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I didn’t see any April Fool jokes. Not really a time for larking about, is it? “Hey, they found a vaccine and it will be freely available everywhere in a few days!” Yeah, that would have gone down about as well as a barbed ventilator tube, wouldn’t it? Everyone is worn down with this shit; the infection and death rates keep soaring and there really is no end in sight. And even if there was, you would have to be either stupid or optimistic to a near-demented degree to think things will return to “normal” for
- if ever.
It seems every country fails to learn from the ones who went through it earlier. Every country is insufficiently prepared, and does not have enough protective medical equipment for its healthcare workers. Every country leaves it too late to go into lockdown. And every country - at least every remotely liberal, “free” country - has a plentiful supply of clueless and selfish morons who refuse to fully follow the rules, and every such country does not enforce those rules anywhere near strictly enough. Apparently we would rather die in our thousands than have temporary restrictions on our precious freedom. So be it.
Our lives are so different now, and mine is less so than for most people. I still go to work, but my commute is strange. I still drive trains, but the times are different, the crowds and passengers are absent, the signals which were always restrictive are now green. But living alone and having no social life is just normal life for me. Not seeing you as often as I would like is normal. Not being
to see you and not knowing how long that will continue is not. And that is the only thing that really scares me.
Last month I found it easy to do these entries religiously, every day. It is harder this month. I think this is because of the general, low-level stress of “the situation”, and my more-exposed-than-I-would-like part in it. I read the data. I read the opinions. I am still on the fence about face masks, and of course, all the time I am on the fence I may be making matters worse. Then again, so might you people wearing masks, especially cloth ones. Please stop wearing those. At least N95 standard, single use only. Please.
I am really missing her at the moment. It is not
long since we were together, but the knowledge that we should have seen each other once since then, and should now be approaching another meeting, is brutal; as is the knowledge that we have no idea when, or even if (no no don’t go there don’t go there) we will see each other again. We should be together, and going through this together, and helping each other. But we are not. The Atlantic always seemed forbiddingly huge, but this damned mess is starting to make it seem impenetrable.
Every day she sends me “love letters” via email. Every single day. They are short, sweet and varied in content. I have said that she should not feel obliged to do this, but then... perhaps it helps, this small daily discipline, borne of love and the missing of a distant loved one. I suppose it is like doing these hundred words entries every day. Who knows what various reasons we all have for doing this? But her reasons are more obvious, I think. I only hope she finds her fond chore easier than I have been finding mine, this month.
We have not yet been one month in “lockdown” (quotation marks used intentionally) and already the whining is becoming intolerable. “When will it let up? What is the exit strategy? I’m bored! This is horrible! I miss my friends! I need a hug!”
Shut your quivering lips, you miserable little snowflakes. My parents’ generation lived through nightly curfew and blackouts, heavy rationing, and - just as a little side order - being bombed on a near-nightly basis. For years. And they bore it with a damned sight more dignity and stoicism than you. Shut your pathetic gobs. You make me sick.
One weirdness is that when most people are behaving themselves and staying indoors, this is oddly beautiful. It usually occurs in the early morning, around midday, and mid-to-late evening. At these times I feel almost lucky to be one of those allowed to be out and about. The air seems clearer. Everything is so much quieter. You can really hear the goddamned tweety birds. Although they seem confused. They give you funny looks, like they’re wondering what’s up with the master species. And some of them are getting a bit cocky.
Or perhaps I am slowly going mad.
I must try harder to write about something other than the all-pervading
is tiresome, and tiring.
is everywhere - literally and figuratively - and I am literally and figuratively tired of
. I am glad I have no television, because the one in the mess room spews out a constant stream of
. I am so worn down by
that I would even consider going back to the days when ranting about people misusing the word “literally” seemed about as tiresome as it, without the bold and the italics, could get. Good times, man. Good times.
So to you, the lovely one sending me love letters every day. Let me tell you how much that touches me: to be loved enough by someone that she feels moved to do that. If you had told a much younger me that one day someone would do that, much younger me would not have believed it. Much younger me did not think he would even be loved, let alone loved that much. It seemed likelier to much younger me that he would love, but that it would be unreciprocated. What a blessed joy it is to have found both.
Judge not lest ye be judged, says the bad book. Another piece of simpering nonsense. No, absolutely
judge. Use that judgement, and by all means feel free to judge me too. You
judge me. You should judge Judy. You should judge everyone. Using our judgement is how we make decisions, and it is vital that we do that for people as much as anything else. That’s how you avoid being conned, or abused, or heartbroken, or with a demented asshole like Trump for a leader. That’s a self-preservation tool. Judge, lest ye be taken for a ride.
The selfish, short-sighted stupidity of most people has always disgusted me, but this is really bringing the dimwits out in force. Every day the bleating gets louder: “When can we come out to play again? I am going to throw such a party when this is all over!”
Learn about what we are dealing with here, and get a clue, morons. This is not going to be “over”. There will be more like this. The best we can hope for is manageability, and that requires our lives to change, forever. Grow up, shut up, and get used to it.
And then there are the good people. Not just the ones actually staying indoors, strictly social-distancing and shopping sensibly (although hooray for those folks), but also the ones trying to divert, entertain and educate us on social media. Brian Greene with his “An equation a day” ; Lawrence Krauss with “Five minute physics”. And all the regular folks using their various talents - musical, comedic, whatever - to momentarily distract us from this nightmare, and make us smile, cry, be in the moment again. To paraphrase Homer (not that one): Ah, humanity. The cause of, and solution to, all of humanity’s problems.
Dating must be fun at the moment, never mind swinger’s parties and fetish clubs. I never “dated”, because my generation just... didn’t. We thought that was a dated (ha) American thing. Also, I was too unconfident to ask anyone out, so there was that, too. But I understand that people actually do the dating thing, nowadays. So, there are no pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, concerts or social venues of any kind available for this activity. What’s left? A trip for essential supplies with appropriate social distancing at all times? Dinner over the internet? Hoping it leads to cybersex? Grimness abounds.
It is both amazing and rather sad how, after having been an internet user for almost thirty years, I still rarely engage with people who know the art of the truly telling insult. I am still regularly called names which are either just empty swearwords, like “motherfucker”, or else someone mindlessly casts aspersions on my nature which are uninformed, wrong or hysterical. You think it cuts me to call me stupid, or some variation on that? It doesn’t, because I, unlike you, know I am not stupid, and so does everyone whom, unlike you, actually knows me. You stupid motherfuckers.
The constant low-level stress is getting to me. Every day I go out, I wonder if this is going to be “day zero” for me. The day I catch it. I never get the chance to self-isolate for an extended period and reset the clock, as it were. So I live in a constant state of knowing I might have it, wondering when the breathlessness and bad shit is going to kick in, wondering if it will kill me when it does. My sleep, lousy before this started, is now just semi-conscious fever-dreaming. Which is ironic.
Sitting at the front of the night bus, 4:30 AM. I am the only passenger. There is a constant, regular beeping noise coming from... somewhere. It reminds me of a life support system in a hospital, or at least the way life support systems in hospitals sound in television dramas. I fancifully imagine it is
life support system. The nagging but mild and infrequent cough I have had for over three weeks now rattles my throat again, gently. It gets no better, and no worse. Normally the beeping would annoy me but now I don’t want it to stop.
I wish I had a cat again. Now would be a very good time to have a cat. I can’t travel. None of us can. So no need for expensive cat carers. I would worry about my cat becoming ill or injured because... wow, I never even considered how, or if, vets are operating now. That would be a concern. But I would still like a cat.
I am very glad you have a cat. I can tell little Clem is good for you, and I hear the fondness behind your complaints about his standard kitten behaviour. I envy him.
- Learning that someone you care about has achieved a delivery slot, and so does not have to venture outside.
- Gazing lovingly at your ample... booze stash.
- Slobbing around in the same toothpaste and drink-stained shirt for days.
- Throwing the footballs back over the fence because you are happy the neighbour’s kids are in their garden and not on the common.
- Absence of studio audience laughter revealing just how dreadful most Radio Four comedy is.
- Turning the radio off when the news comes on.
- Lurid fantasies of beating the shit out of people who jog on the pavement.
The absence (or near-absence) of aircraft is odd enough, but today I noticed another strange absence as I crossed the Thames at Staines. It occurred to me that the same absence had struck me yesterday at Barnes Bridge: there were no rowers. Both places have rowing clubs, and one almost always sees fours and eights gliding up and down the river, in fair weather and foul, and at all sorts of times. But there’s not much chance of social distancing in a rowing boat, is there? So that’s a pleasant form of exercise on hold until... well, I wonder.
. Fat idiot who just came into the shop and left with just two packs of Pringles. That’s your idea of necessary supplies, is it? A double helping of fatty snacks for your fat, lazy arse? That’s your idea of maximising your shopping list in order to reduce the total number of shopping trips required, is it? You stupid, thoughtless fat louse. I hope you get it. And you. Yes,
. Buying lottery tickets and delaying the line. That’s your idea of essential supplies, is it? Lottery tickets? You witless, selfish fucking moron. I hope you get it.
Another strange thing: Apart from you, I find I want to see people and socialise even less than I did before THE SITUATION. I am withdrawing increasingly into solitude; almost revelling in isolation. When I go to work I just hate other people who are out. They amplify the misanthropy in my marrow. So when I am home I close the curtains and shut them out; and drink, and surf, and am relatively content. I am becoming worse at responding to emails, and I was always pretty bad. I do not call my mother, and I do not want to.
I now know, albeit indirectly, three people who have died of the thing. They are all people I have at least met, and talked to. I wonder how many of these arsehole pavement joggers and disrespecters of the “rules” are in this position? I’m going to take a wild guess and say “almost none”. I hope that situation changes for them soon. Seems they are like conservatives: they only understand something if it actually happens to them or someone they love. No empathy; no imagination; no ability to connect the goddamned dots. My contempt for them is almost indescribable. Almost.
And here’s a way in which they are like the modern faux-liberal: “It’s okay when we do it.” That’s right, precious: you’re struggling with it. You miss your kids. You’re fine, clearly. You haven’t got it. No symptoms... fuck it, let’s have a visit.
You entitled bastards. Did you not read about the incubation period? You
you, or they, don’t have it. So now, because you’re special, you maybe give it, or take it, and pass it on. And fuck the little people who are toughing this out. Obviously they are not struggling like you. Right, precious?
All I look forward to now is seeing you again. That and drinking, and being pleasantly drunk. Since I will not be able to see you again for the foreseeable future, the soothing buzz of alcohol is my only relief, and I avail myself of it whenever I decently can, which is often. It is a balm, and I truly love it. It makes things mostly bearable. Stress slackens; anxiety unravels; the worry and oppression of this and all other fears slide into warm fuzzy release. It all floats away for those precious few hours, and how precious they are.
Coming home from work at the unusual hour of 17:45 and god, am I glad I don’t normally travel at what is clearly peak time for mockdown wankers. It is much worse than I thought. Wandsworth common is heaving with the bastards. Joggers, walkers (with and without dogs), large groups of people just sitting on the grass, really close together, zero attempt at distancing. There is a black, angry part of me that wishes this virus was much more lethal. Maybe if the death rate was fifty percent these entitled idiots might get it. But I wouldn’t bet on it.
I look to memory to comfort me, unreliable as it is. The memory of first seeing and holding a naked female body; how it was simultaneously as I had imagined it, and so very not. The physical impact of the alien heat on that runway in Heraklion, the first time. A sea so poetry-blue I would never have previously believed it real. The giddy thrill of that first chairlift ride; the crisp, sparkling air; the breathtaking view across the dazzling white peaks, cols and valleys. And that now-distant evening, and the first kiss to end all first kisses.
Two more days of the idiot gauntlet and then I get seven days off. And I can assure you that I will not be going jogging, I will be walking no dogs, and I will not be taking my “daily exercise” outdoors by strolling around like a witless goof. No, I will be planning one shopping trip, and carrying it out like a military operation, then I will be hunkering down at home for the duration and staying the fuck there, and being damned grateful for the opportunity to do so. One week away from the entitled morons. Deep joy.
And my dreams seem to be swinging between the usual and obvious stress dreams, and an unconscious retreat into fond memory, to go with the conscious one I mentioned two days ago. Last night my fervid and fevered subconscious took me back to June 2019 and Amorgos, Astypalea, and Athens. The sensations of peace, release, melancholy and impermanence. And waking, I was reminded of all that was going on at that time besides the actual holiday, and the necessary time out it provided. The gain and loss that ensued. And I am shocked that it happened almost a year ago.
I am pleasantly surprised to have completed another month at this old and odd little backwater of a site. I think it was a couple of months ago I said I would probably stop after that month and yet... here I still am. I don’t know why, and I don’t care why. My entries have been less good these last two months, and they have certainly and understandably been over-influenced by THE SITUATION, yet they have come more readily, and for the most part I have been more dutiful about writing one every day, on the day. May? Maybe...
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