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 wth 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!

 

Yesterday

Tomorrow

 

A Journal of the Plague Year Day 23

Thursday 9th April 2020

 

 

Emily Maitliss opened Newsnight yesterday, following 938 new UK deaths, with one of the most prescient statements in a long time:

“The language around Covid-19 has sometimes felt trite and misleading. You do not survive the disease through fortitude and strength of character, whatever the Prime Ministers’ colleagues will tell us. And the disease is not a great leveller, the consequences of which everyone – rich or poor – suffers the same.

This is a myth which needs debunking. Those on the front line right now – bus drivers and shelf stackers, nurses, care home workers, hospital staff and shop keepers – are disproportionately the lowest paid members of our workforce. They are more likely to catch the disease because they are more exposed.

Those who live in tower blocks and small flats will find the lockdown a lot tougher. Those who work in manual jobs will be unable to work from home.

Her opener made headlines on every broadsheet.

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As mentioned recently the US infections -currently the epicentre of the pandemic -has seen an unfair slanting in Black and African American victims of the disease, Chicago reporting 70% of their cases despite the city only one third Black, with similar skewing in Louisiana, NYC and Detroit, places where race and income level strongly correlate. The BBC today has also turned the lens to our own country:

 

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Once again it appears more of the same. This seems mainly due to London being the epicentre, where 40% of residents are non-White. It also does have that correlation with class to some extent -for example 30% of Bangladeshi and 15% of Black households are classed as overcrowded compared to 2% for the national average, where it’s thus less likely to pass on. As Maitliss mentioned, minorities are also much more likely to be key workers, from the NHS (where one quarter of nurses and almost half of doctors are non-White), to transport staff and supermarket workers.

 

Yesterday’s film was also about exposing social injustice, writ into a daily life thriller. The showing was Bombshell, starring Charlize Theron (with prosthetics, playing news anchor Megan Kelly), Margot Robbie (Kayla, a new intern) and Nicole Kidman (fellow anchor, Gretchen Carlson) as the women embroiled in the sexism and sex-for-promotion scandal that overtook the Fox News network in 2016. Terse, edge-of-the-seat stuff, though lacking the fun and humour of the recent Apple offering, The Morning Show (Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon) that seems based on it. The film does miss out on what could have been some delicious exposées on toxic news avenger Bill O’Reilly, who gets a bit part, but concentrates on the fall from grace of Jabba-like media tycoon and former Nixon-courting politician, Roger Ailes.

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Apparently, the writers and producers from the start had the challenge of making the audience like the victims, or at least identify with them -stalwarts of a right wing, populist and propagandic news empire. They did this using Fleabag-like monologues, confiding with the camera while interacting the entire time still with daily life, a voice in the audience’s head despite it being evil altruistically alternative. Constant reminders of their family lives intersperse the film, complete with blonde, gurning children happily vulnerable to hate mail and reporters, then glossing over the rest, such as Kelly’s open racism or Carlson’s anti-gay rhetoric. A lowdown on what constitutes a Fox News story helps, as relayed by a secret Democrat working as a writer there. It starts off the trailer:

“You have to adopt the mentality of an Irish street cuff. The world is a bad place, people are lazy morons, minorities are criminals, sex is sick but interesting. Ask yourself what would scare my grandmother or piss off my grandfather.”

This is of course the opener near the start, that winks at the viewer to say, yes we know they’re morally corrupted, please play along. From there it introduces the two entirely fictional characters -the secret Hillary-supporting, lesbian staff writer and her one-time fling, Kayla -the generic Bimbo-dressed victim, who help to paint Fox staffers into a softer, more human and inclusive place. The fact they had to make them up entirely speaks volumes (perhaps unable to find anyone that wasn’t into animal sacrifice or KKK weekenders). The film makes for criminally good viewing, though there is no dramatic flourish at the end, or bible-thumping comeuppance to savour -true to life: Fox ended up paying $50 million to the dozens of victims, and $65 million severance to the three men accused.

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Also true to life, an icon for the film trailer on Youtube shows Charlize Theron, mouth open, about to ingest a side-on pizza slice – a screengrab deemed enticing enough to target another demographic it appears, even if it is a tale for the #metoo generation. Not unlike Aisle’s use of short skirts, excessive angles and transparent news desks to draw in the punters. Art mirrors life. And life goes on. Badly.

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This morning A got an allergic reaction. Going bright red, itchy and bumpy, hard to look at. Poor thing. But it is as always, a passing fad -within the hour it was gone, as he is strangely adverse to all sickness ever. Though when he does get sick (once every couple of years) it is very.

Went for a bike ride, the sun winking through foliage and air crisp and cool. People were dressed for summer, admiring the heritage poking above the trees, and placid waters mirroring the strolling, enough to add an atmosphere of convivial relaxation. There are only a few places I’ve been where every direction is beauty -usually in natural format, though humanity does raise a built landscape every now and then. Lauterbrunnen Valley, Symi, Lazise, Ko Phi Phi Leh, May in Virginia Water. The Ringstrasse, Burano, dusk in the Gardens by the Bay.

Well, for a few choice moments Battersea Park yesterday was that coffee table cover, something you spend years looking for. Just the right amount of people not to bespoil it, the perfect weather (cool yet sunny), and the optimal clarity at this time of year. For an everywhere that was crisp, gentle and swaying in the light.

This is the imagery strong enough to obscure the beyond, and deliver that long fought-for moment of peace.

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But of course I can’t really sing of anything nice without subsequently having to stylus-scratch it back into reality, with the looming elephant out of shot. This is the running theme so far, for this blog, for life and how we interpret it.

-We were one of the only few wearing facemasks, it’s still not a thing apparently among the youthful and healthy, who exclusively populated most of the paths. Strange summer.

This weekend will be geared towards heading off the holiday crowds. I like to think on one hand we are enjoying the view from the lifeboats -life’s great promise. On another, we need to remember not to push under the drowning.

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Yesterday

Tomorrow