A Journal of the Plague Year 3.0 Day 6

22nd December 2020

So finally ventured out to do shopping, and it seemed pretty normal. No mosh pit grannies or flying loaves, or obese people filming each other screaming. Certain chains such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are now rationing things like rice, flour, bog roll and eggs (and for Waitrose likely its cheapo Essentials range too, in edible flowers and prosecco flavoured crisps), but thankfully not Lidl; maybe the Germans really are just better organised. The streets were still populated and I’d arranged to meet up with D who’s been working home alone all week.

Xmas tree

We met up in Northcote Road which has until recently been doubling as the local Soho, ripe with shoulder rubbing and vector for transmission via loitering and street drinking -well until this new strain put a dampener on the parade. It rained, the streets were wet and people were scurrying to and fro with their shopping or dogs. We found a dry seat outside an empty pub, the kind built under the awning. About two minutes later a portly policeman politely moved us on; he did tend to lecture but apologised and we apologised back as we Brits are wont to do; though increasingly less so these days. I think we were perhaps representing a grey area -allowed to meet up with our support bubble outside, yet not allowed to stop?

Passed the new Wetherspoons on the corner (having taken over from the vodka bar, Revolution, literally up n running within 48 hrs of its demise), now shuttered up and proclaiming massive posters in its windows, about Daily MFail reports that the virus is a lie and that it’s all a conspiracy to stop their business. Haha, what a bag of wankers, notably fat cat boss Tim Martin, fresh from his ongoing campaign for Brexit (which cost him £600m as Remainers left in droves).

Xmas gammon

In the end we bought a few bevies from Co-op and retired to the grounds of the estate; I lost a bottle of cider to the fountain and had to fish it out again, lest it sozzle the koi. Am so off sweet cider these days, and switching back to beer.

Last night’s hammy hammer horror – the 1959 rendition of the Hound of the Baskervilles -was as camp as Christmas. Valiantly acted with Peter Cushing superb as Sherlock Holmes, and opposite another great icon of the macabre, a young Christopher Lee (as Sir Henry Baskerville), who’d go on to take over the role of the famous inspector a decade or two later. A leetle bending of the original tale sees a few characters combined to introduce a brazen Spanish harridan, luring her target to the jaws of death, and liable to run away whenever a man talks to her (thus starting an automatic chase, as I think that’s how flirting was constituted in those days). When caught she may or may not force a kiss on him/ herself as he shakes that feminine mystique outta her. Why young woman? Why… did you run away!? Before the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s came along, courting pretty much meant stalking the woman till she caved, or in this case sprinting after her across bubbling bog and quicksand.

Yes, very camp -the blood as shiny and vivid as the thinly disguised enamel slopped onto the tors, the ‘mire’ a pool with sawdust and sand on top, and the moors a mix of the genuinely shot and the creaky, Dry Ice-laden set of cardboard and houseplant. Night time is that blatantly sunny scene shot with a heavy filter. But it all added to the premise; there is a certain je ne sais quoi to these strangely shadowed film sets of yesteryear. Despite coming from the infamous house of Hammer, any horror was very subdued, with action verging on farce and over in seconds -early days for the seminal producer.

Although utterly unscary, it has been a welcome escape, that artfully balance between so-bad-it’s-good and so good-it’s-bad, plus a healthy dose of bittersweet every time. Positively refreshing -I should do this more often. I mean, how exactly has my soul so been saved by a dose of B-movie, high British schlock?

Fuck Netflix, fuck Hollywood, that’s how. Stop fucking gurning and clapping and thinking everything’s so fab and worn on your glitter-laden sleeve ye damned cartoons of characterisation. Every time. Get a damn life, and perspective, and some mystery; I mean do we HAVE to promote the American Dream in EVERY move, sentence and facial nuance? Priorities in a pandemic now, -wtf am I gonna watch for the Xmas movie?

The Eyebrow of America

691 people died of C-19 today in the country, 30,000 truck drivers are stranded at Dover, shitting in the bushes as Hard Brexit looms, and a second new strain just landed from South Africa, that’s even more infectious. #Plagueisland has been trending all day on the world’s social media. Ho fucking hum, bah fucking humbug -let’s move on shall we?

I’ll need to buy the Xmas food soon, and when I say food, I mean booze. Can’t believe it’s Christmas; for the first time I actually feel a bit grown up, now that I’m the one organising it rather than going to the folks’. I will try very hard for the next two days to be merry and bright, regardless of the shitshow. No pissing on people’s bonfires n all that – I may even watch my nemesis, Elsa at it (Elsa‘s a homicidal maniac, but that was just a phase -it’s more important to remember she was empowered doing it, and above all, she’s pretty). I may also watch The Road, for a touch of festive 2020ism, no one should mind aTALL if I stick that on after lunch.

Ho fucking Ho.

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A Journal of the Plague Year 3.0 Day 5

21st December 2020

I have been very much sucked into the game Alien Isolation. The latter half of the title very apt for our times. J has left for Wales while A barricades himself in the kitchen for most of the day, working at the breakfast bar with his laptop, floor heater and view over the estate. Every few minutes he pops out for a smoke, which worries me, then it’s a bike ride for the evening. And repeat. We wake, eat and go to bed separately these days.

Thus it’s just me and the homicidal extra-terrestial. I get why it’s been dubbed the best horror game of a generation; unlike a film where one watches events play out on a screen, this time YOU, dear friend, is in control of your protagonist. You get to decide to run or hide, to make a sprint for it or crawl about in available corners, gibbering like a gibbon.

The fucker’s fast, and like this first semblance of AI to the public, it’s intelligent. It acts on sound and movement, unlike the games I grew up with where the characters forged set paths that you could learn and cheat. Thus hiding in the pits of an airvent I was forced to throw a noise emmiter out one of the ducts, so as to distract the thing from me exploring about. Of course the sound bomb bounced off a wall and landed at my feet, making me scream. And run, chased through dark corridors.

Then I saw it pass by in front, in the self same air vent, and bottled my scream (like that would have helped -there have been times I’ve been inches away from the screen to better peer into the corners). I switched off my torch and began crawling the fuck away. Of course it caught up, jumping me in the black, and forcing out a bunny pellet in the bed.

It’s true what you see in films, when spaz hands can’t work the gun or missy falls over at the most unwarranted of times. The stress levels ensure you are just as idioted, running into walls, taking the wrong door, trying to shoot with a loaded carrot, and missing anyway. The game is so stress enducing even after I got killed (a horrible wrenching sound, everything going slow-mo, with a spiked tail emerging from your belly as it fades to black) I was still covering myself into the duvet and mewling. Motherfucker this is intense.

I’m almost too scared to carry on. Just cannot, cannot find some damn keypass out of the trap. So ended up watching a youtube vid on some gamer playing it out to give me clues. Even then I was screaming, along with him. I like to think I’m calm in a crisis as, well, I usually am. This is proving me wrong.

I think collectively humans on the planet right now are being spazimodo in the same way. We are literally launching ourselves into the mire with the pandemic -and after watching Attenborough’s latest offering (his witness statement on the destruction of the world over his lifetime) -with the environment too. We are literally sitting over a spread with Death and his mistress Mass Extinction, and having the time of our lives, having invited them over with promises of tea and biscuits, and a lathe for the scythe. Instead of running for the hills, we’re playing footsie under the table.

It says something when for me to get away from it all and some light relief, I’m choosing to get chased into industrial piping by a creature with two mouths and acid for blood.

An Xmas card came in the post, from my ex-landlord and friend T. It sits now over the fireplace with its pic of ice skaters outside the Albert Hall, near where we werkkk, and painted back when people could swan about unmasked. Even though he’s furloughed he’s super busy still, likely planning for the holiday and a big meal as he’s a great cook -these lives lost to ether. We’re planning Xmas day ourselves too, with D, who’s been stranded in the Big Smoke and now our support bubble. His plans to go up north were upset by the lockdown, plus apparently the police at Waterloo were stopping and checking travellers. He’d not have gotten away with an excuse for work when carrying a packed suitcase and a whole bunch of pressies. Thus he’s been home alone for a week now, like Tom Hanks in Castaway.

Ours will be salmon en croute, and I’m adding pigs in blankets. A will bake the parsnips n potatoes, as Greeks make the world’s best in every shape and form -ALWAYS perfectly crisp on the outside and mushy inside (their chips OMG), and D bringing the stuffing. I’ll do a starter of vinegar sweet veg and fried sprouts, and we’ll finish off with vegan chocky cake.

Artists’ impression

With J gone I’ve ventured into the living room to write this on a table, vertically, as opposed to lying in bed and making no end of typos as I try and tap shit out with laptop on my chest. My spine is like a Quaver from so long doing it. It’s really quite civilised -the lamp’s are on and the room is lit like a cosy study, helped by J’s inordinate amount of antiques. Silver is meant to be displayed in firelight he’s said -it shimmers and glows through an ethereal gloom. One of which is a turkey dome that looks inviting for use in the next few days. I feel like Sherlock Holmes, and it’s getting late.

Anyhoo, time again for some running through darkened, post apocalyptic rooms. Or maybe a showing of the Hound of the Baskervilles, the Hammer horror version with some candles and blankets. With all this around it feels right tonight.

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