Scalded arse

This is the fifth anniversary of my blog. Five years ago yesterday I was on the wrong side of the tracks and decided to start sharing the madness of my existence. I didn’t really think it would develop into this, but it has. The unusual and the pedestrian, all mulched together. A record. I like to think it helps make me accountable to myself. I also find it useful for my tax return. And the world needs to know what has happened in the life of everybody’s favourite haphazard antique moving dancing driving falling over spiritual geeky friendly actor. Doesn’t it? Well here goes.

I did a self tape and then I scalded myself on the bum. There you go.

Self tape involved rolling up the bed in the spare room and making a little office boardroom out of a blank wall and a swivel chair.



Then I had to attach my iPad to a tripod and mic it up, and wait for a gap in the drilling opposite. They just wanted a reaction shot, but I bulked it up with words because in an empty room it would’ve felt totally cavernous to just react to somebody who isn’t there. Also as it’s the first tape I’ve sent for some time I didn’t want to turn it in too cheaply. I didn’t cut my hair for it though. It’s long enough to make a greasy little rat tail but last time I tried to trim my own hair I shaved a strip up the middle by mistake. I was on tour. It worked fine for the part to be bald so I got Chris to shave my head on the fire escape. He did a good job despite the laughing.

I sent it off, it went to the client, and immediately another one came in. Are things finally waking up? I really hope so.

Celebrating a good day with a nice boiling pot of chamomile tea, I got Hex out for some exercise / company. I sat down with him twined around my left arm, accidentally dropped the teacup on my lap, shot up in shock trying to take my hot trousers off with a snake on my arm, lost my balance, couldn’t use my arm to stop myself falling over because it had a snake on it, knocked the teapot over with my bum and got more hot tea all over my arse which I was unable to escape from quickly owing to the curious and completely useless cold blooded animal that I had to keep safe from the boiling water. Shortly afterwards I had my scalded bum stuck in a cold stream of water with oblivious Hex happily drooling on my neck. He’s company. Useless company, but company nonetheless. Him and the fish. Some people don’t have any company at all in this. But he’s not great in a crisis, our Hex. And neither are the fish. Better than nothing I guess.

Now I’ve got to learn some actual lines for the other tape. Something to do that isn’t antiques. Oh what a delight. And I’ve got a whole load of furniture that’ll be (hopefully) selling in the morning at Tennants – (and the illuminated manuscript I wrote about). It’s the van load I took up, and at the time I didn’t expect that nobody would be able to go in and actually look at it… Still, it had to go out of the storage, and hopefully it’ll get a price. I often experience seller’s regret the day before a sale, and I’m worrying it’ll all go for nothing. It won’t. All will be well… Even my bum. But it hurts right now.

Final Fantasy Seven Remake

I was still living with my mother when they released “Final Fantasy VII”. It’s a computer game where you play a traumatised and taciturn ex soldier turned mercenary. I endured endless ribbing from mum. The name alone is fair game. It sounds like soft porn. The picture on the box is of a man with a sword as big as he is. “Very Freudian,” was the inevitable comment. “I dread to think what his other six fantasies are.”

I won’t spoil it. But you start the game basically as an eco-terrorist, blowing up a power station. The antagonist is the militarised “SHINRA Corporation” putting profit over everything including the survival of the planet. In that sense it was very prescient. But mum set her boyfriends on me to make sure I wasn’t being radicalised. The Daily Mail and other such organs were still grinding an axe about this unfamiliar new medium of computer games. Same sort of message they still croak at anybody who will listen: “Your children will become monsters buy more papers FEAR FEAR FEAR!” The boyfriends needed to make sure I wasn’t going to go rogue as a result of all the swordfighting. Plus I think some of them were genuinely curious.

The game was surprisingly good, as I remember. Restricted and sometimes a little repetitive, but it spanned four CDs which was huge, and as a result it looked amazing and there was plenty of depth. Even though the plot is mostly pretty rudimentary, it’s excellent for a game of that era and it carries a moment that I can still sharply remember to this day. Perhaps it did slightly radicalise me, in that I’m very wary of the real life SHINRA equivalents as they plunder planetary resources to the full extent of laws they’ve bent out of all proportion. So greedy. So blind to consequence. Maybe we need a guy with a sword as big as he is to protect us from them. Although there’s an irony – the games industry is worth billions of pounds annually, the machines we play on are full of plundered planetary resources that will mostly end up in landfill, and many of the companies making them are now at least as bad as SHINRA.

One of the companies is completely remaking Final Fantasy Seven with up to date technology. It can’t just be a cynical cash grab – it needs to be okay in order to sell. So they’ve worked on it. They’ve expanded it, split it into at least two completely different releases, and want something like £70 for each one brand new, which is terrifyingly expensive, but there’s a market. The first one came out in April. Now you can get it for £30. I treated myself. I’ve got this huge telly. Might as well use it. It’s expensive, but we’re in lockdown.

And that was the evening. It’s just gone midnight. I’m in bed now after a long evening blowing up power stations clutching my great big hard sword. It’s a loving remake. Some modern games are so vast and open world that I give up in despair of ever being able to finish them. This feels manageable, and they have gone deeper with some of the secondary characters, so there’s more human interest. It’s all voice acted, and mostly quite well, although still with the inevitable context mistakes. They always annoy me.

It’s under a third of the original game’s story, which means I might end up locked into buying the next two or three if I want to finish the story again. But I barely make time for games these days. This one is timed well. Maybe it’ll do. Although I miss having mum say “Get off that stupid thing now – we’re going out.” There’s no going anywhere in the world right now. I might as well go to Midgar. Or to bed.

Erosion

Two tills in my local Tesco Metro have been replaced with automated robot tills. Fewer staff in there now to be paid, and they can say it’s for our safety. And so it continues.

Hardly anybody is flying anywhere from the UK but when we try you can bet it’ll be hard work. Right now you pay for a test, then you pay for another on the other end. You usually pay for a hotel too where you have to isolate for weeks. But even take Corona out of the equation, it’s gonna be harder to do things now. Visas and documents galore, and you can bet there’ll be a fee. There’s no short term EU touring visa so it’ll be easier for me to take my work to America than to go on an EU tour. There’ll be fees for all of that as well though – you can bet. Fees fees fees. Tests and certificates and forms, oh my. All the infrastructure, all coming in to bleed us dry if we want a sense of freedom.

Meanwhile the internet is falling. Given to us for free by Tim Berners-Lee, other people have made it into a horrible place where we mostly go to get radicalised or to buy stuff. AI algorithms are pushing us into little intolerant clumps where we pat each other on the back in tiny circles, and defend ourselves against outsiders – we are basically splitting into tribes with no view to geography. The language and rhetoric of war is slipping in where ideas are concerned: “Whose side are you on?” “It’s treason!” “It’s a revolution!” Also the language and methods of religion are getting applied to random world-views. Zealots with no theoretical basis and no hard first hand evidence attack anything they think of as faithlessness or complacency or heresy against their prophets either behind a lectern on national TV, or in front of a flag on YouTube.

It’s all fine for all the megarich colonists of the internet. So long as people keep watching the YouTube clips and clicking the adverts it doesn’t matter what they are getting excited about – just that they are getting excited. So they let the algorithms keep on polarising.

It’s an easy formula. “You have an unexamined belief. That unexamined belief is provably incorrect. Therefore everything you believe is wrong and should be replaced with what I want you to believe.” My first crack was dad’s death. I drove my own wedge. “You thought your dad will last forever. He’s dead. What about your other assumptions? That your mum is immortal too? That you’re immortal? That you’re even important? That you can make change in the world? What about the people that you believed on TV? Nothing can be trusted! Examine everything! Question everything!” I hit depression for a long time and then came out of the long rabbit hole wide angled as a kind of chaos-positive radiator. But I was lucky. Lots of us were. Nobody took advantage of our cracks when they happened. We took ourselves through our long processes and came back stronger and stranger with slightly harder eyes. Others weren’t so lucky.

Catch ’em at the right time. Find the crack. Drive the wedge. Welcome to the fold, soldier.

And yet there’s something in all this frothing at the mouth we’re seeing, even if some of the mouthpieces are idiots, extremists or zealots. The erosion of personal freedoms, once a gradual chipping process, has turned into a landslide. Nobody could miss it.

It’s nine years since ID cards were scrapped in the UK after public outcry. Not even a decade. Since then, the vast majority of people including myself have clicked agreements for the sake of convenience which make your phone into much more of an ID card than anything we fought against in 2011. And now the machines are moving in properly. This disease has caused a lot of us to get used to just living on handouts, to constantly obeying and enforcing tiny rules, to walking in smaller and smaller circles, to switching off personal ambition. Rushed laws are put through that have unpleasant consequences long after this disease is understood and controlled. The people shouting about it the loudest also posted something last week saying that Donkeys Are Actually Aliens, or The Pyramids Were Built By A Giant Octopus Cat. But even a stopped clock tells the time twice a day.

Tim Berners-Lee is making a new internet it seems. That’s the advantage of having him still alive. Get stuck in! Fascinating. Internet mark 2. And why not start again? Early days but interesting stuff. I’m regretting giving so much of my information away, and you’re hearing that from the dude who has written about his life daily for over four years now. I’m in.

Raggedstone rugged rascal

One of my old friends is driving for Amazon now – when he isn’t making movies. He’s the one I know about. I bet loads of people are doing it these days. It’s one of the only jobs in town. We are still allowed to deliver things.

With that in mind I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground for little driving gigs, and I found one today. Specialist delivery service, undercutting the big name couriers while paying myself better than they pay their drivers and charging the client less. It amounted to me buzzing west in an Audi full of cushions. We got the job done. The job was a laundry bag full of dead butterflies, going from London to Leominster. I resisted the temptation to peek into the bag and check they were ok on arrival. I expect they were though. I certainly hope so. The only bumps I encountered were on the driveway to the stately home for the drop off. A beautiful building, far from the road and surrounded by empty land – gargoyles, great big pipes and a huge studded wooden door. All I need is a Euromillions win. Unfortunately I couldn’t go in. I left the delivery in the porch, despite desperately needing the loo. These are cruel times. There’s no stopping for butties or to sit in a warm pub for a hot chocolate, or for a coffee by the river, or even for a wee. Half the public loos are closed and the other half have barbed wire.

Rather than go straight home, I broke my journey for a walk – and maybe to inspect a tree. It’s not the shortest drive, London to Hereford, and it was dark and I was tired. With the enforced inhospitality, I hadn’t had a chance to shake off the journey there before I started on the journey back. I needed a hit of cold air and a bit of a walk to make sure I didn’t drive into an oak. So I went to Ledbury and hiked in the dark to the top of Raggedstone Hill.

Raggedstone Hill has a curse, so it’s probably best avoided in the light anyway. A horny monk called John got busted and refused to divest the name of his lover. He was made to crawl up and down the hill every day until he repented and dobbed her in. He refused to tell, and eventually died of infected wounds one November. As he was dying he called up a cursed mist that brings untimely death to those caught in its shadow. In the dark there are no shadows, and it’s the wrong time of year anyway. Plus it’s bollocks.

Even in the dark it’s a heck of a view up there, that’s for sure. Gloucester, Exeter, Cheltenham all splayed out twinkling in the night.

A ragged stone. And a view.

Behind me as I took this photo lay the pitch black of rural Hereford melting into Wales. No light that way. It’s a powerful old part of the country though. I like it out there, towards The Willow Globe, which even the vicar said was “a thin place”.

I’ll be out to Hereford again I’m sure, in kinder times – for walks and maybe even for company. I have friends in Ledbury, but we can’t sit round the fire and talk crap until we know we aren’t going to kill each other or get arrested or both.

Cold wind in my bones

Long walkies.

By the beach at Lancing, The Perch is still selling breakfast butties to people in the outside world. Very welcome they were too in this godawful freezing cold. We had to sit in the car to eat them because of the wind. But the fact they existed at all in this environment is a blessing. The sunshine hasn’t stuck around and the wind is up. We walked around and looked at things as I got progressively colder and colder.

Arundel Cathedral was open and empty. I lit a candle for the world, and another for my mother – likely still in purgatory somewhere if I judge things by her belief structure. Every candle helps if she is. I lit another candle for the world. Mother earth. And all the creeping things like us. We need all the help we can get. A candle, technically, is not helping. But it’s the thought that counts.

Oh it’s very nice in Arundel isn’t it darling, just so awfully pleasant. Empty streets and terribly expensive houses, and isn’t that an attractive priory and gracious me such a big castle and well of course we’ll have to have a cathedral to make it a proper city darling. It seems as if every shop is a shop that sells antiques. “I’ve got something like that,” I was saying, or “How the hell can they justify a price tag of £420 for that Edward VII silver gravy boat!”

They’re all shut, of course. Everything is shut. We peered in through the windows like dusty Victorian children. Maybe we shouldn’t have been in Arundel at all, but we were. And It helped. I’ve been going slowly insane on my own in the cold and dark. We all have. I chose to break out and to prioritise my mental health. Going for walks helps stop the crazy spiral.

We found a quiet beach at Climping. A sandy beach covered in ruined breakwaters and abandoned works and rocks with strange graffiti. By now the sun was falling, and the wind – constant all day – was cutting to our bones. Determined to remain outside for as long as possible we picked our way through the boulders and abandoned structures, banking a kind of joyful hypothermia for later. But for it wind it would’ve been glorious.

Now back at Lou’s, here I lie on sheepskin directly in front of a radiator refusing to go more than three foot away from the heat, the heat, the heat. I’m going to have a hot bath, a hot curry and a warm bed. A holiday in the sun would really hit the spot right now, but it’s just not possible. I wish it were. The world is so much less wonderful when it’s less possible. And all these short sighted blocks on travel from the UK that are triggering nothing because nothing is happening right now – they’re going to make everything much much worse when this is all over.

We are climbing back towards the warmth and the light though. There’s a way to go.

Our boots were covered in mud, and I was frozen right to my marrow despite activity, cashmere and walking. I’d much sooner have been walking in Greece…

Bright-on

Grey London in the morning. Freezing fog rolling over the Thames. Angry people with hoods and masks stumping down the Embankment solo like weird dwarves in a 1980’s alternate reality comic. My doorbell rings, earlier than I could’ve hoped.

Mindful Chef. I ordered myself some expensive vegan self-cook meal boxes with BRITISH produce from BRITISH BRITAIN – things of which they appear to be inordinately proud. After the box was paid for I decided to go to British Brighton into my bubble, so I had to wait until they dropped it off so I could take some of it with me and fridge the rest.

Out of London, grey all the way – South, ever South and all the trees are dusted frost at noon. No sun to be seen going south. None in the home counties. Stumpy dwarves give way to disconsolate dog walkers as people psychically try to loosen the bowels of their favourite hounds. I can almost hear their thoughts: “I’m cold. Go poo. Poo quickly, dammit!”

Grey grey grey, and freezing fog. The car is registering minus 2 as I pass the sign that says “Brighton and Hove”. I haven’t seen the sky all day and it’s afternoon. Just a carpet of wet sharp cold smoke like the opposite of a house fire. Branches stand bare, clad in delicate flakes. The grass is white. Everything is frozen and glistening.

Suddenly, just as I approach the sea, a snap of change and a shock of warmth and there it is, the sun, over the sea! A total change into unrecognisable weather. But for the bite it might be summer.

We go walkies, my bubble and me. We go to the undercliff, feeling the sun on our faces. We lie on the pebbles of the beach and somehow we contrive to be comfortable – to be warm.

“Two degrees warmer in the winter, two degrees colder in the summer,” was my dad’s assessment of The Isle of Man. Perhaps it’s something to do with the sea, that I could find the sun here. We watch a shocking sunset from the warmth of her flat. I break out the Mindful Chef recipe. Vegan butterbean pie with sun-dried tomatoes and chestnuts and kale and enough food for an army. I AM an army but it defeated me. It’s only half five in the evening. We’ve walked and cooked and I’ve eaten so much I’m dozy.

This’ll be me for the next few days. Early to bed, early to rise. I could use all three of the things promised by that rhyme.

Plates vs Cresta Run

“Are you still sorting plates and things?”

This is my friend Emma. She’s got a load of stuff and she’s working from home. She would prefer to have the space, but all the charity shops are shut for the foreseeable future. “Fuck it, why not,” I think, and drive over.

This day has been shocking in its beauty. I bet you last year there were days like this, but I didn’t notice. I was running around helping organise race shows and literally not stopping. It was terrific fun but all consuming. I rather like having too much to do, as it helps me shut my brain off. The shouting starts when it’s quiet. But today I was busy enough for no shouting, and calm enough to see the sky.

I noticed the weather. It made me happy. I was in memories of the times and the places of the past – those endless winters in St Moritz when dad was training and I was pelting down the mountainside in the sharp morning air, or trying to stop my legs shaking before I threw myself at 70 down an ice chute on a tea tray with runners. The bright winter sun and the sharp cold air. Alpine weather. It isn’t quite so welcome when it doesn’t come with the thought “Best get an early run in, the ice’ll be good and hard. I could beat my best time.” One day soon I’ll go back to those mountains and fling a heavier and perhaps more cautious version of myself down that ice chute again. They’ve built it once more, despite Covid. Not this year I think. But next year? I’m gonna start planning. Dad is in a plot up there, near Suvretta House. It’s time I visited.

Yesterday The Gallant Captain died – a powerful figure from my memories of those swiss days – a fixture at the Cresta. We were friendly. Gods. It seems like another life. I’m sad I’ll never see him again. Another fixture lost. Another figure of my youth. Time is cruel.

Much of my childhood and my first job was in Switzerland working for a tobogganing club. Essentially luge but with cut corners. I got very good at it. I haven’t been for a decade. It’s in season now. Dammit. I want to be there. I wish we still had a flat

Instead of hurtling head first on hard ice, I opened a box of plates. Scotts of Stow, hand painted chicken plates. A few bob. No more. I’m counting them and daydreaming of going very fast on the edge of control when I get a message from another friend. Marie. It’s a picture of another plate. “What’s this?” Oof.

My plate karma is definitely more active than my speedsports karma right now. The problem is, as I get better at plates I have to do it more frequently.

It’s a 1960’s – 1970’s Soviet era Konakovo (Zik) plate. Maybe £15 if you wait. Fiver to get rid of it. Plates, plates, plates. I enjoy learning things. But if only there was a plate I could sit on that would just … float me way way over the seas and fields and mountains to that little pocket of winter sun nestled in the Graubünden at 6000 feet. I’d like to find that plate. I could try not to break my neck, have barley soup and raclette and Rivella and a bullshot and go fast fast so fast in the shocking cold sunshine.

The run is open. I could be doing junction practice. Grrr

Back to the plates. Look – a chicken! Screw you, Covid.

I fancy some port

It’s Friday night. I could use a drink. There hasn’t really been a week to be at the end of, but whatever it was, it’s finished now. Saturday’s coming. We can all stop doing all the loads of things we were definitely doing. We can relax. Maybe have a drink?

Booze is better with friends. I’d like to get quietly sozzled with good conversation and then have lots of drunken hugs and stagger home arm in arm with somebody singing badly, like Asterix and Obelix. I’m as sick for summer and company as I am for booze. I’ve got plenty in the flat and it isn’t calling to me. It’s just me and the fish and the snake. They’re the same company when I’m sober as they would be if I were pissed. I’ve made 5 months to the day booze free. I think it has helped immensely that the only instinct I had to break was the evening hand to mouth.

It makes me worry that if we lived in a world where dinner parties were a possibility I’d have spent most of my time looking at a bottle of vintage port whilst sweating profusely and occasionally holding my own spasming wrist down. Like Doctor Strangelove. I haven’t been to a press night with free champagne for ages. I haven’t had “what can I get you” from an audience member, or “it’s your round” from friends. Maybe it’s a blessing that I’ve chosen now to break the habit as by the time there are social rapids to negotiate I will have firmly defeated the basic craving.

Mel of the snake is in New Zealand. Still! She initially went for a few months. Now she’s been there over a year. I don’t blame her for staying out there. It’s summer right now, it’s blazing hot and it’s business as usual – apart from the closed borders. She’s sending me videos of people sitting shoulder to shoulder in pubs. When I tell her how touch averse we are all becoming she can’t properly comprehend it. We’re basically an island nation… Maybe if we’d acted quickly and decisively we could all sit shoulder to shoulder? I guess it was rife here pretty early on though. I’m still convinced I had it in the first wave, although can they even test for the antibodies properly yet? It might be good to know, now we’ve gone and incubated our whole new British brand of Covid and now we all have to stay indoors even more than usual in order to avoid spreading it.

I went out into the horror this evening, late. It might be cold in the world but I thought it would be beneficial to see the dark outside for a bit. It’s crisp. It’s below freezing. I didn’t like it. I could see my contagious breath. When I got back to my door it was near midnight and I am so inexperienced at going out right now that I didn’t have my keys with me. I emptied out all the pockets in my leather jacket onto a wall. Nothing. But oh the wonders of technology. I have a “Tile” on my phone. I can ring my keys if they’re in range. Turns out they were in the lining of my jacket – I’d never have found them. A rare piece of good thinking, buying that Tile. I’ve come to know myself.

I’m back in the warm, stretched out on my bed, happy if sad. I miss it all. I hate how I find it weird watching people hug on telly. I hate how there are instructions everywhere. I hate how insular and closed this all feels. I guess if we were like New Zealand we’d feel like we were being kettled. I really really want to get out, feel the sun on my skin, swim in the warm sea. Actually I think it’s summer I miss, more than booze. Summer and company and togetherness in the real sense, where the people with reservations are in the minority and there are lots of people in one room. We exchange so much with pheromones. We are losing an aspect of what it is to be human.

It’ll come. Somehow. But so slowly. So so slowly.

Some sort of day

Sometimes I settle down to write this blog thinking “Which aspect of my terrifically busy and successful day should I focus on?”

This is not one of those days.

This is one of … the other days.

What the heck did I do today?

I slept under two duvets last night. Should’ve thought of that weeks ago. It did make my bed a bit too hospitable though. I was still there at 10am. Then I got up but…

I must’ve done something…

I wrote an email. It hasn’t had a reply. But it’s sent. That’s a thing. It was to a lawyer. She reads them on the clock. I don’t like writing to her so I’ve been avoiding it. Now I check my spam every five seconds to see if she’s responded.

Oh and I corrected an auctioneer. I’m selling some vellum. It’s continental, fifteenth century, a page from a monastic book of chant, “Tenebrae factae sunt …” There were shadows ….

On good Friday one of the monks reads a bit of scripture then all the rest sing a response. I imagine the whole thing takes hours and sounds lovely and echoey.

This is the fifth such sung responsory for Good Friday. Sure, the auctioneer didn’t need to put all that info. But “possibly for Good Friday” doesn’t cut the mustard, frankly, especially considering that’s just remembered from when I dropped it off. So I sent them some info and a link to some dudes singing it on YouTube. You can find anything these days. Hopefully they’ll adjust the listing accordingly. If they don’t I reckon I’ll pull it and sell it myself on eBay with a better description. It likely won’t go for more than £150, but why sell it short? Especially after I went to all that work to identify it. And by “all that work” I basically just sent a photo of it to my mate Joxley who taught me how to sing and now does it for the lucky boys of Rugby College. He knew what it was immediately because he’s bloody marvelous at that sort of thing. Still, knowing who to send something to is part of the skill of research. It’s like knowing which book to look in first. I’m kind of chuffed I “out-knew” the auctioneers. In fact, if they don’t correct it, I’m gonna pull it, take the hit, and post it to Jox for Easter. He gave me an understanding of the deep bass I dropped into when my soprano voice shattered. For years I just thought I couldn’t sing anymore, and strangely Guildhall didn’t help. They were only interested in tenors. Jox helped. Glory be.

Anyway yeah. That’s it. Email to lawyers. Email about vellum. Moved some stuff around. Bath. Cup of chamomile tea.

I’ve finished the chamomile tea now. National emergency. I’m going to have to leave the house tomorrow. If I get to evening tomorrow with no chamomile tea I’ll be up all night with bloodshot eyes mumbling and howling in ancient languages. Probably snippets of the responsory for Good Friday.

Oh and on the subject of mumbling and howling, I started assembling material for Dan to cut into a showreel. My showreel as stands almost certainly loses me work. I don’t need much but I must change what I’ve got. In a world with so many actors, you need a short bit of visible shenanigans so somebody on the other side of the world can go “I like his voice. His hair is funny. Get him in.” With no showreel they might go to the guy they can see moving. With a bad showreel, they might go “Jesus, he’s still got a montage? Get me the other guy, the guy with the feet!”

So yeah. Hard email, geeky email, collating data, moving furniture, tea. It’s starting to look like a day. Even when it’s a nothing day there’s still something. I haven’t looked at the news after yesterday got dominated by it. I don’t like the news right now…

This Capitol affair

This is what can happen when you spoil a child.

Millionaire by 8. Bought through college. Bought out of military service. Grasping grasping grasping. Mean little cruel little boy. You only have to look at him to see the pig-eyed kid he was. If he lost, it didn’t count. He didn’t like the game anyway. You were cheating. He’ll tell his daddy on you. His daddy is rich. You’ll be sorry.

He was prefiguring it for ages. All those talks with Putin : “How did you do it?” “Just try it. If you’re strong enough they’ll let you.” But he was banking on a second term to put in place enough structure to derail the system and stay in forever. The job’s not done in time. And now the game’s over prematurely. He’s lost. And he’s going to smash up the board because it’s a big loss, and on the world stage, and he has no clothes.

But yeah. Lots of angry people who miss America when it was “great”, wave Confederate flags, dress up like Davy Crockett and – after a few Pabst Blue Ribbon – will tell you how you’ve been brainwashed and that the earth is actually flat or otters are dogs or Helen Keller was actually Bill Gates or whatever. They can’t debate around the topics they choose and they mistake examination for disagreement and get hostile. And there are lots of them. And they’re angry because they did a vote but the vote didn’t go the way they wanted. And they are all the experience they’ve had, and so 100% of their experience voted for Trump so it’s impossible that the hairsniffing old weirdo could’ve beaten their favourite TV piggywiggy.

“Stand back and stand by”. Not anymore. But who are these boys and girls? It’s oversimplistic to call them dangerous idiots. They’re angry, they’ve latched onto him because even if he isn’t helping them, they recognise the need he has to grasp everything, because many of them have nothing. They had other shit going on when people were learning sophistry and forensic examination, and debate and science and reason. They rightly associate school with programming but wrongly associate any form of reasoning with programming as well. It doesn’t help if reasoned people dismiss those less used to critical thinking as “stupid” – it pushes us apart. You learn through listening, processing and experimenting. Not by rote. I learnt none of my critical thinking in lessons. I learnt through having the time and privilege to exercise curiosity. And I’m still shit at it – partly because I’m too curious and very easily sidelined. The Trumpies mostly haven’t had any time or privilege to make thought experiments (even though their demagogue HAS had it and hasn’t done it). They have clearly worded websites that give you hints that can quickly train you to think you’ve discovered something clever enough to make you feel just as clever as all the people with the time to call you stupid. It’s why you hear people repeat processed soundbitten phrases to you in sing-song voices when they think you believe something wrong. It’s a world of absolutes. It’s ugly and as somebody who is increasingly certain that everything is wrong, it offends me. The truth, if it exists, is not in absolutes. Or is it? It shifts. Or it doesn’t. The truth is kind of not the point. Unless it is.

They all went to The Capitol today. They weren’t shot by police. They broke windows and jacked doors and stormed right up to the dais and said dumb shit that wasn’t their own and brought international shame on a culture and democracy that was once renowned.

It goes without saying that there’d be more than one dead if they’d been a different type of recent protestor. This is America. And somebody did die, which is a further tragedy. I’m sad for her loved ones. A brute way to leave this plane.

And it happened at The Capitol! The meeting place of Congress? I think this was my only photo of it from last October – in the distance.

I’m imagining these wazzocks breaking in and strolling about with their hateful flags and ideologies because the piggy doesn’t want to admit he’s lost and thinks if he shouts hard enough daddy will fix it. I’m trying to find fellowship with them still and not dismiss them as just plain dumb. But I keep just going back to thinking they’re idiots. Especially since somebody died.

We are looking to America for partnership now we’ve burnt bridges with Europe. We’ll have to buy their medicine soon. It’s kind of comforting that they’re even more fucked than we are. But I’m sad about it all because there’s so much hate in the mix, so much rage. We are still popping up out of the pressure cooker all over the place. Be kind, properly examine all sides and then check in with yourself, listen and be willing to shift. Certainty is usually zealotry. And so to bed.