A Journal of the Plague Year 3.0 Day 6

22nd December 2020

So finally ventured out to do shopping, and it seemed pretty normal. No mosh pit grannies or flying loaves, or obese people filming each other screaming. Certain chains such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are now rationing things like rice, flour, bog roll and eggs (and for Waitrose likely its cheapo Essentials range too, in edible flowers and prosecco flavoured crisps), but thankfully not Lidl; maybe the Germans really are just better organised. The streets were still populated and I’d arranged to meet up with D who’s been working home alone all week.

Xmas tree

We met up in Northcote Road which has until recently been doubling as the local verions of Soho, ripe with shoulder rubbing and vector for transmission thanks to so much loitering and street drinking -well until this new strain put a dampener on the parade. It rained, the streets were wet and people were scurrying to and fro with their shopping or dogs. We found a dry seat outside an empty pub, the kind built under the awning. About two minutes later a portly policeman politely moved us on; he did tend to lecture but apologised and we apologised back as we Brits are wont to do; though increasingly less so these days. I think we were perhaps representing a grey area -allowed to meet up with our support bubble outside, yet not allowed to stop?

Passed the new Wetherspoons on the corner (having taken over from the vodka bar, Revolution, literally up n running within 48 hrs of its demise), now shuttered up and proclaiming massive posters in its windows, about Daily MFail reports that the virus is a lie and that it’s all a conspiracy to stop their business. Haha, what a writhing bag of wankers, notably fat cat boss Tim Martin, fresh from his ongoing campaign for Brexit (which cost him £600m as Remainers left in droves).

Xmas gammon

In the end we bought a few bevies from Co-op and retired to the grounds of the estate; I lost a bottle of cider to the fountain and had to fish it out again, lest it sozzle the koi. Am so off sweet cider these days, and switching back to beer.

Last night’s hammy hammer horror – the 1959 rendition of the Hound of the Baskervilles -was camp as Christmas. Valiantly acted with Peter Cushing superb as Sherlock Holmes, and opposite another great icon of the macabre, a young Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville (Lee would go on to take over the role of the famous inspector a decade or two later). A leetle bending of the original tale sees a few characters combined to introduce a brazen Spanish harridan, luring her target to the jaws of death, and liable to run away whenever a man talks to her -thus starting an automatic chase, as I think that’s how flirting was constituted in those days. When caught she may or may not force a kiss on him/ herself as he shakes that feminine mystique outta her. Why young woman? Why… did you run away!? Before the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s came along, courting pretty much meant stalking the woman till she caved, or in this case sprinting after her across bubbling bog and quicksand.

Yes, very camp -the blood as shiny and vivid as the thinly disguised enamel slopped onto the tors, the ‘mire’ a pool with sawdust and sand on top, and the moors a mix of genuinely shot vistas and creaky, Dry Ice-laden sets of cardboard and houseplants. Night time is that blatantly sunny scene shot with a heavy filter. But it all added to the premise; there is a certain je ne sais quoi to these strangely shadowed film sets of yesteryear. Despite coming from the infamous house of Hammer, any horror was very subdued, with action verging on farce then over in seconds -early days for the seminal producer.

Although utterly unscary, it has been a welcome escape, that artfully balance between so-bad-it’s-good and so good-it’s-bad, plus a healthy dose of bittersweet every time. Positively refreshing -I should do this more often. I mean, how exactly has my soul so been saved by a dose of B-movie, high British schlock?

Fuck Netflix, fuck Hollywood, that’s how. Stop fucking gurning and clapping and thinking everything’s so fab and worn on your glitter-laden sleeve ye damned cartoons of characterisation. Every time. Get a damn life, and perspective, and some mystery; I mean do we HAVE to promote the American Dream in EVERY move, sentence and facial nuance? Priorities in a pandemic now, -wtf am I gonna watch for the Xmas movie?

The Eyebrow of America

I mean seriously fuck you all.

691 people died of C-19 today in the country, 30,000 truck drivers are stranded at Dover, shitting in the bushes as Hard Brexit looms, and a second new strain just landed from South Africa, that’s even more infectious. #Plagueisland has been trending all day on the world’s social media. Ho fucking hum, bah fucking humbug -let’s move on shall we?

I’ll need to buy the Xmas food soon, and when I say food, I mean booze. Can’t believe it’s Christmas; for the first time I actually feel a bit grown up, now that I’m the one organising it rather than going to the folks’.

I will try very hard for the next two days to be merry and bright, regardless of the shitshow. No pissing on people’s bonfires n all that – I may even watch my nemesis, Elsa at it (Elsa‘s a homicidal maniac, but that was just a phase -it’s more important to remember she was empowered doing it, and above all, she’s pretty). I may also watch The Road, for a touch of festive 2020ism, no one should mind aTALL if I stick that on after lunch.

Ho fucking Ho, fucking hoes.

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A Journal of the Plague Year 3.0 Day 5

21st December 2020

I have been very much sucked into the game Alien Isolation. The latter half of the title very apt for our times. J has left for Wales while A barricades himself in the kitchen for most of the day, working at the breakfast bar with his laptop, floor heater and view over the estate. Every few minutes he pops out for a smoke, which worries me, then it’s a bike ride for the evening. And repeat. We wake, eat and go to bed separately these days.

Thus it’s just me and the homicidal extra-terrestial. I get why it’s been dubbed the best horror game of a generation; unlike a film where one watches events play out on a screen, this time YOU, dear friend, is in control of your protagonist. You get to decide to run or hide, to make a sprint for it or crawl about in available corners, gibbering like a gibbon.

The fucker’s fast, and like this first semblance of AI to the public, it’s intelligent. It acts on sound and movement, unlike the games I grew up with where the characters forged set paths that you could learn and cheat. Thus hiding in the pits of an airvent I was forced to throw a noise emmiter out one of the ducts, so as to distract the thing from me exploring about. Of course the sound bomb bounced off a wall and landed at my feet, making me scream. And run, chased through dark corridors.

Then I saw it pass by in front, in the self same air vent, and bottled my scream (like that would have helped -there have been times I’ve been inches away from the screen to better peer into the corners). I switched off my torch and began crawling the fuck away. Of course it caught up, jumping me in the black, and forcing out a bunny pellet in the bed.

It’s true what you see in films, when spaz hands can’t work the gun or missy falls over at the most unwarranted of times. The stress levels ensure you are just as idioted, running into walls, taking the wrong door, trying to shoot with a loaded carrot, and missing anyway. The game is so stress enducing even after I got killed (a horrible wrenching sound, everything going slow-mo, with a spiked tail emerging from your belly as it fades to black) I was still covering myself into the duvet and mewling. Motherfucker this is intense.

I’m almost too scared to carry on. Just cannot, cannot find some damn keypass out of the trap. So ended up watching a youtube vid on some gamer playing it out to give me clues. Even then I was screaming, along with him. I like to think I’m calm in a crisis as, well, I usually am. This is proving me wrong.

I think collectively humans on the planet right now are being spazimodo in the same way. We are literally launching ourselves into the mire with the pandemic -and after watching Attenborough’s latest offering (his witness statement on the destruction of the world over his lifetime) -with the environment too. We are literally sitting over a spread with Death and his mistress Mass Extinction, and having the time of our lives, having invited them over with promises of tea and biscuits, and a lathe for the scythe. Instead of running for the hills, we’re playing footsie under the table.

It says something when for me to get away from it all and some light relief, I’m choosing to get chased into industrial piping by a creature with two mouths and acid for blood.

An Xmas card came in the post, from my ex-landlord and friend T. It sits now over the fireplace with its pic of ice skaters outside the Albert Hall, near where we werkkk, and painted back when people could swan about unmasked. Even though he’s furloughed he’s super busy still, likely planning for the holiday and a big meal as he’s a great cook -these lives lost to ether. We’re planning Xmas day ourselves too, with D, who’s been stranded in the Big Smoke and now our support bubble. His plans to go up north were upset by the lockdown, plus apparently the police at Waterloo were stopping and checking travellers. He’d not have gotten away with an excuse for work when carrying a packed suitcase and a whole bunch of pressies. Thus he’s been home alone for a week now, like Tom Hanks in Castaway.

Ours will be salmon en croute, and I’m adding pigs in blankets. A will bake the parsnips n potatoes, as Greeks make the world’s best in every shape and form -ALWAYS perfectly crisp on the outside and mushy inside (their chips OMG), and D bringing the stuffing. I’ll do a starter of vinegar sweet veg and fried sprouts, and we’ll finish off with vegan chocky cake.

Artists’ impression

With J gone I’ve ventured into the living room to write this on a table, vertically, as opposed to lying in bed and making no end of typos as I try and tap shit out with laptop on my chest. My spine is like a Quaver from so long doing it. It’s really quite civilised -the lamp’s are on and the room is lit like a cosy study, helped by J’s inordinate amount of antiques. Silver is meant to be displayed in firelight he’s said -it shimmers and glows through an ethereal gloom. One of which is a turkey dome that looks inviting for use in the next few days. I feel like Sherlock Holmes, and it’s getting late.

Anyhoo, time again for some running through darkened, post apocalyptic rooms. Or maybe a showing of the Hound of the Baskervilles, the Hammer horror version with some candles and blankets. With all this around it feels right tonight.

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A Journal of the Plague Year 3.0 Day 4

20th December 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Journal of the Plague Year 3.0 Day 3

19th December 2020

Have been spending my time in the company of a computer game recently, chased down metal corridors on a spaceship and crawling through air vents as some evil extra terrestial hunts me out and tries to bite my head, as do creepy androids with steel punches. I’m not sure why but the joypad is the only thing known to science that gives me energy. The rest of the time I have a malaise in my bones, especially when waking where it manifests as a gnawing ache, and dear god it’s such an odyssey to get up for work, each and every damn day. Thankfully which I don’t have right now.

Before the age of 20 I never felt fatigue, even running up hills on my commute, now it’s an absolute constant -some call it age -is it just me? Or some kind of chronic fatigue, or the after-effects of Lyme’s disease or summat. I mean, who the fuck wakes up in a ray of sunlight each morning, stretching their arms with a smile on their face and bouncing out of bed in cereal ads? Pyschopaths, that’s what, on their first day of a killing spree.

So I am tinkering on whether to just dive into a bit of gameplay on waking, in order to boost mind and body, a bit like immersively violent yoga. Blasting people in the face with a glock, getting chased through industrial steam vents, and malleting labourers in the back -there’s nothing more brightening to start your day. Now, I’ve been known to get quite immersed into gaming (one of those people who sway to the side as the pixelated road takes a turn) and I reckon it’s my mind just switching onto threat, and pumping the adrenaline.

I don’t think anything in modern life does this anymore, unless you are genuinely besotted with the idea of customer service, or commuting, or pigeons. Jizzing on the keyboards with the latest figures from Marketing and texting work mates about it, at home.

It was 4.30am (my usual waking hour) where I ended up beached, watching youtube foodie vids, then frying up some curry noodles by 10am and falling back asleep as per usual. Till waking again at 3pm. FFS. In 5 minutes I was hauled into the local community pool (ours still runs, given entirely to ourselves in separate sessions) and sitting in the hot tub with A and An, which we’d booked the day before. Swimming I must admit, does give one energy. It’s just the getting used to the cold bite of winter on one’s naked skin each time (changing, creeping into the waters, looking for sharks), akin to a Westeros saga or the 1993 film Alive. The bit where the acid snow comes up and eats them as punishment for cannibalism (it may have been cut in final edit). Or as a northern European calls it, air.

In my untold decades living in the UK I have never been able to get used to the weather. Ever. For 9 months of the year I feel cold to the bones, no matter how clad, and why it’s such a mountain to climb to throw the duvet off each time. Even my arm creeping out from under the covers, like a pale, angular creature to tap at a keyboard feels dead within minutes, until it verges on pain. People always remark on just how rigor mortis my hands are when they touch them, and I want to scream it’s not me it’s you, fuckers! I’m tropical, my family’s from the jungle – poison darts n dinosaurs n shit. You people are eskimos, happy to be bathing in glaciers or fighting bears or whatever you do every morning. It’s not normal. 15C is not a balmy room to luxuriate in, with a small boy fanning you with a palm leaf. FFS.

The UK has a distinctive tine of humidity plus temperate weather, that makes the cold penetrate. I’ve heard rumour that many people from more northerly climes (the kind where they actually get snow) find it colder here, and people with muscle and bone problems, such as arthritis, hurt more. When I lived in Finland, where it plummeted to -15C as per norm, I found it true. The cold there kinda makes a ‘wetsuit’ reaction of the skin, encasing you in a shell of numbness while inside you stay warm -I found I was even able to nip out in a T-shirt if I had to, through metre high drifts, or jump into snow after sauna.

That’s never been the case here where I keep a hair dryer by the bed (body produces no warmth so it’s still cold underneath) for a few seconds respite from unending discomfort. It constantly feels like I’m soaked in a puddle, in November, in Manchester. Not so much bathing in snow after a spa session, more chucked out nightclub > alley with a kebab stuck to the side of your face. It’s tough for me here, constant fatigue, constant cold while everyone else is having a bit of light tennis. I am an alien.

J is convinced I have some kind of disease, like Raynaud’s, when he sees how icy my hands are and he’s breaking into sweat. It’s not that, rather the fact -if anyone’s noticed -that every other animal but us at these latitudes is tightly encased in fucking fur or feather. Exposed skin is not for these parts. It is not fit for humans.

Okay, bitching over. I still love the UK. Despite the fact it’s Colditz. Warm pubs, glowsy fires, tinkly lights. Hot chocolate and warm blankets. It’s just till May you have to get used to it, wearing the longjohns.

So last night the announcement came, London is now Tier 4 as of midnight. A, who went out on his nightly bikeride in the rain (like a nutter) reported on the streets crammed with traffic within hours, as a good few million people made a break for Xmas before the giant sharpened shutters came down (Mad Max patrols, helicopters, S&M alsatians held at the choke). There was epic queueing outside shops -many whom stayed open till 11pm -booking all rail tickets and clogging up the motorways out of town. 21 million people have been affected, with Wales entering a Tier 5, which means even transport shutting down and birds being shot for moving. The main rail termini, of which London has 7, were all equally clogged up, St Pancras had a queue that went the entire length of one of the world’s biggest buildings.

1,200 miles worth of traffic surrounded London within hours

The city will likely enter Tier 5 at some stage too -we have in the past two weeks been infected by a new strain, said to have emerged in Kent, and similar to one in South Africa, though not the same. It’s 70% more infectious, but not more deadly -yet what’s worrying is the one in SA targets younger people than the norm. Our strain (there’s 4,000 different mutations out there) is being closely monitored by WHO; it’s in London, the Southeast and across Wales at the mo. The exodus last night may well have spread it, similar to how word of the first lockdown in Lombardy got leaked into the universities, and thousands of asymptomatic students took it across Italy.

We finished the day watching Silver Bullet -a Stephen King werewolf movie, very 80s and TV-movie-esque (in a good way), though quite a departure from his novelette. J is quite down, islanded from his beau now stranded in Wales, and no longer entranced by his work. We talked at length about these dark times and our dark pasts, over a flickering screen and some beer, it seems we’re both in the same boat. I watch horror movies when I’m sad, he sleeps. A smokes. Building up his case for cancer and being put into the ground one day, as will we all ha fucking ha.

I’m feeling quite dissonant to the world recently, the umbilical in my lap.

I’m angry. That I wasted my life, that we thought we could make it. Those futile dreams fresh out of uni, so many years trying to get our careers as writers or artists that might as well have been mf astronauts on our way to Pluto. Even onto any rung of the shitting housing ladder and nothing to show for it but two emptied decades, no money and fresh mental health issues. Not wanting to end on a downer here but fuck it, the world is a lie. Who the fuck wakes up for it?

Okay, down time for Aliens and armageddon. Blue steel for breakfast.

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A Journal of the Plague Year 3.0 Day 2

18th December 2020

Okay let’s just get it over and done with.

1. Infections are up, way up. Like that Pixar cartoon about going to Venezuela with balloons, and that is the second most weepy film for men (after Shawshank Redemption, for women it’s Titanic or Kittens III, or The Dog Dies At The End or summat). That kind of Up, tear-jerkingly so. Not just here but across Europe, the US, Lat Am and even Japan and SE Asia. Some places that had some of the best results the first time round are now suffering the worst, such as Slovenia, Bosnia, North Macedonia, and Czechia that even held end of Covid celebrations back in summer. Those wretched balloons.

2. It looks like new strains are at work: the UK is suffering due to a homegrown mutation that emerged in Kent, and has dramatically infected London from the east these last two weeks (with Wales going into super-lockdown -Tier 4 -that even limits transport). Places across the world that enjoyed low infection rates due to humidity (whereby it was posited the virus latched onto minute water droplets that fell to the ground and became less airborne), are now seeing it skyrocket on the new wave, such as New Orleans and parts of Peru.

Germany’s previous response was castigated as being far too relaxed, with barely a lockdown. This second visitation, despite much stricter measures, have seen deaths skyrocket for no good reason -it points strongly towards a different strain.

Many countries are reaching or exceeding the dreaded 1 death per 1,000, including now the UK (by comparison for our worst global flu outbreak recently -2018 -it was 0.0086 deaths per 1,000, more than 116x less fatal).

They also think C-19 is deadlier than Spanish Flu as a virus, insofar that in 1918 they had far less PPI, infrastructure, treatment and global lockdowns which is why it had a higher death toll. Yet C-19’s first two months in NYC was still comparable with the peak months of 1918, despite our modern day measures and facilities, and the fact the city was in lockdown. The US state of North Dakota has recently joined the ranks of New Jersey and Massachusetts with the world’s highest death rates, though they may be joined by Tennessee, currently with the fastest infections, ballooning as we speak. -Many of the Midwestern and Southern states most averse to mask wearing are now paying the price. Hospital beds have run out in Sweden, and are imminently about to do so in Texas and New York City.

3. The vaccines rolling out, Pfizer, Moderna, Oxford, Sinovac, Sinopharm, Sputnik V etc for a time looked like they would all be bought up multiple times over by the rich countries (Canada grabbed enough for 10 doses for each of its citizens), with the Developing World waiting till as late as 2024 to get theirs. WHO on Wednesday however set aside 2 billion shots for them (about 10% of those available so far, for the majority of humans on the planet), propping up support from China, Russia and the World Bank. And New Zealand has heroically bought up doses enough for the Pacific island nations too (thank you Ardern) -not just magnanimously but in recompense for the decimation in the previous pandemic, when soldiers returning from WWI stopped off en route and spread Spanish Flu.

It’s also been found out that Moderna’s vaccine was engineered as early as January 13th, before even the second death anywhere in the world. Just a few days after China released the genetic sequence for the virus -it really takes this long to test. China’s Clover has just announced promising results in its own labs, a vaccine able to be stored and transported at 2C to 8C, similar to Moderna’s (by comparison Pfizer’s needs -70C to -80C).

4. Meanwhile the African nations appear to still be on their winning streak of low infection. Much to the disbelief of the West who assume it’s all a case of non reportage. However look beyond cultural arrogance and Africa has many winning traits to weather the storm. Notably it’s demographics, whereby much of the continent is made up of children and teenagers far less susceptible to dying from the disease, and the older contingent a fraction of their Western counterparts. Their age pyramids resemble Chinese roofs.

Nigeria

Ethiopia

Ghana

Egypt

South Africa currently has the continent’s highest death rate, but inline with the fact it’s also the most aged nation of the region:

By comparison, richer nations have far larger proportions and populations of older folk, who are much more at risk -they resemble demographic meringues of doom, flattened and bulbous:

UK

Italy

China

Peru

Also this isn’t to detract from the fact the African Council convened a few days after the pandemic was announced and agreed to enact continent-wide measures between nations. As the region most likely to suffer from the disease, with little PPI, ICUs and infrastructure (but no stranger to epidemics) they knew they HAD to rely on preventative measures.

The more pink, the more stringent, as charted by Oxford University. Tanzania was notably scolded by its neighbours for being the outlier, though even its response would put many richer nations to shame:

5. To cap off, world leadership is still playing up. While many are valiantly fighting the good fight (New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, Germany’s Angela Merkel) the usual suspects are still at it, banging the drum and shitting in the sink while everyone else tries to get on with it. Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro mentioned taking the vaccine may turn one into an alligator, having set himself on a personal crusade against vaccines in general, in contrast to the rest of the nation. Meanwhile Trump is still too consumed AF trying to stay in the White House to roll out meds with any speed whatsoever, and Mexico’s Manuel Lopez Obrador -mask averse and slamming Europeans for having lockdowns -is conducting only 10,000 tests a day (with a whopping 97% positivity rate) in a nation of 130 million.

Oh and France’s Emanuel Macron just got it. Still would.

6. The frontline workers in Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, California meanwhile are protesting the fact that they were left off the list of 5,000 vaccines that arrived for the facility staff. Only seven medical residents made the cut, while the higher management working from home, and fatcats slumming it in their deep pile Bond lairs got it. -Even cleaners and caterers, yet not the nurses and scrubs directly in the wards. The hospital blamed an algorithm and too much pressure for it to have been reviewed. Yeah soz about that.

7. Despite all this it’s shopping as normal, in London at least. A mate has just reported on the carnival buzz of my local high street too, Northcote Road. This really doesn’t look like a citywide lockdown:

So business as usual then, world. The same cackhandedness, grabbing the pie, assumption and not giving a toss.

Yay. I plan this to be my only political entry for the blog (well until I summon the urge over some tabloidal horror), as it gets me down and I’m becoming a grump. From now on go out and buy a fucking newspaper (just mask up). x

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A Journal of the Plague Year 3.0 Day 1

17th December 2020

So again? Really?

Not just talking about the fact we’re in the third time down and out in society, ravaged by the virus, but also am I so committed into writing this?

For the last couple of days I’ve allowed myself to enjoy not writing. Not working. Taking on lockdown as the super secret holiday it really is to many lucky enough to be furloughed, while pretending to decry the situation. You only need to look at Oxford Street right now to see our real priorities in life.

All too much otherwise.

I’d have to start with a recap -the daily infections, the death rolls, death rates, new strains, the news horrors round the world, the retail apocalypse, the Xmas hypocrisy, the fresh political borderlands between who will get the vaccines first, who will grab the lot and leave the rest of the Third World to wait till 2024, if at all. They can maybe just deal with it like, forever as they do with Dengue Fever, Malaria and AIDS while we live it up to MVs and pop and watching our shares. Oops. There, I did it again.

I’d finish off with a navel gazing episode of guilt, outlining my hypocrisy. Then in the real world a good few hours of anxiety-ridden perfectionism, editing, correcting and re-editing. Every damn day.

Well let’s not but say we did. The world, and our societies are shite, people are self servingly shite as are many a leader, attracted to politics for power and self-aggrandisement rather than the greater good, humanitarianism, and cuddling disaster victims without photo shoots involved. Let’s just leave it at that.

The last stint of work involved a shift as normal, followed by putting dust sheets on a few gondolas of product. Then drinks with a workmate who doubles valiantly as my psychotherapist, as I offload my rages at office politics (why is there a need?), society (why won’t it leave me alone?!?), and personal life (family, past, present tragedies), all to an edge of humour in order for it to be sold, but surfacing every now and then as true bitterness. He’s a bit of a hero in my book.

I really gotta curb drunken rambling when offered the outlet, though he has pointed out my work-life balance is obsolete as it consists of misery either way. I’ve countered that I’m strangely impervious to depression this last decade no matter what gets thrown, and that I do enjoy stuff. Like time on my own, film nites, and writing The Book that’s so far saved my poor, indentured soul with that zippo of hope. That tapping at restaurant windows with big eyes.

Homewise, it continued with film nite and cider with J whose anxiety has rerisen with his first time being furloughed. I’m working on bouncing between him and A, who is as ever islanded in the kitchen and avoiding real contact. We lead separate lives now and it’s a crying shame, manifesting in dreams where he stops and I have to leave him behind. This morning it was a concrete walkway, a lift shaft to his new flat, and my discovery only then.

Yesterday was a shopping blitz. I suddenly realised the deadline for my buying shit for Xmas, starting a round of wishlist fulfilling on Amazon. Ended up spending £260 at time I don’t have it, but it’s hard to think of Mum and sister alone at their favourite time of year (first time our Xmas has been canceled) when they finally get to socialise and see family, and the rest a desert. I’m sometimes tempted to write on the family history, but let’s just say it’s one of untold woe, involving lots of mental health issues, deaths, blades, crazy bats and running away and let’s just leave it at that.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/489836896942647349/

I’ve eaten shitloads of chocolate recently, despite not being that big a fan. I still have secreted emergency supplies in my schoolbag and tea cupboard when suddenly the need arises (chocolate is said to be a surrogate for love, igniting the same brain functions and chemicals), but J luxuriously fills a £300 solid silver Georgian fancy with Quality Street at all times. It’s proving disastrous for my health in front of the box.

J and I have taken to braying at each other, after a small child did the same on Strange Encounters of the Third Kind. It sounds like nuuuuuugggh, and a step up from miaowing which is our normal greeting of choice. He sometimes stops randomly and podium dances/ twerks silently for a few seconds, given a random excess of energy. Occasionally chewbacca moans.

I’m still sleeping in fits, about 4-5 hrs. Hitting the sack at about midnight, waking at 4 or 5am, checking up on news and fora for about 3 hrs, then slumping into nothingness till 10, lunch, laptop in lap.

Day one was bedbound by digital leprosy, my arm furtively out from the covers to scroll. Day two has been the celebration of spending and capitalism, including venturing outdoors to haul foodage home, plus freebie veg given out by a non-profit battling food waste. Then playing computer games. Day three is, well now. Had a haircut (sweeping it back now). A has just finished some zoom interviews and getting high. J is sitting in a corner playing with our silver spoon collection. I mean that literally.

Another dollar, another day. It’s time for chocolate.

I’m sorry but how weird is this guy? -His arms. HIS ARMS. Hey Hank! Canyer pass us the lawnmower buddy?

Tomorrow

Lockdown 1

Lockdown 2

A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 26

1st December 2020

Pinch punch first day of the month. Here’s a kick for being so quick. Here’s a blow for being so slow, no returns.

Tbh am now writing this last entry from a few days after, having been unable to face it really. As if the coming tide that is Werkkk and a return to normalcy is also the end of days. Even despite the masks, the social distancing, the blaring headlines, the closed up shops and job insecurity, everything looks pretty normal: in crowded streets and buses, happy drinkers and restaurant meals, screen time and XfuckingXmas. Billed as a return to the windswept plazas of the first lockdown and the malaise of interior worry this second outing only ever morphed into a new normal of same-same-but-different, and Keeping Calm and Carrying On, with little change on the streets or everyday. …Just more politics to it all, enshadowing every move.

The politicisation of a pandemic has now divided the country between regional displays of intent and governance, not just tiered systems paying heed to the science, but regional differences paying heed to political autonomy as in Wales, Northern Ireland, London, the Isle of Man, Scotland and England. It may be a show that the United Kingdom really is a collection of proud countries in league with each other -or it could be a coming fracturing, as autonomies try out their muscle to break away post-Brexit. They say 2020 has been a true test of a nation’s governance, as seen in the facadism of the US being world hero (peddled by Hollywood’s propaganda dept), and similar falls from grace in the trendy progressives of Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, and Austria, also riven by a certain selfish disregard. The UK one can firmly put in the disaster pot alongside, quite the panto villain with currently 60,000 dead and the 5th highest toll and 5th highest (city states aside) fatality rate in the world. Whilst countries such as Brazil, Belarus and Mexico have played out their parts on cue. -Not so much lampooned due to poverty and disorganisation, but belligerently thick leaders intent on portraying it all as a seasonal cold, and sacking their scientific advisors if they don’t play along.

This has contrasted with the displays of strength from the usual expected dictatorships such as China, Venezuela and Cuba, but also small nations such as New Zealand and Finland, Brunei and Taiwan, Togo and Benin. Many societies led by a woman at the helm have correlated into quite the trend in defeating infection, with the foresight to marry a strict lockdown as an economic argument too. The toxic masculinities of other powers meanwhile appear too entranced by short term dramatics. Pushed by blindsided businesses and lobbies in dick measuring and bravado, self interest and stupidity, the caving in has proved murderous. Mass-murderous.

Poor states in the Global South have done exceptionally well to upend the assumption they’d all die by the million with little government aid. From Tanzania to Nigeria, Papua New Guinea to Haiti, Bangladesh to Uzbekistan they have benefitted from higher temperatures that seem to make things less infectious, plus younger populations less at risk. But also coupled with army-enforced lockdowns and billions pumped into the latest tech, from automatic temperature gauging in every public building to track and trace. The latter carried out by the latest apps, or volunteers and Private Investigator firms hired to do it manually.

Czechia has straddled both sides, enforcing excellent counter-measures in the first wave -but then celebrating with nationwide End of Covid parties complete with crowds and parades, and now lumped with much higher infections this second time round. The same with India -the world’s densest tract of humanity that enforced the earliest, strictest measures over the largest populations, in-step with China, but that stood to lose heaviest with the larger amount of poor and degraded infrastructure. Some of the greatest successes have occurred here, including the tracing of 20,000 people at a religious festival when an idiot returning from Italy broke quarantine to shake hundreds of hands. Plus ridding infection in the world’s largest slums, such as Dharavi that holds over a million people in ultra-high density.

However it hasn’t been as successful to maintain it, now with numbers climbing into the third highest deaths in the world (though still firmly low per capita). India is just too large, dense and complex to maintain it for nine months and counting. China only managed to pull it off with an army of volunteers knocking on every single door in the cityscapes of Wuhan (18 million) to get the same mix of pleas for help, cooperation and argument as anywhere else in the world. But then rolled out to all other cities before it became too unmanageable. The use of effective early track and trace, border closure and highest level, sustained quarantines has paid off.

This second wave appears to be more deadly for many, with increasing evidence it’s a Mediterranean mutation that’s more infectious. Also that it was already in Europe and South America from as early as March 2019 which historic sewage sampling is showing many cities (Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Milan) as having that year, perhaps as a less infectious strain. The China hawks and conspiracy theorists (just as idioted on that side of the spinner as anywhere else) have latched onto the fact Wuhan was the arena for the 7th World Military Games just before the first outbreak surfaced in the countryside where some events took place. And not just that it may have come from a visitor abroad, but was intentionally laid as a weapon by some Black Ops soldier, usually, of course, American. While conveniently forgetting the whole pantomime of how it spread from Wuhan after, or that such an exercise would fuck up every country on the planet as has shown, not just China. That’s how pandemics go, it doesn’t willingly differentiate, try as we might ourselves.

And is this what it all just fucking boils down to? A sabre-rattling of political entities, borders drawn and fingers pointed? A list of countries measuring their deaths like the Eurovision Song Contest or Olympics, both canceled but now replaced by a grimmer tally? The so-called universality of the world has been found wanting in the first real test of its strength since WWII, with division sown between countries denying or blocking funds and aid, and even stealing them off factory lines and airstrips before they depart. Even the entity managing the global efforts -the World Health Organization -had its funding cut at the worst possible time mid-global-fucking-crisis, by the Trumpist demagogue -for being too praising of China (rather than blaming it), and thus in league.

So to put all that in perspective, I dwindle the lens down, very down, to the effect all this politicking in the corridors of power has to the common person, on the street, doing our little life thing. It’s a real fapping bummer that politics affect our everyday -we don’t always see it so much in the West, sidelined by buying shit up, endless nine-to-five and garish social media to notice, but it does. The division in society is showing up most obviously in a growing collusion among friends and acquaintances that this is all an overreaction. Though many have given up on the ‘It’s Just The Flu’ line (it’s killed at least 4x the amount of the worst influenza epidemics, even with lockdown and in less than a year), the argument’s now replaced with ‘Let’s Just Leave The Old Folk To Die’, which we could perhaps ice a cake with and give out. The conspiracy theory that it’s fake or government/ multinational ploys to infect us with mind control is ever alive and well -and all too real in places where civil rights and democracy have genuinely given way to dictatorship **cough, Hungary, Ethiopia, /cough **.

It’s a little known fact that my very own city is seeing almost weekly protests, that are culminating in riots every fortnight with hundreds arrested in other urban centres across the country. But barely reported -a sign that the media agencies (except of course, the Sun) are paying heed to not giving more fuel to the fire, in league with an embattled government. Yet also a sign they are not as free a press as they pretend, and that free societies operate our own propaganda. The narrative that democracy is unimpeachably peachy cannot be cracked, despite that the protesters, anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, conspiracy theorists, party-goers, ravers, Karens and Jeremies are killing others. Tens of thousands of others. The kind of angry people taking down quarantined products at the supermarket or barging into stores unmasked (even ringing 911 on the staff for not allowing them access), and forbidding their families to take precautions. I wonder if in a third lockdown anyone will even bother by then.

Okay there I go, rabbiting on too much again.

Dwindling down once again to my own experience I cannot, cannot possibly hold a high horse. Shocked at the crowds of drinkers clogging up my local high street and parks I was exactly one of them, holding a bottle. Like people complaining about traffic when they help make it up, or tourists moaning things too touristic, as if special sites should be fenced off from the rest of the worser dressed riffraff, for one’s sole enjoyment. I have entertained between more than one ‘bubble’, popped into a shop before without a mask, sat next to others on public transport, and any distancing in meeting outside is often undermined by a muppet hug or two. I’m increasingly lackadaisical at such a simplicity as washing my hands.

Overall this is a test on society, and our own selves -what we hold high and if we do as we say or not as we do. What is morality truly if we cannot be the change we want to see? Especially when it’s other lives on the line.

On the last day of er ‘freedom’ I met up with a good work friend, Al, who is everything you need in terms of reliability and some down-to-earth, existential natter and jokes to offset the climes. To dally a day on a bench and a walk in the retro Festival of Britain bit of Battersea Park -all 1950s modernity in formal lines and empty space, looking spookily atmospheric to our times. In a surreal symmetry of dead fountains and mist we caught up with stories on lockdown, culminating world events with our outlooks on them, and the hopeful end coming with vaccines rolling out. A beer or two on the benches, then a coffee plus bakewell tart at the riverine Peace Pagoda (how massive can a two storey building get?), as yoga and tai-chi fans used it as backdrop. It was very much life being lived, and a sense of history playing out beyond. I don’t think such scenes, such feelings can ever be replicated.

In the end the sun got low, the coming darkness emptied the views and a wind rose, shooing us off to our own respective ways. The paths we make out in life are ultimately our own, I’ve never felt it more strong.

It’s a sorry goodbye to the breathing space this disaster has unavoidably given, forgive the pun. Despite the haranguing, the domestics behind closed doors or open on the streets. The moments of exquisite cosiness and inflection interspersed with dark memories, haemorrhaging costs, and tears at windows.

I’ve spent a great deal of time hammering fists at impervious skies while scrimping on money or decaying relationships into heartbreak -as well as making a dormouse nest of beer, friends and domestic luxury. These privated sojourns into a dark and inviting forest of blankets, films, books and food.

Been quite a year.

And love. Worrying, denigrating, passing you by. Even in its cheesiest and most commercial renditions, so much motherfucking, shitty, stupifying, beautiful love. Bittersweet.

I will always remember these days. And everyone ever, all you lovely people.

Thank you. Signing off x.

FIN

Yesterday

Lockdown 3.0

Lockdown 2.0

Lockdown 1.0

A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 25

29th November 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yesterday

Tomorrow

A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 24

28th November 2020

Sweet FA all morning till A suddenly came home from a trip to the shops and announced a mate wanted to meet nearby. A sudden mash of showering, hairing, bearding, clothing and out within 10 mins where we met our neighbours and headed out to Wandsworth Common, walking both stretches (didn’t know it was connected by a bridge) nattering to my architect friend A about projects in a pandemic and corruption and the earthquakes in his Kiwi hometown. Well until the dark, seeing the glowing lights of the shops like some tinkly, doomed village, but very pretty.

The streets were rammed, as if everyone was out Xmas shopping but without the shops. I’ve never seen the park so packed either, with queues to cross the canal and zillions of dogs nipping about as lone darts or sudden, yapping flurries. One came right up, plonked itself on the ground, then flipped aching for his belly to be scratched -but in this day and age we shouldn’t due to infection. Literally the hardest thing to stand impervious while it lolled about.

All in all people everywhere, though it’s not like I can complain, being one of them. So much for a national lockdown.

Northcote Road more resembled a pre-pandemic Soho, cluttered with street drinkers all down its considerable length, the most popular place being a fish and chip shop doling out endless cans of lager and Spanish bottles. The other establishment opposite had the world’s most enfuriating app to download, which set out an array of options that when clicked on, helpfully explained what a menu was rather than offering one. Their loss, grasping pandafucks.

J was bubbling with the kind of post-work energy of someone freed from a prison of dying animals and bitching colleagues (works as a vet), one of the most high stress jobs and highest in suicide rate. He recounted in one grouping how one vet managed to off themselves and two colleagues tried it within the same week. Make a mistake and a cute bunny dies, then everyone loathes you -while all the time the casualties keep rolling in every 15 minutes. I surmise, unlike human patients, the workers tending to them have far less support, despite feeling every pain still at negative outcomes. Vet has to be nurse, doctor, surgeon and counsellor, while nurses double as secretaries, cleaners, social ombudsmen and a critical, political eye with vials of gossip to unleash should one set a paw wrong. And to J that day, rabbitting incessantly on the dismalities of smalltown life and twerks of celebrities while he tried to operate.

So drink or four was a welcome respite. Later at home we continued with an entirely new gang: housemate J and ex-housemate Jk, which soon dribbled into drunken singing, dancing, endless retro music vids and J crashing into his 200 year old painting, silver plates and tv. D smoked out the window and there was a alot of banter between Wales, Northerners and Wherever I Come From. I was called Penang Curry, J was Pontypridd and Jk The Face of Exeter 2011 (no seriously, winning a modelling competition back in the day -we even sorted through the internet to find the page). D was just ‘Northern’ or ‘Lancs’, which he hates as he’s from Yorkshire apparently and constantly lying that it’s a different thing.

At 4am unable to sleep, having necked so much rumncoke, took out my laptop and proceedeed to try and optimise it, as one does when starved of no-holds fun. Ended up deleting an app called ‘Xbox Something Or Other’ which has nothing to do whatsoever with a game console I don’t own and everything to do with Windows not working and being replaced by a white screen of death every time I restarted. A good 1.5 hrs later, after sifting through a spidergram of functions and services to reignite, it got back to normal. Fucking life, a banging headache that catches up.

But another one under the belt at least. Need some sleep.

Yesterday

Tomorrow

A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 23

27th November 2020

I’ve decided to give up on the architecture forums I have spent literally 20 years lurking on. A couple of weeks ago someone posted on there about how giving up on Facebook was one of the best things he’d ever done for peace of mind and getting on with life. This coincided with an article, perhaps algorithmically sent my way, about how a new study revealed the same predication among Facebook users having a negative mood for their day after using it. I barely use social media anymore, but on dallying back again on FB have realised how much of a political debate everything is these days, beneath the blizzards of likes and pictures of babies and kittens, and glasses of wine by the sea. Statement after statement.

I realise this is the same addiction I get on the forums. That although the intent is well, architecture, one gets waylaid by what everyone else fucking thinks all the time and chirps to all and sundry to what they think everyone should think all the time. Everything is Twitter these days.

I first got onto the ‘architecture’ forums after being entranced about skyscrapers and buildings at a young age. Here finally I could get updates on the latest going up, big sidelines in all other types of new building, threads on classic styles and increasingly urban planning, cities, history, and humanity at large, from photos of people’s trips around the world to -of course -current events and political discourse. By 2008 one of these forums -back when strangers chatting was a big thing -became the largest in the world. All this also coincided with the rise of China, aka The Great Motherfuckerland, which sent me into frissons of delight at everything being built, but also apoplectic with the usual trolls, racism, underlying bias -a neverending battle in which I’ve spent a good chunk of my life working for free as a teacher/ journo/ hack writing online posts that are very much like articles. Such a fucking waste.

One such thread came up yesterday that’s sealed the deal. A retrospective look on if having been on the site has changed our outlook on any countries. Many mentioned their experiences on cutting fresh eyes through the usual BS media tropes, but others on how their experiences actually marred their outlook on certain countries, after running into obnoxious forumers.

There are the good and bad. I think we all know in our heart of hearts that you get nice people and nasty people in every culture, not to mention all the usual gamut of personality types. We only need to remember any of our school days, and the personalities, tribes, cliques and loners that inhabited them, then transpose that state to any schoolyard anywhere, everywhere. It’s just quite astounding that so many people don’t admit it to themselves, that the media keeps categorising and portraying peoples as one and the same while we lap it up -and with some still striving to reinforce the status quo. It’s weird we trust media interpretations more than our real life experiences.

Let me titillate you on the exotic, rare flowers I have encountered over the years. In Attenborough’s dulcit tones, just imagine these as the be all and end all of your classroom:

A: A self-confessed Brazilian sociopath living in the Netherlands, who is a university lecturer (pity those students), turning up at every disaster story to blame the country it befell. His pathological urge in life being to rid the world of all dangerous animals, of anything that can conceivably harm humans, with the rest living in zoos and farms. The Amazon needs to go too, for better land usage.

B: A lovely, sweet gentle Spanish guy who loves SE Asia. He also loves SE Asian girls -as in children. He includes shots of charming holidays in his hotel room with an assembled collection of local Cambodian 12 year olds, and comments in how he’s helping out the Khmer ‘dark one’ as they’re not considered pretty. Yes, he’s paying them for sex, and showing off he can.

C: A White supremacist from Finland, very nerdy, things changed after he went to SE Asia, picked up a girlfriend willing to see through his bullshit/ stupid enough to take him on, and left the forums with lingering shots of him with a whole woman on jungle piers in Thailand. Likely murdered her, or her him.

D: A breath of fresh air, an Australian ecologist defending everyone from the usual trolls with calm, empirical evidence and high EQ. Much of her days are spent out in the Australian bush, rescuing cute things and plants and doing a lot of science. Very anti-China, but canyer blame her?

E: Brazilian gay Stormfront member, very likely on the spectrum and undiagnosed. Wanted to travel but refused to set foot in a list of northern states in his own country due to a certain ratio of the Black population. Spent years dodging bans by politely arguing for endless pages in an underhand manner, changing the goalposts whenever anyone called him out on his racism. Final straw came after the Airmax crashes (where Boeing’s typos would send the aircraft into a nosedive whenever anyone tried to correct it). He spent weeks trying to convince everyone the planes had obviously gone down due to pilot error, the irrefutable logic being the pilots were dark skinned, the airlines were run by uncivilised darkies (just look at their history) and Boeing was from a White American, First World country with flushing toilets and everything. Admitted to doing a hit and run in his Mercedes -running because the woman on her bike he hit was Black and he would have been in danger.

F: Swedish scientist with a contrary view on everything ever, piping up with scientific data to obfuscate his every claim and sweeping statement. Will heckle from the sides constantly anything beautiful or proud, will plant his views in the middle of anything that is slightly weak. Now recently married to a Chinese woman that gives him carte blanche -excuse the pun -to be racist to Chinese, and criticise how backwards we all are. Runs Youtube channels on his travels, and judges cultures on how much litter he can spot, however tiny. Admits people don’t much like him in real life; likely spent school getting punched in the face.

G: Another breath of fresh air, Brit who takes everything with a sensible outlook, high EQ, and lots of humour, including on how fat and nerdy he looks, and how twee his hometown of Fungus-on-Neath is. How bo-ring! But my hero on certain dark nights.

H: Ugandan American, Muslim SJW constantly making enemies by having the gall to defend the Third World, and every stereotype thrown their way. Never backs down, fiercely intelligent and wise despite his youth, all with a certain calm. Yet works in finance with fast cars and faster women, before he remembers to be all inclusive.

I: Dubayan dude, stupidly rich, well travelled and sweet (lots of pics of his new family) and the most polite, big-hearted forumer going, despite enduring years of abuse for being Muslim and living in the UAE, thus with a shariah knife over his head, hating women, tacky tastes and a terrorist. He is an annoying vision to the hecklers of everything the opposite.

J: Pakistani forumer moved to Canada who insults everyone all the time, in every post. Toxic. Literally cannot help it. High powered business job.

K: Pakistani forumer who is his nemesis, good natured, funny, intelligent, high EQ. They spend days arguing. He also does time, like any Third Worlder with the gall to hang out in the West, arguing against the hate and assumptions, though liable to suddenly get sentimental and send likes to everyone’s replies.

L: Indian forumer who bickers with both of them over India-Pakistan. Every chance he gets.

M: Brazilian forumer who seems completely normal -until you find out his underhand views on White supremacy, how colonialism was a good thing and will only refer to African countries by their colonial names. Loves art deco.

N: British forumer who believes all things modern is good, hates how everyone hates brutalism. Also believes how all things old is bad, wants all old buildings destroyed in London, celebrates when one does get bulldozed and argues to the teeth why. Very, very likely on a spectrum.

O: Turkish gay moderator, who spends each post insulting people on a personal level, and laughing at their cultures in a knee-jerk reaction. Hates Muslims, despite living in an Islamic society, thus a poster boy for Islamophobes. Became a mod due to his love of cats, which he thinks is endearing enough to get away with his crazed power plays, or that sociopathy itself must be loveable quip of character.

P: Odious far righter, despite being a decidedly non-White, ‘browntown’ ethnic minority. Makes one think either he’s completely in denial, or that far right is a pathology. Or perhaps his riches has made him buy into the mindset in order to keep it, and those are who he hangs around with all day.

Q: French guy who only talks in riddles, including odes to how shit Islam is. Weird, annoying, thinks himself enigmatic when all he does is troll and everyone ignores him anyway.

R: American old guy, Trumpist, banned under several guises for his constant racism against Black people and Chinese. Lives in San Francisco, where he constantly has to warn his visitors about ‘The Blacks’. Spends every other post on the coming economic downfall of China. Completely backs Xi Jinping’s mistreatment of Muslims though as, well, he hates them more.

S: New Zealander who spends every other post hating on women. Tries to portray everything as a gender war, and how men are being attacked, and that women are base creatures. A one-issue poster driven by a pathological hatred. Likely an Incel (Involuntarily Celebate) activist.

T: American consultant in a hospital -Trumpist, supremacist, racist with rambling, drug-addled (or just plain weird) diatribes on his support of the local strip joints and prostitutes. Oh and how Mila Kunis is White enough to be hawt (no, her East European ancestry has no thread of Judaism no, he’d made sure of it on Stormfront). And wants to find where she lives and how he’d be able to show her a good time as an older man wining and dining her, and she’d be afrenzy at his compliments and displays of wealth (because she can’t have that right?) and we’d all be jealous ha! Took a week off work during the election to ‘drink our tears’ over the coming Trump win.

U: Loveliest, inclusive, accepting Brazilian woman, of Filipino heritage. Very kind to all, and the ambassador’s wife at the ball, pretty much everyone loves her to bits. Don’t think she actually contributes anything on urban discussions come to think of it, she just floats around being gentle and supportive.

V: Filipino guy who posts endless articles on the Philippines at every drop of a panama hat, as we are of course all dying to know the detailed history of the last Royal Family of Luzon when talking about mass transit sytems. Is obsessed by how much Spanish lineage, history and culture there is in every aspect of the country, and trying very, very hard to convince everyone it is a White country of mestizos, and thus highly cultured, respectable and relevant. Is under the impression we walk around all day thinking about the Philippines.

W: Hong Kong supernerd who has written over 240,000 posts on every wheedling aspect of Chinese urban projects -and made any development in the region disappear under an avalanche of smalltown newstories. On councils appointing a new secretary, the wonders of legislature by-law changes in Fuzhou, new rubbish collection routines, tax bracket amendments, that someone planted a tree, a sewage pipe got a new turn and that big vote on whether a stretch of highway to Shitzou village should be expanded. Single-handedly vanquished all forum visitors to the region with adversely the most development. Very much on the spectrum.

X: American old guy, became a mod. Very wise and fair as a moderator, but when he writes his own posts the stylus scratch. ‘Applauds’ whenever a Black person is unlawfully killed (even over a photo of the grieving mother at a funeral), defends every cop or perpetrator no matter what, constantly posting crime figures and correlations to the ethnic minorities. Went doolally during BLM.

Y: Romanian American leftie campaigner, pretty aggressive but never gets banned, will argue endlessly over any little thing and peppers it all with insults, sweeping accusations or dismissals, and sudden turns to the Right. Is on about the 300th page of coronavirus and why it is a scam. I suspect someone who’s only there to argue, regardless of the subject.

Z: Literally a Russian bot, who will send blizzards of likes to literally hundreds of posts from a decade ago, to people asking a question about signs in Moldavian, or personal messages in an inbox. Then will snap out of it and be real again. We reckon a mix of the two -quite a nice person when the human takes over.

OK, I’ll stop there. I could go on for days, literally. But you get the gist -this is just a damn architecture forum. And you can imagine the comments that are hard to ignore day in day out. Your fingers itching for the keyboard as someone celebrates the Amazon burning, or how it’s Haiti’s fault 300,000 just died in an earthquake (due to them being the first country created when slaves fought off their masters).

But overall, I think in any tranche of people you have to look out for elements that mar the rest, and that a huge amount of society has been set up to handle just this toxic minority, sometimes negatively:

1. sociopaths/ psychopaths -the toxic avengers, manipulative, enjoying the ‘power’ over insulting others, cannot help but prey on the weak or signs of weakness -say, put up a story on Africa and wait for them to arrive. Also why people from Developing countries will hesitate to portray their countries negatively in the world forums, as it attracts these usual commentators like flies to shit. The ones who can’t help but insult on literally every post, anywhere, even if you are talking about the weather.

2. small cock syndrome -people with low worth/ unheard who want to take down others, to make themselves feel better. Bullies. Or just plain, everyday jealousy.

3. pathologically on a spectrum (find it hard to understand others viewpoints or feelings unless heavily pointed out). This isn’t their fault, it’s not out of animosity and it’s part of our social contract to accommodate and educate them.

4. Personal prejudice -mostly talking about racists on here, many of whom can be tied to all of the above. Or normal people but buying into media tropes/ a bad personal experience, due to a lack of critical thinking.

In short these kinds of people or comments aren’t a norm among societies. Yet they are so vocal they start to dominate despite being the minority. Classic Dunning-Kruger effect, in which those with low EQ shout about their ignorance and are proud of it, while those with high EQ politely listen and give them their batshit crazy platform.

I think at the end of the day, just get the fuck away from it all, regardless. Hell is other people. We feed them by listening, and as a great woman said, when one argues with an idiot, no one can tell you apart. Society has always been an exercise in granting trolls the attention they crave, thus giving them the power. Tell a lie often enough and it becomes a truth.

Have I just lost? Am I not the great idiot alongside?

Who cares. Fuckem.

Yesterday

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