performance (textbook Dunning-Kruger effect). Even North Korea easily sidesteps him with a few phonecalls about basketball. -He cripplingly panders to his own self aggrandisement and public perception, then replaces team experts every few months with sycophants and extremists, who have increasingly less of a clue and were never trained.

It’s quite the damning indictment of one’s ineptitude when your sworn enemy wants to keep you at the helm.

The unsaid thing is the Great Decoupling is a loss for America too. Even with China becoming no 1 (a scenario worse than death it seems in the ‘Murican mindset) it would have been a win-win still for the US. 1.4 billion more consumers to sell to more than doubles the entire Western or OECD market. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite the face. From Coke to Disney to tourism to coffee to cars to planes to wine to clothing to perfume to music to pizza to pills, American brands were deemed an automatic stamp of quality regardless of it (USA translates as Mei Guo in Mandarin, meaning ‘Beautiful Country’).

The fall from grace in the eyes of the Chinese consumer, that Apple or Walmart or Hollywood have recently seen, who once dominated the market no matter what, has been a notable casualty already. In short, the US that so excels at soft power will no longer be able to wield it. And the whole point that China was persuaded into the global economic system in the first place (Nixon, Carter and Europe instigating the detente and investing billions in Deng’s economic liberalisations) was they foresaw the huge potential of the world’s largest population one day buying their products, even from the ’70s.

It just seems to some they’d rather be far less rich than not be no 1, at all costs. And in the long run it will still benefit China, now becoming more self sufficient, ratcheting up its R&D and trade links to do so, making friends with its enemies and pivoting to its own vast domestic market to power it. -Whereby the scales have fallen from their consumers eyes that now realise that US products no longer have the cachet or quality, and instead fund their own even more. Overall making sure it can weather a global system without the US, rather than being intrinsically bilateral, and mutually influenced.

The same thing that happened to the ecosystem of the Chinese internet, social media and AI companies when the Great Firewall went up (a flowering of creativity, R&D and market share without the multinational domination), will be played out on every sector. It’s telling that the date they predicted China to overtake has in the past few years gone from 2040 to 2032 now to 2030 and getting earlier each time. By PPP (when currency fluctuations are taken into account) China already overtook in 2014 and is a quarter larger as the world’s biggest economy.

So now China wants to decouple. Biden and Xi have no choice but to stay the path, as who’s to say, four years down the line another American Hawk comes into power? China’s now in for the long run. Maybe that’s a good thing, or maybe we’ll just become one and the same despite anyhoo:

The final point to make that all this trade with the US is only worth 2.4% of China’s GDP anyhoo. Don’t get me wrong China will be pissed losing points off its growth, but it’s a misconception to still think the West (particularly the US) is somehow bankrolling the country via cheap factory labour. China is now a majority services economy, its manufacturing is mainly domestic, dominated by hi-tech and robotised, and foreign trade is worth only 17% of GDP. -Of which the Japan-S Korea bloc is traditionally the largest partner, now followed by the EU.

Just don’t mention the war, or the Senkaku islands. Another bunch of oil exploration rights lonely outcrops China is intent on claiming thanks to ancient maps and the fact a Chinese penguin once lived there in 1495, or at least rested its flipper. And don’t, just don’t mention Tibet, Xinjiang, the Spratly’s, Doklam or Taiwan (aka Yiunouhu). Or modern ‘reeducation’ camps.

It appears increasingly state/ civilisation posturing is the order of the day; we are entering another age of empires, and this year marks the start. Where in the future a multipolar world between the US, China, EU, India, the Islamic Union, Africa, the Russosphere, ASEAN and LatAm look increasingly tetchy and islanded in one big dick measuring contest. Though trading through a globalised economy and a polite smile, like a Ryanair stewardess with dead eyes beseeching you to buy a sandwich. The underhand GOT style politicking will be legion.

Oops, okay bit of a diatribe. I need to stop talking about the glorious fucking motherland. Bradford’s burning down (it’s city centre comprised of a tire factory, an aquatics store, a curry house and a chippy), Cumming’s has left the building, finally, and BoJo has the lergy again. A new vaccine by Moderna has a 95% success rate (UK’s ordered 5 million), though Trump’s still too busy denying he lost the election to roll out a plan to use it. The US death toll is nearing a quarter of a million, the equivalent to 625 plane crashes this year, with 10 million infected.

Oh and Will Smith’s just cancelled the Fresh Prince of Bel Air reunion. Priorities, priorities.

Meanwhile there’s also a new war gearing up in Ethiopia, with a breakaway Tigray province -highly worrying in a country of 102 million and several major ethnic groups, united under an ancient empire. The main groups -Tigrayans, Amhara and Oromo are now jostling in increasing restlessness, with several Ethiopian airports bombed by separatists and government forces alike, and massacres reported in Tigray itself.

PM Abay Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for making lasting peace with Eritrea, another former breakaway. Now he’s bombing the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle. Hundreds have already died in the conflict and 25,000 refugees have crossed into Sudan, with thousands more to follow. Eritrea is also sending troops to help Ethiopia, and the conflict is in danger of spilling over and destabilising the entire Horn of Africa region: Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia (each already in their own civil wars), and Djibouti, possibly even Kenya.

Ethiopia, an ancient kingdom (and empire in its own right) is Africa’s second most populous nation after Nigeria, and was until recently an economic success story, the capital Addis Abeba chosen as home to the Africa Forum, or the UN of the continent if you like. It was due to hold the Africa summit this year, for its stability, newfound peaceability and rocketing growth. How quickly that facade has fallen.

It is the last thing the world needs right now. 2020, what a year. It is as if everything is culminating, we’ve had one ginormous shitshow, we might as well set off a few pipebombs and pipelines since the fire’s burning. The geopolitical sabre rattling is growing deafening, and defining, perhaps given credence by the stress on our economies, resources and plain competition.

Oh and dominating the tabloids right now? Clinton Cards, currently shuttered up by lockdown, is complaining that supermarkets like Asda are still allowed to sell greeting cards, plugging the gap in their market.

Cmawn fuckers, can’t we just all geddalong? We kinda need a big fuck off Kum By Yah session, perhaps an Olympics where everyone gets a medal, painfully overdue and canceled for another year. Maybe this is just what happens when we don’t get all rosy and nationalistic together every four years, uniting against a common foe -we just take chunks out of each other instead.

Right now, for me, I’m here to keep the eyes open.

This below, on a slightly jarring note, has been a very welcome respite. You know, if you want a break from disaster. It embodies a lot of the year so far, and what we’ve been sleepwalking into for a few years now: