COVID 19 Internal Monologues Part 4: Live TV

Any moment now, the end credits will surely begin to roll and we will have that moment of realisation where we simultaneously understand not only the script but the subliminal meaning behind it.

An advert proclaiming the powers of Veet EasyWax will appear and bring you crashing back to a sense of normality after an hour transfixed to your screen, and your partner or friend or whomsoever is with you at the time will alight from the sofa, picking up the bowl of Dorito crumbs for washing, and say:

“That was pretty realistic wasn’t it?  I’m going to have bad dreams tonight.  It’s crazy what technology and special effects can do these days”

You’ll have been watching a programme – of the Black Mirror ilk – in which an invisible virus that takes days to manifest, originates from a seafood market in a distant land and then – within a matter of days – brings an entire planet to its knees.  Thousands of lives will be lost.  Business will stop.  Economies across the world will crash.  Everybody, everywhere will be barely able to leave their homes.    Even world leaders will not be spared, our Prime Minister tested positive today.

All the things we normally take for granted will suddenly be the things we dream of once again.  Automated, annual social media memories will fill us with an envy for the past, and the times we could meet a friend for a drink, or ramble among the countryside for hours on end only to finish up with a pint and Sunday roast.

I even find myself missing being sat stuck in rush-hour traffic on the A249, thinking about the leftover stir-fry I plan to re-heat for dinner when I eventually get home.  It did have a nice sauce, afterall.

There will be a great number of lessons from all of this, surely, and we are only starting to learn them.  I would hesitate to think whether we have graduated beyond the Beginner stage yet.  I hope so, but looking at the news, I’m not so sure.

Either way this is still just feeling very, very strange.

Hey – you – can you do me a favour, and try pressing the “TV Guide” button on your remote, so that we can see what else is on?

I fancy something a bit more upbeat.  Those endless repeats of Only Fools & Horses I normally avoid or something.  Paris Hilton’s maudlin search for a new best friend. Or anything whatsoever on the Smithsonian Channel.

COVID 19 Internal Monologues Part 3: Escaping the Supermarket, and the Stroll

21st and 22nd March 2020 (two days before Lockdown)

I’ve changed my mind about supermarkets.

The other day I was quite excited about them, because they are still a surefire way to see people after spending the rest of the day alone.

Now they just terrify me.  Not everybody appears to be adhering to this concept of social distancing, and you’re more likely to see those uncooperative people in supermarkets, because those are essentially the only place people can congregate still.

I needed to buy some bits for my parents in Tesco.  I had to spend an hour or so psyching myself up to do so before marching into the store in my disposable latex gloves, snood (who would’ve known the Action Challenge branded freebie from the 50km walking challenge in the Cotswolds 2018 would have come in so useful!) and sunglasses.  A trio of people standing near the entrance looked at me in disgust as I wiped down my trolley with a Dettol wipe, “The world’s gone maaaaaaad” said one lady, in a Marge Simpson-meets-rusty-washboard voice that sounded like she smokes fifty fags a day.

I did feel slightly embarrassed by her shaming, but didn’t let her words get to me too much.  I had only to witness other shoppers coughing and sneezing, and kids running around touching stuff, to know that I was doing the right thing by erring on the side of caution, even though in many ways it might’ve seemed a bit overkill.  I don’t like to automatically distrust people, because most people are good and taking care right now; but when this virus stands to harm so many, my view is that you just have to treat yourself as a carrier, and treat strangers as though they are all carriers too, and keep your distance accordingly.

Coming out of the supermarket, I felt something similar to when you’ve overestimated your ability to hold your breath whilst diving down into a swimming pool, and face a long, desperate rise to the surface.  I knew when by the bread that I was at the furthest point of the store to be able to retreat back out from.  The question was – how to avoid the various perils I may encounter en-route – the coughers, the touchers, the sneezers and the wheezers.  Those who should be isolating, and the invisibles with the bug awaiting.  Gaming metaphors seem to be the trend here, and this particular moment felt like Frogger.  Or that curly copper wire thing you used to pay to try at school bazaars, usually manned by a grumpy looking girl, where you had to run the loop on a stick across it without touching the wire.  If you did, it would emit a sound that would simultaneously perforate your eardrums whilst making you leap back in terror.  In this instance, that sound is the coronavirus.

Later on, I took myself on a long, solitary walk around the town, but keeping away from the centre to help ensure I was sufficiently distanced.   As a result of this I experienced parts of Faversham I’ve never felt before, and walked down streets I’ve never before been down, like the residential roads over towards Bysing Wood, and out towards the church at Ospringe, returning home via the nearby paddocks that take you back on to the London Road.   The town glowed in the hazy springtime sun, evoking memories of Saturday afternoons as a child; celebrating the return of longer days and better weather by spending longer in the garden.  There was something incredibly peaceful about acknowledging this; a welcome juxtaposition to the chaos of everything else.  It felt relaxing; almost a way of making peace with the situation.  I relished the opportunity to see somewhere new too; even though it wasn’t far from home.  “Could this be one of the only gifts Covid 19 brings us?” I thought to myself, “a new way of looking things and appreciating what’s closest to home”.

I enjoyed the stroll and subsequent thoughts so much, that the following day – Sunday – I took myself on another walk in the opposite direction.  The craze with which this situation develops each day makes me wonder whether the opportunity to do even a walk may soon come to an end, so I was determined to get a big long nature fix whilst I still could.  I stuck to the desolate footpaths near the polytunnel farms (sorry dad, I still don’t know what’s growing inside them, in spite of this unexpected close-up inspection) and over towards Graveney before coming back along the railway line.  For a couple of hours, all seemed good with the world.  The rapeseed was out and glowing its bright yellow magic into the world.  Trees swayed smoothly in a light breeze.  Most incredible of all, were the number of bunny rabbits hopping about in front of me.  I can’t remember the last time I saw so many.

A Southeastern train passed by and I gave the driver a wave.  He waved back.  And that was pretty much the extent of my physical contact with anybody else today.

And it felt so important.  It felt so needed.

I took a look into the train and – unsurprisingly – saw carriages full of empty seats.  It won’t surprise me if they suspend the rail services soon.  An empty train splicing it’s way through the Kent countryside does nothing for our environment and for our fight as a nation to get through this battle.

But a simple wave back does make a girl feel less alone.

It really is the little things.

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COVID 19 Internal Monologues Part 2: The Town Centre and The Supermarket

**Basically a live stream of an internal monologue which is not designed to make a great deal of sense, because nothing about the current situation does**

After another bizarre day of not seeing anybody in the flesh until post-5pm – but having plenty of work-related phone-calls at a kitchen table ordinarily associated only with meals and personal gatherings – I begin to get extremely excited about the fact I have a letter to post. Excited, yet also somewhat dubious.

On one hand, I get to go outside! And there’ll be people there. And I rarely see those now.

On the other hand, I have to go outside. And there’ll be people there. And I have to avoid those now.

I walk and post the letter – envying the envelope’s travel plans – and carry on into the town centre. The charming Guildhall building on the square is lit up – as it usually is – but the cobbled pavements which surround it are completely empty. Nobody is stumbling out of the pubs after a few Shepherd Neame specials like they usually are, and I almost miss the cursing and burping usually overheard at this point. Benches are vacant. Restaurants remain lit up, but the view inside is just of a set of plain brown squares which represent empty tables.

The only people I see are dog-walkers, joggers or those who – like myself – are out alone running an errand. I pass them – but keep well away. It feels very rude.

In this town, we usually say hello to strangers when we pass.

But today we don’t, because we’re keeping too wide a berth, veering out into the road to avoid passing too close on the pavement.

It’s heartbreaking. But we just have to do it. Fight now, and celebrate later.

In the midst of the feelings of despair and fear that have dominated the last few days, I walk down Abbey Street.

Abbey Street. A place I usually just associate with my jogging route and tipsy walks to (and especially from) The Anchor pub. Abbey Street – the most iconic street in Faversham. Houses that have been there for more than century. Houses whose timber frames represent so much more than an historic method of construction. As I pass I imagine all the occupants of the past, generations who experienced times much worse than this – like the first and second world wars – but who fought through it. Who survived. Who morphed their challenges into the creation of stronger communities. Much like we will, once all of this is done.

And then I get closer to Tesco and suddenly I feel a sense of excitement akin to the one when you arrive at a friend’s house and know that in a moment’s time, you’ll be greeting somebody you care about. Or when you’ve been walking across remote countryside for hours and then stumble upon a pub full of people. Right now, the supermarket is the extent of your mingling with the outside world. The neon signs may as well be flashing in the manner of a ritzy club, denoting the lure of socialising.

The pubs might be empty of people, but the supermarkets aren’t. The one place at the moment where you’re guaranteed to see people and not feel alone. Comforting, but also mildly terrifying. A Dodgem experience where you literally do want to dodge them, and shudder at the thought of coming too close, but which you also feel a strange sense of excitement by.

A man seems to follow a similar route around the shop to me, distracted by a video call to a woman who is unknowingly announcing to all else within the Easter egg vicinity of the shop that, “Tonahht we’re playin a gaaaaaaame!!!!!”. The man chuckles.

The laws of social distancing mean that his presence unnerves me. I fear the distraction of his call means he’s not really thinking about where he’s walking. I skip away from him – past the juices – and whilst en-route bank the observation that Prosecco is on offer for £6 a bottle.

I’m sure there’ll be plenty of times I consider that information over the next twelve weeks. Good to know. Useful to put into practise.

I’d seen on social media that the supermarkets were lacking in supplies. I couldn’t believe it to be real as all had seemed okay as recently as last Friday, when I’d last been in one, but it was. No bread. No pasta. No eggs. No beer. A multitude of empty green crates where the fresh produce usually lives. You know you’re living in apocalyptical times when you have to embrace the fact that there was a severe yearning for every single cucumber that was recently in that box. Usually when I buy a cucumber, it’s pretty much a game of Jenga – trying to ensure that the one I remove doesn’t offset the rest into rolling around in chaos. Now it’s just a game of Blind Man’s Buff with no ending.

There will be many things we take away from this period of time, but the importance of supermarket staff will be right up there with the rest. They don’t have the blessing to be able to work from the safety of home right now but they carry on and smile regardless. Regardless of the fact there’ll be no respite for them anytime soon. Regardless of the fact that their public-facing roles put them in more danger of catching the virus than those of us who just get to stare at our kitchen tables all day. They just carry on smiling, doing what current escalating need dictates.

And when supermarkets are pretty much the extent of your social life, that is so, so important.

COVID 19 Internal Monologues Part 1: The Encounter

**Basically a live stream of an internal monologue which is not designed to make a great deal of sense, because nothing about the current situation does**

Last Sunday, I was planning to spend Wednesday evening at my elderly parents’ house for dinner and an overnight stay.  I had some reservations over whether or not it was totally safe to do so, but wondered if I was just being too paranoid.  I believed that by taking all relevant precautions, it would be okay.  After all, I have been washing my hands increasingly frequently, have avoided crowds, hugs and touching my face, and have no symptoms.  It’s fiiiiine.  They need the company and so do I.

On Monday, I decided against it.  My parents asked me not to go.  Not worth the risk.  What if I sat on their sofa whilst wearing clothes that somebody in passing might have coughed towards in recent days, their droplets caught in the fibers?  What if my parents then sat down on the same sofa, and then touched their face some time later?  Just not worth it.  Instead I’ll just pop round, drop off their milk (as they are advised to avoid supermarkets and don’t have the confidence in online shopping to take that route), pick up my parcel and come back home.  That’ll still be useful.  That’s still contact.

On Tuesday I wasn’t sure if I could even do that.  Leave them a bottle of milk? That I bought in the supermarket, that I touched?  That other people possibly touched too?  What if the person stacking the shelves had COVID 19? What if the person behind the till had COVID 19?  What if a customer who had COVID 19 touched the bottle whilst picking up their own. What if I have COVID 19?  I may not know for another fourteen days, none of the people listed above would. But my parents still need milk.  And they can’t go out and buy it for themselves because they fall under one of the groups identified as high risk by the government – both over seventy and my dad with high blood pressure – though you wouldn’t know it.

On Wednesday, after my third (of possibly thirty, or three hundred, who knows) days alone in the flat working from home, I’m driving to my parents’ house wearing a pair of pink washing up gloves I’ve owned since moving in here, but have never had reason to use.  Today they’re finally presenting their real value, because the door handle to my block of flats might be smeared with COVID 19 unknowingly placed there by another resident.  Then I’d touch the bags containing the milk.  Then they’d touch those bags, and then touch the bottle of milk when opening it.  So perhaps, for the best, I’ll wear the gloves and we’ll just leave the items in the garage for a day so the germs have time to die out.  But that’s maybe not even enough time.  And then… what do you do about the items that need refrigerating?  Maybe you just have to spray the packaging with Dettol.  And handle it with gloves until you do.

That’s as granular as my brain’s understanding of this shit game of Tetris can make the process right now, but after another few government press conferences and horrendous headlines, perhaps we’ll find ways to break it down even more.  We are still in the early days.  I know that.   It’ll get much harder before it gets even slightly easier.

I pull up outside the front door of what was my home for many years and knock, then spring away.  My parents answer the door.  There they are, in real life.  It may have only been a few days, but in the gravity of the situation I feel like a teenage girl who is finally seeing her favourite popstars on stage having previously only ever seen them on Top of the Pops or in magazines.  I want to give them both a hug and a kiss more than anything in the world, but I can’t.  It could maybe kill them.  It seemed far fetched last week.  Today much less so.

We exchange bags whilst maintaining a two metre distance from one another at all times, circling back and forth like two magnets repelling one another.

I look through the window into the living room to see my beloved cat, Scampi, fast asleep, oblivious to what’s going on in the world.  The fact that all they ever do is go on walks, eat, sleep and don’t have to worry about money or pandemics has meant that I’ve often wished I was a cat.

Today even more so.

“Coronavirus?  Meow. What’s that.  I’m having tuna tonight, and I’m overjoyed about that.” (Scampi’s internal monologue)

I drive away from the house as quickly as I arrived because the sight of my mum’s tears and the parents I love and worry about but whom I can’t hug is crippling me.  The former home I can’t even step into.

But, crippling me even more is the guilt for feeling the way I do, because I am one of the very lucky ones.  I can see my parents.  They live nearby.  They are still alive.  They have one another.  What gives me the right, at all, to be upset, when so many others have it far worse:  those with no remaining family, those who live far away from their families, those currently experiencing domestic abuse and for whom 14 days of quarantine is a terrifying prospect, those frantically working out how to pay their next bills in the wake of an economic crash, those with huge underlying health concerns already.   I could be here a while.

I am so cross with myself for crying, but the inner child within me needs me to do it and get it out my system.  To recognise that despite the blessings, the situation which we all face at the moment is still incredibly shit.

This is a mad time and it’s still only the early stages.

Time to Switch Off

Perhaps one of the saddest things about the untimely death of television personality Caroline Flack this weekend, is the fact that it doesn’t really feel like a surprise.  Any novice chef knows that if you keep the gas on high even when you know what’s inside the pan is rapidly heating up, it will eventually boil over.  I haven’t really been following all of the news about her in recent months but – somewhat telling given what has since happened – I’m aware how much coverage there was, despite her social media posts alluding to experiencing depression and dark times.  The coverage has remained relentless, almost. I can’t begin to imagine how tough it must have been for her to have constant reminders of her situation across the press and social media, and to read such vitriolic, personal comments from people she’s never met.

This is the latest in a long line of celebrity suicides and the impact of social media finds itself firmly in the spotlight again, with good reason.  Social media has a lot of benefits when you retain its use to being purely about pinning happy memories and re-connecting with long lost friends and relatives.  But it’s also got a far uglier, beastlier side that has taken  thousands of victims over the years.  By its own merits of accessibility,  social media strips away any notion of a safe haven from ridicule and contempt against those whom a mob of strangers seem to feel deserve it.  Celebrities.  Professionals.  Politicians.  Local personalities.  Fellow residents of a town.  Classmates.  If you slip up from being your best for the smallest of moments, it won’t be forgotten.

I think back to when I was sixteen and how there was a phase when I used to really dread the walk home from school.  A girl who lived nearby, who I had known my whole life and who had never liked me, would often be hanging around by the park on my route home, and would shout abusive things at me with her friend as I passed.  I was “ugly”.  I was a “sad loser”.  My clothes were “disgusting”.  These insults may sound banal now, but they were the sort to really assault and interrogate the mind of an impressionable sixteen year old.  I would dread the walk home so much, that without explanation to anybody I started staying behind at school for an additional thirty minutes every day literally twiddling my thumbs just so that the girls would be gone by the time I would walk past the park.  Teachers would ask me why I was still hanging around and I couldn’t bear to be honest about it.  It was a bit of an inconvenience being late home, and far from the most head-on method of dealing with an issue.  It was pure avoidance, but it worked.  I didn’t have to face the bullies.  The academic year finished, they went to another school and I could walk home in peace.  On time.  Problem over.

But imagine if social media had been as commonplace then as it is now?  I think it would have been a lot harder for me – and the thousands of others affected by the various forms and levels of bullying – to find the sort of solace that could be achieved by explicitly avoiding a person’s physical presence.  Eventually, MSN Messenger became guilty enough for funneling school drama into the weekends, but at least you still had control over who could contact you on it, and what you read.  I feel so much sympathy for impressionable teenagers these days who don’t have access to the same sort of save havens that we did in the pre-social media age.  The challenge for schools to tackle bullying has become hundreds of times more difficult, as the problem is no longer restricted to the playground or bus ride home, but the invisible walls of the internet.  No wonder mental health concerns are rife these days, particularly in adolescents.

And the same, of course, goes for adults, as is visible to all in the sequence of deaths in reality t.v – a concept which goes hand in hand with social media.  Reality t.v has been the public’s guilty pleasure since the turn of the millennium.  It’s good if it’s dramatic.  It’s not if the contestants all get along famously well, and treat with another with love and respect throughout the series.  Real people are placed in synthetic situations designed specifically to evoke emotions.  Broadcasters place morsels of fire onto the end of long rods dangling over the commercial break knowing that it’ll keep viewers glued to their seats.  And it does.  And after the several weeks of this, the person who people like the most is declared the winner, gifting the viewing public the justification to make judgments and personal comments, and that they do – everywhere.  Mistakes or bad hair days get magnified as viewers revel in the public shaming on Facebook , on news articles, on Instagram… all the sorts of places which are easily seen, especially by those to whom the comments refer.

Given that reality t.v bases itself on reality in order to try and make viewers feel affinity with contestants, I think this is bloody scary, and I don’t think that waiting another thirty minutes is going to be a solution that works here.  For celebrities like Caroline Flack, for teenagers struggling to keep up with peer pressure, or even for anybody.

It’s time to switch off from this barbaric practice for good.

Song of the Day:  MU330 – Fragile

This is a band I used to love when I was around the same age that I dreaded walking home from school, funnily enough. Best described as “Weezer with horns” MU330’s music used to bring so much joy to me, and still does.  I had completely forgotten about this song until I randomly thought about them the other day and thought I’d hit them up on Spotify.  This song is a complete gem – and when you listen to the words – it seems to be pretty apt.  I was interested to see it had only received 1k views in 6 years on YouTub when I think it’s impossible to not love.

(Read This Carefully) I Love Pens

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Is it too late to write a post in the spirit of heralding a new year?

I haven’t done so yet because I’ve been too busy playing with the Sharpies I got for Christmas (and a few other things, like submerging back into reality following the halcyon days of the festive break; a reality consisting of diets, exercise and bills, after a week of pretending that none of these things exist.)

I’m not sure what it is about marker pens, but they just excite me.  It’s not just been the Sharpies.  I seem to recall being just as joyous about an own-brand set from Smiths I received one Christmas in the early ’90’s.  I’m pretty sure that in every home there are remnants of a set of felt pens that seem to have been around forever and that nobody has the heart to throw away even though they do sod all – the nibs far too frayed, the ink long gone.  In my home, it was the Smiths markers.  In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if they were still languishing in the depths of some old pencil case in the far corners of the attic, ruing the fact they can no longer colour in pictures and make images come to life.  A compatriot of the same pencil case, a biro with a similar lifespan, probably finds the lamenting piss annoying, as it could never colour anything in the first place.  Only write shopping lists.  Boring, boring shopping lists.

So I suppose that it was probably the inner-child in me that was partially responsible for being so excited by the latest colourful acquisition.  Twenty brand new Sharpies, of eccentric hues, ready to illuminate scribbles like the one above, greeting cards and – well – anything else in close proximity for the next couple of decades.

“If only everything in life was this exciting”  I thought to myself, as I began to experiment with all of the different colours on the paper.

Given those diets and bills, I’m not naive enough to think it could be.

But I do believe it should be.

So I’m choosing to focus on the exciting things for now.  As much as possible, at least.

Happy 2020 to anybody reading this.

Song of the Day: That Handsome Devil – Charlie’s Inferno

A Brooklyn band that basically put rock, swing, jazz, jive, funk, psychedelia and every other genre you can think of into a big, musical blender and puree it into something that sounds like this particular piece.  There’s a lot of narrative in this song and to be honest I’ve no idea what it’s about, it’s just a good tune to wash-up to.

The Best Kind of Gift

There was a major milestone to celebrate within my family this month.

Identifying what would make the best gift caused a complete stress within.

I had a few ideas; but found myself frequently judging the merit of each using just their monetary value as the means with which to test their suitability. I felt compelled to spend a significant sum of money on the basis that it was such a massive milestone. It’s rude to be cheap, right? The more you spend, the more it looks like you love them, right? Of course not, but there’s still a part of your conscience that believes so, when all you want to do is give the perfect present.

This time of year is beset with the pressure to give good gifts to those around us, and often the measure of a “good” gift is seen to be in the bold figure at the bottom of the receipt…the greater the number, the more generous the gift! A Casio and a Rolex both tell the same time, but one would arguably be seen as far more generous a present than the other. Wedding presents are another example of when cost is perceived to correlate with generosity. According to many sources, ‘good wedding gift etiquette’ dictates that you should spend a minimum of £50 no matter your relationship with the happy couple, which I find horrendous. If that’s what you expect, then please don’t invite me to your wedding, we shouldn’t really be friends. But the question it makes me ask is – what makes £50 the value of that bond?

Quite honestly, I find this stuff sad and depressing. There is a quote I’ve seen on the internet dozens of times which captures one of the reasons why, you’ve probably seen it too, but I’ll post again anyway:

10dollars

If you are fortunate enough to have a lot of money, it’s pretty easy to be “generous”. You just have to go online, or into a shop, pick out the most expensive item, flash your plastic at the till, and job done. Five minute job. If you don’t have so much money, it’s a bit harder, though even then, it’s quicker and easier to buy something than it is to give your time to something.

But – hang on – why do we often make gifts about the monetary cost anyway? Trying to equate the value of family, friends and lovers into numeric figures, when maybe the real value of what we give is in terms of our time, shared experiences, or thoughts.

In the end I just couldn’t put a price on the value of what it was I was celebrating in my family. To do so felt arbitrary, shallow and sad. I gave them a gift, but it cost little money, just time. Even now, I question whether I was generous enough. That’s because all around me I’m seeing adverts and pictures of lavish gifts; presents presented as a surefire way to please others.

But then I think about all the gifts I’ve ever received. One of the best was a drawing a friend did, on an A4 piece of paper, coloured in with Crayola pencils. She had a fantastic knack for art and had drawn a custom, fictional woodland scene containing references to things that we had found funny that year. It was brilliant. It made me howl with laughter, and I even took it away to Uni a couple of years later, to pin up on my wall for when I was feeling homesick. It was the sort of thing that wouldn’t have been possible to buy. It cost her absolutely nothing. But that’s the gift I remember most from that year (16 years ago). That’s the one I consider the most generous, because it took the most time and thought.

The reality is that many of the gifts opened this Christmas Day will be forgotten pretty quickly. They’ll probably end up on the Facebook Marketplace or the shelves of charity shops, in order to make space within the home later on. That’s because it’s a natural human behavior to eventually get bored of “things”. And if you can sell-off those things to recoup some money to buy more “things”, then even better.

So why do we do it to ourselves? Why do we keep stressing in shopping aisles or feeling the pressure to save, save, and sell an arm for Christmas when there are actually a range of ways to be generous, or please those people you care about. Say something nice to somebody. Tell them why you like them and appreciate them. Show them you care. Contrary to what it may seem, expensive presents don’t necessarily do that.

I’m not saying we should forget about physical gifts altogether, absolutely not, we all enjoy opening things, I just disagree with deciding whether or not to buy something on the basis of what it’s worth in GBP. Buy it because you have thought about it, and you think it’s something the recipient would really enjoy or appreciate.

Give people love, thoughts and attention. Don’t make it about the money.

Because I know which is needed more in the world today.

The Correspondents – Pier To Pier

This musical duo are the sort from which you never quite know what to expect, but I like this short, rhythmic instrumental piece. I’d like to listen to it whilst missioning it around Tescos to complete my grocery shopping in the fastest time possible. I think it would help.

Tired of Spinning Around on the Web

Is anybody else starting to get tired of the internet, or is it just me?

Tired of seeing the constant opinions on what we should do and think, from who to vote for and what to eat, to how to correctly hang toilet paper.

Tired of the ubiquitous presence of comments pages and review platforms, which too often are misused to host volcanic eruptions of strong opinions which – once the dust has settled – tell us only that: Some people liked the service, but some people did not like the service.  Some people agree with the article, but some people disagree.  Some people like the mandolin, but others – controversially – consider the banjo to be their favourite member of the lute family.

I actually quite enjoy reading what other people think, but what tires me out is when these features are used as an opportunity for some people to tell other people why, in their opinion, everybody else’s opinion is wrong.  Often in a vitriolic manner.  But perhaps that’s just my opinion (incidentally, does the word ‘opinion’ make anybody else think of an onion with a furrowed brow, half-moon spectacles and a tie?)

Tired of reading about what can help us, “live the best life”.  Maybe I don’t want to be practicing mindful cocktail-drinking somewhere flash, showing off my svelte, tanned figure in a Triangl bikini that costs the same amount of a month’s worth of groceries.  Maybe I just want to sit on my sofa, in a blanket, reading a book and listening to good music, eating a greasy yet utterly delicious takeaway.

And don’t get me started on those that use the internet to encourage people to talk about their mental health, yet in subsequent breaths or .JPGs with flowy fonts explain that to have good mental health ourselves, we should disassociate from those with “negative energies”.  Erm…

Make up your mind, internet.  Or just shush altogether.  I’m bored of seeing this dictatorial stuff, no matter how much I try and avoid it.  The content still manages to creep in.

Yet, here I currently sit, on the internet.  Writing my monthly blog.  Looking at pictures of cats that need re-homing.  Dealing with e-mails.

And sheepishly preparing for upcoming social events by salivating over PDFs of menus, knowing that when I get to the restaurant I’ll still manage to deliberate over what to have to eat.

I’m not so bored of those sides of the internet.

So perhaps I’m a contradiction too 😉

Song of the Day:  Mr.B The Gentleman Rhymer – No Character to Clear

I didn’t even know ‘Chap-Hop’ was a thing until this month.  This genre of music is ridiculously fun.  And funny.

 

If You’re Feeling Old…

sunriseSunrise in Snowdonia, April 2019

One of the (many) things you notice when looking back through old diaries, having written in them every day for over twenty years, is that you have pretty much always thought that you are old.  And you saw it as a bad thing.

There were a few fleeting, false dawns of maturity during your teens – worrying acknowledgements of the fact you would no longer spend birthday parties eating jelly and cake at the likes of Aqua-splash – but really it started at 21.  You’d reached the first major milestone since officially becoming an adult three years earlier, and this latest, permanent indentation into the more middle-y parts of your lifespan came with the gloomy realisation that you no longer had it, “all before you”.  Your youth became part of the past.

With each passing birthday since twenty one, that youth became a smaller and smaller dot in the distance, but your responsibilities became bigger.  The jelly got replaced by too many glasses of Prosecco, and sunny Saturday afternoons besides riverbanks got replaced by rainy Saturday afternoons in actual banks, where prim-faced staff in suits would go through every element of your personal finances and calculate that you might need to work beyond your death – perhaps as a ghost at a jolly Halloween attraction – just to have enough to make ends meet before you go.

When you turn another year older, it’s very easy to see the negative, especially when you start throwing the concept of ‘life milestones’ in the mix (but I’ve written enough about the absurdity of those on here, and bored enough of my peers in real life too). 

It’s rare now, that we acknowledge our birthdays without feeling some sense of being “old now lolz”… or “REALLY old now!”.  I’ve been very guilty of this in the past, as my diaries have shown.  Apparently I was feeling completely past it at twenty four, and every year since I continued to do so.  When the first grey hairs started emerging a few years back, I probably would have started researching Stannah stair-lifts if I’d had the time.

But this year I’ve decided to look at things differently, because actually I’m not sure it’s a bad thing to be “old” at all.  We shouldn’t feel negative about being old, we should instead just feel lucky that we made it this far, because lots of others didn’t.  We all know people who didn’t. Another orbit around the Sun represents another 365 gifts you were given, and okay some of those gifts weren’t the sort that might have you sprinting down the stairs on Christmas Day, but a lot of the others probably were, and any that did neither probably still gave you something to smile about or learn about in their own, special, understated way.

And more to the point – you’re not old anyway.  Your future self is telling you to shut the fuzzy up.  Nobody is old, because everybody is in fact – today – the youngest they’ll ever be again.  Isn’t that alone worth smiling about?  Enough to make you believe you’ve still got it in you to go out and do something crazy, like go out and join a dance troupe or take a night hike across the Hebrides?  On rollerblades?

34 was the first birthday in many, many years where I didn’t feel any kind of dread or resentment about my age.

And neither should you.

Song of the Day: Midnight Sister – Daddy Long Legs

Experimental pop duo.  I always like those.  And I really like this.