A Journal of the Plague Year Week 11

Sunday 24th May 2020

Wake scroll eat repeat.

Another grey day, another wasted one. Has everyone reached the stage of lying in bed all day yet? That thing we swore not to do at the start of lockdown is now requisite. Not bothering to change, curling up with a screen for hours.

I’m entering the dragon, where even the phone’s getting neglected. I don’t care for social media anymore, what anyone ever is doing out there, the few messages increasingly unanswered and increasingly infrequent. The TV too, with Netflix just blaring out a side of Amerika that’s not timely right now, too full of bullshit and pizzazz that disgusts you rather than sucks you in. I’m not watching films, I’m not reading. While that one worry, whatever it is becomes like a rock sentinel in some desert, the only thing on the horizon you try and work around or blot out. But no matter how vast the plain is, how distant that monolith, it’s always fucking visible.

I have to chase up a refund, Cockhands Carlton Leisure, a company to always avoid if ever there was one, who’ve been promising it for a month now. UUURG. J is still absent, the silver clock in the living room ticks infernally so I’ve hidden it in the corner, where it can annoy the pillows.

There’s just so little to say.




A Journal of the Plague Year Day 48

Tuesday 5th May 2020

Recently I’ve been getting down from one of those tasks that waits malingering in the background. You try and sweep it under the rug but it gets out, its tentacles showing under the door, creeping under the covers and tapping your head. Try and sleep it away, try and enjoy some screentime, but then things remind you. Every time you laugh and forget, then remember. This is what leads to depression. Money problems.

And what a task that is. It’s not the end goal (raking back money owed) but the worser fate of castigating yourself that you didn’t do something about it. Regret in other words, that haunts you in the same way above, living under your pillow.

We’ve had to claim back for three holidays in 4 countries. Planes, trains and automobiles, plus 7 types of accomodation, and 2 insurance plans, one of which has taken nearly 2 months chasing to get a refund. This involves emailing back and forth, checking legislation, Tweeting, joining Facebook groups, negotiating with hotel owners and agencies, talking to chatbots and trying to ring up varying call centres round the world as if vicariously on those travels. Staffing mostly unreachable by now, and in different languages. Then throw in a few arguments between ourselves too. For the insurance it was all extracting emails, taking screenshots, phone records, filling out forms in German and more email tennis.

I finally did most of it today. Following up on the non-replies, putting together an attack plan. I now have vouchers for two of the flights, and two pending refunds, plus an overnight train reimbursement worth 114 Euros.

Word of warning: Carlton Leisure. The BA flight got cancelled, but they’re still charging us £150 admin fee, bless them, and it’s legal and impossible to contact them about it. Capitalism at its finest.

All of this is of course due to the dire state of the travel sector right now, the airlines trying to push vouchers while illegally denying refunds (all avenues to customer service are having interminable problems). I spent a good hour and a half in queues that were never to be answered. This is also partly due to the crash of the call centres, and partly due to the fact they can’t afford to pay customers back and don’t wanna hear any more about it, thankyou. Ryanair for example maintaining refunds will only be processed ‘after the pandemic’, and Easyjet pretending you don’t exist, while pushing voucher buttons under your fingertips. My worry is that these companies going down will try and reap all monies before they default on ever paying you back.

Watching Years and Years -the joint BBC-HBO series on a post-Brexit family facing a dystopian future in the coming decade. Although written a while back and released in 2019 it made for compelling viewing, albeit a tad sensationalist as economies collapse and Britain degenerates into a fascist state. However, rerun it to this year and it suddenly becomes heartstoppingly real, the drama playing out just beyond, the characters one gets so invested in. Perhaps too real, perhaps too gloomy. Yes, that really could happen now. The rise of populism in the digital age of the algorithm is what may define our era.

The UK death toll may now be as high as 53,000 as being reported by the Financial Times hot off the press of the Office of National Statistics figures for excess deaths these past few months. If that is the case it’s the exact same number for the entire world only one month ago to the day, and would put the UK with the highest per capita deaths by far. The official toll is however at 29,427 having just beaten Italy and now the highest in Europe. Hope appears on the horizon however with the closure of Nightingale Hospital, the vast new facility appropriated from the ExCel Exhibition Centre in East London, but now redundant due to no need for extra beds. Cases appear to have fallen, though 700 are still dying daily.

We can but hope for a better tomorrow.