A Journal of the Plague Year 3.0 Day 1

17th December 2020

So again? Really?

Not just talking about the fact we’re in the third time down and out in society, ravaged by the virus, but also am I so committed into writing this?

For the last couple of days I’ve allowed myself to enjoy not writing. Not working. Taking on lockdown as the super secret holiday it really is to many lucky enough to be furloughed, while pretending to decry the situation. You only need to look at Oxford Street right now to see our real priorities in life.

All too much otherwise.

I’d have to start with a recap -the daily infections, the death rolls, death rates, new strains, the news horrors round the world, the retail apocalypse, the Xmas hypocrisy, the fresh political borderlands between who will get the vaccines first, who will grab the lot and leave the rest of the Third World to wait till 2024, if at all. They can maybe just deal with it like, forever as they do with Dengue Fever, Malaria and AIDS while we live it up to MVs and pop and watching our shares. Oops. There, I did it again.

I’d finish off with a navel gazing episode of guilt, outlining my hypocrisy. Then in the real world a good few hours of anxiety-ridden perfectionism, editing, correcting and re-editing. Every damn day.

Well let’s not but say we did. The world, and our societies are shite, people are self servingly shite as are many a leader, attracted to politics for power and self-aggrandisement rather than the greater good, humanitarianism, and cuddling disaster victims without photo shoots involved. Let’s just leave it at that.

The last stint of work involved a shift as normal, followed by putting dust sheets on a few gondolas of product. Then drinks with a workmate who doubles valiantly as my psychotherapist, as I offload my rages at office politics (why is there a need?), society (why won’t it leave me alone?!?), and personal life (family, past, present tragedies), all to an edge of humour in order for it to be sold, but surfacing every now and then as true bitterness. He’s a bit of a hero in my book.

I really gotta curb drunken rambling when offered the outlet, though he has pointed out my work-life balance is obsolete as it consists of misery either way. I’ve countered that I’m strangely impervious to depression this last decade no matter what gets thrown, and that I do enjoy stuff. Like time on my own, film nites, and writing The Book that’s so far saved my poor, indentured soul with that zippo of hope. That tapping at restaurant windows with big eyes.

Homewise, it continued with film nite and cider with J whose anxiety has rerisen with his first time being furloughed. I’m working on bouncing between him and A, who is as ever islanded in the kitchen and avoiding real contact. We lead separate lives now and it’s a crying shame, manifesting in dreams where he stops and I have to leave him behind. This morning it was a concrete walkway, a lift shaft to his new flat, and my discovery only then.

Yesterday was a shopping blitz. I suddenly realised the deadline for my buying shit for Xmas, starting a round of wishlist fulfilling on Amazon. Ended up spending £260 at time I don’t have it, but it’s hard to think of Mum and sister alone at their favourite time of year (first time our Xmas has been canceled) when they finally get to socialise and see family, and the rest a desert. I’m sometimes tempted to write on the family history, but let’s just say it’s one of untold woe, involving lots of mental health issues, deaths, blades, crazy bats and running away and let’s just leave it at that.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/489836896942647349/

I’ve eaten shitloads of chocolate recently, despite not being that big a fan. I still have secreted emergency supplies in my schoolbag and tea cupboard when suddenly the need arises (chocolate is said to be a surrogate for love, igniting the same brain functions and chemicals), but J luxuriously fills a £300 solid silver Georgian fancy with Quality Street at all times. It’s proving disastrous for my health in front of the box.

J and I have taken to braying at each other, after a small child did the same on Strange Encounters of the Third Kind. It sounds like nuuuuuugggh, and a step up from miaowing which is our normal greeting of choice. He sometimes stops randomly and podium dances/ twerks silently for a few seconds, given a random excess of energy. Occasionally chewbacca moans.

I’m still sleeping in fits, about 4-5 hrs. Hitting the sack at about midnight, waking at 4 or 5am, checking up on news and fora for about 3 hrs, then slumping into nothingness till 10, lunch, laptop in lap.

Day one was bedbound by digital leprosy, my arm furtively out from the covers to scroll. Day two has been the celebration of spending and capitalism, including venturing outdoors to haul foodage home, plus freebie veg given out by a non-profit battling food waste. Then playing computer games. Day three is, well now. Had a haircut (sweeping it back now). A has just finished some zoom interviews and getting high. J is sitting in a corner playing with our silver spoon collection. I mean that literally.

Another dollar, another day. It’s time for chocolate.

I’m sorry but how weird is this guy? -His arms. HIS ARMS. Hey Hank! Canyer pass us the lawnmower buddy?

Tomorrow

Lockdown 1

Lockdown 2

A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0

5th November 2020 Day One

Today is the first day of Lockdown 2.0. Work closed for me a couple of days ago ( I sadly missed our last day to the world’s smallest violin), as did many of the shops one by one on our local High Street. I spent yesterday seeking out board games to help us bide our time, like a middle aged fanatic. At first scouring the local charity shops, then the TK Maxx, pretending to be a caring Dad in the kiddy aisles. It’s been a good few decades since I was ever inspired to traipse down these plastic coated ways, full of lurid lights, mystery noises, shocking pink, glitter and dazzle -my adult antithesis -but it took approx. 6 seconds before I felt again that inner frisson of excitement. As if I was that 7 year old gobshite once more gurning for a glo-in-the-dark She-Razzle Death Worm plush. Every time I passed a certain aisle an automated fart sounded from one of the stealthy, plasticised offerings. I didn’t find a thing but bittersweet memories of Windsor Woolworths.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So this is it, priorities, priorities. Beyond me standing staring at Hazmat Barbie, daily infections somewhere in the ether have risen to 20,000 for the UK though it may be as high as 80,000. Rumours abound this is a more contagious mutation from Barcelona, that landed some time in July, while highly hidden death rolls are topping 400 a day by now. Meanwhile there’s the big countdown in the US as the election appears on a knife-edge of results and a civil war, to a backdrop of 230,000 dead, and the highest ever infections registered for a single day -over 100,000. And Sainsbury’s just announced a whopping 3,500 job cuts, including almost all Argos stores and its fabled catalogues that were once the bestselling tomes since the Bible. Stalwart of childhood fantasies for 48 years, once described by Bill Bailey as the Laminated Book of Dreams.

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And yet we party, for that Last Gasp throwing heed to the contagious wind. Taking a bike ride later that night the streets were awash with social undistancing -London Bridge with its ancient but trendy pubs, indy cafes and historic diners a hive of candlelit activity, street drinkers and packed restaurants with queues outside. One after another in a smorgasbord for infection except for the gloomy respite of the White Cube gallery, like the haunted house in the neighbourhood that everyone eggs then runs away -yet also a promise as to what lies in wait for the rest of the strip tomorrow. The building resembled the zombie apocalypse of windswept brutalism, strip lighting and barriers to prevent entry to its Sainsbury’s-esque Carpark of a forecourt. Hardly anyone throughout, pint in hand, was masked, while a few lone men sat at empty tables looking emptied. Alkies a mile off.

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A busker band under fairy lights churned out some 80s chart toppers while a large crowd of coated partygoers chatted appreciatively from three opposite bars. It looked positively radiant, were it not for the fact the band was dressed in biohazard gear and it was 2020. I carried on through, holding my breath.

Much later, approaching the midnight toll the streets had emptied and pedestrians scurried off into drunken stupor. A few cars cruised by, one parking onto the pavement and unloading dressed up women in need of another prosecco and utterly nowhere to find it. Soho I heard was rammed, as were the East End nightlife districts -Dalston, Hackney, Hoxton, Brick Lane as well as other offerings in the south -Clapham, Peckham and Brixton which I’d turned down invites for. Scenes played out across the land. Strangely muted though according to the police, who didn’t record a single major incident but a convivial atmosphere. The young feel genuinely invincible, emboldened by mates or celebs who had it and were fine.

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Problem is these days a convivial atmosphere gets into your body, lungs and bloodstream and kills you. Like in the joke, pianos that fall out of trees. I dunno, kids these days.

I never did find a discounted Monopoly. Who knew that board games now are £30-40? One highly priced one was called Pandemic, which seemed promising but on closer inspection was a format in which all players colluded to rid the world of infection. Yaaawn. Plague Inc The Board Game was much more with it, based on the bestselling download 130 million strong, in which each player becomes a deadly disease intent on world annihilation.

Pretty dark, but I know which one I wanted. In the end I settled for a less guilt-inducing hand-me-down from the British Red Cross called Dixit (bear with me). It looks like a French (where else?) artsy fartsy card game of surrealist pictures, which players try to emote into words. Much more civilised, Marjorie, this may be our saviour when things start to wear thin. I also worry it may also look like life imitating art by then.

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Also managed to grab some flour, the last two packs of complete eggs in Lidl (cracked but easily swapped, the other slimed over with yolk but sorted by a handy food bag) and a few too many bottles of cider to go ker-azee with.

Riding for miles into the night on 5 pints is perhaps not the best way to say ta-ra again to civilisation, but it was a good idea at the time, and dare I say it, a little bit epic. The vaulting skyscrapers in Vauxhall really are a sight, doomed and half built like giant tombstones, with Kenny G’s sax in your head. But this lockdown I’m intent not to guilt-trip about that I’m not contributing to, or personally resolving, like pandemics or World Hunger. I will take it easy. I will lie in bed. I will watch movies. I will wear the same clothes, perhaps adult nappies. I will appreciate the smaller things, like detail, talk, fruit, chocolate, blankets, fluffy pillows, walks, drunken cycling, plush. As they promise, it’s time to Enjoy Life For Less. Just remember to stay safe from fuckery, and look out for our loved ones and all that.

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Tomorrow

Lockdown 1.0

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 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 take 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 locked down 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.

Yesterday

Tomorrow