A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 17

21st November 2020

Life’s been quite lovely these past few days. Hanging out with friends, taking time to cook and having clothing (even changing them). On occasion feeling snug, as I am now swaddled in a blanket and staring out at trees, one of which has a birdfeeder and occasional sparrows. Every time your head swivels to look at them they fly off like Godzilla just showed up. Tits.

I’ve looked at the phone the once all day, missing a call from Mum and about 80 Whatsapp messages on various groups. Werk has about 33 emails mostly entirely unconnected to my having to view them, such as a customer enquiring about a missing button, or the enticing update to get your printing requests in. An unwelcome reminder of other responsibilities, of a very real world beyond.

Can we all just agree to Universal Basic Income, aka luxury communism? The gobots do the work and the getting taxed, we do the fruits of their labour. Even if we do have the tech to set it all up and live happily ever after, I bet some fat cat, oozing shares, will demand it all carry on as normal, as miserably normal, as he’ll benefit somehow or other. Like being able to look through his glass floor and see financey people scurrying about in his name, or an extra diamond cushion in the penthouse he never visits.

They tried UBI out in some village in Canada back in the 70s. And found out instead of people burning their windfall on a new pick-up or wardrobe of the latest disco flares, they invested in their own education: retraining or a new degree to build on. Likewise when Norway discovered North Sea oil and reaped back the dividends 40 years later. It put its profits into a sovereign wealth fund, that only ever invested in safe, middle-of-the-road returns, making an extra $trillion. -Enough to gift each citizen into a kroner millionaire, or a population of 5.3 million trustafarians with a $188,000 to blow at the shops.

Already comfortably one of the world’s richest peoples, they did instead vote to reinvest the dosh back into their future generations. Britain on the other hand, that also grabbed a large chunk of the oilfields lost out on an estimated £250-600 billion, thanks to subcontracting the work to private middlemen and funneling off profits to offset taxes (in effect sending it all to a series of property bubbles).

Switzerland was another nation rich enough to try UBI, saddled with the hardships of being the world’s parasitical tax haven, and an inordinate amount of rich folk trying to smear money all over them, year after year. Being really quite used to getting money for free at the top of the capitalist pyramid scheme, they voted not to instate it, less it wobble the whole lovely structure. Yep, they voted NOT to have free money into their accounts each year, the equivalent to £25,000 p/a on top of any work they did. Oh, the Swiss, land of cuckoo clocks and neighbourhood watch.

I’ve found a universal truth to all this. Universality. And I don’t want to go back to Werk.

I like working for myself, being my own boss and all that jazz. I suspect most people, who’ve ever been in contact with other people, may share this world view. It can’t come sooner -Millennials and Generation Z completely fucked with their zero hours future (ensuring no pensions), and saddled with the debts of their forefathers. From global warming to what’s accruing as we speak: all those commercial rents those poor property moguls are losing out on, that is the main rippling cost of the pandemic on populace and businesses alike. Won’t somebody, somebody just think of the children? Trapped somewhere in some lonely chalet school without a single airline to their name. And those yachts just aren’t going to staff themselves.

Maybe we’re all born in the wrong time, when in the future we could be swanning about in a luxury of no regimented schedules and non-commuting, investing our hard-earned cash in pizzas and onesies and trips to Morocco. We’ll maybe just pretend global warming isn’t happening. We’ll maybe just look at those scurrying below us, automated or otherwise and pray they never get sentient to the set up.

Am binge watching The Crown, where money and prestige only buy isolation, and a fucking nightmare of a life without power over one’s own. And feeling thoroughly sorry for poor little rich girls, which we all really are, somewhere in our whirring.

It is perhaps this we should be thankful for. Glass half full n all, that we have our loved ones still in the midst of a pandemic, and that the zombie apocalpyse never did manifest itself.

But then emails. And competition.

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A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 14

18th November 2020

I have an excuse today not contributing to society. Have been werking. WERKK.

Bedclothes all day, woke at 7am, checked the usual shit on the Internatz before the stuff in the back of your mind starts standing by the bed and breathing on your shoulder. Rent is due too.

First the multiple texts from multiple filming agencies to sort through, including one pleading for someone, anyone to be available for December (literally the fifth text and the fifth noISAIDNO). Then checking the emails flurrying into increasing drifts. FFS who needs three accounts these days??

And knowing I have to do a big rewrite on The Book, as well as apply for that job D sent me two days ago, but have been too scared to click on.

So after the emails got started on The Book, just to rid my demons. Then after two chapters fell asleep for half an hour into a deep, stilldrop place. A dark, dark pond by a big rounded rock. One weeping willow.

Had a Polish packet noodle, and some pretty delectable, super-cheap clams that A rustled up (£1.50 a pop from Lidl), the best I’ve ever had. Steamed in white wine sauce that came with the packet, and very soft. Reminded me of Belgo, and wondering if they’re still about -doubt it. But I can’t be wondering, wandering, enshadowed by priorities. Fucker still here.

So finally, finally the job. Clicked on it and it had been retracted. FFS.

So got onto the website, and started looking, took a while. To cut a long story short it’s now 6hrs later, I’ve finished the application for a different role and missed dinner. It’s 1.30am. What kind of job application takes 6 hrs these days??

Welcome to modern life, and all its bureaucratic wrangles, its hidey-holes and knots. It’s no longer queues at different govt departments these days, with papers to stamp and signatures to countersign. Now it’s an endless march of circles to click for some algorithmic cherry-picker, before check after check of online security and almost poetically stern, semi-autistic writing to tap out. There’s a set language that dries the tongue and mind, into nausea:

Achieved. Attained. Trained. Translated. Created. Communicated. Composed. Comprised. Qualified. Supplied. Scored. Staffed. Enhanced. Introduced. Initiated. Incorporated. Involved. Invested. Liaised. Led. Demonstrated. Projected. Promoted. Registered. Resulted. Directed. Disseminated. Maintained. Managed.

Responsibilities. Duties. Detail. Performance. Skillset. Agile. Analysis. Keyholder. Blue Sky. Waterfall. Knowledge. Pool. Precision. Deadline. Risk. Report. Upkeep. Brand. Band. Vendor. Customer. Client. Leader. Office. Official. Regional. Industry. Standards. Stakeholders. Issues. Initial. Intake. Interest. Investment.

LinkedIn has recently been making history with possibly the world’s most annoying campaign since Grammarly, popping up like a gurning rash all over Youtube whenever you want to do anything ever.

Someone please, please -for the sake of her family, friends and other animals, get her A Fucking Life. That cold glow throughout is very, very apt for what they’re selling. The Billy No Mates on her sofa, talking to herself. It’s not lockdown, it’s probably her birthday.

Who the flip genuinely uses LinkedbloodyIn as a social media platform? You do not want to go there, traipsing through industry reports and self promotion, looking for interaction and pals but finding only the dark succubus to any meaning in life.

Filling in the pencil; it’s enough to never want the job. As if those who came up with the form really are the robots they present on paper: grey-suited, white-collared, biro-packing, spot-less, emotion-less, sandwich-eating. Plastic-coated.

^amazing show btw

They better bleeding hire me, put my soul into that. Online tests, mission statements to write, 12 guidelines and info packs to read, and 6 forms to craft and perfect and stretch the bullshit over, though really it’s all true, just how you word it has to sound SO professional. One can’t really put down, yeah, I did all this but I can’t really be arsed to list it, would you fancy a drawing of a pigeon instead? Or a lifetime pass to my OnlyFans?

Yes, I taught deGrasse Tyson everything he knows. Yes I invented the world wide web. Yes I loaned Bill Gates that tenner back then. Yes I own a panda. Yes I can drive. I’d rather work for free for a few days or get sample exercises to do and be judged on that. Than ever have to fill out another form bigging oneself up. It’s painful, it eats the soul like Saturn devouring his son.

Applying for a job is pure existential fuckery to me, to I.

Am going to take the next day off.

I kinda need a black forest gateau right now.

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A Journal of the Plague Year Day 57

Thursday 14th May 2020

Spent the day doing paperwork, cobbling together the insurance claims and chasing refunds for three holidays we’d booked over this period. Had never planned so many trips in short succession and in one year, having suddenly gotten antsy in January. -Embarrassingly in hindsight, so stricken with wanderlust as to fully exemplify both compounds of the word. We’d been flushed with newfound, short-lived wealth (A finally getting a job) and a bid to revive things. In another life, back when we had money.

It took 6hrs, umpteen phonecalls and chasing up on emails and missives. Never again. At about the 5hr mark started getting tetchy, something long promised I’d never do in life. All too often people get stressed then take it out on others, which is what keeps the world’s psychiatrists in career. Reined it in, but dear lord, half a day of joyless graft, pressure, complexity and concentration without a break changes you. Start off as a guitar-singing nun, end up as crack wrestler Numbnutz Jack.

But things are better than yesterday, that’s for sure. The household drama, the tears, the tightly closed doors, the crying through haircuts. Lockdown doesn’t help domestics.

The work took so long we barely ate, just sloughed through it. Six flights, an overnight train, a stay in a youth hostel, an Airbnb and 5 hotels, to cancel, ask for refunds, liaise with travel agents, booking companies and credit card providers then put into claim with the attached evidence of a refusal of refund. All the while harbouring these empty experiences to mourn, lost to vicarious dimensions when asking a receipt from the Hallstatt Lakehaus or the Lower East Side Digs.

AirBnb is meanwhile laughably still selling rents and experiences, despite you not being able to be there in person. You can have virtual participation via scrolling deleriously through someone’s house, perhaps stare at their sofa or play spot-the-cat. Maybe watch one of them wedge their wobbling arse into a deckchair and sun themselves for an all-inclusive fee. But strangely after noone ever took them up on that (actually I bet some fuckwit somewhere, some time did), they’re now investing in online sessions of say yoga, or a drawing lesson or storytime for the kids. You can watch a middle-aged couple make shitty cupcakes you’ll never taste or interview someone about the wonders of their insurance firm job, at up to £85 a pop.

Okay there are some that look genuinely clickable, such as the cocktail class by Lisbon drag queens (nightclub-in-my-bedroom setting, lots of glitter), someone who set up a 1.5hr long escape room (there’d better be skeletons in the cupboard, or nudity), and various online concerts, from Provencal piano playing with a view to speakeasy Jazz clubs.

Others however looked graspingly doomed -how to propagate houseplants (pic of man watering a plant) for £30 and 1.5hrs, or a woman cooking in her French kitchen (looking exactly like any formica-happy kitchen anywhere, trying to lick the whisk suggestively), or the hour long lecture on how to cut a champagne bottle with a sabre. You can imagine these poor denizens of ex-hospitality thinking, now what is it that I can offer to the world, if not my overpriced, neutrally-colored bedroom?

One that I woulda picked if I absolutely had to, was a Plague Doctor’s Tour of the deserted streets of Prague, the guide dressed in full Black Death monk-and-crow-skull costume. Not sure if it’s legal and he’ll have to streak down alleyways or into bins whenever the copshop shows, but that does resonate right now.

 

Anyhoo, I procrastinate, back to the weeeeerk. Ah yes, that dish of sweet, pure fuckery. We’d done half the graft the week or three before, this was now the chasing up. Godawful werk you cannot avoid or rebrand as anything else. I’d genuinely rather polish shit.

Spent my childhood being hammered into my skull that werk is misery, werk is shite and something to scream at the moon about, that so long affected my every approach for years after, and fought to overcome. But now I see it true.

Fuckjugglers:

J’s feeling better thankfully, though somewhat islanded in the house with us locked into our rooms the past two days, furtively only out to forage from the kitchen. We treated ourselves after to a trip to the supermarket, the highlight of the day like any granny with no mates, the kind who talks interminably, pitiably with service staff. I would’ve hugged everyone on the street if it wouldn’t now be counted as murder.

Things have been opening up recently with a relaxation of some of the rules, and the lack of a queue seemed to show less people shopping -perhaps a dip in having to stock up. Bought a large, chocolate cookie in Lidl, in recompense for the middle class Riesling I’d otherwise be pretending on the vistas of the Salzkammergut. It’s become properly chilly these past few days, enough for a return to longjohns, squirreled away in the blanket box, but the air itself is sublime, like a blade of cold and life. It burns zephyrs in my head.

We tidied the room, revamping it to clear some clutter and make things minimalist rather than plain and messy. Minimalism only works one way, and takes no prisoners. Otherwise it looks shit. Part of our ongoing negotiations in the new set-up between ourselves, and a facet in the drama beforehand.

A is watching Ricky Gervais’s After Life, a swansong to depression and loss with a comedic bent. He loves it, but I see the pain. So much of it strikes a chord. Sometimes one has so much on their plate, with so little to lose, just being a cunt with zero tolerance is not only the last option but a liberating one. Gervais also demonstrates how it’s a self-defeating way to act, and a vicious cycle. That beneath every miserable card-carrying member of the wanker cub, there may be a painfully beating heart.

Oh but how lovely looks England in it all. Filmed in a glorious summer he does take pains to paint the place as twee and empty, but the peace and history still shines through. Filmed in Hemel Hampstead and Beckonsfield -lair of model villages and a young, bullied Colonel Gadaffi -it is an aria to smalltown Home Counties life, and a tainted amosphere (think moneyed Sky-watching Brexit-land) that Gervais grew up in (Reading) and I know all too well (Windsor). He infamously set The Office series in the black hole that is Slough; this time round he’s just as piss-taking, though quite conducive to leafy surburban life, perhaps from his more moneyed existence these days.

Swansea was deemed the ‘lovely, ugly town’ by hometown boy Dylan Thomas back in 1957, and translated into the ‘pretty, shitty city’ when the film Twin Town premiered 40 years later while I lived there – an opening gala and everything at the local UCI. Then an afterparty in the Barons nightclub, with Rhys Ifans and Kelly Jones turning up!

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/rare-footage-1997-captures-premiere-16446798

My other hometown further south, once part of the ‘Staines Massive’ back in the Ali G days, I’d now dub the ‘bullshit beauty that is Berkshire’. Berk as in you berk; it famously came in at No 2 in the Crap Towns series (beaten only by Hull).

I am perhap getting old and nostalgic for an utter cultural shithole. For all its gardens and gracing milk bottles I have to remember Windsor votes as a Tory stronghold, effectively bans mosques (locals taking arms against ‘increasing the traffic’) and the Daily Mail is sold out even in Waitrose. It’s the most racially divided pair of boroughs in the London metro, the other being Slough with the highest minority-majority wards in the country. Maybe just call it as it is, Cunt town.

Turds, polishing, yeah.

Pub quiz fact, Rhys Ifans, before hitting screengold fame as the bod in Notting Hill, was a Versace model in Milan beforehand.

 

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