A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 11

15th November 2020

So have been updating yesterday’s entry (pretty much doubling it) which is terrible habit and that oft takes up hours. But was rudely jarred out the rabbit hole by the sound of a big explosion, echoing at about ten past one. I checked the window and no ballooning little mushroom cloud, the platforms utterly quiet and not one lingering scream of agony, or desperate klaxon.

Ho hum. Oh well, no delightful fantasy of a spot of excitement to break the day (roaring fire engines, police vans, cable news teams, possibly filming me rescuing a small, blonde child). J said he hears it at his workplace every so often and it may have something to do with trains. Perhaps crashing, or they’ve set off a firework at the pigeons.

It’s Sunday, which means the Day of Rest. Again. Albeit I did clean the flat and got J to do the kitchen. Later a sudden storm whipped up quite atmospherically, and thunder boomed, making me wonder if there’d been a random lightning strike earlier, from a cloudless sky. Made a curry, watched some people vlogging their holidays, vicariously trotting the globe before snoozing again into ponderous nothing.

And realising I currently, utterly am devoid of a life. The biggest part of my day so far has been a noise.

Rather a big part of my existence these days is all about forgetting I exist. News sites, architecture fora, armchair travelling, culture wars, kittens, fat people falling, animals being dicks, dashcams, industrial explosions. All plated up from my personal, algorithmically enhanced echo chamber.

Meanwhile, back in the real world the almost-distant state of Slovakia has pulled off a feat never before seen anywhere else on the planet -testing almost 70% of its populace over two days, and discovering over 50,000 extra cases among its 5.4 million people. UK sent observers to the huge process and are now rolling out similar to Liverpool, having learned from how one country can test a full half of its population within 24 hrs. The Slovakians used antigen tests which can give results in 15 mins, but aren’t as accurate -yet have proven very useful for smaller countries or catchments. It’s coming here in one form or other soon. Literally out of a movie, and a point in history to always remember. I can’t overstate how subtly important it will be -the beginning of the end.

Oh and on the subject of governance I’ve just discovered Chris Hedges. Academic, activist, writer-reporter, and cultural commentator who’s literally been through the wars and seen a thing or two about human nature, governments and institutionalised idiocy.

He mentions we are living in an era of corporate, totalitarian socialism. Whereby the banks and multinationals call the shots, and are supported by a corrupted state -a genuinely libertarian, capitalist system would’ve finished them off a long time back. Instead they get the money of the workers, equally divided. And get away with it by promoting a culture of illusion to the populace, one in which we replace hope and empathy with narcissism and hierarchy, a marriage of cool new social media and the cronyist establishment.

That selfie stick or Insta-feed, it’s a form of idolatry (Hedges is surprisingly religious still, perhaps from all the death he’s seen in the conflict zones). We are on the pedestal now as the new God, yet just as exceptionalist, judgemental and illusory.

Only found that in passing, and it speaks to me. So much. But it’s all very heavy for Right Now, and I don’t have an hour or three to give it justice, respectfully dissecting and disseminating, fact checking, shaking my fist at the skies and plotting arson. I know organising a revolution may very well be Getting a Life, but not when you just wanna watch Jaws IV The Return, swaddled in blankets and biscuits.

It’s been two full days since I actually had a change of clothes, drifting about in a bathrobe like a secure-wing patient. Hair’s a thatch and a big red zit mars the chin. I’ve resolved to go out for dinner, to make some Dutch-Indonesian chips, an invention from immigrants on that side of the Channel. Chips from the Chippy, which I’ll ladle with peanut sauce, mayo and raw onion.

Don’t care what anyone says, tis a thing of beee-yoo-tee, and a bed for my face.

However this El Dorado will involve me picking a costume, as Londoners can be wont to do, sorting the hair, a shave and concealer on my head in order to brave the Great Outdoors. Arrrghhh. As a great philosopher once said, ain’t nobody got time for dat.

It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s wet, but I gotta work for it. I do enjoy my own company a great deal I’ve discovered, it just takes hours to get rid of the niggling guilt at the back, like spiderlegs in a cranny. Or the sense that someone, somewhere out there is judging me, as I lie in bed for 5 hours smelling of wee and squirrels. To get the place empty, short of an ebola outbreak I lie in wait, week after week for that perfect storm. J has left for the night to see his other half, A has decamped for the weekend to his art studio (a garage in a friend’s house). So finally, I have the flat to myself to cavort in, streaking from room to room in human skins, drinking from a badger skull and farting openly, gloriously.

I’ll be watching some horror flick likely, stuffing my face. Bring it on.

Update: Just got back in. I found myself something to embellish the chipfest. A trifle. A MOTHERFUCKING TRRIIIIFLE BITCHES, reduced in Tesco’s. I am literally delirious.

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A Journal of the Plague Year Week 15

Sunday 21st June 2020

Yesterday was the longest day for Britain. The sun wobbled about for 19hrs. Across Eastern and Northern Europe especially pre-Christian festivals are kicking off this week depending on where their summer solstice will fall, with drunken shenanigans in the wilderness, wreaths and flowers in their hair and lots of bonfires through the night. I’ve done Midsommar in Sweden a couple of times, and it’s always perfection. A welcome reminder to our pre-Christian, pre-Communist, pre-Capitalist days.

Lithuania

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Poland

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Slovakia

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Sweden

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Norway

NIkolai Astrup

Nikolai Astrup

Alesund enjoys the worlds biggest bonfire 40m /130ft high over the fjords

Belarus

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Russia

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Latvia – a fantastic series is here, by Espen Rasmussen: https://espenrasmussen.com/STORIES-II/A-MIDSUMMER-NIGHTS-DREAM-2006/3

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Stonehenge will be taped off this year.

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All this comes on the fact I’ve spent most of the day indoors, having succumbed to microwave food coma after lunch. It’s 8pm and still light, another few hours to go before nightfall, and not one druid seance, or dance round a fire thrown in.

But fuck it, enough on my plate to feel guilty about it. Life’s too short, in the best possible way. It doesn’t mean you have to be jetsetting around living it To The Maxxx, rather don’t sweat the small stuff. Hello sun, goodbye sun.

Made Ukrainian latke for dindins, fried potato cakes with carrot, onions and sour cream dip. Will try aged cheddar in the mix next time, a stronger flavour as the sheeps cheese was undetectable. Then another magical dusk walk, the one after dinner to digest, that the Mediterranean peeps traditionally do. In Greece it’s called the Volta, or the Peripato, in Italy the Passegiata. Saw some foxes, and gaggles of teenagers on street corners, their voices and laughter rising in the last of the sun, as our own urban swansong to Midsummer. The kind of gatherings good natured and sober, as opposed to knifey and drunk like when I was growing up. Generation Z is so much more grown up than we ever were.

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A Journal of the Plague Year Day 17

Friday 3rd April 2020

Today has drifted by once again, with myself unsure of what happened. As if just woken, recounting what transpired in the dream.

Yes, I did that zoom meeting this morning (washed, changed, did my hair, repainted the walls). Then at some stage nipped out to do some shopping, after lunch.

Then it was a sit-down, and Lion King (‘live’ action version). A phonecall midway through. Then boom, here I am at half eleven at night.

Seriously, wtf have I done? Perhaps this is what slow time is meant to be like. I imagine stuff rural folk still do. Hovis ads with golden light streaming through glass, fields of wheat, smoking cottages and flatcaps. Aye m’lad, you get up, go get tha loaf down t’Ma in them flowers field, then be ‘ome fer supper. Day dun. Good pig.

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Though I’m sure in reality it involves busy dates with threshing machines, stone breaking, seed counting and bestiality. I’ve had none of these today (okay maybe the one) and this throws up the anxiety of not having had a productive day, while neither having that timely satisfaction of a simple task accomplished. But what exactly is the worst that can happen?

There is a time after a gluttonous, glutinous day off when the laziness has set to a level that cannot plateau further, crystallised into a bed. To me, it feels a bit like a headache or lancing of all energy, a sense of a decayed day. And that’s the worst, fossilised into a fabric embrace and smelling of sweat and youtube. While failing in life, having that Pulitzer prizewinner sitting still unwritten under the ticking of clocks.

My hair is currently manky. I put gel in it and it started smelling as it’s the cheap variety, normally a pleasant essence but I think at some stage it got heated by some alien x-ray and now smells like l’eau d’augebrèthe. Also a crow’s nest mess, and I’m savouring the idea of running it under a waterfall with hummingbirds and orchids, scented candles, pachelbel playing.

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In other news facemasks have suddenly become gold, generating a global game of PPE Pokemon. A general consensus is, with the World Health Organisation as usual a step behind, that a barrier to/ against your breath would actually be effective if the fucker’s airborne. Which China has been saying it is for quite some time, and why the whole 2 billion peeps in East Asia are masked to the max.

Last week Slovakia ‘appropriated’ a whole Chinese shipment of them destined for Italy (along with ICUs), then France did the same intercepting those on the way south. Turkey just took 160 ICU’s meant for Spain also, who can’t find a break right now. Meanwhile the US is appropriating all coming from American factories, or outbidding those on runways, taking supplies destined for France, attempting to rob SE Asia’s and now grabbing Germany’s and Canada’s too (the governor of Quebec threatening to cut off electricity to over the border). A smouldering Justin Trudeau has come on to plead remind the Great Orange Dolphin that trade treaties need to be complied with, while a call is on to stop the ‘modern day piracy’. The vast ongoings have been likened to a treasure hunt, although it more resembles hungry hippos, whereby the loser gets asphyxiated.

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689 more people died today, though the figure’s hard to spot, and willingly so it appears, coming up only as a bullet point among the live BBC news feed. Intended to stop the malaise of doom and gloom, but perhaps needed now that a sunny weekend is coming. The authorities are gearing up for a nationwide game of British bulldog with people ‘out for a walk’ (while transporting their picnic baskets, blankets, dogs, balls, deckchairs, sun loungers, parasols and volleyball nets). There’s definitely a spirit of gamesmanship in the air, filtered or not.

A Nottingham landlady is also under fire for her lockdown lock-in at a pub she runs, or as she described it: some well-wishers privately popping in to leave greetings for her husband. Meanwhile, I’ll be off to practice a bit of armed roleplay, plus a speedy check of cash handling procedures in my local HSBC.

Argentina has been forced to reopen its banks for face-to-face service as many in the nation are no longer able to access their cash or paychecks, leading to the central streets of the cities suddenly flooded, a carnival atmosphere among the thronging queues. Any excuse really, we are after all, humans. The same species that’s decimated the planet, with untold millions from history murdered beneath our feet, and whose governments are increasingly revealing themselves to be the robber barons they’ve always been beneath the veneer of labels and politesse, liable to steal from one another as to lie, point fingers and poison.

This pandemic will very, very much need a period of yoga matting after all this, and some pro-navel gazing on how such a horrid, horrid, silly thing ever happened. The stealing of medical supplies, the racism, the use of sanctions, the use of the crisis for more political and geopolitical leverage. The calls for war, or at least a rallying cry for one when it’s all over, like a dessert laden afterparty we can all look forward to.

Ah yes, that spirit of human unity and dignity in crisis, hands held out to infect our neighbours and clapping on our balconies to wish it all away.

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In my vid chat to friends last night, one of whom is a civil servant (possibly a spy) I heard crime’s fallen dramatically on all fronts but two – domestic/ child abuse has skyrocketed as people wall themselves in with the enemy, and cybercrime is stratospheric, what with all the main syndicates suddenly finding no punters to wheedle. From online grooming to blackmail porn, money holding scams to the usual alerts that your nonexistent PayPal accounts are being imminently closed for suspicious activity, and couldja please ring this number in Brazil to verify all bank and card deets, passwords, addresses and DNA samples

I’ve also gotten a furtive missive from er, 100 Pennsylvania Avenue to see if I’m interested in ‘informational activity’, as it’s been noted I am an outstanding persona of interest. Whaaat? Do I get to become cool, wear designer shades and work alongside Charlize Theron types? Dodging bullets, swapping briefcases, aiming sights on evil businessmen and secretly meeting rivals in places where no invested zoom could possibly train, such as benches on the Washington Mall.  Oh the possibilities! The one night stands in 5* Euro-accommodation, the parkour training and martial arts madness, the cocktails, the tuxedos, the gala balls and casinos! I’ll start doing my hair now. I suppose it’s better than last time, when Kofi Annan and his briefcase of African cash stood me up outside the UN.

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I seriously think there is a vast and pliant population online that needs to be addressed, a social issue. Old people, like really old. Who’ve just worked out how to use a mouse from 1996, and now ply through cyberspace like a barge of kittens in an Orca enclosure, clicking on flashing pop-ups, endearing them to come round the corner for nookie, or to put This One Crazy Trick (snail faced, pebble eating, butter smearing, pee absorbing) to virulent use. That lithe sportswoman (sometimes a pre-teen gymnast), legs askew, Who Had No Idea Why Everyone Was Laughing, or that handsome fella born between 1900 and 2030 who is inline To Make Thousands Back From PPI, or claim Free Solar Panels Off The Council. Oh and Gary Lineker’s dead.

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In all seriousness there’s an entire multi-billion $ industry now catering to this army of the befuddled -clickbait or Nigerian prince scams being just some of them. On a more sinister, world-changing note, algorithms are identifying these as the people to call when you need a bit of light canvassing for your presidential campaign, interest lobbying, geostrategic spywork or commercial investments. These people can change the world. In the US there is no limit on free speech, unlike say Europe, where hate speech is arrestable. Americans like to think hate speech is self-policing, that people soapboxing their diatribes on say how Black slavery was validated and needs to be brought back, that childbirth hurts as it’s God’s punishment to women, or we need to assassinate a 15 year old Swedish schoolgirl for her climate change activism, will only mean they’ll get their comeuppance from being outcast as crazies, and their jobs subsquently lost.

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However, switch that to the echo chamber of Cyberspace, with lonesome retirees who have nothing to lose and you’ll receive a free propaganda dept and labour force, who’ll spend 10 hrs a day sharing Breitbart articles and Rupert Murdoch news across social media, chat forums, radio shows, podcasts and blogs while adding, liking and thumbing down millions of related comments. Generally leading to things such as the Tea Party movement (teabaggers), Trumpism and the Gulf War. Instead of crazies with a subsequent sacking, you get a blizzard of likes and a ‘discussion’ on the table that allows it to actually gain credence, then a vote.

Next time you look at little old neighbour Ruth, clutching her handbag, her pitifully light shopping, smelling of wee and trying to remember her house number, keep in mind she may well be Putin’s premier ground agent, a denizen of international intrigue via her WhatsApp handle, Killblade4U.

Hopefully, there are more discerning voices out there. Those who aren’t inside, out of work, stuck all day, lacking a life, writing politics and ingesting newsfeeds, then starting blogs to parrot their political leanings. Erm, yep.

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Though seriously, in all truth if ever I started a war it would be against kittens (versus pandas) and they’d only work out territorial claims using kisschase.

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Oh and Ukippers, they’ve got to go. Fucking scum.

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