A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 18

22nd November 2020

Have been binge-watching The Crown, and drinking in the backdrops, often missed. The most expensive series ever made ($130 million and counting) it is deceptively lavish. The crowds in impeccable period costume, glimpsed by the thousand as they line the streets, occasionally waving flags (recently they’re resorting to CGI, perhaps due to C-19). The endless parade of candelabras and gilt, Old Master paintings and landed estates, hired at great expense. Armies of peripheral servants, guards, horses and courtiers, sporting precious metal and polished antiques that emanate through the low light.

Even did a thing where I went through the big regalas, stopping, rewinding, on the adornments of anthropological, exotic ceremony. -The weddings (Queenie and Di), funerals and coronations, and their glittering cascades of cloth, furs and diamonds to a constant echoing of choirs.

But once again, it is all background. To the lives lived out regardless as focus to all the pomp and ceremony. Their loves and losses, trials and tribulations, affairs of desire, fears and dreams. Lived out in a gilded cage of spectacle and expectation, whereby they are rulers of all but their own lives. It’s not like they actually appreciate the thousands of man-hours that go into gilding these backdrops.

There is also the contrast, starkly so. The episode where 12,000 Londoners suffocate in the four days of the 1952 Great Smog, goes to pains to show a disconnect. In the dim dioramas of broken glass and brick alleyways, dingy bedsits and overrun waiting rooms, where the common people suffocate by the hundreds, that resonates today.

The Smog, powered by coal fires closed down the ports, airports and all major roads, as well as sport matches, theatres and cinemas as the audience couldn’t see the action. Swans and wildife wandered the streets, unable to find the river or parks, policemen carrying flares wandered in front of inching buses to light the way. The cloud crept into houses and left a slick of brown grease on the wallpaper, quietly suffocating the sick, old and young, notably babies. The morgues filled up within hours. 4,000 died in those days, but modern research puts it at 12,000 that spiked in that month, as those who contracted lung diseases succumbed after, some walled into their homes and not discovered for years. Many more may have died from cancer within the decade.

The episode where an intruder, Michael Fagan, breaks into the palace in 1982, and chats to the Queen at the end of her bed, also portrays a nation riven with unemployment, unrest and the scuddingly grey estates he harks from. He attempts to convey the truer picture outside to the Sovereign, residing over a country made too bombastic by war with Argentina, and the newer, crueller reign of Thatcher to notice. These were some of the darkest days in postwar history, when unemployment topped 3 million and took out 14% of the workforce (half of which it’s estimated was sacrificed by the govt to keep inflation low). A two year recession and separatist terrorism stalked the land, from the Irish Republican Army and the Welsh Army of Workers (who knew?). 400,000 council homes were sold in the Right to Buy scheme, thus ensuring a vastly diminishing pool for the genuinely needy, rising by the thousands every week.

So are we, these so-called have-nots separated by 40 years of economic rise and social progress, safely harboured in the First World, just as guilty as those pampered royals? Looking back on history, here we are living the millionaire lifestyles that back in the day everyone else yearned and died for, even from a few decades before. Warm goosedown duvets, central heating, double glazing. Video games, washing machines, microwaves, restaurant meals, plane tickets. Education, pensions, cars. Pot plants, pineapples, tea tree, pepper, bog roll. Living out life with the zest of being smallpox, syphillis, leprosy and plague-free. We even have slaves that make our clothes, paint our nails, service our vehicles, pick our fruit, and deal out handjobs in the Passat. Small black rectangles that hold all mankind’s knowledge -Library of Alexandria be damned -that we use to look at kittens and nudity.

Many of us even have ‘followers’ and quite the modicum of fame and attention, crossing borders with blizzards of posted Likes. Yet this is not what we notice. -Of course it fucking isn’t, constantly bombarded with capitalism and pop, exhorting us to try harder, buy harder.

Is the grass always greener? It’s no wonder that after some celeb dies we find out what a loser they were in lifestyle, chained to infighting, lawyers, wranglers, sycophants, fanbases, doctors, drugs, cults and contracts with no real interaction with real people. Shitting in the corners, getting 6ft Buddha statues hauled into private wards for their intravenous hits.

Lets pretend this is as good as it gets. It’s what you want to do with that fact that may change it.

Watching the empty streets of Central London swing by, at 5pm on a Sunday, now dark and rattling instead of the usual backlit crowds, I was struck by an eerie beauty to it all. Offices with huge artworks in their lobbies, designed to alienate and thus intimidate, lit for no one. Dynamic new shopfronts promising pizzazz beneath crystal walls of glass now frozen in bluish tinge. The buildings like long undiscovered monoliths, rearing into the gloom, lights off, their pampered residents flown to warmer climes to live out lockdown with a glass of Bolly by the sea. The wind blew, the bus trundled its roundabout way through a silent city, the only glowing node in a complexity of form. The other two riders like companions round a fire, or rolling shots on some film that I smiled at.

It’s the little things that make your day, and there’s something to be said in finding beauty in the nondescript. Even if it is the quiet drama of bleakness, and the sense of history pulling forward, interminably.

Chicken Kiev with cheese, now that literally can’t be beat. Coupled with crispy garlic sprouts (slice em, fry em with nuts, vinegar, rice wine, sugar, soya sauce, lots of pepper, sesame oil to finish). Happiness on a plate once home, in the soft glow of living room cosiness, and sitting down and talking to someone.

I have also had quite a revelation in chatting to K, who may be able to translate The Book for the Mandarin-speaking market, the world’s largest and something I’ve never thought about. Quite excited, not at the prospect, but just working together on it is enough, and feel things progressing.

Been waiting too long for the Grand Plan to start.

Despite the fact I’ve been in bed now for 3.5 hrs (writing to all you lovely people), my body aches all over (age), my arms are dead (no heating beyond the blankets) and I have an undying bitterness in my mouth (memories + morning breath) I will endure. Time to fucking get up.

A new life! A new me! I will exercise, I will eat out and walkabout. I will write, I will make cuppas and watch the birds and learn how to hold handstands (did actually try this out on the bed once and nearly broke my neck). I will watch a film and nap too, luxuriantly on the sofa, scratching my arse when the time comes. I will accessorise. x

Yesterday

Tomorrow

A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 9

13th November 2020

I stayed up till 3:30am last night feverishly reading the last 200 pages of Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend, following the trials and Tribulation of twelve year old sleuth Harriet Cleve Dufresnes. She’s intent on finding the culprit behind her brother’s murder -found hanged from a tree. Beautifully garrulous throughout, Tartt is a former Pulitzer winner, and goes to great lengths to portray a Deep South simmering with faded elegance and painful, ongoing history in a 1960s summer of growing the fuck up.

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To say wish fulfilment is never scored is quite the understatement, one never sees those wrongs righted, those fallen by the wayside resurrected, or justice for the utter cunts that deal the hands, with a two-faced society complicit. And one never does work out who the perpetrators really are after 700 fuckery pages. But yeah, it’s all about the duplicity of a community -the gossip and intrigue, the divisions and markers, interspersed with Tartt’s own hints and dead-end distractions. These are devices designed to confuse and allude (such as a large, foreign hat placed on a bed, that’s gotten the net alive with finger pointing at those described as bulbous-headed). It invites the reader to suspect characters exactly as the stricken community does, going about its shitty business in a charade of social niceties and hidden daggers that change lives.

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Thus we hypothesize and suspect, employing our in-built prejudices to outline one from another. Cleverly done. But the point is, like life, we will never really know what lies beneath every complex mask and life event. There is no certified killer -to reveal that person would undermine the point of the tale despite betraying the premise.

It very much reminds me of the futility and frustration of life, that isn’t a Hollywood re-telling. Translate our lives onto screen and they’d employ a much better looking actor, atmospheric strings (possible a lone piano) to our saddest moments with a blue filter, confetti, whooping, possibly clapping passersby at our happiest, sun-drenched piques. After finding The Meaning it will end tidily on a high note, you walking a hilly street with a view and newfound bounce, before the camera pans to a suitably epic panorama.

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Last night I dreamt about the time my uncle (not really an uncle but a family friend) was deported suddenly, my hero gone in a day. He was young, a student, handsome, sweet and visiting only every so often that I’d spend days in thrall, annoying highly no doubt with tickling and stories, and him being the first person to read one of mine. In retrospect a father figure since Dad was sick and sitting in the armchair all day. Never really thought much about it over the years except that I kept a hair of his in a small brass turtle (weird) and that I chased the taxi down the street and he put his hand on the glass (sad). All before it went fast downhill and life and grief and spots and rehab came on full blast. Saw him briefly again in Malaysia when I was 15 and we’d both changed, and ignored him for the most part out of shyness, as he chatted in the other room. Later the family lost contact, he moved to Mauritius last we heard.

In the dream I acknowledged it as one of my greatest losses, despite having far, FAR worse happen and not ever really thinking much about it since. Woke up ‘crying’ (the kind where you’ve been streaming hot tears for hours but then wake to find your eyes dry and face scrunched). It was an undeniably sad instance, but not that bad in retrospect nor memory. Perhaps a marker between more innocent times. It’s weird how the subconscious comes roaring back after so long – I mean seriously has it been playing hide and seek for 30 years? Festering in some Freudian sock drawer behind the empty trajectories of modern life, from the new realities after childhood?

Ko Liang, if you’re out there, leave a note.

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Life just isn’t tidy, paced out or packed with meaning. Nor with fulfilment, justice or orchestras. No distinct beginning, middle and end, despite plenty of annoying ad breaks. It just is, the trick is to surf it or be a fucking mermaid (though the plodding, entirely unmythical manatee might be a better, albeit unprettier role model).

Quid pro quo Clarice: did you know manatees -aka sea cows -are so chill they’ve become abnormally good at evolving? These dudes know the meaning of life. Normally stress and evolution (read: change) results in cancer, dampening the rate at which a body and bones can morph. Manatees, so large as to have no natural predators and not really into vicious infighting can now turn their heads 360. Imagine one of them adorable blubberboxes suddenly, creepily swivelling its head round to look at you.

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But then came modernity, whaling and speedboats.

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Dreams leave a stain. I’m intent though to change things today.

Talk to A more who pretty much resides with trusty laptop in the kitchen now. Take out the rubbish, buy some Udon for some Japanese carbonara thing I saw on the internet and have friends round for a round in the garden at 7. It’ll be cold and dark with a pandemic on but the beer will surely cheer.

The curtain’s opened for once and life feels too short not to change it.

dav

FIN

Yesterday

Tomorrow

A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 8

12th November 2020

Met a friend for a bevy today, socially distanced though not distant, parked on a bench in the swanky Coal Yards development of Kings Cross. Remember when it was the ginormous Bagleys nightclub where I’d spend many a schoolboy weekender dazed and confused, a narrow, booming warehouse of four dancefloors with a capacity of 1,000 punters each, who’d greet the sun a wasteland of marble eyes, and tongue chewing.

A lazer fantabulosa inside but grim wreck of a joint beyond -bombsite of Victorian industry, skagheads and prossies, though today it’s morphed into a civilised parade of designer outlets, mixed with overpriced food (sarnies starting at £8.50) and coffee, so much coffee. The roof dutifully lifts off halfway and meets a neighbouring canopy like two giant slugs getting it on in the low light. Now everywhere closed of course, with the restaurant kitchens glowing like lanterns in prep for the dinner delivery shift, or training attentive, be-hatted staff behind the glass. How it’s changed.

We watched the preppy locals swarm out for the school run, laughing at a seriously awkward moment when a lone 7 year old, perhaps with needs, parked her bike and sprawled herself across the bench, slowly nuzzling into a complete stranger from behind. Occasionally staring up at him. He was frozen in terror and pretending none of it was happening, while we whispered Heeeyyy Daaaadddy between ourselves. I know it was wrong, poor guy, but exquisite.

Ah, Britain, how I’ve missed you.

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But all in all we spent a good few hours over some cans of cider, and an unctuous set of kebabs, catching up, reminiscing old times, decrying the days of our lives and talking about whether we were all just sociopaths -a common worry to many but unwarranted, because if you were such a nutter you wouldn’t be worrying about it. You’d just pathologically be it. Also, if a tree falls in a forest, does it make a noise? If a sociopath doesn’t act out, and abides by our society’s rules, are they a sociopath?

I think we all can be on that spectrum, knowing full well how to lie, steal, beg, borrow, cadge and sleep our way to the top -if we need, or just plain decide to. We know how to lie convincingly, portray a mask, inveigle our way through the politics and backstab others from confided-in harbours of safety, or subtlety. We know the full gamut of hatred, jealousy and tactics in competition. We do not really applaud the success of others, but feel it as a robbing of our own corpus behind the smile. But it’s one thing to think it, possibly even feel it, and another to do it.

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And even if one does do it, it’s one thing to carry it out -then question yourself after in a private moment -another to do it without a second thought, ever. Thus the question is: if someone acts like a sociopath, regardless of the knot that is the soul -are they still a sociopath? Another more stark, easier question to ask is, do you motherfucker, enjoy destroying other’s lives? Do you find it hard to refrain when given the chance? Do you understand love?

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Anyhoo, there is a test out there, among many, and a lot of entirely normal, nice folk find they score on the spectrum even if they don’t enjoy a round of social sabotage. It appears the hangover from our predatory days (you only need to look at the behaviour of cats and why they’re bastards), when we exploited the weak or chased them down to rip their throats out, still lingers in much of the population.

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Also in our social set up: trained for years through hierarchy the minute we venture a schoolyard that first time, then followed up with a lifetime of standard business practice that’s an aria to managing exploitation for a bottom line -notably, yourself. The fact by the time you’re hitting the higher Finance end those well on the spectrum are as high as 1 in 7 (rather than 1 in 200). And from personal experience, via a stint in the echelons of a City skyscraper -corridors echoing with evil and connivance, cackling over child sacrifice -I’ve definitely seen it. Where narcissism nurtured such a belief in their capabilities despite laughably, constantly declaring their ignorance to all, then backstabbing every chance they got, showed the stereotype so true.

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All these millennia where we’ve staked out territories and discovered ownership has had a staining effect, imbedded down the line. Where it became duty to kill all strangers to protect one’s own, to stamp out difference lest it infect a new norm, to rid one’s newborns of deficiencies lest they pass onto new generations. To maintain the hierarchy or die on the dagger, or keep up the pretence at all costs. The triumvirate of self preservation, manipulation and upkeep is what instills such people into power, and their values into a culture.

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We still see it in our less regulated niceties today, from media tropes to the freedom/ anonymity of the net inviting every opinion, consensus and darkness of thought. Look at the toxic rain of comments, insults and bickering on just about anything, especially before they get everyone to register names or identities. We like to think we are good people, but what will we, can we do when not even God is watching, and never will?

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This is the result of nature and nurture combined, whereby for too long the psychopathic and sycophantic in league have created many a cultural trait of control, ambition, power, judgmentalism -rising through the ranks to instill their ways. The Trump administration is a good example of enablers lighting the way for self serving buffoons. Who get to wield out their hegemonic fantasies even in these ‘enlightened’ times, over the cultish following they engender among the easily led and selfish -hundreds of millions strong.

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Anyhoo, we surmised we weren’t sociopaths in the end, I was way too empathic (it’s almost a problem) despite knowing full well how to be an unhinged, murderous bastard when cornered, B too much of a romantic despite putting himself first. And the fact we’re almost pathologically nice guys.

Well, we would say that if we were nutters.

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But then a fat bloke plonked himself down, exposing his builder’s arse to the extent my mate took a pic, to share with his loved ones. We surmised the man couldn’t feel the bite of the cold due to it being so furry. I also think alcohol numbs the front part of the brain, the one associated with critical thinking and empathy. Given the fact he would likely have lamped us one, or been very ahem, butt-hurt, I wonder if we would have tried to throw chips into it otherwise. I like to think I wouldn’t want to hurt the unfortunate fella’s feelings, but then I am writing about him to all and sundry on a public forum.

But man, you shoulda seen it, like pumpkins in a sack.

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So, right then.

Now, honest to god, I don’t know whether I should mention the more sobering note hereon. To sign off with? To break the narrative -or add to it?

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Anyhoo, fun and games aside, lovely day we’re having and all that, the shadows lengthen, reminding us of a monolith that can’t be ignored, not really. Time to go in again.

I’ll sign off, yeah – ignore the rest. I mean, who really cares any more?

Yesterday

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A Journal of the Plague Year Day 2.0 Day 7

11th November 2020

The Beast of Lockdown

Hello. I am here to moan.

  1. Three day headache has now progressed into migraine.
  2. The drugs don’t work, they just make things worse. Like a cat in a bag, waiting to drown.
  3. I am still in bed.
  4. Have spent most of the day updating the website, about three hours work.
  5. The house is trying to work out who’s turn it is to clean via walls of silence, and it’s becoming Game of Thrones, with mops. I’d literally just fucking do it myself but that would entail another round of secreted politicking not in my name.
  6. Body clock is up the spout – sleeping at 1am, waking at 5, sleeping again at 7, awake again by 9. And repeat.
  7. I have bags under my eyes, skin looks crap. Positively ageing in the mirror.
  8. It’s cold, all the time. They need to invent heated socks. J likes things at a toasty 15C or he’ll melt apparently.
  9. Had a weird dream, in which I was my sister/ mother and burying their brother/ son, the former me. Which was a pile of my clothes. I think in the world of magical Freudianism it’s some premonition I’ll lose my job.
  10. Another weird dream in which a nasty as fuck woman drowned my sister and I tried to drown her in revenge. So much rage.
  11. Cannot find Bad Moon, B-movie of the day to watch anywhere on the net, that I promised myself as a treat.
  12. I’m barely talking to anyone in the household, and the one person who does want to talk I’m monosyllabic and unwarrantedly pissed off all the time, for no good reason. Watching the box in silence while he occasionally man-screams (sneezing/ laughing/ surprise), which is something to get used to, bless him.
  13. I’m not reading any more.
  14. The Great Orange Dolphin plugging the White House won’t give up his post, and is blitzing every institution he can take down before he submits.
  15. There’s a pandemic on.

So, Bad Moon. An escape.

There’s something to be said about ‘exoticism’. When hearing the word, it tends to bring up visions of the tropics, non-Western, ahistoric. Think a jungle tribe, beaches, waterfalls, orchids, bright colours and clinking beads. Possibly an emerald encrusted totem with dancing girls on a pyramid worshipping a volcano.

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Yet there is only so much you can get from the one viewpoint so far afield. Being constantly an outsider in my own country, there is a modicum of detachment one can employ, wherein you look at the world around with new eyes. I’m not gonna say the bleak carparks of Asda or the typeface of the platform read suddenly take on a Westeros aspect, but one can look at the cold northern climes as just as exotic. Think spires of snow-clad conifers, mountain vistas, furs, fires, cabins and medievalism. The blanched, angular features of the Sami tribe, firelit, over legends of the great forest. Just ignore the beer cans.

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But yes, werewolves. That’s pretty much what I woulda got from that. Lovely. Fuck Santa.

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The Great European Forest was an Amazon-sized blanketing of thick woodland that once covered the continent -in the UK it was as high as 97% of our land, now dwindled into nothing. Only 17% of new growth has returned in patches (and mostly in regimented, monocultured rows with little biodiversity), that make us one of the least wooded temperate, non iced up countries in the world -even Greece and Spain double our count, and only Ireland is less.

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This great blanket was a forest of the mind as well as body. It was dangerous. The last remnants of it lie on the Polish-Belarus border, notably the Białowieża National Park, that demands a guide at all times. Here it is, unlike most wooded cover across the continent, unmanaged by man. The trees stand perilously close, liable to fall and break limbs off at any time, creating a humid, strangely warm atmosphere. It’s haunted by outcasts, hunters, bison, lynx, bear, boar, wolverine …and wolves.

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Now wild wolves have only ever documented one human kill in modern times -that of a female jogger, mauled to death and partially eaten in 2010 Alaska. Other deaths were due to rabies, and another incurred through liver damage when an unfortunate was pushed to the ground. But back before the 1920s they were blamed for thousands of deaths, in France up to a hundred were killed a year, and India up to 700 annually in the 19th Century.

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This was a forest that gave rise to much of the European psyche for centuries to come. Don’t stray from the path. Don’t go out at night. Don’t be curious, don’t be fooled. And don’t talk to strangers (maybe try and kill them, as per duty).

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Along with this mindset came the legends and tales, notably collected by Hans Christian Anderson and the Grimm Brothers in their respective Mitteleuropean locales -think adversely dark chapters like Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, the Snow Queen (our sanitised retelling being Frozen), the Three Little Pigs -each entailing familial betrayal, shadowy monsters and gruesome death.

This I find utterly enthralling. And exotic.

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Werewolf legends in Europe appear to have sprung up sometime in the 1400s, and may have been a reaction of Christianisation repackaging older pagan myths into tales of woe, savagery and evil. Echoing the mass persecution of witchhunts, that took out 100,000 lives at a time when women began to demand more equality, the curse of the werewolf outlined outcasts and loners as ones to watch, alongside blame for genuine serial killers. It’s said the insanity caused by a fungal infection of wheat and rye -Ergot, stemming from cool, wet springtimes -can be blamed for some of the documented instances of lycanthropy. Causing the sufferer to hallucinate persecution: from ‘dark and horrible beasts’ to feelings of one’s body not being their own. The sensation of burning, aka St Anthony’s Fire, with tingling limbs and extremities leading to the idea of a shapeshifting form.

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Other explanations throw in the intensely sweet, black cherries of the nightshade/ belladonna plant that resulted in similar poisoning, plus the usual gamut of rabies and schizophrenia. Not to mention the seasonal hormone changes a full moon emanates (plus a light for psychopaths to hunt by). It’s said murder rates rise on a full moon, A&E wards get overrun, and that arson doubles in New York.

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Anyhoo, back to un-reality. Many myths in England correlated with the accounts of those caught and tried as Werewolves. That they were wandering the woods when the king of the forest, or the Green Man (aka the Devil through Christian lenses) gave them an ointment, their soul in exchange for everlasting life. When rubbed onto skin it sprouted thick hair and feelings of magnificence, invincibility, and bloodlust. To this day the old pagan god of the Green Man/ Herne the Hunter lives on in one of the most popular pub names across the country.

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Although by 1670, when lycanthropy had finally been relegated as a ‘disease of the brain’, there still remained instances of predation by spectacular, wolf-like monsters. Most infamously, the Beast of Gévaudan killing dozens of men, women and children in a 50 mile vicinity between 1764-67, where many witnesses described a wolf-dog hybrid. A 1987 study estimated there were 210 attacks, resulting in 113 deaths and 49 injuries; with 98 of the victims partly eaten.

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The first attack was reported in 1764 when Marie Jeanne Vallet was tending cattle in the forest of Mercoire. She saw the beast come at her but the bulls charged, keeping it at bay. They then drove it off after it attacked a second time. Shortly afterwards the first official victim of the beast was recorded: 14-year-old Janne Boulet killed near the village of Les Hubacs.

Throughout the remainder of 1764, more attacks were reported across the region, noting that the Beast seemed only to target the victim’s head or neck.

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By late December 1764, rumours began circulating there might be a pair behind the killings. This was because there had been such a high number of attacks in such a short space of time, and many appeared almost simultaneously. Some accounts suggested the creature was seen with another such animal, while others that the beast was accompanied by its young.

When it finally came to the attention of the king, bounty hunters were employed to hunt the local wolves. It took till September 1765 for François Antoine to shoot one measuring 80 cm (31 in) high, 1.7 m (5 ft 7 in) long and weighing 60 kg (130 lb). The animal was identified as the culprit by survivors who recognised the scars on its body inflicted by victims defending themselves. The wolf was stuffed and sent to Versailles.

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Antoine stayed in the Auvergne woods to chase down the partner of the beast and her two grown pups. He succeeded in killing the female and a pup, which seemed already larger than its mother. At the examination of the pup, it appeared to have a double set of dewclaws, a hereditary malformation found in the local Bas-Rouge or Beauceron dog breed.

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However, on December 2nd, two boys were attacked suggesting that the beast was still alive. It tried to capture the 6 year old, but was successfully fought off by the 12 year old. Soon after, successful attacks followed and some of the shepherds witnessed that this time, or this beast, showed no fear around cattle at all.

The killing of the creature that eventually marked the end of the attacks is credited to local hunter Jean Chastel, who shot it at the slopes of la Sogne d’Auvers on June 19, 1767. He used a home made bullet combined with silver. The post-mortem report showed the belly contained the remains of its last victim.

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In 2013 an Animal Planet documentary concluded it was probably a long haired hyena, based on illustrations of its bones and the accounts of it being able to eat through bone (hyenas have the strongest bites among terrestial predators), bred to kill by a disgruntled owner.

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Other theories suggest Chastel the culprit, if not a liar after the prize money. Or a wolf-dog hybrid made larger by the phenomenon of dysplasia, when genomic imprinting from both parents creates abnormal cell growth (hence why lion-tiger hybrids, or ligers, are the biggest cats in the world). Also that these were just isolated incidents by several animals, possibly the same pack that switched merely to hunting humans. It ends of course on a question mark, but inspiring legends for centuries after.

And thus here, now, un-embodied and morphing into the wilds of history I lose myself in detail and myth. It is a welcome respite.

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I think I’m going to settle for Silver Bullet with Corey Haim in one of the most Eighties style films out there. Based on Stephen King’s novella/ graphic novel, Cycle of the Werewolf, which scared me silly as a kid. Even if it is set firmly in a modern world, a bombastic pop culture offering, it still has that added dimension of everything the cold forest can instill, into atavistic waters.

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The original book has intensely creepy imagery, that draws everything on that, even into a modern East Coast setting.

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All thanks to Bernie Wrightson, master illustrator of the macabre. Literally just bought his Frankenstein tome to cheer myself up, that accompanies Mary Shelley’s masterpiece.

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Mary Shelley’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, aka the ‘Mother of feminism’ finally received a statue today. Born in London in 1759, the author and radical promoted equality of her gender, and wrote The Vindication of the Rights of Woman. -But whose career was cut short: she died in childbirth.

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Her daughter, aged 15 was spied by celebrated poet and enfant terrible, Percy Bysshe Shelley, praying at her mother’s grave, whom he immediately fell swooningly for. Abandoning his own pregnant wife (who would go on to drown herself) he took his new lover to the shores of Lake Geneva, where locked down by bad weather they held a competition for scariest horror story. At the age of sixteen she then jawdropped the establishment with her tale of the undead, a corpse cobbled from stolen parts and executed criminals, and murderously innocent to the horrors of the coming world: science, society, modernity.

I will save this for another dark day.

The statue however. A decade in the making and at a cost of £143,000

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It’s come under fire for the need of a naked body, depicting the activist in flagrante amidst 90% of the other statues in the city, male and almost always clothed. She’s also laughingly tiny, atop a silver, undulating form meant to inspire the movement of female bodies beneath. Rather than inspiring the struggle it is unintentionally a reminder, that plays into the rules of the established order it seems.

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Anyhoo, enough about forests, werewolves and social justice. And thanks for listening -I’m trying to say rabbit holes can save us. That there’s more to it out there than the usual navel-gazing perspective all the time, which only ever throws up a darkened existence in the world.

Getting a life, just with wolves involved. Onward.

Yesterday

Tomorrow

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.

Yesterday

Tomorrow