Calm birthday despite the pasmina police

I’m standing in doorway of The Freemason’s Arms in Hampstead. Wrapped around my face is my silk and pashmina scarf – natural fibers and filtering twice around my nose and mouth. “A scarf won’t do, sir,” says Hitler. “It has to be a proper mask.” I’ve forgotten my mask, but the pashmina is more effective anyway. Emma has to leave, so she takes off her disposable mask and gives it to me. I put it on in front of Hitler, still warm from Emma’s face. It’s made of polypropylene and polythene, almost as bad for me as for the planet. “Is that better?” It’s better for Hitler. It’s neither safer for me nor for anybody else. It just looks like a mask is supposed to look like.

This is a perfect example of letter vs spirit of the law. If it was about safety or logic then Hitler would have been happy with the pashmina. Silly old Hitler.

Still it was the end of a lovely day and it’s only a pub. Perhaps it’s illogical and scary in all the pubs. Hitler was constantly normalising her extreme neurosis, and telling us it was like this everywhere, and having nothing to compare it with I’ll take her word for it. But just because my pashmina doesn’t attach with elastic around my ears it’s no good? You’re a fucking idiot, Hitler.

Compliance. Tracking. Social Credit. Here we go, boys. The new normal. No wonder everybody is getting out their tinfoil hats. We might need them. I’m glad I’m not drinking anymore. If that’s pubs then I’m happier staying home.

I’m glad I came out for my birthday today though. A very small group of lovely brave souls in a sheltered spot on The Heath. Cold but companionable. Halloumi and strange booze free beverages and candles and good company. Five of us. Lou and I, John, Tanya and Emma.

I was perfectly happy to grow a bit older in such fine company, and Jono arrived and joined some of us at The CagedMasons. We never had more than four in a group and it was calm and kind and fun. Sure I like those birthday parties where you see how many humans you can fit in the room. But these are interesting times, like it or not, and there’s as much fear as there are pathogens, with both being equally toxic.

Much of the conversation was about second strings and “how have you been making money during lockdown.” We are all still trying to flex our hustlemuscles within the constraints we’ve been given. Nobody in our little group has been sitting on our arses.

I’ve got my first load of stuff going under the hammer on Saturday at Tennant’s. There has been a huge amount of cleaning and organising to get to this stage. I am better than I ever thought I’d be at soot removal, and I’ve got a good eye for porcelain now as well. Anybody curious to see what I’ve been up to, or interested in getting their hands on some unusual bits and bobs, here’s the link to the sale: https://bid.tennants.co.uk/m/view-auctions/catalog/id/881

It starts at 9.30am and they rattle through the lots – there are literally thousands. My lots are: 132 and 154 (shared with Max), 166, 169, 170, 171, 172, 315, 465, 471, 480. There are even a few more in the second half of the sale. Having watched a few of their auctions already it’s astonishing the speed and acuity with which they go about their work. They are turning over vast quantities, and they’ve spent good money on a website that just makes sense. It’s easy to watch their auctions online and far too easy to bid. In fact, if these items sell well, it’ll be hard for me to resist buying in a load of different antiques to replace the ones I’ve just moved on. I’ll manage it. I still have a lot to move on. Loads. Too much. But it’s fun. Not as fun as acting. But still fun, somehow.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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