A Journal of the Plague Year Day 99

Friday 26th June 2020

Another mindnumbed existence by day, stuck in slug mode and attached to the bed, occasionally the sofa that is now a mere extension of my being and body. I may give it a name, such as Harriet.

From Harriet’s soft, nuzzling perch got seriously into Rick and Morty, the shenanigans of an anxiety prone teenager and his sociopath grandpa, whose dimension swapping inventions create some very darkly funny questions on life, on people, culture and family. Oh and daddy issues and death and murder, often genocidal. And the fact they unconditionally love someone that cares naught for them, even as the family breaks up trying to limit the damage wrought each day -quite the insight on what our society values, or claims to. Guilty fun.


It’s produced by a genius studio called Adult Swim, which for ages I knew was not a porn company, but was something or other on the dark web possibly. So surreal are these planets they conceive I’m sure our current state would surely qualify as some bizarre dimension, wrought with protest, pandemic, partisanship and a police state, lorded over by a Great Orange Dolphin intent on world domineering.

Was invited out by J to sit with a friend outside on the lawn, a welcome break from the lurid graphics and gunshots, but rudely declined, thinking they were off to a headachey, urban walk in the sun (31C). Fell asleep but then suddenly revived by painkillers went out in the end, to D and Al’s house. Caught the bus then remembered the facemask rule on all public transport, fumbling about in the bag to find one at the last minute, left there about a month ago. I would’ve been apoplectic with rage otherwise, no different to any militant anti-vaxxer causing a scene with the bus driver (pressing against the screen, waving invisible rights and pitchforks). Tried not to touch anything but was impossible lurching to the top deck and seating myself equidistant between the people, a row each to themselves. The bus capacity has now dropped from 128 to 20.

Ah, the nostalgia


At the boys’, on screen they were playing Dalston Superstore’s Pub quiz, streaming live but which was a tad boring and more your average school lesson these days -other than a section on LGBTQIA history. This was all about whether you could discern between Polari/ Romani slang and Pokemon characters. Our host appeared very serious about it all, even missing a beat from contestant Helen, who was participating while driving then strangely disappeared. Polari is an Italianate language that borrowed extensively from the minorities in London during the 19th and early 20th Century, used to disguise the bitching among queers, prostitutes, hustlers, performers, actors, dancers, and circus troupes. It’s where we get our current slang for camp, butch, blag, bitch, barney, bijoux, clobber, dish, dolly, khazi, manky, mincing, mollycoddling, ogle, scarper, slap, trade, rough trade, troll, and my fave: fantabulosa.


I will however endeavour to bring back meshigener -crazy nutter, corybungus -arse, and vogueress -female smoker.

More, if you’re really that bothered:

acdc, bibi -bisexual
ajax -nearby (shortened form of “adjacent to”)
alamo! -they’re attractive! (via acronym “LMO” meaning “Lick Me Out!)
aunt nell -listen!
aunt nells -ears
aunt nelly fakes -earrings
bona nochy -goodnight (from Italian – buona notte)
cartes -penis (from Italian – cazzo)
chicken -young man
clevie -vagina
corybungus -backside, posterior
dhobi  -wash (from Hindi, dohb)
Dilly boy -a male prostitute, from Piccadilly boy
fortuni -gorgeous, beautiful
fruit -gay man
fungus -old man/beard
gelt -money (Yiddish)
martinis -hands
meese -plain, ugly (from Yiddish mieskeit, in turn from Hebrew מָאוּס repulsive)
munge -darkness
nana -evil
national handbag -dole, welfare, government financial assistance
nishta -nothing
oglefakes -glasses
quongs -testicles
remould -sex change
rozzer -policeman
riah -hair (backslang)
riah zhoosher -hairdresser
schlumph -drink
shush -steal (from client)
shush bag -hold-all
TBH (to be had) -prospective sexual conquest
vogue -cigarette (from Lingua Franca fogus – “fire, smoke”)
vogueress -female smoker

Then it was noughties and nineties playlists into the baking night thanks to youtube. Awful, dire pop music, but very drunk. Fucking never, ever shall I see another shitty Britney or Steps or Backstreet Boys MV again, TLC can maybe come in just so long as they don’t take down their baggy jeans and crap everywhere. Fantastic viewing for fashion tips though, for the coming late nineties /early noughties retro that will sweep the streets, ad nauseum as for the last 25 years no one’s been able to come up with anything new rather than a nostalgic rehash from childhood.

I wanna make money now by setting up a website, where you can take screenshots of vintage/retro inspiration, like that backing singer’s clothes, that dancers hair, that dumpy (yet iconic) mum in the background of a Safeway ad. So, copyrighted that here, first. Lovely night all in all, very urban and summery though surely the alcohol helped with that. I woulda called turnip pulling lovely tbh.









Then back home by 2, another couple of hours zonked out on the sofa unable to sleep, chatting to J. Alcohol after its convivial, infectious peak tends to send me down a mine at some stage, scrubbing about some stilldrop place where I regret my previous glad-handering with the world. Such a bunch of nana clevie. Like the stutter of a disconnect, between the reverie of an alcoholic buzz, and the sudden realism of everything so much fucking everything that no longer moves and deserves to never again. This plateau can be a dark place, and a mean one too. I currently have a lot on a cracked plate.

I’ve decided, tomorrow will be the last day. x



A Journal of the Plague Year Week 9

Sunday 10th May 2020

The sun switched back off today, becoming decidedly Poldarkian from the Mediterranean climes these past few days, and sending all the daytrippers packing, furling back their deckchairs, BBQ sets and parasols, and fleeing back into miserable squalor. The wind whistled throughout, the trees occasionally thrashing.

Almost all the patients coming into A&E this weekend have been due to drunken injury. It beggars belief. Perhaps the UK and US really do have a special relationship. I’d hazard it was Anglo-Saxon too, but Australia and Canada have been doing fine.

The rest of the day a write-off. Migraines again. There’s only so much lying in bed with pain one can do. Tried out some frozen peas on my head, then ate some for lunch (shite). I am a bad cook. Terrible. Even I’m tired of the gunk I come up with; stricken with a terrible habit of appropriating whatever’s dying in the fridge then magicking a marinade from what’s grabworthy while in the pan. Worst ever: a microwaved potato with Marmite.

Did manage to change, shower, exercise and look out the window. A middle-aged man wobbling about with a tennis racket and pounding a brick wall, reminding me of our playground craze of patball (Squash without rackets). Yeah, I’ll take that up again, keep fit. Try and inveigle A to play alongside (an impossibility). But tomorrow.

After I check out some Internet. I’m travelling vicariously, going through every major city in China. In the last 5 years every one has gotten swanky looks like, which in turn has made me look into the local design guilds (20,000 around Shanghai alone) and architects churning out amazing new work. It’s ahead of the rest of the world, and a sign China’s now its own market, as opposed to aping the outside. For all the fuss about trade wars, only 3% of the economy is with US trade, and only 17% with exports. The majority of dough running the place is in services, and domestic, with 5x the start-ups of the US and 10x the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) graduates.

Anyhoo, a welcome getaway from the world, the ethnocentrism and geopoliticking. There’s just something very relaxing about checking out the new and fresh. From another life.

80’s POMO is back in

A new development echoing the karst hills of ancient landscape painting

A shopping mall based on a bookshop aesthetic (those items displayed aren’t books).

The international trend for the 80’s again. I’ve never seen retro come back into fashion twice, once in the early noughties, again in the Twenties.

This circular pavilion is a looping restaurant around a traditional tea garden pond – note the mist vents.


A converted church becomes a bookstore

Wang Shu won the Pritzker Prize a few years back as the world’s best architect. His buildings incorporate the materials of those demolished before them, like strata of alluvial layers of time, and monoliths to passage.

A high-concept store/ cafe in Shanghai -once again the postmodernism, but fucking with it. One side twee, the other brutal.

A kindergarten, that’s also a memory maker.

A store collective in Shenzhen. A mentioned they should have used traditional Chinese instruments otherwise they looked like they were just copying the West. I threw a book at him, the amount of times I’ve heard that shit.

Modernism btw is sourced from the functional, aesthetic styles of Japan and Morocco, where the earlier modernists such as Courbousier went to study. The world we see around us today looks very homegrown in those two countries (which is why Moroccan style is so perfectly balanced and fine, while zen is subtle and understated -almost plain).

This is an office complex – rooms beyond the wooden one lead to steel cages (pop up foodie vans).

Concept store in Shenzhen. Very Force Awakens imo.

Office space -the rest of the development a luxe playground. 80s Pomo creeping in once again.

Mall architecture -the death of retail round the world (worst performing year on record 2019) due to internet shopping is no different in China. However they’re still being built, and like the others have been transmogrified into ‘experience centres’, where restaurants, gyms, after-school clubs and bars have taken over.