A Journal of the Plague Year Day 44

Friday 1st May 2020

Yesterday was quiz night. It went on for 6hrs. Dear fuckitty. By 3am, quiz over hours ago, we’d swapped tattoos, sharpied each our faces and occasionally undressed. At the end we argued :(. Alcohol is perhaps not the best wingman.

We connected via Google Meet. Zoom apparently forces you to log out and in after 40 mins, whereas GM was unlimited. But the audio was terrible, only really allowing one person to talk at any one time, and a delay for quite a few seconds. Don’t expect punchline responses.

Overall, don’t do GM, go for Zoom, the fuckers have enough money anyway.

Pretty much my highlight of the day.

Have had a migraine every day for a week, I’m wondering if it’s my hair, seems I’m allergic to blonde, despite the compliments. Maybe due to residue from the bleach -the fumes were definitely a trigger at the time, akin to eau de chemical pain.

Meanwhile a select few countries appear to be rolling out plans for opening up again from lockdowns. However the several states that have started in the US are subsequently dealing with outbreaks in factories and businesses that force them to close yet again. The Michigan Capitol was also stormed by armed protesters.

On the shopping foray out I noticed a lot of people getting into arguments, myself included -no less than four. First the Asda (of course) ‘helper’ shouting at us to stay behind the line at self service, after silently watching us approach the entire bank of empty checkouts (I yelled back). Then a man at Lidl who castigated the doorman for stopping the line at him before entry, both facing off. Once inside the woman stomping off after crashing baskets, then at a stop the police being called to some shouty women ejected from the bus (it looked like one had dropped a phone under it and the driver refused to back up). The police looked very persevering.

I think people are starting to hit that stage where they’re getting antsy across the board -skin itching, hair-tearing and needing a fag. There’s something about stress, and the need for humans to take it out on others, to relieve the pressure and just generally be in that negative mindset. We all know it, we all do it. Just the world would so much be a better place without it, if we learn to recognise that behaviour in ourselves and curb it /call it out. The kinda shit that stops wars.

On the subject, the US looks like its garnering support to try and bill China for compensation, from both right and left, with the states of Missouri and Mississippi having filed official claims. 2/3 of the population polled now hold strongly negative views on China -with Trump at the helm it looks likely the entire country will follow.

I’m just wondering if it could end in all out war. Apparently Trump, being a sociopath, repeatedly asked why he couldn’t just nuke North Korea. And when denied then tried to get Seoul to evacuate, as a ruse to scare the North. That’s 25 million people he tried to move out from the world’s 3rd richest city behind Tokyo and New York. Wrecking an economy (half of all South Koreans live there) as a tit-for-tat move for his personal war games.

It’s also reported he’s starting to agitate his relationship with Fix News, who’ve long been bedpartners, sending out texts and burning their Valentine cards. He’s been actively calling for an alternative -and that conveniently looks like the One America News Network (OANN), renowned for pushing conspiracy theories to the nest of the weird that is increasingly Middle America. Word out is he’s also likely to start his own news and entertainment network once out of office. Dear lord. We can imagine what that’s gonna look like, sweeping vistas of his face on Mt Rushmore at every segment, perhaps obliterating Lincoln or Washington -or both given how round it is. The sound of choppers and rockets, the billowing flag, the bimbofied newsreaders, fireworks and lurid graphics. Everything in gold.

It remains where Fox will go with this, blindly, arse-rimmingly loyal, but now running anti-Trump ads. Ah, those golden years…

Today has also been International Workers Day or Mayday, when workers of the world unite, parade or protest, especially on the continent. They have of course been universally banned due to C-19, thus fueling even more sentiment that citizen rights are being curbed as an excuse. Some have been sensible about things.

Germany

Athens

Vienna

Rome

Others less so

USA

Istanbul

Protesters marching against Erdogan are arrested in Istanbul

Ah, back when we could touch each other, comrades in arms. Workers of the world, unite!

 

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A Journal of the Plague Year Day 34

Monday 20th April 2020

I sent the book off today to two agents, feeling myself dandy for doing so too. Then had another long trek, this time into Clapham via the Common. In terms of rating London’s green spaces there’s not a lot to say about it, it would maybe score 2 or 3 out of 10. It’s first and foremost a common, delineating itself from parkland by being relatively open ground and unplanted. No acres of flowerbeds, no landscaping a hill to the right or left, though there are two pretty ponds, and a windswept one. Everything is left as nature intended, kind of, with a few statues here and there and a playground/ outdoor gym/ skatepark. The scraggly collection of woods on one side is pretty scant in terms of biodiversity, being mostly grass and small, young bushes, studded with condoms. It is of course a favoured dogging site, almost legendary, though these days populated by the kind who cannot pull online or via an app (read: old, unsexy and unkempt, possibly murderous).

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The rest of the park is plain – large empty spaces of green or gravel, popular for sports aficionados and event staging. It is dare I say it, boring. The Attenborough equivalent of an Asda carpark. Inside the ponds we saw a dead and rotting fish ( a fat, white carp), studiously being ignored by a heron, and two potatoes, possibly jettisoned by fleeing BBQers. The fun police were out in force, cruising ominously along the running paths and stop-searching drivers for evidence of commuting or shopping.

I did spot an interesting tree, as pique among dross. Very Easter. J said it may have been diseased (apt). I may come out and start worshipping it.

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Then it was Clapham Old Town, a nondescript part of London tarted up into prettiness. Although every building is not that old it’s been done up as if they are, even the 20th Century additions, complete with flowerboxes and fabric awnings, scrubbed brick and pistachio paint. This is what all of London could look like with a spirited makeover, given this end was also traditionally poor throughout the centuries. Mostly residential but gracing a tiny corner of shops and businesses, almost all closed but for the delis, organic cafes, bakeries and ultra-expensive grocers each with a queue (how very Clapham). Sainsbury’s had a very long line outside, Tesco directly opposite nary a soul, not even a guard. UK has a curious hierarchy of supermarkets/ grocers not always evident abroad, from the department store emporia at one end who deliver in 1920s horse-driven cabs, to the panic buying, zombie-baiting megamalls at the other:

Fortnum & Mason

Harrods (formerly top spot but they lost their royal charter ever since Dodi, son of arms dealer Fayed, got into the car with Diana. It’s now owned by the Qatari royals)

Harvey Nicks (do they even do food?)

Selfridges (the best imo, far more choice, and surprisingly, deceptively affordable)

M&S (can be swapped with below)

Waitrose (far more choice than above, which only does it’s own brands)

Sainsbury’s (can be slightly naff, all the usual brands but pricier for no reason whatsoever)

Tesco (naff, but all the usual brands)

Morrisons (normally bottom of the pile. Wide use of the cheapest sugar, the offcuts, the sweatshops, despite rebranding)

Asda (the new low, having seen the kind of supermarket sweep and panic at the disco behaviour relevent to these climes. Part of the Wal-Mart fam)

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Once home I was face-down and asleep, as is usual nowadays whenever popping out, as if the toll of sunshine and fresh air weighs upon the shoulders, along with possible contagion. Out of it for hours. Then cut my hair, and joined a group chat with some buddies via Zoom, the place to be this season. Despite all that had a low mood, surly even. A part of me is constantly worrying, one housemate becoming a hermit, the other needing contact, and myself trying to provide both or neither.

I miss going out to have a meal, going shopping, going on holiday. The NYC trip for May is now a no-go (had that coming) as BA has finally canceled the flights; the supremely dodgy travel company wanting to charge us £150 for an admin fee still and that’s eating me up. Canceled the Airbnb – with now over £400 in vouchers to use. Also found out the museum is looking at July or even as late as October for a reopening, so I’ll likely be furloughed.

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Across the US people have been demonstrating to reopen the country, and get rid of lockdown, plus the usual barmy anti-vaxxers. There’s been a counter-demo by two fearless healthcare workers, dressed in their scrubs, standing in the street to block the traffic from joining. In the face of hooting car horns and a woman leaning out and yelling at them to go to China if they wanted communism, and that it wasn’t fair they got to work and she didn’t.

Health care workers stand in the street as a counter-protest to those demanding the stay-at-home order be lifted in Denver
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Democracy is being given a bad name. This pandemic is showing the flaws in the system, when ignorance is given equal standing as information, when the leader himself goads it as a device to keep himself in power. We kinda forget Nazism was a democratic rise.

This is why we need constitutions, as we the people can’t be trusted, as history has shown. Of course we’re going to vote for ourselves, of course we’ll step over others to get to the top, of course we’re going to lie, cheat and steal to furnish our bigger piece of the pie. I do wonder why giving freedom so often means giving free rein to abject competition.

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I’ve looked at the news fora for the first time in a while today, and the comments are starting to die down, less demands for lynching, less arguing, insults and vitriol. It appears we’re getting used to the new normal. C-19 may be on the verge of getting boring.

Another 823 died last night in UK hospitals. Deaths in general have doubled -a 20 year high, added to by unconfirmed virus fatalities and a great deal of people avoiding hospital treatment for fear of cross-contamination, or thinking they’re overloaded (the reality is that beds are now at record vacancies due to this). They’re hoping the worst is over despite the high tallies. The city remains silent to the core.

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News of vaccine trials to start next week are encouraging, though we’re still a good year off from being able to medicate it should it succeed. The orders for more tests and PPE are being stymied by bureaucracy, the govt promising new supplies from Turkey for the following day, then realising they’d forgotten to formally request it even. At times like this paperwork fuckups can kill, on a huge scale.

The night’s film was Fantasy Island. I wouldn’t call it run-of-the-mill despite using the usual jump scares and idiot decision-making (let’s split up! Let’s stage an argument now!) from the dwindling arsenal of Hollywood storytelling. The film’s premise is each vacationer gets to live out a fantasy, but of course one that turns sour and increasingly deadly. There’s a refreshing lack of gore and overt sadism, and an interesting landscape of a storyline (SPOILER) in which one finds the disparate scenarios for each guest are related. Large plotholes withstanding it was an interesting enough watch, and a big part of my life for 2 hrs, becoming the highlight of my day.

I need to get out more. Maybe all this was just some numpter wanting a bit of me-time.

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