A Journal of the Plague Year Day 28

Tuesday 14th April 2020

The horror movie checklist:

  1. Large house with multiple rooms. Old.
  2. Dark house, where multiple 20W lamps are needed in every heavily curtained space. Even in daytime, thanks to broody, rainy locations like Southern California. Firelight.
  3. A basement/ attic stuffed with middle class clutter and weird AF shit.
  4. A basement door to the garden that is jammed. Extra point if a spade is resting outside, with a wooden handle.
  5. An unlocked front door. All exteriors are pretty much unlocked, the opposite once inside.
  6. Creepy doll
  7. Jewellery box with a twirling ballerina.
  8. Painting close up. The eyes.
  9. Door knob slowly turning.
  10. Looking through a slat. Surprise!
  11. Key doesn’t work. It will later.
  12. Old newspaper/ photo album with grainy black and white of an unhappy loner.
  13. A diary/ investigation wall. Tortured drawings.
  14. Upper middle class family. One of the parents is creative.
  15. Pale, sickly looking child. Very serious. Nerdy, independent.
  16. Pale, sickly looking service staff. Extra point if they look and act Victorian, despite growing up in the 80s.
  17. Creepy old person/ disabled person. Extra point if they have a foreign accent.
  18. Skin disease.
  19. Teen sex scene.
  20. School angst. Bullying.
  21. Southern accent
  22. British accent.
  23. Someone innocently bursting into a room, or grabbing someone by the shoulders from behind, to greet them as you do. Or just walking past with the sudden sound of screeching strings.
  24. Walking into a room. Stopping. Freezing.
  25. Calling on someone and finding them violently compromised by a household object.
  26. Explosive flurry of urban wildlife: birds/ bats/ rats/ a cat.
  27. A barking dog, that becomes a whine.
  28. And then I woke up!
  29. Secret room.
  30. Sharpened bench/ farm tools.
  31. Shower scene, eyes closed. Extra point if she doesn’t check the heat/ wait for it to warm. x
  32. A fall from height.
  33. Woman/ child calling stupidly, announcing herself at all times no matter the glimpsed shapes and skittering sounds. Half a point if it’s a teenage guy.
  34. Quit it guys! This ain’t funny guys!
  35. She who runs falls.
  36. I have a great idea: let’s split up.
  37. No one believes me! /I’m going mad! Can I trust mine own eyes?
  38. Noises on the level above. Tracking them.
  39. Hiding in closet/ under the bed scene.
  40. Blissful diorama at the end. But it’s not the end…

Score: Child’s Play (2019) – 11/40 Surprisingly refreshing, though everything as trashy as promised and quite a dalliance into torture porn, ewww.

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Another blanket-drowned day. Up at 5am, back to bed again by 8. Then awake by 11. No breakfast. Attempted lunch at 4pm.

Grated up a swede, threw in a potato too why not. Garlic and onions. Bacon. This’ll be like one of those German potato cakes, or latke, yeah!

Dash of soya, green tabasco. Some of that Bosnian spice mix why not. Fry, till crispy on the edges.

Doesn’t work. Crispy, yet soggy. Smoking AF. Tried it anyway.

Waaay too salty, it’s that Bosnian stock mix thing. Better make rice to water it down. It’ll be like what rice was designed for, a few choice slivers of flavour intensity like jewels in creamy fluffiness. Yes.

Gawd, it’s still awful. This calls for an egg, no three. A full on omelette. Like a tortilla. Yes. Separate the rice, return it to the pan.

OMFG inedible. Salty, sludgey, eggy. Like super eggy. Burnt.

Every surface smells of egg, room is noxious too with weird smoke pong. Open window, re-wash all the china, glasses and cutlery.

Let’s try rice porridge. The kind that actually demands a salty accompaniment, commonly duck egg or thousand year egg. That’ll surely utilise the flavour. Yes.

OMFG it’s literally poison. Burning a hole into the bowl. Complete fucking giant egg write-off. Half my larder gone on it too. This is like McCandless’s existential nadir when he kills that moose in Into The Wild.

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Pounding, vomitous migraine from disrupted sleep plus no food.

Looked up some foreign cinema, after my diatribe about Americana yesterday. After an hour of research, downloaded a Chinese film noir, The Wild Goose Lake, apparently second place to the Palmes D’Or. Took an age to get started (clicking away pop ups like Whack-A-Mole, restarting on new tabs, loading up a stream at dial-up speed). Then no subtitles. None found either online.

Have a sudden urge to play whack-a-mole with real moles.

Tomorrow I’ll try and give the chum to the pigeons, they’re probably starving. Though I tried the last few days to feed them.

They have got to be the most stupid animals I’ve met. They watch me throw them crumbs, then whole slices like a performance artist. One of them works out it’s bread, but the minute it falls off the roof, it’s as if disappeared. They do not make the connection, as slice after slice ends up on the floor below. Even when a day later I collect them and deposit them, shrine-like, in the middle of the carpark, they remain like modern art. Speaking volumes about our disposable consumerism at an epoch-changing time of want and the Heiglian ideal. Yes.

They’re probably new pigeons. The rest have starved to death, and these were the chicks that survived. They have no idea what bread is, but if they’re willing to peck at vomit, they’ll maybe be able to peck at my lunch dinner attempt.

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In the news.

  • Trump has had a meltdown, publicly ranting at reporters for an hour and a half, and including a pre-prepared video on the injustice he’s endured, notably under questions on his running of the C-19 show.
  • Many Africans in China are now facing homelessness following an outbreak of C-19 reinfection in the African districts of Guangzhou, and a nurse who was attacked after a man escaped an isolation ward. A slew of evictions followed, and a sign even put up asking Black customers to please not enter a McDonalds (later the company apologised). Although social media campaigns have now sorted food, clothing and re-housing, and the govt is making a statement they have a zero tolerance to racism, the local police were said to be hassling the unfortunates, and even blocking aid-givers.
  • It’s seen as an excuse for the council to finally push the community out, once hundreds of thousands strong, inline with a crackdown from 2018 eliminating visa-overstayers and illegals, which China has been increasingly inundated with this last decade. The history of racism and pandemics goes hand-in-hand, and galling given that Chinese round the world have been victims, but now fellow perpetrators. The world is studded with fucking idiots.
  • World food production is looking increasingly threatened by the collapse of logistical transport networks, processing factories and retail. Most immediately vulnerable are Pacific nations, with desert nations and smaller European/ island countries to follow.
  • Russia is giving hints it’s gotten serious over there, Putin looking serious alongside. China has recently been having many cases of reinfection coming from across its northern border, notably the border city of Suifenhe reentering lockdown.
  • Japan is also looking worse, with hundreds more cases. Like Russia it’s been following a light lockdown if none at all, relying on masks and social distancing. China’s other re-lockdowned city is a port that services Japan, Jiaozhou.
  • Another 778 died in UK hospitals today, bringing the total over 12,000, despite still an undercount. The BBC is no longer reporting the deaths, or at least making it obvious.
  • Globally deaths are at 120,000 and 2 million infected.

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A Journal of the Plague Year Day 8

Wednesday 25th March 2020

 

Day 2 of the lockdown and the fridge is already looking depleted. It’s sunny outside and the world seems beckoning. Unbeknownst to most there is another worldly drama playing across the seas, that many just aren’t interested enough to click on, and the fact one third of the global population is now in lockdown. India has just entered a nationwide homestay as of last night  -the world’s largest social undertaking in history, over nearly 1.4 billion citizens.

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source

The lack of warning meant panic buying across the country, even in small villages (giving adequate warning means hundreds of millions will head to their hometowns, thus largely negating the effect of what a lockdown is meant to instill, as seen in the droves of students who fanned out from Lombardy and spread the virus across Italy when word got leaked). Narendra Modi’s govt has sanctioned some of the most timely and forward thinking measures long before other countries cottoned on, including the preemptive closures of its railways, highways, 80 of its most major cities and early banning of gatherings, events and religious services. Indians today are waking up to a few shops open, a few vendors, and spraypainted rings on the ground, where people will have to queue 2 metres apart when buying. Also already complaints about overly overt policing, insofar as essential workers are being hassled trying to reach their workplace and food startups are dumping their inventories as delivery trucks are forced to turn round. Many more fear sheer starvation, and a distinct lack of healthcare options in certain states, although the government is bailing out free grain, dairy, unemployment benefit and hard cash for those without bank accounts. Those in slums are also mentioning social distancing is all but impossible, where nearly one fifth of urbanites live, many of whom opted to stay despite free housing on the outskirts (some slums generate over a $1 billion annually from sheer entrepeneurship). In contrast to some southern cities where quality of life is on European levels, others in the north are still entrenched in the Third World.

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Bangalore India’s most livable metro

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Mumbai’s biggest slum, Dharavi

Take all this into account and imagine the scale of the undertaking, of the shared experience. Uttar Pradesh State alone accounts for 200 million people, where some rural areas report one ICU for 3 million. Take the counties of our own green and pleasant land, one of the world’s densest despite, where 50 million people fit into an area the size of Maine, or Sri Lanka.  Think of Cambridgeshire, Devon, Yorkshire. Well if you divided India into similar sized catchments, there’d still be 2,452 of them. If you gave them first names, like say, Bill and Ted, you’d have a problem dubbing them all without heading into Chardonnay-Lou-Lou, or Gugu-Mbatha territory. If every second was half a million people -in short an instant city you’d have to police, feed, shelter, wage and nurse for 3 weeks for, you’d be sitting there for over 40 minutes. If you counted every Indian person sitting under lockdown right now, swiping right for each of their smiley profile pics -let’s say a second for each -you’d be there for 44 years, and your arm would have eroded away back in 2050.

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Premise of a horror movie satire if ever I saw one, a Tindr/Grindr fanatic chained to feverish possibilities.

On that slightly jarring note, all that is also out the window. J, an occasional user of hook up apps, has mentioned how traffic is down, yet people are still up for social undistancing, and swapping body fluids, albeit some are more cooperatively marking meet-ups as future red letter days, on their fireman calendar. A Facebook friend has taken screenshots of his great one-liners du jour, ‘hey, lets get coughey together’, ‘Babe, I’ll take your breath away’. We kinda need that humour in our everyday I feel, despite acknowledging what is going on abroad, in town, right next door. Let’s not forget to help out in our blinkered isolation, and barricades of personal prioritising.

250,000 have so far volunteered to help at least a single day when the NHS called out. China, South Korea, Cuba and Russia are now sending testing kits, masks, medical teams and ICU’s across the world, including to the US. New Yorkers are setting up their own mask factories at home. When Texas refused to instate a lockdown, each of its 254 counties ordered their own. Iran has freed 130,000 non-violent prisoners, including political ones, amid an army of hundreds of thousands of volunteers disinfecting the streets and helping in the hospitals. In Italy 8,000 doctors have volunteered – 5x more than the state had sought, and despite nearly 10% of C-19 cases -over 5,000 -being healthcare workers.

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In other news Prince Charles just checked in as positive. Along the lines of global, candle-burning vigils for Tom Hanks and his wife, oh and Linda Lusardi, plus the world-igniting excerpts from Madonna on how great an equaliser the disease is. Poor Charles, even A is worried about the Queen who he’s not a fan of and is not a subject to, but I’ve assuaged him that her London pad has 660 rooms to distance herself in, and her current hidey-hole in the country over a thousand.

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It’s not like I hate them. I just don’t have enough tealights to care that much if they got ill, and definitely not more than anyone else. Like a neighbour’s pet on its way to the vets, claiming that oh, they had a good run. And one littered with racehorses, yachts, gala balls, servers and corporate sponsorship.

 

Yesterday’s film was Knives Out. A timely, nail biting study on an odorous family fighting over a huge inheritance, with a murder thrown in. High camp and intrigue, and ticking off our boxes on getting our back on the class divide, our hero the servant girl /nurse, while James Bond does a ham act in so deep a Southern drawl you’ll need subtitles. The comeuppance for any Hollywood villain is always one to be savoured, but so delicious is this turning of tables I do question as to what so spices it. The idea of fairness, of equalising the curve, and setting right from wrong. Coupled with a superiority of emotional intelligence (EQ), and I think a dash of mob mentality where we the manky droves take down the statues over us, who’ve long been rubbing our noses in their feeds and plinths of enablers. The rich are portrayed as the emotionally asinine, the greedy and cold, but are we not following the same time-worn paths when their time comes, if ever it does, at our hand? If our current climes are so great a leveller why are we still clicking on those stories? And still denigrating them?

And on that pressing social subject, what is inheritance tax these days?

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Am watching The Platform on Netflix, a Basque horror and thinly veiled lesson on society, in which people lured from a nightmare job interview enter varying stages of survival – the rich at top enjoying a table of luxury, while 250 levels beneath they fight over the slowly decreasing spread as it makes it’s journey downwards. At the bottom they murder and cannibalise, at the top a fascist restaurant punishes the staff if a hair is found out of place, notably in the canapés. In between people fight, kill, hallucinate and gorge on intrigue to climb upwards, alongside the question as to whether they alone are responsible for their crimes or it’s the greed of those above, or the system entire, or their administrators. Some inmates attempt to civilise their wants, picking only a few titbits off, only to watch others stuffing their faces on the floor below, stripping the displays, breaking china and stepping on gateaux, as seen in contemporary scenes over supermarket bogroll.

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That is until someone pleas to instill a portion rationing and spread the word, to which all ignore. Only when another threatens to shit in the plates does it work, and all get equally fed, bottom downwards anyway. Thus from anarchy / capitalism is borne fascism/ communism, positive feedom and negative freedom, each one diametrically opposed yet sharing similar values.

Solidarity or shit. This has got to be one of the most apt films of our time, and hopefully not a snapshot of 2020. The bit where the nice lady suddenly shat on the face of the social climber, well I’m not looking forward to that.

I’d mention something about eating flatmates too, but right now that would just be bad taste.

 

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