Rushing up north

Off again. Having a car is lovely. I can do things. Today’s thing was simple enough on paper: to get myself up into Yorkshire so I can be at my 11am appointment tomorrow morning at Tennant’s Auctioneers in order to drop off some rather lovely fans for their upcoming fan sale in October. I complicated it with all sorts of delightful extras, commencing with waking up in Brighton despite the fans all being in London. Still the little Nissan goes very happily and is getting the use it has craved. After all London is between Brighton and Birmingham. All the little bangs and cracks in the car are ironing themselves out as it tootles back into fine form as a cheap to run touring city zoomaround. And if you ask it to jump, it jumps.

We made very good time through roads up north that felt about the same as usual, weirdly.

We stopped at the Walsall Arboretum. There are some pretty good parks around Birmingham it seems, and we could have an undisturbed lunch under a tree before nipping round the corner so Lou could see her parents. They’re pushing 80 and she hasn’t been able to get up to them since lockdown began, having no car and with health concerns about the train. So we swung by in the Micra for early afternoon and sat in the garden. I went off at first in search of a coffee so daughter could commune with parents, and then returned in time to have the strange conversations you find yourself having with other people’s elderly parents when you first meet them. The weather, parks in Jersey, lockdown (inevitably). I think it went well. Before we knew it we were back on the road, eating up the remaining miles to Harrogate.

India’s mum has a self contained Airbnb at the top of the house with shower and everything, and we are there tonight as it’s only an hour further north through lovely Yorkshire to get to Tennants, so I can have a bit of time to organise the fans at India’s before making the last push.

Harrogate used to have a little place in my regular existence, as the nearest town to Ripley where we had so many happy summer Shakespeares.

Harrogate. Haircuts and ASDA. Late night curry and dancing in clubs full of teenagers. Spa days and Betty’s Tearooms and vintage fairs on the green and visiting my girlfriend’s granny. HMV for CDs and Duttons for Buttons.

India walked Lou and I over for scran at Scran, through the sleepy streets of Harrogate – “It’s beautiful but it’s boring to live here.” I like it here, partly for the memories, like ghosts on every street corner. Snatches of remembered conversations and forgotten friendships. Partly for the beautiful architecture and friendly citizens. Partly for the easy access to beautiful countryside. I’d need a car, but with a car or motorbike (and maybe a helicopter on the roof – oh and a lear jet in the hangar … Submarine? Nah too slow. Space rocket! Although that might be a bit too far…) Anyway, with a means of swift return to London I could happily live here and go for tea at Betty’s in the morning, and frolic on the lawns in the evening.

It was a delight to see India again. Now I’m winding down in her flat. I took the fans out of the car to sort in the morning but the Nissan parked outside is full of antique weapons and Meissen porcelain. I have artfully draped socks and pants so it looks like a car full of crap to the Monday night prowlers on the rough tough streets of Harrogate.

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Shoreham Shore

Sunset found me on the beach at Shoreham. It’s a little way down the coast from Brighton. Far enough away to be free of the unbelievable crowds who are frolicking in one another’s ooze as the theatres are still shut across the country with no clear plan of strategy to get them open again because singing is so dangerous.

I am beginning to crave the chance to be on stage again. I can likely say along with a high percentage of theatre actors that this period still wouldn’t come close to my longest patch out of stage work. That’s partly thanks to Creation being so effortlessly resourceful and partly down to many years in the wilderness after mum’s death fucked my relationship with my first agency. But that’s all under the bridge. I’m standing on a diving board. I just need the pool to start filling again.

Meanwhile I’m going to continue to safely visit the people that matter to me, and go and lie on the beach in the sunset. We weren’t alone on that beach, oh no. The local teenagers were out in droves experimenting with substances.

“Charlie, how’s the weed?” “It’s good man!” And the wafts that were blowing our way from their group certainly smelt good. Apart from the constant hiss of balloons and the knowledge that they’ll probably leave all the canisters on the beach, it still continues to be a bittersweet joy that so many people will remember this summer of lockdown as a summer where they got out in nature as there was nothing else happening. There were those months in the house totally alone and freaking out, followed by the weeks of mixed messages, but now it seems that everybody has come out – for better or for worse. It’s the same in the parks in town, on the Heath… It was the same by the river in York and on the lawns of Ripley Village as I drove through in my van.

I’ve been out loads too, strolling around in the sun, soaking it up, listening and looking and liking. My arms and legs caught too much sun and not enough moisturiser so any attempt at a tan rolled off under the loofah just now and I’ll have to be more careful despite my olive skin or I’ll end up giving unwanted regretful advice to young’uns about the necessity of using sunscreen. It’s not even that I don’t like using it. It’s just that I’m mostly too fucking immediate and I don’t think about the stuff until my legs and arms decide to shed their skin.

I can tell myself I’m like Hex, shedding his skin. This sunburn peeling – it feels like I’m in transition, throwing off an old skin after my time with the skinner and putting on a better one. One with a bit more room in it, sexier, brighter and cleaner, as I dump old habits and think about what to start doing instead.

Which right now involves the washing up. Best go do that then…

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Brodown

A hot day again. Tristan and I decided to have an extended brodown.

I let him drive to the pitch and putt as part of an extended driving lesson. This involved a few main roads, oh God.

He seemed to be having a lovely time. We didn’t crash, nor did we explode. I won’t say I didn’t wish I had passenger pedals, but I never once had to pull the handbrake and I kept my breakfast down. Having been driving for so long it’s an interesting discipline to narrate it. “Ok so you need to be moving across to the right lane now, so check your mirrors before you signal and then wait for an opportunity to pull across” etc etc. I could probably do it for cash, if I hadn’t picked up the points. I’ve thought of it before but then I looked into it with one of the big companies and the initial investment was too much if I wasn’t going to do it full time, and it would always be a second third or fourth string. Good to have lots of strings though, as this pandemic has made so clear.

Then we went to the pitch and putt.

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A sand wedge, a putter, two balls and scrubland. 9 holes at par three. Not a walk you’d think of as good enough to spoil in the first place under the blazing sunshine. Hitting things was fun though – more than anything because the two of us are almost laughably incompetent at it. With a handicap of 28 we might have been close to par. Although the first thing I did was chop one of my two balls into a hedge to be lost forever. I was wearing my uncle Peter’s immaculate golfing shoes for luck and fun, but it didn’t stop Tristan from winning. Traditionally that means drinks are on me. But neither of us are drinking. So we went to the fishmonger.

Tristan and I should avoid going to places where you can buy consumables, particular after golf. A few years ago we drove from Morecambe Bay to Carmarthenshire after a horrible experience managing catering at a golf tournament. We stopped at a butcher and a little seaside shop in Aberaeron, and arrived at his mother’s house with three prime Rib-eyes and three live lobsters. Today we just went to the fishmonger to get a mackerel. We left with razor clams, king scallops and oysters. And no mackerel. That’s in the place of a bottle of wine.

Now we are in the garden. He’s prepping food, I’m writing this, and we are both very tensely listening to the last few overs of the first Pakistan test on Test Match Special. There’s only 25 runs left to get with 5 wickets in hand but as long time fans of the England test cricket squad it is still a tense experience. It really could all go to shit in seconds. It’s happened before too often.

What a lovely lazy hot day doing boy things. Oh hell, and there goes Buttler lbw. Right. I’m going to sit on the edge of my seat for the rest of this… 21 runs to get … Eek

James and this bench

After far too long cooking in the oven that my top floor flat becomes on days like this, it suddenly occurred to me that I could just leave it and go sit on a bench.

I never noticed before, but this bench I’ve been sitting on so frequently throughout lockdown has a little plaque dedicated to James Mayley. “You will never be forgotten,” it says. It’s just beside me now as I write. He died in 2007, aged 19.

I google and find him. He has a Just Giving page that raised £300 for the Teenage Cancer Trust. He must have died tragically young of cancer. I can’t find much else about him, but 19? Ugh. Too young.

Behind me the business of this city on a Friday night carries on regardless. Two ambulances and two police cars scream west. Cyclists on the pavement between me and the river rattle by at speed. Couples walk in companionable silence, hands brushing as they swing. Singles stroll deep in conversation on their phones or sucked into the screen as I must appear to be. To my left, leaning on the river wall, three big lads smoke dope and fold their arms. Opposite me, silently watching the river as the light dies, Buddha in his Peace Pagoda. To my right the iconic and beautiful lights of Albert Bridge. 4000 LEDS and troops must break step while crossing. There used to be a toll. Now it’s just annoyingly narrow when you turn left onto it, particularly in a van. All this life and colour and light – this rich strange life we live – and it was lost to poor James just as he was starting out.

I wonder if his friends and family come and sit here and commune with him from time to time. It’s nice to think he’s sitting with me in some way. Sharing his moment. And has been for the many occasions I’ve come here. It’s a beautiful spot to have a moment in, despite the traffic thudding by behind and the fumes. You get what you’re given in London.

This life thing we have is so precious and so fleeting. “How long ago did your mother die,” Christine asked me this morning, and it’s something like 16 years now. But there she is just on the other side of time, still so full of life and care. There they all are, the ones we knew. The ones we loved. So close you can almost touch them. But not quite, caught up in linear time as we all are. “Do you miss her?” Of course. We miss them, all of them. Every day.

The lucky ones we are get to complain about the heat and the cold. We get to send our curry back. We get to worry about money and fret about disease. We get to waste a day playing computer games or have an argument with someone we love or drink our bodies and bank balances dry.

Let’s find more ways to connect with beauty though, even in these trying times. Simple acts of kindness, or just taking advantage of the different pace of life to look at how glorious everything is even though it’s oh so messy. Go stare at a leaf, let a bug crawl on your hand, look at light reflected in water, feel the air on your face. We are alive in this brief strange moment. Let’s cherish it. For James.

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IKEA in a time of Corona

And home.

I was going to have a me day. I was gonna list things on eBay. I was gonna go down the list of things that must be done by the end of September. But then I got a call. A friend needed a van driver. Loads of stuff from Ikea. I got a streetvan. The points aren’t officially on my licence yet although it’s only a matter of time. Covid means I can’t have a course, so as a first offender I’m being pushed immediately to “felon”. I rang one of my regular van hire places and asked them what 6 points would mean, and I was told it would mean no van. So that momentary fuck up will bleed into my earning, and will gradually continue to corrode my previous naive trust of the law. Even now, if I see a patrol car, I think of it as something that wants to hurt me. Up until a month ago I thought of it as a protector.

I was an idiot. Nothing more. The law makes me look like a criminal. And that makes me feel like one. “Not eligible” for a course… Cos there are no courses. So … In dark times, PC plod cuts an artery. Only for two years. So long as I can afford to keep my no claims it’ll be ok. But if anybody needs a crime committed for the amount I’d normally make doing van driving… I mean no. But I now understand how people go down the rabbit hole. I slipped up by mistake but the size of the shoe that hit me? Disproportionate.

Today though, I drove to IKEA. The place is hell at the best of times. Now they have stolen all the pencils because they hate us, and also because Covid. You still have to walk through a maze that is even longer and fouler than before, held up by idiot people who are employed by Satan to walk slowly in family lines so you can’t get past. Everybody is covered and terrified of proximity. There’s no logic, in the sense that nobody seems capable of thinking about breath direction and droplet lag etc. It’s a big temple to the God of fear. They all treat each other as if we’re dealing with a nerve toxin absorbed through the skin. We are all in masks and still there’s fear that even looking at each other might be deadly.

I have been led to understand that this thing isn’t so easily spread despite the droplets themselves being very very contagious. But even saying that sort of thing can trigger people. And I’m not saying it in order to advocate lack of action. Fuck there’s so much extremism and polarisation around this still too unknown thing.

I’m going to venture some temporary thoughts, in the almost certain knowledge somebody either more or less knowledgeable will emotionally tell me how I’m wrong.

We must be careful, of course. Also it’s useful to train people to get used to nerve toxins as the next pandemic might be one of those. But this isn’t a nerve toxin.

With this one, with the big crown on the droplets that makes them heavier and gives it the name, if we all pull together we might be able to get the rate to 0 again as it’s surprisingly fat and falls fast. We’re lucky. (Or are we, or does it? “I read a thing” “my cousin” etc etc)

I can say one thing for certain. It’s not spread by magic.

Do logic.

It’s not about looking angrily at people who aren’t wearing the right hat. That’s just a very polarised conformity discussion that’s running parallel and distracting us from the need to be alert, or pushing us into bodycondoms. There’s lots of demonstrating and groupthink going on in the uncertainty. Just don’t be a cunt, either way. But if you’re hyperventilating through your triple mask when somebody comes within ten feet of you, you’re a vector.

A mask will stop you infecting others if you’ve got it. It’ll also stop scared people hating you. Apart from the scared people who think it’s all made up. They’ll hate you for wearing a mask. And right now we all seem scared of something.

Let’s just be really really aware the whole time of the world around us. It’s nice to be that aware. It makes the world more three dimensional. Wind direction! Where are my hands and what am I touching? When am I breathing in, when out?

If you feel feverish or ill, just stay home until you’re certain it was your imagination or you’ve come out the other end.

It’s not pleasant, this big nasty. I might have had it. I can’t even be sure I’ve had it until there are easy antibody tests despite being pretty sure I was one of the lucky ones in early March. I could’ve had another respiratory fever, but I lost my sense of smell. I’m still careful. But either way it’s not something you want to have or share. Throwing the world back open is going to take some serious time.

Not that the majority in this country want the world open, of course. We voted for “Closed Island”. For holidays in Bognor. For tea towels on our heads.

Maybe we’d be better just rolling around together in our little bubble of patriotic good old British skin and coughing ourselves to death.

I hope we can get the rate to 0 before we lose all our trust in strangers. Before even the most liberal and inclusive people in the UK start to feel like there’s enough of a silent invisible external threat for them to instinctively say “no” to careful things.

Dark times.

I got all the crap from Ikea though despite a very very sweaty maskface.

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Dogsitting

I love animals. But much the same as with kids I prefer not to be the primary carer, so I can go be irresponsible.

Brian and I shared care of Pickle, with Mel bringing huge amounts of food and love to the table. That kitten ate well if eclectically, and had good playtime. The two of us would spend hours playing bellypaw on slow mornings and she was always the gentlest beast imaginable. I once saw her catch a big fly in both front paws, then open them up and watch it fly away again. Litter ended up being a big part of my job and I still hoard Tesco bags habitually and pointlessly because they were perfect for disposal. She was cute and reserved and unusual and eloquent and we deeply bonded. She didn’t like parties in the flat, we eventually worked out she liked to have privacy for the loo and to go in the bathroom. If we had noisy guests she would occasionally dirty protest plum in the middle of one of our beds.

Despite all the stinky poo I’ve been missing her terribly since she went off to live in Croydon. Her energy as a shadow, curling up in my heart as I slept, corridor sprinting, occasionally trying to sleep on my face…

When my friend asked if I wanted to dogsit in Barnes for a second night though I didn’t have to consider anything apart from Hex’s slow needs before I agreed. The habitual calculation about how she would be fed has not been necessary since she basically vanished from my life when I was in America.

I wonder if we were too bonded for me to meet her now she’s basically somebody else’s cat. I think I’d probably sit in a parked car and cry for half an hour after saying cheerful goodbyes. I once asked Mel if maybe I could look after her if she went on holiday. She proceeded to tell me what I knew already about how she doesn’t like to be moved and the physiological effect of stress on her, in order to basically say no in long form. It felt like a wall. Nobody has been able to go on holiday anyway this year so it’s moot. And I know she’ll be somewhere safe where she’s loved.

Once this pandemic becomes manageable and understood I reserve the right to suddenly decide I’m going to Peru so long as I can afford it. Or to jump on the Eurostar and start driving through France. An animal makes things harder even before all the ungodly administrative shit that we’re about to be deluged with when we cross previously uncomplicated borders.

It’s been lovely to hang out with somebody else’s doggie. We know each other anyway as he came to Chelsea for a few weeks some years ago. We know each other’s ways and can hang out well together. Outside of their personalities one of the great advantages of a dog is that you have to walk them. We’ve been walking each other on this fine late summer’s day, sniffing around the grassy bits and graveyards and ponds. We had a pub lunch with 50% off and we looked at loads of ducks. Now we’re curled up on the sofa together and I’ll miss him tomorrow and I miss Pickle every day. At least I can go to Paris. Eventually. Maybe. With the right visa.

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Mask Man

We all know him.

This time he’s by the door of Marks and Spencers, with that “artfully unruly” grey hair. That open shirted grey jacket, to make sure people know he’s formal but relaxed. Very very short very forward older perplexed male.

“It would be an excellent idea though wouldn’t it,” he tells the vexed entry counting man at the opening to the food section. “You can see that, can’t you,” he reinforces himself. “Masks at the door. You have to sell masks at the door, the people without masks have to buy them at the door then you don’t have people without masks in the shop AND you make profit from the masks.” His eyes are flicking round with rage at the people in the store without masks. There aren’t many. There is one he keeps looking at in particular. She is about ten years younger than me, and still visible as she’s in the veg section near the entrance. The tone of her skin is the opposite to the speaker’s tone. She entered the shop just before him, and I entered just after.

He is wearing his designer mask, which looks great on him. Even though his mouth is covered he is still talking lots. She has no mask. She’s silently and respectfully going about her shopping, away from people as far as she can. Meanwhile little designer mask guy gets right up in tall guy’s grill about social distancing.

I’m in my very involved fiberglass gasmask, curious about the dynamic with this guy. I go invisible, doing the “switch off” I do that lets me listen unseen.

“Don’t you see! You shouldn’t let them in without masks,” spits our friend through his fabric. Our staff member is counting people in and out of the shop. He is literally twice as tall as this bulldog fellow. He towers over him, responding in the only way he can while at work – with non committal noises. He’s neither discouraging nor encouraging, he’s trying to count customers as this guy grinds away at his own self-importance.

“I’ll pass it to my manager,” he ventures in the hopes it’ll end the misery. “See that you do. You’re missing an opportunity here. And you’re letting people into the shop without masks. If you had masks to sell them you could make them all wear them or leave. You sell clothes here, don’t you? Sell masks.”

I find myself wondering who this conversation is for.

It’s not for the tall guy. He can’t affect shop policy. He is just trying to count customers while humouring a vocal customer who is deep into a triggerpoint issue about which he can be seen to have no official opinion.

It’s not for the customers without masks as they aren’t near enough for long enough to hear his exasperation with them despite his pointing.

Is it for him, this angry little chap? He’s clearly very comfortable in the life he’s carved out for himself, likely he’s in some sort of managerial role in the company his dad set up, shouting at people for not being him. He’ll get a few endorphins, at the cost of a lot of time and negative energy thrown at strangers. “I was right. How can they not see how I was right?”

Maybe next time he comes in to the store he’ll seek out the tall guy and ask why his ideas haven’t been implemented yet. Trade a bit more negative energy for a few more obscure kicks.

Or maybe it’s for me. Slightly broken dissipated artistic fool pretending to look at M&S orchids and doing a vanishing trick wearing a visible mask as he eavesdrops to sate his curiosity for human nature then writes about things he’s heard and learns nothing.

Maybe it’s so I can write about this familiar trope? Maybe it’s so I can issue this particular extremely valuable warning:

Don’t be the high-status-presenting person getting vocal with the low-status-presenting better genes person about your understanding of ideas.

Certainty is often mistaken for wisdom but it’s usually the opposite. There. Suck it, you small minded little … oh … the people that need to be reading this aren’t reading this. Ach.

As a listener, the little man’s whole monologue sounded dark. It sounded like there was no solution other than for the guy to go “yes sir sorry sir I will immediately have the maskless people pulled from the store by force and put into a gas chamber. That’ll teach them to wear masks ah ha ha ha ha ha!”

It’s hard for me not to write about masks in this environment. I’ll try next time. It’s front and centre thinking right now for all of us though. We think about them all the time. Going to the shop? Keys. Wallet. Bag. Mask.

I agree that they can help us stop infecting others. I think we should be considerate of each others safety. But sometimes it feels like extremism, in either direction. Both the “We should be completely wrapped in condoms” camp and the “let’s all get naked and spit at each other” camp.

The worst thing in the world is extremism. Extremists have to be impaled and skinned alive.

Yes that’s a joke. I’m hoping it’ll stop people piling into me for even broaching this hot topic without offering my standpoint on it in black and white. And green.

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“He’s got his thumb up! What’s he approving of?” This is an old photo. I’m approving of the morph suit. Go fish.

Food

My friend had food poisoning. Now she’s got a digital thermometer as well. I woke up to a worried message from her mum. I grabbed the thermometer at Boots and rushed it over in the car.

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I left it on top of her post box and rang her. Then I took her dog for a walk after encouraging him to walk the distance between us.

It’s easy to assume you’ve got the ‘rona. The symptoms are pretty universal. Looking down the list the ones that seem most persistent are the cough and the temperature. The strange taste and smell change is the decider as that’s rare in other illnesses and pretty common for the one we are all thinking about.

For me, with 20/20 hindsight, that’s the clincher for the nasty “flu” I had after driving the guys who had just arrived from Italy in early March. I couldn’t smell. Only for about two days. But combined with constant cough and general misery I think and hope I had this thing lightly in early March when I shut the doors for three weeks and lived off pesto, sweetcorn and Fray Bentos whilst wishing I was dead and rehearsing / performing The Tempest on Zoom with Creation and Big Telly, draped in a serpent, muting myself sometimes in scenes to do a bout of coughing, lucky that ‘rona didn’t choose to fuck me up and try to kill me as she does with some people.

Since I was in the area, I rang Tristan and as it happened he needed to get a lift back towards mine to start a half day, so I picked him up and we ended up on The Northcote road at lunchtime. He’s refurbishing a house that isn’t his and being paid money to do it. I’m thinking about refurbishing my flat and hoping I can find a way to afford it. Hell, I might try and employ him on a vastly cut rate to help get this shit done.

We went for lunch. We both have expensive tastes. We found a Thai place. It was going to be takeaway. The waiter got fed up of overhearing me prevaricate about price : “Hang on maybe I’ll just get the soup, it’s only lunchtime and I’ve got food at home.” He interjected: “The government “eat out to help out” scheme doesn’t apply to takeaway – only to dining in. “What’s that?” “50% off your bill up to £10.” “And I have to apply to get that?” “No we take it off here.”

We ate in. Tristan sent his curry back to heat up because it was definitely genuinely cold. It was struck off the bill, so we ended up paying a couple of quid each for a very tasty lunch with a generous tip. Lovely for those of us that can afford to eat out. Shit for anybody who can’t. Well, technically I can’t but I’m an optimist.

A judicious restaurant lunch for one this month is the same price as a Boots meal deal. And for seven quid you can get a three course meal.

If I book any work away from home I’m googling  the nearest decent eaterie. August though. Slow month? Let’s see.

Touch screening

A momentary break in the traffic and the unfamiliar silence it brings to my flat really brings home to me how far back to normal things are, even if the wheyfaced blubbering incompetents who we voted for are still switching things on and off at random whilst apparently dropkicking the whole 10.8 billion arts sector on purpose : “ballerinas can get to the back of the queue” whilst setting fire to the north. I’m seeing so much fear in strange places. So many people being reactive and angry and weird. It’s not a happy time.

In government in the UK are men and women who were mostly ripped away from the family unit as small children and then taught to hide their humanity whilst being inflated with self-importance. I went through that system. It’s not designed to make an empathetic human, and they are well minted examples of the faceless protective narcissist form. No surprise it’s easy to think they’re lizards. One of the stamps somehow missed my face a bit but it still left a mark. I can see their fear, these little men and women hiding behind easily learnt status signals and outright lies. It’s abject. They’re destructive. We really shouldn’t have a system where the people who want to be in charge get to be in charge. This and Trump is what comes of it. Blustering horror shows fronting silent staring monsters. Bojo covering for classic Dom.

We are losing our sense of community to fear. Touch is so powerful, and it’s stigmatised. We are covering our faces too, losing the nuance of expression. We are forgetting the invisible power of our olfactory system to help us negotiate emotions. We frequently smell fear, desire, pride, anger – even before any other part of us knows it. Zoom meetings lose all the silent nuance and can lead to deep misunderstandings that wouldn’t happen in person.

If someone gives us a present we might immediately douse it in alcohol and then demonstrably wash our hands. That’s a hell of a signal. What is this doing to us all psychologically? People who know for sure they’ve had this fucker already still feel they can’t hug each other or even shake hands in case we can get it again. But nobody even knows. The loudest voice wins. Because there are no hard and fast rules, and in the UK Dominic Cummings has demonstrated with no consequence that all the rules are optional anyway. So people are policing each other just based on their own personal rule sets. “It’s obedience training!” “It’s a common courtesy!” “Sheep!” “Murderer!”

People who were already suffering with OCD must be in hell with the fear and not knowing. I’m glad I’m free of that one. But I’m worried there’s more to come. And all the while everybody will be constantly angry about us going about things wrong because we aren’t going about things like they are. And the algorithm goes chop, and we block the person who triggers us, and we reduce as we isolate and retract further and further, first from people unlike us, then from people like us, then from ourselves, then from the world.

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Hot London uber

Perinpanayagam and I are scooting across sweaty London. He is silent and looks a little angry, but he’s got 4.9 stars so we should get there okay. I’m off to the 40th birthday of a dear friend, still suited and booted having just shot another little corporate training video from the improvised green screen studio in my living room.IMG-20200801-WA0004

I’m glad that people are still making training videos, through the new medium of a recorded zoom meeting. At the time of writing, despite an iron promise, there is no rent in my account. It’s sitting on the overdraft limit costing me £8 plus credit rating every time one of my direct debits fails. I could’ve cancelled them but I chose to trust instead. Perhaps rash in this instance. I’m finding myself irritated with kk for the inconvenience she’s causing and for her apparent lack of contrition. I don’t think it’s occurred to her to say sorry.

The training video will help though. And it’s not like I’m the only person right now who is having to find new streams. It just helps me understand how fragile the existence I’ve carved together is, that as soon as a couple of those payments are delayed then the outgoings become unmanageable.

It hasn’t stopped me going to a party, with a bottle of prosecco in my bag courtesy of a credit card that is getting closer to the limit every day I’m given another excuse. But sod it, I’m going to enjoy this hot summer evening. And I’m gonna have nice drinks as I’ve decided once again to try to draw a line under booze after today for a while. Time and money are both more important than forgetting, and I don’t feel particularly inclined to waste either one until I’m out of this miniature pickle. If I wasn’t drinking I wouldn’t have to get this Uber as I could drive. That would also mean I wouldn’t have to wear this horribly sweaty mask over my beard. It all stacks, up with lack of means and discomfort as the outcome.

The traffic is atrocious and bits of South London are cordoned off with police cars. It’s the heat. People do crazy things. Still at least the delay gives me time to write the bulk of this before I inhale prosecco. I even had a cheese sandwich to soak it up. Cheap and absorbent. My face will be soaking when I arrive at the party, and I chose to remain in my suit which is all very well and I look nice but I should really be in shorts and a T-shirt like everybody else in the world today.

And it seems that bits of the country are getting shut down again. Even this party – there aren’t many people and we will likely all be standing around in circles.

And it’s only now that I’m told it’s an afternoon party, and it’s already pushing 6pm.. Och well. Probably for the best as it means I won’t get so drunk…