A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 4

8th November 2020

It has come to pass. At 4.30pm yesterday CNN finally announced it would ‘project’ the winner of the US presidential race as Joe Robinette Biden Jnr, 46th President of the United States. Other networks followed shortly after, and Fox News finally caved last. Biden himself found out from his grandkids. It was his third attempt at the office, each try marred by personal tragedy such as the deaths of his wife and son -but it paid through in the end: at the age of 77 he’s the oldest US president yet, and the most popular with the highest amount of votes ever tallied, in his name.

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WELL DONE AMERICA. Thank Fuck. Thank Pizza God. And well done Vice President Kamala Harris too, the highest office a woman has ever held in the country, and a person of colour on top (her father Jamaican and mother Indian). Beau, Doug Emhoff, will be America’s first Second Husband and the first Jewish person in that role. She becomes officially the most powerful woman in US history, though others point out the power behind the throne was often the wife, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and rumoured Hillary Clinton (back when her husband was busy adjusting uniform standards with his protein stains). CNN quipped that the Republicans and their channels will have to learn, ultimately, how to pronounce her name -‘Kommla’ not ‘Kamarla’.

Finally democracy can rehabilitate its own good name after four years in the wilderness, the bit where it went round shitting on everyone and starting fires.

The streets of every major US city celebrated, with CNN’s announcement igniting spontaneous rounds of applause, whooping (what else, where else), car honking and pan banging across the nation. A carnival atmosphere attempted social distancing (face masks, personal bubbles) but soon gave way to crowds marching and dancing in unison while waving banners, state and rainbow flags, the latter increasingly a symbol not just of LGBTQIA support but social diversity and unity.

The new Civil War has not come to pass, though counter protests also took hold, but rather muted given the majority of supporters were either too busy distancing themselves from the loser, watching in dazed silence at the news, or drinking themselves into clifftop oblivion. Trump was busy on a round of lone golf, having thrown in his Belgian lace hanky at the final hour, though he did find time later to continue the claim he’d been the true winner, and been robbed.

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One can imagine The Great Orange Dolphin, swaddled now in silk comforters, a spherical mound beneath the bedcovers but for that cold glow of the phone light, watched by guards as Melania furtively, ecstatically packs her things, whispering febrile Slovene in the dark -the remaining staffers crumpled, heads in hands outside the door. Kayleigh McEnany, mascara dribbling, chain-smoking, calling faintly through the keyhole.

Her view is of a slashed painting of George Washington, golf club imbedded, lording over scattered copies of The Art of the Deal and DVDs of The Apprentice Season 3. Every curtain closed throughout the wing in utter silence, but for one torn and hanging by a thread, the other leading into the huge bundle of Versace bedding. A globe that opens out into a display for alcoholic beverages and discarded Big Macs burns surreally in the corner that no one is bothered or high ranking enough to put out.

And far, far away a loon calls into the night.

Trump looks unlikely to give up from cold dead hands, given that if he ever gets past first stage, he’ll be looking at a beckoning spell in prison, from his incalculable tax-dodging alone. Orange is the new black.

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This is a turning point, a page to be flipped after so much domestic and geopolitical damage. A return to support for the Paris Accord that aims to stem greenhouse gases, to NATO and WHO, battling right now the worst crises since WWII. To a nation riven by racial, religious, generational, political and class divides, between the haves and have-nots, the 1 percenters and The Rest, the urban and rural, the north and South, east and west, natives and non-natives, Black and White and all in between. Diversity is strength in numbers, in duality and pluralism, not diremption trammeled into so many lines through political chicanery for the pathologically selfish and threatened. To climb the ladder then burn it behind you should never become cultural creed.

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Okay, enough soapboxing, we’ll have much more of that in the next few days. The transition period is a whopping ten weeks, and inauguration in January by all counts. For the time being lets hope everyone settles down, puts away their hunting rifles and camo, and concentrate on the task at hand -not just political change but the giant viral cloud threatening the world in the greater scope of things.

Yes, that.

So, MINKS.

Cute little fuckers. Minks apparently are a new biohazard, spreading a fancy mutation that’ll be harder to vaccinate against. Outbreaks earlier in Spain and now Denmark have seen all their captive populations culled by the millions, and a global populace now wobbling about whether a zombie apocalypse might actually manifest, as we all secretly know it’s bound to happen one day (though the WHO did respond in saying it was entirely normal and expected to have differing zoonotic strains).

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It remains to be seen whether our farming and hunting practices require a sea change, increasingly seen in the last new human viruses and global pandemics -SARS, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, MERS, HIV, and Ebola. Due to the size of the human population now, 7.8 billion and counting, we should maybe all just go veggie -the risk is rising alongside every year we grow so exponentially, at 200,000 extra babies each day. The mountains more of meat we will need to feed those lives adds ever more risk -throughout history every time Man gets jiggy with Nature we correlate with a new round of infectious, incurable disease. Such as Bubonic Plague or Smallpox or Spanish Flu (that actually originated in a Kansas farmstead), coming from rats and livestock when we began farming then mass-farming, then industrial farming.

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But then:

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But then

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But then

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Ah, the dichotomy of individualism. We know we shouldn’t do it, we know it even kills other souls without mercy, yet we do it (sorry about that). Democracy or benevolent dictatorship? Anarchy or Facism? Shame culture or guilt culture? I decide, or we decide?

Our world is built on hierarchy, a form we like to think is about efficiency. We just haven’t worked out how the mad scramble to the top is meant to impose order, that the fact no matter where we are in that jungle we will always be in competition, between the winners and losers, and invariably the vast majority will always think themselves the latter. That life will not stop and take a breath (or at least a laboured final few, possibly via an ICU) unless that Hell Is Other People In Competition ever lets up.

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Okay, like I said. I step down from the soapbox, and will myself rummage through the fridge, pausing then nibbling on pieces of packaged death, like any member of a guilt culture is wont to do. Because I’m worth it.

Anyhoo, for what it’s worth, nice one Mr Biden. You big baby squash your facey baby you x. I may now light a candle, and sway in the spirit of collective beatification. So please now, heal the world.

Make it a better place.

For you and for me and the en-tire human race. There are… people dying, if you care enough for the living, make a better place for you and for me.

Save it for our children ye-ah!

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A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day Two

6th November 2020

So for the last 72 hours the Great American Show has been counting down the election results with ever more fervour, ratcheting up the tension to a crowd of not just millions in the country but billions across the globe. So much hinges upon it.

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You’ve got to give it to these rolling, roiling 24 hr news channels: they don’t relent, though the news anchors (or at least the directors and writers) must surely be flagging after 72hrs. It’s like a drawn out Telethon but one in which Pudsey bear is slowly being winched to the lip of the volcano, and may or may not be sacrificed into a burning hell for the next 4 years dependent on the rate of our donations. Brinkmanship is very much a term apt for the unfolding spectacle.

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As Biden nears the now fabled 270 seat mark that’ll secure him the victory, Trump is busy throwing his toys out the pram. His son calling for all out war on social media while Dad is suing to stop the count, and entailing ever more curtailments from Twitter as he peddles his fake news that sent-in ballot papers are unsightly and the process rigged. The trending handle ‘Stop The Count’ has seen crowds converge across the remaining states still busy at it, notably swingers Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia, where small legions of staff filing the papers now have to protect against a wall of zombies pressed against the glass and spitting abuse. Perhaps those complaining about systemic hijack of the democratic process and urging us to Make Every Vote Count should perhaps not try to hijack the democratic process and allow every vote to be counted. But hey, ‘Murica.

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It didn’t taken long for many people to inform POTUS that if they did indeed stop the count it would mean Biden, settling at 243 versus 215, would win right there. Others wished the Great Orange Dolphin had had one of his charming typos, just that one letter missing that would’ve meant so much more, and reflecting true intent.

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Hot on the tails of the new handle, inserting itself into the ecosystem of Twitter and contemporary global culture came new visions of a fabled count, that now needs to be stopped. The fuzzy faced vampire of Sesame Street infamy.

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Meanwhile from the UK the trending handle appears to have become equally associated, quickly rising as the second new icon to insert itself into global consciousness.

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-All this despite the fact UK just entered a new period of lockdown. What is there to say? Ho hum, the march of culture and mindset carries on unabated. The other leading trend in the UK being to #banfireworks, set by those irked from the randomised bangs of half hearted attempts at a Guy Fawkes night, or the annual quota of singed kids missing a finger/ ear/ eyeball.

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So it’s not the emptied streets of the cities and aisles in the supermarkets, the plummeting recession exacerbated by the ill-reported collapse of Brexit negotiations, and missing of trade deadlines coinciding with the new measures. Nor the sheer fact so many businesses will now go under for good, unable to weather another round of closure -instead it’s tweet after tweet of pigeon war. I got to hand it to the Brits, we’re a bunch of miserable cunts but at least find humour to go with it.

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I say this from a pampered position of furlough, though of course the very near future looks pretty damn uncertain. So many friends and colleagues, some of which have only just managed to eke back a semblance of employment, against all the odds (such as having several degrees from winning global institutions to gild their warehouse job), are now back in jobseekers limbo after a couple of weeks. Denied access to the furlough scheme despite years of work there, but due to them being gifted zero hours contracts through an agency and a government intent on saving the hassle of affording workers their rights, means they have none.

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Meanwhile the rest of the museum, which had been on the brink of swallowing a round of three-figure redundancies, has had a stay of execution. Personally it’ll be hard to enjoy the ‘time off’, being the strata in the crosshairs to be offered up to The Great Quota now haunting the hallowed halls of each dept. Apparently it’s mid-management they see most as mismanagement.

But at least alive, it always helps. The government is now looking at beyond worst case scenario of 85,000 dead, though it’s wise to remember without a lockdown they were looking at 200,000 – 800,000. Worse than WWII.

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Two new shops in our locale, perhaps taking advantage of the flatlining rents, are surely doomed. One a bespoke furniture maker, whose family spent countless weeks behind plate glass setting it up for the benefit of the passing commute, only offered a final view of the lone matriarch, head in her hands over the paperwork. The other a gelato place, whose sun-visored, visored worker looked as frozen in the headlights whenever custom approached the door. Their timing has been untimely.

I’ve not been outside, but it sounds business as usual -the drone of traffic and announcements in the train station of fires, owners of numberplates blocking the track and errant ‘Mrs Snows’ and ‘Mr Sands’ requiring immediate attention from security guards or Transport Police. The curtains are constantly closed due to the cold, and the fact to open them would entail my good personage having to actually get up out of bed, walk over and exert my arms. I am valiantly, sacrificially trying to rid myself of all my bedtime in one go -dozing, scrolling, watching, eating, muttering, scratching and pissing willfully while horizontal in a bid to get fully sick of it, get it out the system. Before a rebirth of hourly exercise, yoga, learning Greek, painting public murals and writing a new book. Maybe a spot of light tennis and poetry.

But for the time being, fuck it, fuck you all. Onwards with the show, it simply must go on.

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