A Journal of the Plague Year Week 11

Sunday 25th May 2020

Wake scroll eat repeat.

Another grey day, another wasted one. Has everyone reached the stage of lying in bed all day yet? That thing we swore not to do at the start of lockdown is now requisite. Not bothering to change, curling up with a screen for hours.

I’m entering the dragon, where even the phone’s getting neglected. I don’t care for social media anymore, what anyone ever is doing out there, the few messages increasingly unanswered and increasingly infrequent. The TV too, with Netflix just blaring out a side of Amerika that’s not timely right now, too full of bullshit and pizzazz that disgusts you rather than sucks you in. I’m not watching films, I’m not reading. While that one worry, whatever it is becomes like a rock sentinel in some desert, the only thing on the horizon you try and work around or blot out. But no matter vast the plain is, how distant that monolith, it’s always visible.

I have to chase up a refund, Cockhands Carlton Leisure, a company to always avoid if ever there was one, who’ve been promising it for a month now. UUURG. J is still absent, the silver clock in the living room ticks infernally so I’ve hidden it in the corner, where it can annoy the pillows.

There’s just so little to say.

 

Yesterday

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A Journal of the Plague Year Week 10

Sunday 17th May 2020

Battersea, the coming dusk at 8pm.

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The crowds headed home but for the animals reclaiming.

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Mandarin ducks are so called as a pair are traditionally given to newlyweds in China as they mate for life.  -No, we do not subsequently eat them.

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The place has become overgrown, as it was always meant to be, making new dells.

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Dying of the light

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This year this pen laid her eggs quite openly, and close to the path. An old lady waylaid anyone taking a look and entrapped them in convo. She was worried the foxes might nab the eggs, but as someone always says when you see a swan, they can break your leg. Pub Quiz fact, they, along with the Great Bustard, are the heaviest flying birds.

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Once home, it’s back to domesticity. I’ve noticed a thing, a health thing. My legs get tired and all achey every morning. Also after every meal it’s straight to snooze time, the gradual dying of the fight. Just so cannot be arsed. A says it’s sugar sensitivity, J that it’s lying down too much. Everything I eat is packaged and carby and salty, I am apparently in need of salad forever. Life over.

Literally cannot list more than 5 veg that I will actually, actively like. Onions, potatoes, rocket. Er think that’s it. Is garlic a veg?

If it is some kind of congealing of blood, the fatigue makes me lie down more, and get cosy with a screen. Life becomes reaching distance. Not so much a vicious circle but a snug, blanketed one.

The hair’s grown out. It like it with a hat and the blonde poking out.

Snapchat-362376298(1)

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A Journal of the Plague Year Day 58

Friday 15th May 2020

Slept a good night, woke at 8 then did some scrolling. Slept again at 10, then up for lunch, of a biscuit and cereal. The giant chocolate chip cookie I treated myself to the other day in Lidl has bitten back, so sweet as to be near inedible. Entered a sugar coma till 6pm.

In short have slept for 15hrs out of 24. Can’t be good. They say you need 8-10hrs a night for healthy brainwaves, which is come on, ludicrous with our modern lifestyles. -Working well past our recompense and any accrued efficiency, with that sesh on Netflix our only downtime (which is why we’re so addicted). Mine recently’s been about 5, an hour or two less than normal.

Will casually namedrop this while pretending to look for a spoon:

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The day’s been a write-off. But been good to have time with A for a change, in bed and watching shite together on phone or tablet. Picking up the pieces, slowly.

Been witnessing especially lurid dreams recently, as have all of us. Perhaps there’s something in the air, or we’re all hitting a collective stage of isolation-spazz endemic to humans. I have recently, in the land of nod:

  • chased some old Karen lady out a library after she hit A with a handbag, she tried to escape in a getaway car, hissed at her that she was a cunt
  • seen the sunlight falling on A‘s face in the dark, woke up crying
  • getting caught watching porn, can’t remember who by
  • something about a painting, some woman, yelled in my sleep that she was a cunt too
  • midway in a dream a big thunder strike that woke me up, the sound equating to an explosion of colours, like a Holi fest. Turned out it was something/ someone falling over in the flat above. Am increasingly convincing myself dreams are another dimension beyond our understanding of 3D sight and timescale. Like a feeling of presence, form and being, inhabiting the space.

Okay, slightly worrying the repeat of calling women the C-word (though Ms Woolf does urge us to claim the word back). Perhaps misogyny embedded and rising to the fore, or as they say, the subconscious trying to tell you something you’ve not heeded, even if it is that you left the fridge door open. I hope it’s that some woman shoplifted from my basket, rather than schizoid serial killering. Or too much Ricky Gervais recently and his love of the word, or anything really that’s crossing the boundary. I just remember being outraged each time.

Was watching some podcasts on weeerk motivation -overcoming procrastination (do the hardest part first), pefectionism (a form of self-sabotage, don’t set your expectations so high), and selling yourself (and not being guilty/ fake/ grasping about it). Can’t remember who it was but it was nicely framed by an author, so she had several nice quips about the book business, albeit from too charmed a position. Namedropping one really should contact movers in the biz, or ask other successful writers to run things past, which to your average hack is far too readily immersive.

On that subject, didn’t mean to leave this lying around.

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Made some fajitas, substituting the chicken with Quorn chunks. The tortillas were too bready and a bit like eating a rubber-paper mix, the ‘meat’ flavourless other than the BBQ coating, the packet sauce way too sweet, sour and pungent. Adding lime and raw red onion to it just created a chemical attack. Gawd, supermarket packet food. AVOID.

Never had a good Mexican in the UK, every time they stimp on the chilli, (the WASP repackaging) which is vital to the flavour balance. Also over a hundred ingredients traditionally go into your average fajita, from the spice mix to the dough to the guacamole and sauces, many of which get dismissed. It’s one of the reasons why it was the first of only two cuisines UNESCO listed as world heritage status (the other being pan-Mediterranean). Peeps from the Americas often complain about the starchy, bland substitutes over this side of the pond and I’m inclined to agree without ever having tried the real thing. Even in Mexican run establishments it’s all watered down or catering to local tastes as they lose custom otherwise, the old adage for Asian food the spectrum over, notably Chinese that comes in over-sweet, gloopy sauces unrecognisable in the homeland.

….

In other news the UK death toll from C-19 is lowering, albeit still 400-500 daily. A curious thing happens each week, the numbers fall encouragingly with each new day, hitting a nadir by weekend -then shooting back up again Monday.

It remains to be seen when we open up, how much it will again rise. As reminder, the UK has the second highest amount of deaths yet recorded, behind the US, at over 34,000 and 240,000 cases. Our strain appears deadlier than Italy’s.

It’s amazing how we’re used to it now, it barely registers anymore. We are perhaps too engrossed in our domestic lives, the screen that is our inlet now tiresome from the same single note, with a new normal at play. Doom! Gloom! So now we’re knowingly putting our small dramas, whims and recipe suggestions before the fate of the world, even when we’re the ones so threatened. I’m sure it’s something we all do as per norm, but so brazen and acceptable these days it’s how a sociopath must live. The other option? Lighting a tealight in vigil? Taking to the barricades?

Rather just soldiering on, defeatist to all that shit hitting the fan, from the protests against lockdown to the casual racism, the ineptitude of governments to the people fallen by the wayside, or willingly sacrificed to it.   Worra buncha Cunts.

Oops.

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Meanwhile: Has Jeff Bezos Become a Trillionaire During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

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A Journal of the Plague Year Day 55

Tuesday 12th May 2020

J got sick, feeling back pain and a headache. Then he woke up drowsy as if a hangover, enough to have to get me to do his shopping. No runny nose, cough or fever, taste and smell fine. But still.

So we had to have that conversation, something we should have had way before any of this, months ago: what to do if anyone gets it.

Standing 2 metres away from someone at all times is pretty awkward in a flat like this. J cocooned on the sofa in blankets while we stood in the opposite corner by the door, I might as well have just gotten a stick to prod him with, maybe a crucifix.

So we’ll isolate him in his room, and do all the feeding and tending, though J’s idea is to go his partner’s place and sit it out there. I advised against, considering there are other flatmates on that side to consider, who may get infected.

We then awkwardly retired to our bedrooms for the early night; the living room feels a bit in bad taste now.

Next morning we checked up and no sweats, chills and headache had gone, no blue ‘Covid toes’ and the pain had moved down his back. We think it’s been back pain all along.

Lockdown is easing now across the country, people now allowed out for as long as they can exercise, and commuting set for tomorrow. Life is starting again, but it remains to be seen how fast and how large a second wave will be. In Seoul, one super-carrier out at the newly reopened nightlife, visited 5 clubs in one night, infecting dozens. They’re now trying to trace nearly 2,000 other punters.

Greece, a vision of how to do things, with 2,700 cases and only 150 deaths, will reopen for tourism in June. Brits will be allowed by our government to partake.

In contrast NYC is still hammered down, whose death toll is now past 26,000. By contrast San Francisco, who locked down on the same timescale, has only 35 deaths. That’s no mistake, not even a week’s difference, and change in population density takes into account such a discrepancy. They believe more strongly it’s due to different strains, NYC infected from a more lethal, contagious mutation from Europe, California a milder one from Asia.

The bungled efforts of the government has doomed much of the nation -epidemiologists say 60% of the 83,000 deaths (about 50,000) so far could have been avoided if they’d lockdowned a week earlier – a clock has been set in Times Square advertising the fact. The BBC has looked in-depth at the response, comparing it with other nations, and finding that Democrat governors locked down on average after 2.5 days when deaths hit 1 per million. Republicans locked down on average 13.5 days – nearly two weeks later.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/embed/p08cx0s7/52622037

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-us-canada-52622037/coronavirus-the-lost-six-weeks-when-us-failed-to-contain-outbreak



New York is currently the world’s deadliest place per capita
. The global Top 20 at the mo:

New York – 1,397
San Marino – 1,208
New Jersey – 1,074
Connecticut – 853
Belgium – 756
Massachusetts – 746
Andorra – 621
Spain – 576
Italy – 511
Louisiana – 505
UK – 482
District of Columbia – 476
Michigan – 468
Rhode Island – 419
France – 414
Sweden – 328
Netherlands – 322
Pennsylvania – 306
Republic of Ireland – 301
Maryland – 290

The excess deaths in New York are six times the average, and very likely c-19 is being undercounted. The same for the UK, which if connected would almost double our current total of 33,000 dead. Both New York State and the UK are now seeing a decrease in cases and deaths, but in Italy they are rising again. Russia now has the second highest amount of global cases.

In other words, we’re knowingly opening up again, knowingly killing. Like at the start of the pandemic, we can see it coming, we can work it out personally. But we’re trusting our government to take action despite.

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A Journal of the Plague Year Day 51

Friday 8th May 2020

 

 

Back in the day, the city calling. Offering up its coolness and grit, but a clean grit. That something in the air where anything’s possible.

And before all that pesky adulthood and reality, responsibilities, history.

Sun’s out, guns out.

Parklife.

Clapham Common busy as always, the temperature hitting 24C at about 3pm. All along the way people strolling, queueing outside the few shops. The usual keep-fitters skipping and cartwheeling but vastly outnumbered by sunbathers and picnics.

The fun police nowhere to be seen, but the signs everywhere, littering the flat surfaces.

A big no-no the outdoor gyms, now unsightly.

Looking like zoo animals, or edgy art.

The bandstand also (apparently the biggest in London), uglified as if to barricade there being nothing to see, nope. Rightly so, it’d be a prime vector from the sun.

The park caff fully open, and suspiciously looking to provide picnic fodder. A queue in and out, with almost a carnival atmosphere surrounding it.

Everywhere else nature returning. Although the parks now more used, quietude still to be found.

Once upon a time a ranger house, or public loos disguised as a wee cottage, pun intended. Looks like the mfing future.

The surrounding streets their own bubble in a quiet decay.

For so many a meaning lost without selling, buying, shopping.

I’ve no idea if that circus ever got there.

The ice cream shop does a roaring trade, and the closest thing to a break we can get. The queue snakes round the corner and down the street, with each punter looking a little embarrassed.

Today’s meant to be the first day of summer, traditionally the windows open, the radios blaring, the lawns littered with bodies and streets drunken. Instead a furtive atmosphere like a held note -fun is not to be had but if so, surreptitiously.

Tomorrow will be Saturday, and even hotter. It’ll happen then.

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A Journal of the Plague Year Day 42

Tuesday 28th April 2020

London is so strange and sad’: the sacked hospitality workers sleeping rough

By Amelia Gentleman, The Guardian 28th April 2020

Homelessness charity says it has ‘never witnessed a more distressing situation’ than during coronavirus crisis

Trafalgar Square at night is silent and almost empty, the usual crowds of noisy tourists visiting London replaced by clusters of homeless people, who wait on the steps of the National Gallery for food to be distributed. But these are not all long-term rough sleepers: central London is seeing a surge of newly unemployed restaurant and pub workers forced to sleep on the streets because they can no longer afford to pay rent.

Rough sleepers like Martin, a recently-sacked chef from Poland, are finding life under lockdown increasingly difficult and dangerous. “London has become so strange and sad. The only people who are out look like they are looking for drugs. There are a lot of crazy people with knives,” he said.

The government says it has housed 90% of those who were sleeping rough nationally by paying for hotel rooms, in an unprecedented drive over the past month to stop the spread of Covid-19, with 5,400 housed including 1,800 in 10 hotels across London. But in the capital, hundreds of tents and cardboard box encampments remain and conditions are getting much harsher for those still – or newly – on the streets.

The city’s day centres have been closed to prevent the transmission of the virus, leaving the homeless with no place to shower or wash their clothes, no toilets and nowhere to access regular food supplies.

The disappearance of commuters means that no one is offering money to the destitute, at a time when most soup kitchens and food banks are not operating, and when the closure of cafes has meant the homeless no longer receive unsold sandwiches at the end of the day. It has been left to a few small groups of volunteers to provide thousands of meals a week.

Although a minority of those who remain sleeping rough are there by choice and have rejected offers of hotel rooms, most of the newly homeless are still hoping for help, and feeling very vulnerable in the deserted backstreets of central London at night.

Martin, 27, worked his way up through London’s kitchens, starting as a porter when he arrived in the UK eight years ago to his most recent job as chef de partie at a fashionable restaurant in east London. He was abruptly sacked shortly before the lockdown began, and had to leave the room he was renting because he had no savings. He has been sleeping on a bit of pavement near Charing Cross station for six weeks. Advertisement

He said he has been told five or six times by outreach workers that someone will call him to organise a room in a hotel. “I waited for a call. I’m still waiting. Maybe the hotels are full,” he said. In the last couple of days his phone battery has in any case gone dead, and with cafes closed there is nowhere to charge it. He finds sleeping on the street unsafe and alarming.

Brian Whiting, a volunteer with the organisation Under One Sky, which started nightly food deliveries at the end of March, said he was disturbed by the number of newly homeless ex-hotel and restaurant staff. “One of the really distressing new things is the hospitality homeless. We’re seeing so many people who were working in kitchens, hotels and pubs until a few weeks ago. They’re so obviously ill-equipped to be out there. The long-term rough sleepers know how it works, but for them it’s very new. They look shell-shocked.”

“I’m still hanging on to my sanity, just,” a man from South Africa, who had been working for five years as a waiter in London, said from the office doorstep where he has slept for the past three weeks since losing his job. He laughed when the volunteer asked him if he was eligible for furlough payments, and said the job came through an agency, and there had been no mention of financial support. Most of those pushed into homelessness had insecure jobs and precarious living arrangements, and no ability to navigate the benefits system or wait for payments.

On the other side of the street, Whiting was dismayed to see Katarina, 34, a recently-sacked waitress from Italy, preparing to sleep again in the doorway of a cocktail bar. “It’s nice to see you, but I wish you weren’t here,” he said, giving food to her. He was concerned about her deteriorating mental health, and suspected she had started taking class A drugs. He has reported her to Streetlink, a charity that connects rough sleepers to support services, a few times, but she remains in the same spot. “She wants to be helped. I don’t understand why she hasn’t been picked up.” https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Aside from the practical difficulties, everyone remarks on the disconcerting silence of the capital.

All the normal sounds and smells are absent – the salty, greasy smells from fast food restaurants, the wafts of coffee from snack bars, stale beer odours rising up from sticky pavements, the stench of rotting food seeping out from kitchen dustbins, even the trails of diesel fumes, have all gone.

There is no noise of people laughing or shouting, no one bellowing into their mobile phones, no sounds of plates clattering at pavement cafes. Bins are not overflowing with coffee cups and discarded newspapers. Even the pigeons seem hungrier, rushing to peck at food parcels placed on the pavement by volunteers, who are instructed to not to hand them to people in order to maintain a 2-metre distance. A woman picking up cigarette butts has to search harder to find anything worth collecting.

Amrit Maan, the owner of the Punjab restaurant in Covent Garden, who has kept his kitchens open to cook around 2,500 meals a week for Under One Sky and a Sikh charity, Nishkam Swat, to distribute, said he was troubled by the emptiness. “You can hear the wind rushing through the streets. It feels so eerie, like waking up in a post-apocalypse movie.”

A welder from Poland, sleeping in the park behind the Savoy, declined food but wanted information about where he could wash; he said he had been unable to have a shower for the past five weeks since arriving in London speculatively to look for work. Whiting left food for a man asleep beneath the stucco columns of the Lyceum Theatre, where the Lion King is no longer showing. “There’s some human excrement. I’m sorry to point it out, but it’s inevitable. Everything is closed,” he said. Advertisement

Alexander, from Romania, who worked as a cleaner and caretaker at a pizza chain until he says he was sacked just before the lockdown, was more experienced at sleeping rough in central London, since he was already unable to afford to rent a room on his minimum wage earnings even when he was in work, and has been living on the streets near Leicester Square for 18 months.

But finding enough cardboard to build himself a sheltered space to sleep in has become much more problematic since all the businesses closed down and stopped throwing away packaging. He spent the past few weeks recording thousands of videos on his phone of deserted London streets, from different vantage points, and posting them on Twitter – providing fascinating pavement-level footage of a city in lockdown – until his phone was stolen.

Adrian Potcki, 24, from Poland, also had his phone stolen while he slept in a restaurant doorway, in St Martin’s Lane, next to the now-empty Coliseum. He was working as a night cleaner for a bank, an agency job, before being sacked when lockdown was announced. He found himself unable to continue paying for his room in a flatshare in north London. “I think the bank closed, and didn’t need cleaning,” he said, but he is unsure, because the agency simply told him the job was over. “I couldn’t pay the rent for my room. I tried to ask the landlord to give me time, but I couldn’t work it out with him,” he said. He was finding his first exposure to homelessness very difficult. “It’s a really tough time. I don’t feel safe.”

He, like most of the other recently-unemployed new rough sleepers interviewed, said he did not want to have his photograph taken. “I don’t want to become a famous person because I’m homeless. This is something I would like to forget,” he said.

Previously Under One Sky has only organised food handouts in the winter, but began providing food for rough sleepers when it became clear that lockdown was causing unprecedented difficulties. “In the eight years since we have been serving this community, we have never witnessed a more distressing situation for those sleeping rough in London than the one unfolding right now,” said Mikkel Juel Iversen, who set up the organisation in 2012.

“Two days after lockdown we went out on the streets to see what the situation was like and we met people who hadn’t eaten for days. There are now large parts of central London where the only people you see are homeless people, drug dealers and police. There is a growing sense of desperation. We have been ramping up numbers every week.”

The newly-homeless also include people like Robin Clark, released last week from prison, and still trying to get his life together. “I can look after myself but it is hard with no showers or toilets.” Lalji Kanbi has been homeless for a while, and is hoping for a hotel room. “The hotels – it’s like a lottery, if you win, you win. I’ve given them my details twice.”

Within the rough sleeper populations there are hierarchies of destitution. There are those like Colin Reynolds, 47, currently sleeping in a tent near the Thames because he was unable to live with his parents during lockdown, who feel they are just about coping. But there are others who look close to death.

About 10 people are sheltering beneath a scaffolded shop front near Charing Cross station (where the underpasses that used to shelter dozens of homeless have been closed off); volunteers said most had long-term drug and alcohol problems. One man was lying in a foetal position on the cold pavement, passed out, watched over by his girlfriend. No one here was hungry, but they accepted water and biscuits for their dogs.

Tom Copley, London’s deputy mayor for housing, acknowledged that there was more work to be done, noting that a count last week had registered 498 people still sleeping rough. “It’s possible that the actual number will be larger, but we’ve been working at this as fast as we can; we’re trying to get more people in every day.” But he remained optimistic that the government drive to get most rough sleepers in for the duration of the lockdown could have positive long-term consequences. “We could transform the way we deal with rough sleeping and homelessness to make sure that the issue is dealt with in the long term,” he said.

There is caution from others involved in the process. “There is no clear exit strategy from central government. Some councils are working to make sure that no one is returned to the streets, but that is very difficult to sustain unless there is a commitment to funding because the cost of that is so beyond what’s available from central government,” one official, working on the national drive to house rough sleepers centrally, said. Advertisement

Jason Moyer-Lee, the general secretary of the Independent Workers of Great Britain Union, which represents agency staff, said more needed to be done for people made homeless after being sacked. “Low-paid service sector jobs, with zero-hour contracts and agency workers, were extremely precarious before this situation, and the fact that, despite the government schemes, some people are being driven into homelessness demonstrates the inadequacy of these schemes. This needs to be sorted now.”

By Amelia Gentleman, The Guardian, 28th April 2020

^This article that appeared yesterday needs to be heard. These people could be us, they are us.

A has been on bike rides past Trafalgar Square recently, and noted how there were quite some daytrippers seated on the steps, just watching the space. No police were moving them on, they appeared well-dressed, just like you and me. Now we realise who they were, the newly homeless.

Be the change you want to see.

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A Journal of the Plague Year Day 38

Friday 24th April 2020

PUBLIC DISCLAIMER

DO NOT READ THIS LOOK AWAY NOW

If you’re looking for escape this, today, is not where to find it. For never was a story of more woe. Thus following, reality.

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Another day another dollar. Scroll. Brush teeth. Scroll. Sleep. Shower. Lunch. Netflix. Scroll. Sleep. Film. Sleep.

A Friday so I treated myself to takeaway for lunch, which turned out to be the stodgiest fried calamari in the city, like chewing on bread crust. Our local really is the worst, but beggars can’t be reviewers. The night’s film was the other highlight, a tankard of cider to go with An American Werewolf in London, and a good catch up with J while A is getting ever more islanded, which he may be enjoying. It was Orthodox Easter recently, the equivalent to Greek Xmas (regardless if you’re religious or not) which he’s not celebrated, separated from family all these years. We’ll try and do something later maybe, though he’ll typically veto it.

The C-19 death toll in the UK hit 20,000, which is only counting those from hospitals. It’s significantly higher if they tally up those in care homes and residences, so we may be closer double that. This could yield the world’s highest deaths per capita, over current leader Belgium, who counts live fatalities and not just in healthcare. It all depends whether the UK extra deaths are at the 40% or 100% ends of hospital totals.

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I’ve been increasingly worried about the ‘biblical famines’ the UN is warning may transpire within months. They will start in the world’s current war zones where infrastructure is broken and farming majorly disrupted by fighting. DPR Congo, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Niger. It’s also unlikely for people or countries to give aid, such is the situation in their own backyard. DPR Congo is a prime example of what a disruption of infrastructure results in. The Second Congo War ended in 2003, where fighting killed an estimated 20,000. However excess deaths continued well after taking 5.4 million by 2008, due to the complete collapse of food industries, healthcare and transportation networks.

Likewise the UN sanctions before the Gulf War against Iraq, that resulted in an extra million deaths (560,000 of them being children). They targetted the populace not the regime as hostage -banning food, water, medicines, medical equipment, water purifiers, even baby food and milk powder. And lasted for 12 years after the US and UK repeatedly blocked UN attempts to end them, plus three successive UN Generals resigning in protest. When Ambassador Madeleine Albright was told in interview that half a million children had died, she infamously said: “we think the price was worth it”.

This scenario is even keeping me up at night, and becoming one of the things when waking. It’s not normal for me, and I doubt for anyone. When we hear of untold horror and misery abroad we may well shed a tear at the news report, given it’s sufficiently graphic enough. But no one really takes it home with them, into their daily thoughts and fears and dreams. The only time I’ve seen any kind of widely depressionable story has been for the death of a single person, Princess Diana. Forget the 250,000 killed in the 2004 tsunami, or the additional million in Iraq following invasion, it’s the death of a celeb people grew up with, who felt they personally knew that got people crying beyond the screentime. Witness footage of her funeral, as thousands of mourners spontaneously burst into tears as her cortège rolls by (one of them myself). It’s like something out of North Korea.

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On that subject Kin Jong Un, rotund dictator of said country is currently MIA on the global stage, with rumours thick and fast that he may be dying after heart surgery. All eyes now on his sister who will likely take the reins if he expires. Now, I’m no fan of an autocratic regime that has in the past kidnapped random South Koreans, taken down passenger planes and operates internment camps, but the South Koreans are just as gung-ho, trigger-happy and belligerent. Just as liable to be the first to shell the opposite side, shoot over a prow, or hold mass army drills on the border, in a giant show of two fingers against the horizon.

The US is also increasingly seen as playing both sides off each other -the situation allows them to keep foreign bases on the peninsular and Japan, thus controlling the north Pacific and hemming in China. Notably George Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’ speech even after NoKo had agreed to dismantle it’s nuclear capabilities, that subsequently made Kim restart them in defence, and defiance. Or the abrupt ending of the 2018 thaw (both sides had even competed as the same country in the Olympics) when the US held mass joint-training exercises, thus restarting the arms race.

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South Korea is also quite propagandic and equally dogmatic. All the lurid tabloid tales on the uncles being thrown to bloodthirsty hounds (in fact he was shot by firing squad, following a failed assassination attempt) or execution of former girlfriends for prostitution (she turned up a year later as a newscaster), of the Pyongyang Metro being fake, and that everyone on the streets are actors (thousands of them) are all sourced from the south, via media agencies citing ‘cross-border sources’.

In fact South Korea is studied by sociologists as a prime example of how propaganda is just as rampant in democracies, fueled by complicit media agencies as well as their avid audiences. One only has to look at the partisan politicking in the US (**cough Fox News /cough**), or the Rupert Murdoch-owned press at large here (**Daily Mail, Sun**).

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When Kim Jong-Il died NoKo released its usual dreary propaganda to the world, showcasing endless streams of people distraught at his death (the kind who’d throw themselves on the coffin as it gets lowered), of course the world took this as how very indoctrinated the North Koreans were. Then people started pointing out that in the background, no one was crying, only those in front facing the lens were suddenly found to be apoplectic with grief.

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Thus SoKo subsequently followed up with lurid tales of everyone who didn’t cry getting 6 months free stay in a labour camp.

North Koreans Face Six Months Labour Camp for Not Crying at Kim Jong-il’s Death

Thus parroted by the rest of the world:

Punished for not crying: Thousands of North Koreans face labour camps for not being upset enough


At the end of the day North Korea is a study on journalistic integrity and standards. Almost no stories coming from there can be fact-checked or corroborated… but neither can anyone call them out on it if they decide to go to print. Thus much of the world just ends up reporting it anyway, straight from South Korean tabloids, even if you’re a respected broadsheet. Which is telling -it fits with the narrative.

It’s also telling which papers are reporting the dictator’s death (Daily Express, Sun, NY Post), as rumour-milled via a Chinese social network, and which are waiting for official confirmation, or at least putting a question mark in the headline.

The fat twat.

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And talking of convenience, where for example is the coverage or navel-gazing (surely one story?) for the current human tragedies of the US/UK-backed sanctions: Iran, Venezuela, and of course North Korea? Despite sitting on vast commodities or one of the leading science powers, they’ve been denied medical equipment and ICU’s they could otherwise have afforded easily. We even cover Iran building mass graves, and tut at their imagined cover up of figures, without nary a mention of our role in it. The latest humanitarian crisis on the now closed Colombian-Venezuelan border likewise ignored, as has been the US calls for the country to hold new elections (read: exit President Maduro) in order to allow the meds in, plus access to the world’s largest oil reserves. Sounds a lot like a ransom, and exploiting a tragedy to do so.

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It appears this global crisis is only spewing division and geopolitical rivalry, as opposed to the Bennetton ad we all imagined a shared experience would engender, and cooperation between states. That democracy is a veil over ignorance, selfishness and prejudice, if not a platform for it. Witness country after country stealing vital equipment before being sent off, or even en route, and ignoring all calls of aid from its neighbours. See the comments following any, ANY news story.

s

How depressing, but it had to catch up some time. The air weighs heavy so it’s time to take a walk, chew some cud and maybe take in an 80s film, back when it was all so much simpler. Life is but a scroll away.

Oh and the Great Orange Dolphin just suggested we all inject bleach and sunlight into our lives and limbs, to vanquish the plague. His wranglers are now desperately attempting to shut him the fuck up and wind down his daily updates. Perhaps throwing playballs in the other room and bustling him out -today’s was the shortest yet, at 22 mins, rather than the hours he normally courts. This I think would be a mistake.

As a great woman once said, I’m not saying kill all stupid people, just get rid of the health and safety signs and let the problem sort itself.

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Yesterday

Tomorrow