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.

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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

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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.

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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, ad nauseum as for the last 25 years no one’s been unable to come up with anyything new rather than their 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.

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Dahmer

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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

Yesterday

Tomorrow

A Journal of the Plague Year Day 9

Thursday 26th March 2020

A few minutes ago they started yelling. I thought it was a party, the clapping alongside, and when I went to the window another woman in the old folk’s home opposite was doing the same. We ignored each other (thank God).

The shouting rose, and rose, till I was running to the kitchen for a better view from the tower block. By then it had risen to crescendo with an army of car horns you could hear reverberating across the city; every window in the block opposite had people doing the same, all 24 floors of them standing in silhouette, backlit, most of them alone.

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I found out from J it had been organised on social media which I’ve avoided for days -that at 8pm tonight there would be applause for the frontline workers, the essential services from healthcare to police, soldiers to postmen. It was quite the sight, especially knowing it was nationwide too. We watched in wonder.

This was started in Wuhan where the first lockdown was, from sporadic yells of people trapped indoors for so long, that evolved into balcony bellowing and cheering, encouraging others to keep going. In Italy the same, cheering for emergency vehicles and police vans. It’s times like this we learn the power of community, and the value of spirit in trials of hardship. The NHS has now filled its 450,000 volunteer positions within less than a day.

Italy is hard come by, it’s toll climbed again, bucking the trend of a decline seen in the last 3 days, with over 700 succumbing last night. Rumours are Italy is not just handicapped by the older populace, but the strain is more virulent. News too, that the US will likely overtake both Italy in China within the next 24 hrs, and will become the new global epicentre for the pandemic.

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Today I applied for Tesco jobs, inspired by a colleague now out of work and asking for a reference. I’m only applying for branches that will be reachable, with minimal commuting and thus exposure -it helps that I live next to such a busy station, so my radius is quite a catchment. There were literally 8 pages of positions for the company alone, all asking for immediate work on a temporary basis.

I’ve made some noises in the way of volunteering, though A says the NHS needs no one any more, and my working is volunteering enough to support my dependents. I’ve offered by CV building and job application services to some of my colleagues who don’t have as good English skills, my first foray into putting my money where my mouthpiece is. As opposed to endlessly writing about community spirit while popping out to forage, avoiding all contact and coming back with having done anything but purchase goods.

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The streets were sunny, spotless and mostly quiet, though occasionally a bottleneck of a whole 7 people would clog up certain crossroads and shop awnings. I posted off my collection of masks to The Fam (they’d run out entirely of envelopes so had to bop over to the last corner store), then it was the trundle through Lidl, which had restocked itself post-panic buying. Though of course bogroll and cleaning products is still mythical. Paracetamol was found, in a heavenly ray of light.

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A has spent a good few hours on the phone trying to get through to BA (who had charged him twice for a fictional flight), and the jobcentre, neither of which were ultimately reachable. We’ll try again tomorrow. Apparently they’ve been inundated with hundreds of thousands of calls, the latter likely in the millions, so cannot even accept new ones. It’s all left to a Tweet to do the talking, and like everything money related, has occupied a worrisome purgatory of loss.

Yesterday’s film was The Lighthouse, starring that good looking Cedric-from-Harry-Potter. Plus the vampiric looking Willem Defoe, now haggard in a strikingly accurate rendition of a grizzly Newfoundland seadog (they have a similar accent to the Irish), salt o the shanty-shaking blarney sea. An aria in solitude and madness, and how very close to home. The relationship between salty sea master and monosyllabic lug lurches between hate and love, sometimes within seconds, as they increasingly deteriorate into alcoholism. Entertaining past demons through their solitude, sometimes to memories of murder, or visions of mermaids and sea monsters (tentacles and all). Heads in lobster baskets, dripping jizz, that kinda thing. All very black and white, shot on a 5:4 format redolent of silent films, for which a great deal of this brooding study is.

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A lonely island (a rocky New England shore), a haunted past and present, a backbreaking, mindbreaking roster, littered with secrets and intrigue, notably the semi-mythical light in the house itself, like a glowing gemstone. It doesn’t end well. Perhaps neither for us.

The performances of these actors are astounding, studded with rambling monologues that become increasingly poetic, ad hoc craziness and a certain sexual tension. I was glued to it. I wouldn’t call it enjoyable, but is one to savour, rather like a storm. Bat down the hatches; the city is once again, unearthly silent at 8:55pm.

Today’s offering was Gemini Man, starring Will Smith and Will Smith as himself, clone wise, and thirty years younger. From the start, the predictable hi-jinx of hi-fiving US spies acceptably murdering foreign subjects, notably the typical Hollywood East Europeans, casually evil (you can just tell as they sit in awkward, unshaven dourness on intercity train journeys). Then the usual ludicrous examples of American heroism: pinpointing a single passenger on a packed HSR from a couple of miles away, dodging hundreds of bullets hippo-sprayed by trained marksmen.

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Oh and a British villain, of the craggy fifty-something suit and tie variety. Plus one of the spies is female, brilliant and beautiful (ssshhhooocker!) erm and at uni, where she’s studying Marine Biology, like most American students do and that hints at a lovey-dovey, swimming-with-dolphins-while-partially-dressed sprituality as well as sciencey, cerebral prowess. If I was an Orange County gal wanting a few million more hits on social media but also indicate I’m more than a candle-lit face, I’d lay out my paperwork next to stroking a dolphin.

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Will Smith Jnr is sometimes quite accurate, other times a cringey CGI mould, gurning over a plasticised trajectory, as are the fightscenes, the kind where they speed things up a little too much and it looks like Tekken. Oh Ang Lee, master of suggestion and cinematography, where did it go wrong? I mean Hulk shoulda been a lesson.

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But hey, worth the respite. Nothing like a bitta mindlessness and killing to get you not thinking about the mindlessness and killing. Dinner has deteriorated – cold rice, soya sauce + sesame oil, and hammy sausage slices. Took a whole 40 seconds to prepare, and about the same time to consume in front of the box, eating and watching baloney. Must try harder.

I don’t know what isolation does to people, but the message is clear from Hollywood so far, put any two people together and they will compete, and make life Sartreanly hellish for each other. I do wonder if there will ever be a film without the struggle, about say two people being plonked on an island and just getting along. No giant apes, no sharks, no killing piggy. No bloody social stereotyping. The Netflix reality series, ‘Terrace House‘ does just that, whereby they get a bunch of Tokyoites from disparate backgrounds into a household, who aren’t lamped with pressing personality disorders or opposing political views, who aren’t say a lion pride holed up with sassy zebras. And hey presto! They chat, show their fears, their heart, and fall in love at their own pace. Not Love Island, not Big Brother (of whom the German and Brazilian editions only found out about the pandemic a few days ago).

If I wrote a book where Once Upon a Time They Lived Happily Ever After would anyone even pick it up, let alone enjoy it? If there was no global crisis, would I even be writing, or you good friend, reading?

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Yesterday

Tomorrow