A Journal of the Plague Year Day 29

Wednesday 15th April 2020

Today has been especially sluggish. Giant-leopard-spotted-sliming-through-treacle-sluggish. With a limp. Didn’t sleep last night due to a headache pill containing the barest whiff of caffeine, and thus was trancing glo-sticks to an allnighter in my head till 6am, faceplanting the pillow. It’s not so much counting sheep by then but chasing the fuckers down and shooting them.

Got up 3 hrs later to start my day. Another joyless meal: Thai chicken soup out of a can, poured over fried bacon, carrot, potato and rice. As amazing as it sounds. Yep, I’m hitting the stage of using up what’s about to start crawling about or becoming smoked.

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J thankfully gave me a chocolate mini-egg and some shortbread, two humane essentials at the mo, along with power, internet and water. Watched Maleficent II -crap film but a welcome change. I’ve heard there’s a high demand for media set in historical or ahistorical climes, pre-digital, pre-internet, pre-phones-4-U, pre-car, pre-TikTok. Sherlock Holmes, Game of Thrones, Dan Jones that kinda thing. I think we’re all desperate to just get TF away from reality for a spell -every morning the global hobby being lying in bed and reading endless newsfeeds, literally in-yer-face for hours.

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Hearing about the World Health Organisation and its demonisation via the Trump regime, the continuing breakdown of the global food distribution network, more racism (casual, overt, politicised) and more large business closures (Oasis, Cath Kidston, Warehouse). Today I progressed to attempting to chase a refund (Sainsbury’s Bank having trouble for some 1.5 month-long reason, despite promising multiple times), having to book new mandatory time off work, chasing up cancelled holiday plans and checking bank records all becoming a wonderland of bureaucratic shite, a dervish of dates, times, passwords, password generators, statements, emails and assorted fuckery. They say people work longer than they did before computing, even though so much time’s been saved the bureaucratic nature of all transactions nowadays means it just becomes a blizzard. The same applies to the workplace -nothing will ever save you time, you just do more work.

I need to decouple myself from Americana, in all its garish glory. I need some Wuthering Heights, with wolves. Possibly set somewhere more exotic than Huddersfield, like the brooding wastes of Kamchatka or Hokkaido or Earthsea. It breaks my heart that I’ve had to cancel three holidays -the most we’d ever booked. I would’ve been in the wilds of the Tyrolean forest right now, working my way to Lake Garda. Possibly spotting a bear from a creaking train carriage, the kind with a restaurant car, aspidistra and doilies, and an entertaining murder mystery on board.

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Yesterday’s film was Cold Skin, a 2017 French-Spanish funded horror from a book of the same name, La Pell Freda. Shit. Dodgy prosthetics, unscary creatures that have the big-reveal within the first 20 mins, and a pre-cursor to the Pattinson-Dafoe offering, The Lighthouse, also about two deteriorating men trapped on a lighthouse island. This version though had none of the menace or ethereal qualities that would define such a setting, replaced with tiresome screenplay, ham acting and weak characterisation (one of them unbothered that the other just tried to kill him, or has him effectively trapped each night). It scored 20 out of 40 in my horror cliche list I made last night. If ever you’re terrified by blue-tinged gimps, manatees, or just rubber this is for you.

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I tried to feed the pigeons again. This time going one level up in the stairwell so I could lob the dinner disaster from yesterday onto where they roost. They all ran away, and the food just lies scattered in the sun. Some have come back and are just sitting there in the stupid pigeon-sitting-there way they do. I swear, these animals have no idea what food is. Or maybe it’s cannibalistic, feeding pigeons an omelette, though I’ve seen them snacking on KFC many a time.

The night’s offering was The Handmaiden, satiating my recent aversion to Hollywood. Pre-digitalis (tick), historicist (1920s, tick), foreign (Korean, tick), non-formulaic (LGBTQ crime drama, tick), no fucking explosions (tick). Fantastic storytelling, perverted, perverse and exotic -but I’d uploaded the directors cut. Which thus meant sitting through a near 3hr epic. J very nearly fell asleep until I conspicuously, loudly fiddled with the cushions.

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J’s been a bit down these last few days, the lack of work and meaning starting to hem in the walls, but has started reading which apparently is making a world of difference. At Home by Bill Bryson which I’ve leant him, one of the driest subjects (domesticity) made into a rip-roaring journey through history with laughs a minute and studded with delicious, sordid details. Once again historic narrative saves the day.

Dinner was a slim-fast milkshake thingy (Complan, which I used to love as a snack while a kid), bought during the panic buying as something we could savour as a last resort, starving already and watching burning skylines.  There’s been nothing much more to my life today. No sleep. Internet. Sleep. Internet. Eat. Film. Sleep.

I officially ran out of alcohol today, the last dregs of the raspberry gin.

Yesterday

Tomorrow