Common cold

I’ve been looking over the blogs from last year again. It’s so strange to feel the change. Last year I was aware of the possibility of a lockdown, but just as a theory. A little firebreak that might be deemed necessary. I was worrying what it might do to businesses if things had to slow down for a week or two.

I was driving a selection of vehicles to Heathrow every day and waiting, breathing in and out as people came flooding from international arrivals past me and my sign. I was carrying different passengers from different countries and they were all eating tubs of Marks and Spencer flapjacks and sharing Percy Pigs out of the packet fresh off the airplane as I took them to their hotel or went location scouting. “Oh God I’m so sick,” said one woman. Her job was to run a venue where people made a load of cakes with different flags on. “I’ve got some kind of flu. My temperature is everywhere. Put the windows up, I’m cold. It can’t be this Corona, I’ve only been in Italy. Stop putting the windows down, are you trying to make me more sick?” Thankfully the cakes were just for show. Whatever it was she had she gave it to me. But those were the days where we would be unwell in each others company.

It’s the flu season, and whether or not this is a horrible year, at least we aren’t all streaming with something. Lemsip sales must be right down now that we aren’t casually infecting each other with all the little illnesses. Most of us get some sort of bug that stirs in the warmth in early spring. People would get on the tube with eyes streaming and pockets full of tissues, rocking their sleepy way full of head and paracetamol to a job they felt they couldn’t afford to miss. If you moved away when they started hacking with feverish cough next to you they’d look at you like you were being intolerant, and carry on louder. Now they’d be wrapped in clingfilm by cops in hazmat suits and clinically burnt. The world shifts.

I saw an army of masked coppers in the entrance to Mornington Crescent tube last night trying to move on one maskless homeless guy. He was cold and seemed pretty reasonable but didn’t want to move. It was a weird slow pantomime of proximity and distance. I didn’t stay to watch.

This year, if we get an eye infection it’s definitely Corona. If our leg starts twitching it’s Covid 19, no doubt about it. It’s like we’ve forgotten all about the existence of The Common Cold. There’ll be people showing up at A&E with a mild cold, weeping, begging for a spot on a ventilator.

I’m still feeling pretty good thankfully. I did another self tape this evening, perhaps a little rushed and I discovered why we don’t use ring lights when I saw the footage on a bigger screen. Fucking thing stole my pupils. I can’t imagine this one will go my way, but it was fun doing it. I’m getting to the stage where I like the paraphernalia of taping at home, God help me. The technology afterwards I can leave behind. But the acting bit is fun…

I gotta get something soon. Going crazy here. More driving this week though. That’s something I guess…

Splinter

It seems people are thinking about summer suddenly. Matt the talking ham is very happy that they’ve ineffectively vaccinated twenty million people instead of properly vaccinating ten million. These empty fools. Then there’s the fact that even after vaccine, people have grown used to the trappings of pandemic. Stockholm syndrome. The Guardian ran an article the other day telling us that even if we are vaccinated we should still wear masks because we don’t know how to use handkerchiefs when we sneeze. Friends of mine shared it. How long before we get this out of our system? And that’s not even taking into account the fact that more people than you can imagine are skeptical about the vaccines. Questions like “How long do they last?” and “Will we have to pay for boosters down the line?” are running alongside questions like “How do we know there aren’t unexpected side effects?” and “have they been adequately tested?” Then you have more people than you’d credit hearing from outlets they trust that the vaccines contain shifting nefarious things that are designed to do badness in one way or another. I have close friends that are genuinely angry with all the fucking idiots who think the vaccine is going to kill people. I have close friends that are genuinely angry about all the fucking idiots who think the vaccine is going to help people. It’s a mess it’s a mess it’s a mess, and it’s going to polarise and polarise further if we aren’t careful because everybody thinks everybody else is stupid.

Habits have very long half lives. There will be fears and habits we carry through generations as a result of the scar of this non-plague plague. Like saying “Bless you” when somebody sneezes. Pope Gregory I died in 652 AD. While he was alive he suggested to the Romans that a little prayer after sneezing might help protect the pious people of Rome from the ravages of the bubonic plague. We still do it now – “bless you” – despite it having lost all context and meaning. It didn’t help then anymore than it helps now. What fallout will we carry from this shitshow, down through the centuries? Already things have changed. We apologise and face the wall when passing neighbors on the stairs. We do the elbow touch, complete with mutual “ha ha isn’t this hilarious” acting. I don’t think I’ve ever done an elbow touch without the accompanying pantomime and it’s existed for almost a year now. Ha ha ha, do a little dance, we’re all screwed. I’ve already contemplated language changing – “social distancing”, “shielding” etc. The people who would pull away when you hugged them – they’re about the only people feeling happier.

But … Hope. Spring is springing. And this huge Virgo moon is incredible. I’ve been sitting in the light of it as I write. Virgo is a moon for practicalities. Admin moon. I stepped on and broke the charging wire for my laptop last night when I was practicing accordion and I’m kind of ok with that. The laptop was getting to be more about sinking hours of the day into various entertaining holes than it was about sorting things out. I’ve ordered a new wire from Hong Kong and it’s in it post. Meantime I need to sort things in the real world. I need to move and carry and finish without letting me distract myself with comforting bullshit like computer games. The world will come back eventually with all the time consuming and passionate distractions, and if I haven’t made bigger strides in this flat and Hereford and Jersey and all the things I will lose sleep regretting it down the line.

Plus I want to see Lou. She’s been back in Brighton and I’ve been back in Chelsea and I miss my sputnik. I might be driving some boxes to Lyme Regis on Tuesday but I might not be. It’s all still very much up in the air, as is everything always at the moment.

I have the beginnings of a comfortable room at home. I have a bath running. The summer festivals look to be going ahead as programmed. Life? Maybe.

This evening I walked up Primrose Hill with my friend. After empty streets of Camden, suddenly there was life. Music. Laughter. Dancing – all in the freezing cold and dark at the top of a hill. I mourn for what’s not possible. But people are still finding ways to be together. Maybe we’ll be ok and this won’t splinter us too much. I hope so.

Medicine zoom

Here I am, lying on my back in bed, surrounded by candles, smiling. The ubiquitous smoke is burning, roiling between me and screen of my laptop. On my laptop a man with nipple length hair is playing guitar into a complicated microphone array. He’s singing in falsetto soprano backed up in thick alto by a woman playing a squeezebox beside him. As it happens, they’re in the same little village in East Sussex that I was flown away to board at when I was eight. Forest Row.

I didn’t think I wanted to go to this. It’s a gathering of the people who were connected to Medicine Festival last summer – the only summer festival we got away with having in the UK, and a beautiful outlet weekend for a very small number of careful sober people connected with healing, heavily policed for social distancing by angry looking security guards used to working Glastonbury and confused about how there was nobody to restrain. Beautiful, needed, and human. I was a lucky boy.

I didn’t want to go on zoom and to connect through a screen to something that we had such a profound physical and spiritual connection with this summer. It’s been better than I expected though. Lovely people. “Always be stepping forwards into the light,” they are saying as I write. These are people full of heart. In part they are my people, as much as the strange and gorgeous people I play let’s pretend with for money. I always exist on the edge if I can, coming in and out of the light of the fire. But this has been a tonic despite the fact it is delivered to me via technology – specifically via my great big noisy gaming laptop. And I feel part of this community.

It’s full moon in Virgo and it’s been bright all day. A powerful time to cleanse and flush out the unhelpful messy stuff we’re carrying around, if we believe in all that stuff – and I find it helpful to do so as you know. There’s a lot of noise at the moment and a lot of opportunity for dark thoughts and dark behaviours. But with Spring approaching and with the end of this time of constraint and fear perhaps in sight at last, it’s a good time to connect with God, or with the gods, or the power, or the universe or the spaghetti monster or whatever you want to call it. There’s a lot of light out there and there’s lots more coming.

This evening of Zoom has helped me feel part of a circle again – connected to a community. Just like with my local Buddhists. I hate Zoom for communication because I always notice what’s not possible. But the variety has been wonderful this evening, and as I’m always reminded by Creation Theatre, much is possible on zoom. People from all over the world, from Forest Row to Costa Rica in the last few minutes and now even The Isle of Man. Songs and thoughts and prayers and wisdom and togetherness. That’s all I really needed for a Saturday night after a practical day.

The carpet fitter came over in the morning. One step closer to the room being done. Oh joy.

Now I’m going to get back to connecting with all these lovely people as they share their lovely moments with us. Just in time for the woman in the Isle of Man to have fixed her microphone – a potential friend if I do move back there…

Cosy

I bought a new duvet on eBay. It has lots of tog and it is full of duck feathers. I slept under it last night and it was heavy and warm and I slept so damn well. It was great. I thought I’d let you know. It’s worth treating yourself to improvements that you don’t need from time to time…

My dreams are lively at the moment. My dreams are always lively, and I’m usually in some capacity, able to steer, but the dreams of late feel peopled. I often wake up mid conversation with some form of entity. I get up, service my watermelon prostate, and go straight back to the conversation. They’re usually benign, although one of them can be a little fucker. The conversations are enlightening as far as I remember, but I’m not writing them down and they burn in the daylight. I only remember snatches, and it’s the little fucker that can most effectively put things into my waking mind.

Now I have the added comfort of this heavy duvet though sleep really is an event. Warm cosy long strange colorful conversations with things beyond our ken and cosy happy dreaming. And the occasional angry oilfaced shouting gremlin. But I’ve got the measure of it. I’ll be off again soon. I can’t wait.

Today I shamelessly stayed in sweet strange slumber until ten. It was great. I rolled out of bed shortly before the doorbell rang bringing Jethro fresh from the Belgian Embassy to help get a load of redundant mdf out of the bedroom and into the car. It’s looking even more viable in there now. Carpet guy has rescheduled until tomorrow but I am confident I’ll have a nice room sooner rather than later – an oasis of peaceful slumber where I can commune with my weird entities in comfort.

I took the MDF over the river to the dump, through the bright streets of London town. Spring really is in the air now. Clear blue skies and sharp white light on the walls. With the majority of people indoors, you can see the beauty of the architecture around this eclectic metropolis. There’s precious little nature to distract you, and not the usual thing of a story on every corner. Instead you can see how there’s been a lot of time money and thought put into the edifices all across this colourful city. We are surrounded by art.

After the dump I got home and was sad that the cricket was over. It’s a massive shame for cricket fans. The first test in daytime hours shown on terrestrial television for like a decade. Channel 4 bought the rights for big money and then the wicket was so bad that both teams were dropping like flies and England dropped first. It was over before the end of the second day of a five day test. Channel 4 must be regretting paying all those millions of pounds. God knows what they’re showing instead. Endless punditry or reruns… One more test but it’s in India again and I think it’s back to our night time.

Oh and Hex sends his love

Weekend tomorrow. They come round fast. Enjoy it. I’m gonna buy some tulips.

Paint and Coming

Usually when things are expensive they’re ordinary things that have been held up to cameras by smiling twits. You’re paying the fee for the twit rather than the cost of the ingredients. With Farrow and Ball paint, I’d gladly be that twit, and I wouldn’t feel I was misleading those baying legions of fans. It’s great. I’m thrilled with it. It’s lovely to use. Tick.

We painted the ceiling with a basic B&Q type paint and it was far less satisfying. It was like wiping the ceiling with a chalky sock. It didn’t even cover the oily brown stains that come when I don’t get the bucket up the ladder in time. Now the bedroom walls are finished. They catch the light beautifully. When I do the other rooms I guess I’ll have to budget accordingly and try some more. I can be a cheapskate with the finish instead of the ingredients. Like putting a beautiful meal on a basic plate…

“In terms of finish do you want Polish Builder, or expensive decorator?” asks Jethro.

It’s Polish Builder every time with me, assuming as I do that Polish Builders are the people you employ to just get the job done quickly and cheaply. Many Polish Builders do a wonderful etc etc many other countries etc etc etc etc

The point being, I don’t really see the edges, even if I’m looking. People that do see the edges tend to disturb me as much as people who miss the point and derail perfectly good sentences in order to police gross generalisations about Polish Builders.

In the middle of the day a surveyor came to look at the ancient water ingress into my flat. Finally. That’s been a decade or so of me mentioning it to no avail. He was laconic and rather pleasant, with the ease of a man who has made a very large amount of money. By the feel of it he might say the right things to make it so I don’t have to climb a ladder with a bucket whenever there’s a rainstorm. He’ll make more money, I’ll spend more money. I’m making overtures to get the work I’ve already had done retrospectively covered by the insurance. Fingers crossed.

Then as soon as it was all done, I had to join a zoom meeting with a few of the lovely people who practice disobedient Buddhism in my district. They’ve worked out that I’ll almost always sack it off if they haven’t given me a responsibility. “Will you read a poem of your choice?” Every. Fucking. Time.

I chose this one. Larkin. So right for just now that even if it’s not really a performance poem, it begged to be the one. And I like to try to prioritise content over style. Much as it would have been lovely to smash out one of Romantics and make everybody fall in love with me. Next time. Here’s the Larkin. I should have noodled on my guitar. I basically read it in the same way I’d try and read Keats.

Coming:

On longer evenings,

Light, chill and yellow,

Bathes the serene

Foreheads of houses.

A thrush sings,

Laurel-surrounded

In the deep bare garden,

Its fresh-peeled voice

Astonishing the brickwork.

It will be spring soon,

It will be spring soon—

And I, whose childhood

Is a forgotten boredom,

Feel like a child

Who comes on a scene

Of adult reconciling,

And can understand nothing

But the unusual laughter,

And starts to be happy.

Sunset from a Brighton Roof – by Lou

Farrow and Ball

We are allowed to have workmen round. We are also allowed to be friends with people who are handy. Sometimes we can make this align to our advantage and have handy friends round to do some work.

My hands are covered in paint, the wall in the bedroom is covered in paint, the carpet in the bedroom is covered in paint. Tomorrow we’re going to cover the paint in paint. Tomorrow we are also going to paint the ceiling which involves pain(t) and suffering and a different spin on the idea of facepaint.

Over the last few hours I’ve occasionally wandered in to the bedroom, looked at the wall, smiled beatifically and wandered out again. Change.

I’ve been stymied a little bit so I’m absolutely thrilled to have started movement again in there. Nobody will be looking for a room in London any time soon, but I’ll have a lovely one for me in the meantime. I want to keep it sacred from clutter – a peaceful oasis that allows the ongoing series of explosions to continue in the other rooms while I peace out in there surrounded by candles and incense and plinky plonky music. You can come too. No touching.

Farrow and Ball make good paint, and they’ve spent on the marketing. If you live in the Cotswolds and you don’t paint your house in Farrow and Ball, there’ll be an angry mob with designer pitchforks politely using the doorbell so they can insist that you mend your ways. Likely either Alewishis Farrow or Nurgatiddly Ball knows someone in the current Tory cabinet. They’re the ferrari of paint, you see. I knew I simply MUST have the room painted in effybee, darling, I mean there just IS no other paint, d’you know? Effybee every week for me!

This all happened because you can’t buy less than 2.5 litres of the effing bastard. Jethro treated himself, and he’s treating me with his sloppy seconds. He came round armed with half a tin – plenty. We’ve done the first coat including the radiator. Now it dries. Then we use the rest of it up and hopefully avoid having to buy another tub since they come in at £54. Then, shiny room. The colour is Bluegreen. They don’t need to call it things like “Desperate Horizon” or “Cogitating Blackberry”. They aren’t afraid to say it like it is at Farrow and Ball, don’t you know. If it’s a grouse they call it a grouse, and shoot it. If it’s a blue-green they call it bluegreen and paint it.

I’ve had to look them up now. I got curious.

John and Richard. They met in a claypit after WW2 and wanted to make clayish colours, apparently. History doesn’t record whether or not it was daddy’s claypit. I’ll roll the dice that it was, even if Richard saw active service. They make the paint without all those nonspecific nasty things that their rivals put in that lesser paint – the one that’s reasonably priced and isn’t theirs. Somebody is good at talking and knows someone at The National Trust. Flagship store in Chelsea, darling. Crossed the Atlantic. The rest is history.

I like it. I’m a sucker. I like it. It’s nice. I’m a sucker.

I feel like I have good resonant moneypaint that will surround a peaceful bed in an uncluttered room from whence I will launch myself rocket-like on the world of dramatic employment when it all wakes up again. There’s the old idea that if it has cost more, you value it more. Capitalism has hungrily fucked that idea. But somehow…

Jethro is cosmic in a way I understand deeply. We operate in a similar fashion. I want his moneypaint in that sleepyroom, applied consciously with the sweat of his brow – (and mine). Two energy workers, changing the literal colour of a room. It’s gonna be a hell of a room when we are done, with the river matching the paint and clean in many many ways.

There’s a business here if we weren’t busy playing let’s pretend. Shamanic painters. “We change the colour and the energy in your room at the same time.” Flagship store in SW3. “I had my house painted by Barclay and Skinner and now I’m worshipped as a deity by a small community of hamsters in Staines.” We will be chanting and painting and making odd noises and burning things and you walk into your new shiny room and that thing you’ve had on your back for fifteen years falls off and jumps out of the window screaming in all eight dimensions and you spontaneously grow two inches taller and start glowing. “That’ll be eleventy sixteen dollarpounds and a horse. Thanks.”

I have all the best ideas.

Berkeley Square

In Berkeley Square, the only other people are working for “Supper”. The square itself is chained shut and there are no taxis, no buses, no cars, no pedestrians. Wind is blowing in the trees – milder than it has been but if there ever was a nightingale here, it’s not singing now. I’m just getting the staccato consonants of one of the drivers on his phone. I couldn’t guess the language. “Supper”. A new venture in these reduced times. Should I desire an entire Peking Duck with caviar to be sent from Hakkasan to my flat, he would get off the phone and leap on his natty little custom electric scooter. He’d take it to my door for £7.00. Or anything I want from Fortnums or even the Harrods food hall. Money for luxury. And we all need a bit of luxury. But I’m not gonna buy that duck. Not without a table to eat it on and friends to eat it with. Besides, I’ve done two unexpected jobs today and both of them together wouldn’t pay for the thing.

Garden waste. Two bags of it. That’s the advantage of having a car. It was only Chelsea to Wandsworth and they slipped me £20 to take four of them. Lovely. A little job like that and at least the day isn’t negative like most days are in these times. Didn’t have to touch any humans either, whether or not I’d have liked to. Then, as I was driving home, another message came in and I changed my route to Old Street. Now, hours later, having had the congestion charge paid, I’ve stopped in windy Berkeley Square to write this blog.

I exist in some people’s heads as the “let’s get Al to do that” bloke. I like to be able to say yes when it involves being helpful to others and paying me at the same time. I just drove past a billboard slowly about 30 times in a row while a friend tried to film it from the back seat of the Audi. The ad he wanted to film was on a ten second loop with a Sky ad, so I kept on getting honked and shouted at as I held up traffic, slowing down in order to get the timing right for him. I mostly avoided flipping people the bird but it’s almost reflexive when the windows are open and somebody is honking immediately. I must have performed about twelve illegal U-turns. This blog is a work of fiction. I hope there were no cameras. We got the shot, and nobody punched me. This is the Sky ad, because he didn’t want me prematurely blogging the ad he was filming.

Then I drove through London. Sleepy sad broken London. The theatres were dark at 9pm. Nobody outside them. Lights still cycling on some of them. Others just switched off entirely. Truly dark theatres. So sad. Seeing as I’ve never actually auditioned for the West End in twenty years it’s not likely I’d be on those stages if they were lit. But hey, the world is shifting. When it switches back on I’ll be coming on with it. It’s the hope that keeps us alive. The hope. Good food and the hope. I’m going to drive home for the food bit. I want that duck. I’ll make do with whatever’s in the fridge.

February, go away.

“All legal restrictions on social contact could be removed by June.”

This fucking world. “Legal restrictions on social contact.”

A friend rang me up today. “How are you?” people still ask at the beginning of conversations. With social mixing gone, so have the social niceties. It used to be a reflexive question reflexively answered. One of the reasons Minnie and I are close friends is that we synchronised in college on a bad day, and we didn’t answer reflexively: “How are you?” “Well, I feel fucking shit, actually. How are you?” “Yeah, I’m shit too and angry. Let’s get a coffee.” Today my friend and I both opened the conversation saying how shit it all is.

Everybody does it. It’s the new thing. We aren’t walking around with painted on smiles anymore. It’s pretty nice that we can tell everybody we feel awful without confusing people socially. It’s shit that we feel awful though, just as it’s shit that we’d be breaking the law if we hugged each other. The only people that don’t feel awful are the people who now have generations of their family in comfort because of money made out of bent contracts awarded because of this fucker.  But to be one of those people you basically have to know Boris personally.

All of the restrictions and limitations would be easier to bear if the people nominally in the hot seat weren’t such blustering crooked idiots. I’m sick of the thought of them. God save the Queen.

This isn’t about politics. Look at them. Watch Hancock trying to duck questions. Look into Boris’s eyes when he weaves his words. I hate to say it but he and I share a very very similar upbringing. It’s a choice not to evolve from it.

And yet here we all are. Let by idiots, on our island surrounded by water, still hiding in our homes while on the other side of the world another island has a maskless wreathlaying ceremony for the victims of the Christchurch earthquake ten years ago today. New Zealand is the same size as us, and it’s summer and they’re all in the pub. Bastards.

On the plus side, the plumber came round and fixed my boiler on the insurance policy. I’m running a bath and it hasn’t depressurised once, nor has it made that loud banging sound as if a small person was trapped inside it. Brave new world. One less thing to worry about. And this week the spare room is gonna get paint on the walls at last. And it might become my bedroom again. I kept on saying February is often the beginning of spring. It has been a huge disappointment. I shall be writing to my MP to complain about the cold. Likely he just gave control of the weather to one of his friends from school.

Hex had a mouse this evening. It’s incredible to be part of his life – I’ve been his sole carer for a year on March 3rd. His wayward manner and his cold warmth has been some measure of comfort to me. He is just a snake though. He isn’t pretending to be a man of the people. He isn’t making policy. He probably should be.

And that’s that. It was foggy in London. All this and weather too? Get in the bin, February. I’m done with you.

Magic Arena Open Tournament

Back in the mists of time I shared a student house in Reading with Tim and Adrian. It was on Elgar Road. We trashed the place and we stayed up all night playing the Braveheart soundtrack and dreaming and planning. Tim directs films now. Adrian writes books. I pretend to be other people. It kind of went in the direction we predicted for all three of us.

Sometimes after Tim went to bed, Adrian and I would change the soundtrack to The Mask and the Mirror by Loreena Mckennit, and we’d break out the Magic cards. “Magic the Gathering”… I came in just too late to be rich from selling the ones I had back then, although I did make a little bit of money out of my dual lands on eBay a few years ago when I was completely brassic. It’s a strategy card game for absolute geeks, and it got me hooked immediately. I like games, I like fantasy stuff, I like colourful and thoughtful ways of wasting time. Tim couldn’t give a fuck so Adrian and I would square off into the small hours. I became obsessed with making Minion of Leshrac work because I opened 4 of them. I rarely managed but when I did it was glorious.

I still play from time to time. It’s very niche, super geeky, but there’s money in it these days. Much of the rest of this blog is going to come across as gobbledegook to the uninitiated.

Yesterday I joined a qualifier, online for the Magic Arena Open Tournament, and somehow I managed to win it. They are showcasing a new set based on Norse mythology with heavy metal influences. I think this is because a large proportion of people who play this game wear unwashed T-shirts with pictures of ladies on them and listen to Viking Metal. It’s trying to appeal to their fan base. It is literally printing money. Magic the Gathering is owned by Wizards of the Coast and it is HUGE now. They bought Dungeons and Dragons for crying out loud!

So yeah I opened six online booster packs of random virtual cards, from which I had to make a forty card deck, with seventeen land cards. Fifteen cards in a pack, so 90 in total and you make a deck with 23 before lands. I decided my best bet would be to make an “Orzhov” deck. There are five colours of magic – Black, Blue, Red, Green, White. A deck will usually have two of them predominantly. The pairs are all given names, and Orzhov is Black and White. Angels and Demons. The star of my deck was Reidane, an angel who can also be an artifact that prevents damage. I played it as an artifact every time and it won games for me, hands down. I wouldn’t have qualified without it I don’t think. The final match was tense and was 100% won by me because I had the “Valkmira, protector’s shield” on the table. How do they come up with these names? They’ve renamed Odin “Halrund”.

So today I have to play more magic. I have just opened a new Sealed Deck – another load of random cards. I don’t think it’s as good, sadly. I’ve gone Rakdos. Black and Red. Demons and Berserkers. My best card is probably a Calamity Bearer. A cheap but angry giant. That and a Dragonskin Berserker, which might win games if unanswered. I’m delaying playing though. The tournament started at 2pm. It’s just gone 4pm now. It ends in 9 hours and if I can win 7 games in a row I’ll make $2000 US dollars. I thought I’d wait a bit as then the obsessive pro players will have finished and the South Korean farmers will have gone to bed. Just two losses will take me out of the running completely, but right now it’s all possible. That younger version of me, cursing as Adrian put my huge demon to work on a plough with another “Swords to Plowshares” – he’d be excited about the possibility of making some dollar out of a silly hobby. Me? I reckon yesterday was a fluke and they’re going to wipe the floor with me. But I figured I’d write now while it’s all possible… And I’m gonna make a cup of tea and go in… …


Oh dear. First match up, called “Xraphie” and they’re playing Boros and empty their hand almost immediately and run all over me before I can even begin to get established. One more loss and it’s over and no wins… In we go again…


Second match up and I honestly thought it was the last. Called “tothelimit” and they had made a four colour deck in everything but blue, to shoehorn all their rare cards in. They had so much removal, and I was lucky to close them out with a single dragon from a suicide run by my Dragonskin Berserker. I told you he could win games. 1 / 1.


Third match up. Called “eschooz”. Mirror match in Rakdos but he has a Draugr Necromancer which serves me my own deck cold despite him having no snow lands. As expected I’m out of it. One win better than nothing, I guess. So much for all the shiny dollars. But I haven’t put the time in to learn the set, nor am I likely to, so one win is plenty. At least I’ve made back some of the entry fee. And had fun doing it.

Everything change. Nothing change.

A year ago today I was in a chapel dressed up like the houses of parliament, listening to Geoffrey Howe resigning and giving a barnstorming speech. Paul Jesson played the part and you could see his years at the coal face in his remarkable day on set. All eyes on him for the whole day of filming. Assured and free in his learning, he gave a performance that was full of work and telegraphed none of it. There was no bullshit, no apology, nothing other than clear professionalism. Every day on set there’s something to admire and even if I first walked onto a set in 2002 I still absolutely love learning from the old hands. More of that please. Damn I love my job.

While I was pretending to be a politician, my phone was going mental all day with actors I’d employed to do ridiculous things for a race show on TV – they were just about to film the first leg of the race in London. They were worrying about things that I couldn’t fix. Some actors need comforting. With Jesson’s approach to his work on display I think I sent some rude text messages to people having little wobbles about timing.

It was fun, last February, filming The Crown on and off and helping organise large scale television shoots full time. They got the TV thing in the can before Covid shut the whole industry down – and The Crown, but they even finished the season. The TV show had to abandon the series after the London leg, so we were lucky to get paid, frankly.

Covid existed in the world at this point but nobody really gave a fuck about it.

My ex army friend Charlie had already posted on Facebook anticipating the emptying of the supermarket by panicking shoppers. He did it more than a month before it happened: “Don’t be a civvie. Buy enough supplies for two months.” I took his advice and filled my cupboards. When I lost my sense of smell and coughed lots early into lockdown, I was glad of his advice as I didn’t have to go anywhere. Although nobody could have anticipated that it would be LOO PAPER that all the panicking shoppers were buying. I still find that astonishing. We really would all be dead in a week if we weren’t carried.

It’s been a long year of very little. I can’t quite believe it. It’s like the time got eaten. Days blip by like dots into Pacman at the moment. And I feel like I’ve got stuck in an old track, because the fucking boiler has packed up again. It’s absurd. D&G charge me £30 a month for insurance, but I don’t think the engineers get properly paid as they’re always bad tempered and rush it when they come in to work. I’ve got one booked for Monday though. It’s the only insurance I pay for and long time readers will know why – Brian and I went a whole winter with just a panel heater and a small kitten for warmth, showering at gyms on trial months and at work. Not again.