A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 6

10th November 2020

Yesterday I found out I’d lost a highly lucrative stint that two agencies had approached about, to be in a Braun ad for the Asian market -Taiwan and Japan. £33K -more smackeroonies than I’ve ever known -evaporating instantly, and a rehash of my plans on throwing money over the bed and laughing manically, before putting a deposit on a sun-dappled life.

It didn’t help I can’t grow enough stubble on the jaw and have an ugly, gurning smile; should never have sent that last photo. Not that I was ever realistically in the running -but all those clean cut plans, and catalogues flipped through, felt heavily pissed on. I then showered, shaved (finally), washed the hair and dolled myself up, all to go shopping in Lidl. Trundling through the aisles feeling frail and old but all bespoke, and willing to fuck for affirmation. Ended up blowing £60 -six-ty pouunds! including a three fish bake (£6) and a vintage six-pack of cider. Which is breaking a rule I’ve adhered to for the past few decades: never drink at home or alone, ever since I was necking two bottles of Vermouth daily (the greatest alcohol to £ ratio) in front of the box, to feel invincible to life and the Teletubbies.

s

But I’ll save it for going out, planning to meet a mate in some muddy pocket of London to drown my sorrows, despite we live in opposite ends of the capital. Saw a B-movie about a cop battling alcoholism and er, a werewolf somewhere in the American midwest. Which was a spirited sojourn into shouty catastrophism over crumbling structure and rather reminded me of being back at Werk. The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a subtle comedy valiantly acted, despite a low budget, slightly off screenplay, and the death of Robert Forster mid way. Director, writer and starring protagonist Jim Cummings of Thunder Road fame (much feted in Sundance and Cannes in 2016) reprises the role of a disintegrating cop who proves he’s not just a pretty pin-up. Albeit almost too pretty, like a fashion model fighting off a rather big alsatian for an edgy shoot. He’s probably had to battle this his whole life, to the point of fuck it, imma just do this myself, to the tune of the tiniest violin.

I mean c’mawn just look at that.

ss

Cummings does go to lengths to portray the individualism of society -a tad too luridly in how every oar is ethusiastically thrust in, and how that really fucks up investigations, or anything resembling project management. It is of course to be taken tongue in cheek and provides much needed humour to a cold Rockies backdrop, but everyone throughout is so ludicrously self serving, finger pointing, angry, gossipy, needy yet obnoxious it takes a toll on those who endure it in real life. No longer artistic hyperbole -it is what’s wrong with the world. But it does have its moments, from corrupt cops trying to give sorry presents to insulting member’s wives at the lovey-dovey AA meeting. At some point, life administered, our Mounties man mentions things were better at Abu Ghraib.

s

Acting out comes thick and fast, from his randy, escapologist teen daughter to spitting, accusatory mourners to mind-numbingly thick townsfolk intent on a witchhunt, it all adds up to sex cop’s ongoing meltdown. I am now a fan of this guy, notably his outlook on society which we could share many, many intimate vodkas over, possibly at a lakehouse. I’d positively go wibbly if ever we went for the same bottle in the supermarket and our fingers you know, accidentally brushed. Or he came and stalked me round the mysterious dells of Clapham Junction and the NHM SHOP LONDON SWIE 6SQ ENGLAND 0800 696969 and I’d pretend not to like it.

s

So, there isn’t a great deal of scares, though the one that did make me genuinely jump came from a thrown beercan. This film isn’t meant to be a horror, which comes as a side, but I’ve found in general I’m pretty much immune nowabouts to getting fear off a screen. Horrors these days are far too formulaic, riddled with cheesy jump scares of fluttering birds or people brushing past to the sound of giant screeching strings. And monsters that don’t really act like monsters (unrealistic: slowing down when cornering prey, crap at chases, always getting up again), hounding victims so stupidly frail it’s frustrating (she who runs falls, is investigative of fear while calling loudly, gets lost within seconds in the woods -usually via a leaf litter slide, only ever hits the thing once when it’s down).

s

I’m no longer scared by women and children with white face paint, large eyeballs/ mouths, complex skin conditions or bad hair days. Furry man-suits, rubber faces, pointy ears and dribbling teeth. Sex party costumes. People who are transparent, or clad in steampunk. I’m genuinely more frightened when watching fat people on youtube jumping for rope, or teens having a laugh with wheels. At least you know what happens is going to play out the way it immovably will, in real time, in real circumstances and reactions, that strikes it closer to home. Real pain right there.

The horror

The horror

Outside it is of course such a disaster we’re living in. When they made the 2011 film Contagion the ultimatum was to create something as true to life as possible, rather than take the tried and tested alternative of going all big guns blazing with deadly little monkeys, as in 1995’s Outbreak. In which er, Dustin Hoffman tried it out as an action hero, with fellowised midgets. Maybe that’s why the monkey was so dinky.

Come on, Hollywood.

s

Contagion instead tracked the spread of the invisible virus (rather than use a cute capuchin stand-in to materialise the end of mankind), killed off its protagonist A-listers randomly as any virus would, and portrayed its heroes as entirely normal folk without burnished six-packs willing to give their lives -and all to a backdrop of society barely keeping it together. And so it has come to pass. Motherflipping has it indeed.

s

s

News of a relevant vaccine and that everything will be back to normal by Spring is keeping us waiting in bated, slightly laboured breath, and starting to rattle the cage already at who gets it first. Unemployment has hit 5%, which is actually much better than expected, though its hardest hitting to the young, already lumped with a zero contract future before all this. Domestic violence is again at crisis levels and kids apparently are forgetting how to use knife and fork, as relayed by the BBC in desultory, tutting tones (okay in reality it’s about kids reverting back to nappies and no longer bothering to read since school’s been out for so long).

s

Keeping our head up, above water, above stooping for the last beer or stooping when we don’t get it is the battle scene that’s really playing. Just getting on with it, and trying to exact a slobbery, slothenly form of happiness behind the drawn curtains is work enough. Who gives a shit if kids eat out of packets in front of the telly, it’s not actually causing harm, unless it is all crisps and corn you terrible deserve-to-be-downtrodden parent you!

My shining saviour will come in the form of a proper B-movie methinks, while stuffing nachos in my face (can give up on the diet now, which can fuck right off back to celeriac hell). According to the Top 13 werewolf movies, I should check out Bad Moon (1996). “Half Man. Half Wolf. Total Terror.” Can’t flipping wait.

Time to live again, renewed.

s

Oh, and Jim, if you’re out there, call me.

Yesterday

Tomorrow

A Journal of the Plague Year Day 38

Friday 24th April 2020

PUBLIC DISCLAIMER

DO NOT READ THIS LOOK AWAY NOW

If you’re looking for escape this, today, is not where to find it. For never was a story of more woe. Thus following, reality.

s

Another day another dollar. Scroll. Brush. Scroll. Sleep. Scrub. Lunch. Netflix. Scroll. Sleep. Film. Sleep.

A Friday so I treated myself to takeaway for lunch, which turned out to be the stodgiest fried calamari in the city, like chewing on bread crust. Our local really is the worst, but beggars can’t be reviewers. The night’s film was the other highlight, a tankard of cider to go with An American Werewolf in London, and a good catch up with J while A is getting ever more islanded, which he may be enjoying. It was Orthodox Easter recently, the equivalent to Greek Xmas (regardless if you’re religious or not) which he’s not celebrated, separated from family all these years. We’ll try and do something later maybe, though he’ll typically veto it.

The C-19 death toll in the UK hit 20,000, which is only counting those from hospitals. It’s significantly higher if they tally up those in care homes and residences, so we may be closer double that. This could yield the world’s highest deaths per capita, over current leader Belgium, who counts live fatalities and not just in healthcare. It all depends whether the UK extra deaths are at the 40% or 100% ends of hospital totals.

s

I’ve been increasingly worried about the ‘biblical famines’ the UN is warning may transpire within months. They will start in the world’s current war zones where infrastructure is broken and farming majorly disrupted by fighting. DPR Congo, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Niger. It’s also unlikely for people or countries to give aid, such is the situation in their own backyard. DPR Congo is a prime example of what a disruption of infrastructure results in. The Second Congo War ended in 2003, where fighting killed an estimated 20,000. However excess deaths continued well after taking 5.4 million by 2008, due to the complete collapse of food industries, healthcare and transportation networks.

Likewise the UN sanctions before the Gulf War against Iraq, that resulted in an extra million deaths (560,000 of them being children). They targetted the populace not the regime as hostage -banning food, water, medicines, medical equipment, water purifiers, even baby food and milk powder. And lasted for 12 years after the US and UK repeatedly blocked UN attempts to end them, plus three successive UN Generals resigning in protest. When Ambassador Madeleine Albright was told in interview that half a million children had died, she infamously said: “we think the price was worth it”.

But would that even be worthy of a headline in our lifestyles?

This scenario is even keeping me up at night, and becoming one of the things when waking. It’s not normal for me, and I doubt for anyone. When we hear of untold horror and misery abroad we may well shed a tear at the news report, given it’s sufficiently graphic enough. But no one really takes it home with them, into their daily thoughts and fears and dreams. The only time I’ve seen any kind of widely depressionable story has been for the death of a single person, Princess Diana. Forget the 250,000 killed in the 2004 tsunami, or the additional million in Iraq following invasion, it’s the death of a celeb people grew up with, who felt they personally knew that got people crying beyond the screentime. Witness footage of her funeral, as thousands of mourners spontaneously burst into tears as her cortège rolls by (one of them myself). It’s like something out of North Korea.

s

On that subject Kim Jong Un, rotund dictator of said country is currently MIA on the global stage, with rumours thick and fast that he may be dying after heart surgery. All eyes now on his sister who will likely take the reins if he expires. Now, I’m no fan of an autocratic regime that has in the past kidnapped random South Koreans, taken down passenger planes and operates internment camps, but the South Koreans are just as gung-ho, trigger-happy and belligerent. Just as liable to be the first to shell the opposite side, shoot over a prow, or hold mass army drills on the border, in a giant show of two fingers against the horizon.

The US is also increasingly seen as playing both sides off each other -the situation allows them to keep foreign bases on the peninsular and Japan, thus controlling the north Pacific and hemming in China. Notably George Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’ speech even after NoKo had agreed to dismantle it’s nuclear capabilities, that subsequently made Kim restart them in defence, and defiance. Or the abrupt ending of the 2018 thaw (both sides had even competed as the same country in the Olympics) when the US held mass joint-training exercises, thus restarting the arms race.

s

South Korea is also quite propagandic and equally dogmatic. All the lurid tabloid tales -on the uncles being thrown to bloodthirsty hounds (in fact he was shot by firing squad, following an assassination attempt he’d commandeered) or execution of former girlfriends for prostitution (she turned up a year later as a newscaster), of the Pyongyang Metro being fake, and that everyone on the streets are actors (thousands of them) -are all sourced from the south, via media agencies citing ‘cross-border sources’.

In fact South Korea is studied by sociologists as a prime example of how propaganda is just as rampant in democracies, fueled by complicit media agencies as well as their avid audiences. One only has to look at the partisan politicking in the US (**cough Fox News /cough**), or the Rupert Murdoch/ AN owned press at large here (**Daily Mail, Sun**).

ss
s

When Kim Jong-Il died NoKo released its usual dreary propaganda to the world, showcasing endless streams of people distraught at his death (the kind who’d throw themselves on the coffin as it gets lowered), of course the world took this as how very indoctrinated the North Koreans were. Then people started pointing out that in the background, no one was crying, only those in front facing the lens were suddenly found to be apoplectic with grief.

s

Thus SoKo subsequently followed up with lurid tales of everyone who didn’t cry getting 6 months free stay in a labour camp.

North Koreans Face Six Months Labour Camp for Not Crying at Kim Jong-il’s Death

Thus parroted by the rest of the world:

Punished for not crying: Thousands of North Koreans face labour camps for not being upset enough


At the end of the day North Korea is a study on journalistic integrity and standards. Almost no stories coming from there can be fact-checked or corroborated… but neither can anyone call them out on it if they decide to go to print. Thus much of the world just ends up reporting it anyway, straight from South Korean tabloids, even if you’re a respected broadsheet. Which is telling -it fits with the narrative.

It’s also telling which papers are reporting the dictator’s death (Daily Express, Sun, NY Post), as rumour-milled via a Chinese social network, and which are waiting for official confirmation, or at least putting a question mark in the headline.

The fat twat.

s

And talking of convenience, where for example is the coverage or navel-gazing (surely one story?) for the current human tragedies of the US/UK-backed sanctions: Iran, Venezuela, and of course North Korea? Despite sitting on vast commodities or one of the leading science powers, they’ve been denied medical equipment and ICU’s they could otherwise have afforded easily. We even cover Iran building mass graves, and tut at their imagined cover up of figures, without nary a mention of our role in it. The latest humanitarian crisis on the now closed Colombian-Venezuelan border likewise ignored, as has been the US calls for the country to hold new elections (read: exit President Maduro) in order to allow the meds in, plus access to the world’s largest oil reserves. Sounds a lot like a ransom, and exploiting a tragedy to do so.

s

It appears this global crisis is only spewing division and geopolitical rivalry, as opposed to the Bennetton ad we all imagined a shared experience would engender, and cooperation between states. That democracy is really a veil over ignorance, selfishness and prejudice, if not a platform for it. Witness country after country stealing vital equipment before being sent off, or even en route, and ignoring all calls of aid from its neighbours. See the comments following any, ANY news story.

s

How depressing, but it had to catch up some time. The air weighs heavy so it’s time to take a walk, chew some cud and maybe take in an 80s film, back when it was all so much simpler. Life is but a scroll away.

Oh and the Great Orange Dolphin just suggested we all inject bleach and sunlight into our lives and limbs, to vanquish the plague. His wranglers are now desperately attempting to shut him the fuck up and wind down his daily updates. Perhaps throwing playballs in the other room and bustling him out -today’s was the shortest yet, at 22 mins, rather than the hours he normally courts. This I think would be a mistake.

As a great woman once said, I’m not saying kill all stupid people, just get rid of the health and safety signs and let the problem sort itself.

s

Yesterday

Tomorrow