Cissbury Ring

Cissbury Ring, North of Worthing, is the site of an iron age hill fort. It’s well situated with stunning views of the surrounding downs. It was a hive of activity until the dark ages. Back in the iron age people were mining flint through the chalky soil. The Romans didn’t make full use of it but they had a temple there. All dust now, of course. Chalk and scrub. A destination for a walk.

It’s just a few miles from Chanctonbury Ring, but feels completely different. Chanctonbury feels holy and still. Cissbury feels busy and practical. It doesn’t have the scent of a place of power. Just geography.

There are ponies up there, free to wander the hillside biting back the scrub. Apparently they are a reintroduction after the Romans ate or put the original ones to work. Their munching and their wandering is helping the ecology up there. I’m not sure we were though, trudging through chalky mud in our great big clumpy boots. We went the wrong way, so ended up vaulting fences. By the time we were on the right track we had mud everywhere. The chalky mud has a good squelch to it. Eventually we hit the ring. At Chanctonbury the ring is around a stand of trees – oxen and mushrooms and something ancient in the dark. This ring tracks round the foundations of the iron age fort – it was built up back in the day like Offa’s Dyke, and modern councils have opted to shore it up with chicken wire rather than put fences around it to stop us walking. Good on them.

You’d never normally find it so crowded on a Wednesday. Fuck all else to do these days. Lou and I would likely have been there anyway, but it was surprisingly good to see so many families enjoying a walk in nature. That’s an effect of this shitshow that could be described as positive. Much as I miss the cinemas and all the joys of indoor fun, some people will have good ingrained habits of getting the hell out of the house and looking at a tree. The kids seemed to be actually enjoying themselves, absolutely covered in shit and gleefully howling at each other. We enjoyed ourselves too, also covered in shit, also howling. You can see Lou’s flat from up there. It’s good to have a car – invaluable in this bollocks.

I guess when everything gets a shot in the arm some groups will look back on the simple things that have come out of this. The parties on Hampstead Heath in summer that would normally be in pubs. The long walks with family without anybody moaning because they’d rather be indoors doing whatever. There’s plenty of beauty in the world around us, and we can get there without anybody shouting at us. Ok, getting out of the UK might be about to get much harder, and we’ve already got enough on our plate. But going to the ancient sites near your home – (there’ll be something) – even if they aren’t that magical they can be a powerful way to take your daily permitted exercise and connect with the past. Maybe you’ll find a portal to somewhere better…

Early days and Oz

Lou has been getting up before I go to sleep while she’s been at this Vipassana. Now she’s out and we’re in the same space as each other we’ve found a kind of circadian compromise. She’s rising a little later than she was – like about half five. I’m swept up in it, but it means I’m fading already and it’s not even half past four. It’s not so bad at this time of year, living this way round. The mornings are shocking with a light that you wouldn’t even believe had happened if you were up too late.

We walked down the beach before sunset – around about half three, rolling the pebbles around. I prefer the sandy beaches but I’m enjoying being by the sea right now. Some people were swimming in it, the maniacs. I have done that madness in the past, but my nipples are burning even at the idea of it. Instead of leaping in, we sat on damp pebbles for a while. That didn’t last long. I’m not doing too well in the cold. I miss summer. In a normal year I frequently get the hell out to the sun around now. Not an option.

It’s still so hard to countenance that this pandemic really is everywhere. But there really is no escaping. We are all clinging to our respective rocks until this is over, and I’m seeing “September 2021” as a date where some theatres are planning on opening again. What the feck are most of the people I know going to do with our time and earning capacity in the interim? And NO, I can’t imagine any of us are going into cyber.

Lou and I are gonna tune in to Wizard of Oz at Creation Theatre online tonight. Friends forging forward into new forms and actually making things on zoom that aren’t dead. Considering its barely five and I’m already sleepy, seven o’clock start feels late!


I’m knackered and that was hilarious. Family friendly Wizard of Oz on Zoom with all the tricks and more. A very clever design decision to bring classic computer games into the world palette. These weird jumpy blocky games were a new technology and the best thing ever to the small version of me. With all the conscious reference it allowed me to put my brain into the simplistic fun mode that allowed me to spend all my pocket money on Bubble Bobble even though the pixels and colour jumped all over the place and half the buttons didn’t work. To channel that frontier period of computer gaming is smart when they are continuing to push the boundaries of what can be done in the livestream theatre medium. As with Macbeth, so with Oz I was wondering how they pulled some of it off, and marveling at how adeptly they did the stuff I understood. It’s been a surreal night at the theatre, and we got to do it without leaving our comfy sofas. Perfect for tier 4 and all the trapped sadness we are feeling. We even got to cook a meal in the interval instead of shouldering our way to the front of a queue for a beer that costs as much as a bottle of wine at the supermarket. Loved it. Love Creation. Chapeau. And I don’t even have to travel home. I’m off to bed. Early I know. That’s how I ROLL these days…

Jersey and the Channel Islands

I’ve been loosely thinking of the little islands where I spent my youth. Split between Jersey and The Isle of Man, preferring Jersey for the climate and Man for the roads. I learnt to swim on Jersey, and to drive on Mann. Now I’m mostly in London, but the pull of these places has grown while we’ve been severed from each other and the things that brought me to the lights of the city in the first place. Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to Jersey and still get to make theatre and tv and movies? I guess I need to talk them into remaking Bergerac and casting me as a regular.

I made do this evening by watching The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on Netflix. I’m not supposed to think of Guernsey as basically BEING Jersey. All the Channel Islands come in the same breath for me, and if I get called a crapaud by an ane I find it as silly and incomprehensible as football team rivalry. We aren’t supposed to like each other, Jersey and Guernsey people. They call us toads. We call them donkeys. I tend not to engage, I guess because it all feels a bit too small for my taste.

I’m missing the sea, the colour of the granite, the quality of the light. So I watched a movie set in Guernsey. It’s just a little north of Jersey. Problem is though, they couldn’t accommodate a film crew and all the things associated with such on the island without blowing up the budget and sinking the island. It’s a pleasant, thoughtful low budget British flick. It was shot instead in Devon and Cornwall. I still kind of got my fix. They found good granite walls.

I’d love to go back to Jersey and get to hang out properly but the place is locked down and I’m in tier 4. I’d need accommodation for a month at least so I could isolate myself for two weeks on arrival which is perhaps a little too involved. I suppose I’m just gonna have to wait for the angel to pass over.

About six years ago I took this photo of Minnie on St Ouen beach walking towards Corbière lighthouse. I still look at it from time to time as it keys into my memory of the light and expanse of the island of my birth. The longer this situation goes on the less purpose I find in the expense of living in cold hard old crazy London.

Back to the coast

Brighton on a dark winter evening. “This is my bedtime,” says Lou. It’s ten to eight. She’s been getting up at 4.30am to meditate for the last few weeks while I’ve been running around.

I picked her up in Hereford this morning. I couldn’t come in because of the leprosy. I arrived armed with chocolates for the people she’s been working with. She carried them in. They’ve all gone into quarantine for now, and at some point all of the monkish meditating facilitator types will be able to have naughty Roses that have been slathered with sanitiser.

Then it was another three hours back to my flat just to check the fishies and give them some gradually dissolving food. The dispenser thing arrived but I don’t trust it without testing so I’m relying on Chippie the weather loach not hacking the slow dissolving pellet to pieces in half a day. It’s meant to last a week. He was getting stuck in almost before it landed so we shall see.

We were super organised and we got all the perishables out of the fridge to take with us. All the tasty cheeses and healthy veg and filthy meat. Even the smoked salmon. I found a special plastic bag so we could carry them all to Brighton. A foodbag.

A full tank of diesel takes forever to burn so we made it to Brighton without having to touch any pumps. It was only as we hit the lights of town that we had the conversation about the foodbag. “Did you bring it?” “No, I thought you had it!” Bugger. All the tasty goodness, all neatly left by the door.

Thankfully owing to the wonders of technology I can switch my thermostat off using my phone. The animals are independently heated, so I’ve turned the flat into a fridge and since I’ll only be gone a short while, I’ve got vast amounts of suspicious cheese to look forward to on my return. We’ll see how that goes. I’ve never had food poisoning from cheese and I’ve had some pretty ancient camembert over the years.

Right now I’m going to just enjoy being here by the sea. Ahhh the sea! I can hear it roaring as I write – maybe just a few hundred metres from my face. It’s cold tonight and windy. There might be snow on the beach tomorrow once the wind dies down. I’m snuggled under blankets and my grandmother’s seersucker, listening to the waves crashing as Lou tries not to fall asleep in the bath. Occasional sharp bursts of sleet hammer on the skylight.

Good to be out of London, to be warm and to be in good company – even if she’s still half vegetable after her two weeks meditating and making curtains. I might go and see if she’s still awake in there.

Boiling bones

All this business of making stock. It’s a conscious imitation of my father, but since I have a gas hob rather than an aga it would probably cost less for me to just buy a really good one in a bag. Still, I made a good amount today and now it’s cooling down before I freeze it. Better than the last time I made stock when I was on hungover autopilot pasta straining mode and I threw all the liquid down the sink before finding myself swearing and holding a colander full of horrible boiled bones. This time I remembered to catch the liquid.

Vegetarian dad would always stock up our chicken carcasses and make barley soup and it never struck me as a double standard. It kind of still doesn’t. He was mostly a vegetarian but he wasn’t going to let the bones of the creature go into a bin when they could be further used. I see pragmatism there, rather than hypocrisy. And we are all a mess of double standards. All the stuff people like to say about “he’s not vegan he wears leather shoes” – it’s all despicable. We aren’t extremists, or we certainly should try not to be. All that “she cares about the environment so why is she flying” crap? It’s just people trying to get themselves off the hook, and it’s cheap and transparent. “I’ve found a double standard in somebody who’s trying so I don’t need to try.” I see it all the time and somehow the people espousing the view always try to frame that idiocy like it’s clever. We really don’t like to have to change anything about how we behave if we can avoid it. The least we can all do is try. Do what we can, honestly try to push the boundaries within ourselves, and don’t be judgemental of those who haven’t pushed as far or who are pushing further but noisily.

My vegetarian dad quietly made barley soup with chicken stock.

I’ve made the stock, with his ghost in my ear telling me how. Now I just need the barley. I don’t have his array of canoptic jars full of dried pulses. But the pulses can wait because in the short term I’m going to freeze it. Because I’m getting out of London.

There we are again. “He shouldn’t be traveling.” You’re right. I’m not exempt. I’m not even a member of the conservative party. But I’m off on me ‘olidays for as long as we can afford parking permits in Brighton. And you can’t stop me.

I’ll be in my car. Yes, I’ll be careful refueling. I’m picking Lou up from vipassana before we go into bubble with each other by the seaside. Automatic fish feeder should arrive tomorrow morning to help regulate these lovely fish who already have day and night clicked on and off by a device. I won’t be gone for long because I don’t really trust a new device to keep my fishies fed. But they’ll be ok for a few days with it while I hit up the cold sea and the pebbles and switch off responsibility for as long as I’m able, which is usually about 24 minutes.

I’ve now watched the entire first season of the BBC His Dark Materials and I’m wondering who I have to kill to get a small part in the third season. I can send a tape from Brighton. I’m making all the determinations I can muster for 2021 and “much more telly” is high on that list, just below “sort my blimming life out”. It’s all gonna happen in the roaring twenties. I can smell it.

Or maybe that’s just my bath salts.

Maureen and me

Christmas and eating and hugs

It’s on days like this that I regret the fact I frequently go full days without eating. My stomach just hasn’t got much flex. I had to shove food up my neck. I still feel a bit heavy and I’m not particularly inclined to lie down and I probably shouldn’t turn my head. As soon as more room for food is created by the slow working of my stomach acid, I put more in. I’ve consumed the best part of a chicken, and huge amounts of cheese and meaty sausages and coconut potatoes and orange juice carrots and heavy gravy and a thing I improvised with a cabbage and an onion and the Julienne – when I wasn’t even drunk. It’s the first time I’ve used the Julienne since I mangled my thumbs, and it felt like I was a different person. I was wearing a chainmail glove, sober, and using the special handle I usually ignore. It’s actually pretty useful used with respect, rather than just a shortcut to A&E.

I ate most of a tiramisu, apples, saucisson, cheeses, cold cuts, salmon, strawberries, mince pies plus so much more – all in no particular order – just when it occurred to me. But it wasn’t easy. I’m feeling it now…

Even without the belly flex, in previous years my stomach pH has been high enough to cope with the intake owing to the fact that my blood has been mostly alcohol by now. At this time on an average Christmas I’d be slurring benignly having spilt half a bottle of red wine down my shirt and the rest down my throat. It’s twenty past ten. I’d be at the “espresso martini sounds like a great plan” stage – trying to work out how to make the coffee cold as quickly as I wanted it inside me, mixing it in a mug after I had all the gin in all the martini glasses and subsequently lost them on all the windowsills half full.

It’s just me and Hex and the fish, although Brian came round on the bike for a responsible attempt at human connection. He also brought cheese and meat and goodness with him, which we consumed and shared. In fact I’m going to top up my neck with some of his cheese now.

Mmmm. Yum.

It was really good to just … be with Brian. He met Hex, my little snakey family, and the fishies. We enjoyed the companionable winding down time that we used to find when he was living here in BarclayHook Towers. We consumed the five new Rick and Morty episodes along with all the fatty foods and good chats. Finally, conscious of the fact that I’ve been watching nothing that isn’t animated, I got stuck into the BBC’s His Dark Materials. It’ll take me months to get up to date with it but I’m already finding that it helps me recover from the trauma I experienced having exchanged money for a ticket to “The Golden Compass” in the cinema. Up the BBC, making great telly soon. Nice to see James McAvoy and I’m loving the cast across the board. A good mix of old favourites and less familiar faces, all of them doing sterling work. It’s funny though, every time somebody hugs somebody properly on screen I feel the psychic screaming of this world of shattered intimacy we’ve been dealt suddenly. How long to recover? How long? Sure, nobody will put a hand on your ass unexpectedly. But all the communication that is exchanged in a real proper hug… They are so rare now. I don’t think I realised how much of a part of my communication they were until this situation assaulted them.

When this is over I wanna hug every last one of you properly. The polite bit, the false exit, the return, the bit where it all gets breathed out, the conscious mutual departure, the happy aftermath. The six stages of a hug. Although if I got to stage 4 right now you’d squeeze a tube of compacted food out of my mouth like it was toothpaste.

Harrods

So here it is. Merry Christmas. Everybody’s…

Fun will definitely be had. If eating is fun, I’ve got it sorted. A last minute trip to Waitrose yielded 36 blinis, smoked salmon, lumpfish caviar and cream cheese to add to my hoard. But no Vacherin, dammit.

I’ve got this thing going on for unpasteurised cheese at Christmas. I really do like to have a Mont D’Or, darling. Two years ago I accidentally left one in the corner of my centrally heated bedroom for two weeks and then baked it anyway. It took months to get the smell out of the oven and it almost made me sick. You have to be careful with unpasteurised cheese. But I’m not selling it to you very well. It’s great when fresh. Just don’t let it die.

I try to leave buying it until just before Christmas now so it’s still good even if I forget to put it in the fridge – when it’s good it’s very very good. Likely down to the wonders of Brexit, it’s slightly harder to find regional seasonal French unpasteurised cheese in London this year…

What an incredible world we live in, that it’s possible at all. We are so spoilt, guzzling African coffee with South American sugar and Jersey milk without even thinking about the distances. No wonder we are reflexively making things harder for ourselves. We don’t deserve this convenience. It’s kind of too amazing how we so can thoughtlessly have French cheese on Spanish meat with Belgian beer, Swiss chocolate with Italian Prosecco…

Hey ho. We’ll still have good old cheddar and spam, kitcats and Newcastle Brown, chips and gravy… And this year it is still possible to get Vacherin in London on Christmas Eve for just over a tenner.

I went on the most middle class mission you can imagine. Waitrose. Marks and Spencers. Partridges! Nothing. Hmmm. I live in same postcode as Harrods. I can park there for free. I have an Audi. Why the hell not?

Harrods is only open for cosmetics and food right now. This huge Temple of Mammon was still pulling in crowds though, eager to load up on expensive things. The food hall usually feels luxurious and spacious. We were elbow to knee in there today. I had to follow the flow past small packets of sugared almonds – 3 for the price of 2 at £16 each. Eventually I sensed it – right there, calling me with its soft cheesy voice – the stinky cry of one of the final two Mont D’Ors in all of London town – and “only” £11 each.

“Hooray! There are some left,” I mumble to myself as I seize the penultimate cheesey wheel in triumph. Immediately, just at my right shoulder, a woman takes sharp notice: “Did you look elsewhere?” I tell her of my search. “Well done. Thank you,” she says with a busy degree of sincerity as she reaches across me and yoinks the last one.

That’s when I should have left. The energy of that place is sharp at making you spend. Looking for a place to pay, I come across a man with a box of snowglobes. They’re two for a tenner. Baby’s first snowglobe. It plays an upbeat version of silent night and if you shake it a bunch of plastic stars swirl around the horrid dogs for about a second and a half before disappointingly falling back out of sight. I’ve got two of them.

One is going to a poor friend who will have thought she liked snowglobes right up until she sees this one – this disappointing little memento of Christmas 2020, marketed as baby’s first in order to get round the fact that any adult will know how bad it is. Still, it’ll last longer than the Vacherin. It’s all I can do not to open that tasty cheese tonight. It’s half eleven… But everything in its proper time…

Merry merry merry merry my lovelies. Look to the future. It’s only just begun.

And relax

I found a box of candles in the attic. Most likely they’re the ghosts of Christmas Carol past. I’ve been sticking them variously around the flat on the basis that I’m sober at the moment so the chances of me setting fire to myself are at low ebb. I’ve made a little tinselly bright cocoon in my living room, and I’m writing this while drinking chamomile tea from my absurdly large silver-plated teapot. The fish tank is bubbling away to my right and I’ve just been watching Bojack.

Three weeks ago I couldn’t get into the living room for piles of stuff. There was barely room to sit down anywhere at all. The table was covered in glassware. The only places I had to sit in my whole flat were my bed, my altar and the loo.

It’s a lot better now thank the lord. It feels like a home again, and over time I’ve managed to apply enough thought and care to make sure that the details please me. Sure I’ve jettisoned tons and tons of stuff. Tennants Auctioneers have helped me move a mountain of boxes. The job is still not finished, but every day it gets more manageable, and now I can sit on a beanbag surrounded by candles in the early evening and just … breathe out.

Breathing out. Yep. That’s the plan now, even for a few days. That’s all she wrote. Tis the season.

Usually, Christmas is a melée. Usually, I turn it into a melée for fun. It doesn’t feel like life if it isn’t hard work, and so even when I’m supposed to be chilling out I find ways to wear myself out because I love being too busy almost as much as I love obliterating myself with alcohol. Being busy is another avoidance addiction. Not this year. Ok, today Max and I hauled a load of boxes and crap furniture around and then shoved various boxes of bollocks into the attic for forgetting. I’m tired from lifting. It hasn’t been a slow day. But I know what’s up there now and it’s not in my way anymore and the effect is a nicer home for me. There’s still enough random stuff down here for me to be able to sustain my eBay habit for years to come and not run out of it. But I can see the floor.

I was about to get a load of paint and go hell for leather in the spare room, but I’ve let myself off the hook. The pandemic has given me an excuse to hibernate. To switch off my ambition for a little while and clean up my launchpad. I’ve opened cans of worms that have been closed for decades. I’ve looked long and hard at things I’ve badly needed to examine. Now it’s time to trust that those plates will keep spinning for a few days, and switch into neutral, crank up the heating, burn the frankincense and chill the fuck out in my lovely home full of pretty things.

I’ve run a bath. I’ve got nothing to do tomorrow but for a bit of shopping. There’s no point stressing about all the life things. They can wait. We all have a pause now. It’s the rules, yes?

I’m not very good at pausing but I’m learning.

The edges

I spent a lot of time today driving in London. People are leaving. All the traffic points towards the M25. If there’s somewhere they can go, they’re going there despite tier 4. Those of us left are angry. Wounded. Sad.

Many of the shops and businesses are boarded up. Lots of them are missing their biggest week of the year. They’ll be at home working out of it’s worth trying to stay afloat or just cutting their losses and getting that job in cyber with the ballerinas.

I went for a walk in a park in Lewisham. I ran into some actors there. Scene and Hearders. RSCers. Good, kind thoughtful humans. A guy I just watched as Macbeth with Big Telly online. We talked about Zoe. We connected. People I’ve watched, people I’ve drunk with, people I’ve worked with, people I’ve hugged good luck, tried on their hat, high-fived, danced with, had a bite of their sandwich. We stood two meters apart on top of a cold hill. We talked about friends and hopes and plans.

I’m used to conversations where actors wonder if they’ll ever work again. You hear them all the time. It’s more of a genuine concern nowadays, rather than just that expression of ennui. Will the theatres all be Wetherspoons this time next year? Will everybody be starting on that career in cyber they didn’t know about yet?

I was hoping for a better year. Weren’t we all? I was hoping to smash in a few more nice credits. Have a shot at some interesting things. That’s for next year I guess. Everything feels blocked right now, but it also feels like it might be starting to shift with the Solstice. Like there’s this big trail of muck that’s been plugging up the world and it’s beginning to break up and dissipate. The leviathan is starting to roll. I’ve had time to look at the things I’ve been avoiding. The knock on effect of this bullshit could prove to be obscenely positive in my existence going forward. There is space where there used to be noise. I can touch things that were hurting, and then touch them more, and start to push through the membrane at last.

We could hit a period of party – like the interwar years – once this all winds up. This time last year I was exhausted from Carol and planning a big Christmas. Every night I was crying on a table where food was about to be served. I was singing as strangers ate shoulder to shoulder with each other, I was pulling crackers with them drenched in sweat. I was also shamelessly minesweeping their red wine after they left without worrying about infection, and numbing myself to sleep so I could do it all again the next day.

Now just the act of driving across town feels like an event. I’m trying to work out the last time my skin touched the skin of another human being.

I had my wheel replaced today. One of the brand new Pirelli tyres in the Audi basically exploded. It took me weeks to get a new one because it’s such a faff now. I had to park it, drop the keys, walk around a totally abandoned and cold Southfields for forty minutes, then come back and get the keys again. No contact. Great that the business has adapted to make it possible. But the damage? At the best of times I have no sympathy for people’s fear. This business is training us to be wary of everybody. There has to be some kind of mass coming-together once it’s allowed – once it’s possible. Because it’s hurting our humanity. We’ll need the rave scene back. Get Jimmy to dust off the ice cream van. We’ll need Gatsby’s mansion without the narcissism and death please.

I’ve fed the fishies. Now I’m going to play with Hex and then fall over. I’m totally fine. Just feeling the size of the world, and the number of people who feel alone in it right now. Sending love.

Out of the belly of the whale

Early up and out in order to get to the Post Office to try and get two little eBay Halcyon Days boxes to the late gift buyers in time for Christmas. It’s pretty fraught on the streets of London. People were getting weird in the post office, where the queue is very carefully and efficiently monitored and controlled. It’s hard to go anywhere at the moment in this town without feeling like you’re on a conveyor belt, very possibly with knives at the end of it. Once I’d posted the boxes I had to go to Waitrose. Jacquie was originally going to spend Christmas with friends, but along with most of London she has decided instead to spend it at home alone. She needed supplies. She always tries to get me a bottle of wine, but now I’ve given up the booze I’m commuting it to luxuries. Today I have smoked salmon and cheese from her.

Brian and I have cancelled Christmas so I’m stocking up on luxuries and I’m going to clear my table and lay myself out a solo spread. I’m kind of liking the idea of hibernating on Christmas Day instead of thronging with loads of people, sad though it might be.

I bought a chicken and a load of potatoes and veg and I’m going to roast myself a bird and see how much of it I can eat on my own. With clever shopping I can stretch it into a week of food with casseroles and sandwiches and lentil barley soup. I will sit and bloat myself with cheese, meat and sprouts, watch movies, avoid the liquor cabinet and maybe sing songs on zoom. Last night when I was sad I made the flat into a festive Christmassy antiques roadshow. I’m not so sad anymore despite the decision about the 25th. I can see the light. We’re coming out of the belly of the whale.

“I’m due to get my vaccine next week,” says Jacquie when I drop off her shopping. “All I’ve got to do is make another week without getting this Covid.” I assure her that I sanitised my hands, and kept my distance, but Waitrose was a free-for-all frankly, and everybody looked pissed off. The good people of Chelsea were all panic buying their essentials. There’ll be no gravadlax for fifteen miles and some households will be forced to use Philadelphia on their blinis. Auntie Beryl will have a stroke if she finds out the champagne is Prosecco – just say it was a bad year for grapes!

It surprised me to see Waitrose so crowded. Most of Chelsea has fucked off. There are only three people left in my block, according to the caretaker. Everybody else has gone to their fifth home in the countryside to hole up until this is all over. But the remaining few all seem to have simultaneously descended on Waitrose. I usually do my shopping on Christmas Eve. It’s peaceful then. But this year, nothing makes sense.

All this and Brexit too. I’ve been fiddling with the idea of going on another pilgrimage, this time in Japan, but of course it’ll be impossible until things ease. My industry has taken yet another wallop and I can’t see most places recovering quickly from the frantic beatings that are being administered by these incompetent cronyist liars with their utter lack of statesmanship. Covid, Brexit and weak leaders controlled by the market. When will it ever end?