The Coronavirus Diaries 26th September 2022, What Now?

My nose has, thank goodness stopped running like a tap, but as of yesterday evening I am very tired. I slept for ten hours last night. This is a worry as I have a ticket for Outspoken on Thursday evening and I want to be there. I shall test on Thursday morning and hope for no second thin pink line.

The weather, suddenly autumnal, has been achingly perfect for long country walks which of course I can’t take. Celia has brought me my shopping, Octavia called round with a risotto and side salad yesterday. I can’t say I am struggling. Both cats have been perfect companions. A&M return on Thursday, so my duties will end after breakfast. I shall miss the ever demanding Lola. MasterB is a pushover in comparison.

A short time ago I went out to break up a four way cat fight. Stumpy, Hartley, Romeo and Smudge were all embroiled in fisticuffs. My guess is that Stumpy picked on Hartley, who is in general fight averse, Hartley’s brother Smudge and Romeo both piled in. It made quite a noise. MasterB watched from the bedroom window and seems to have decided on an evening indoors.

I finished selecting photos for MasterB’s 2023 calendar today and have despatched them to the printer. There’s a limited print run, and I hope to keep the price to £8.50 again, plus postage and packing which I need to check out. Let me know if you are interested. Some will go to Belfast, some to Melbourne Australia, at least two to the US, one to Italy, one to France. It’s an international though exclusive club!

The news from Italy is not great. A neo fascist set to be prime minister. People here on twitter saying they agree with her views. Our new Prime Minister probably does too. As neither she nor the chancellor are stupid, I am struggling to understand why they are acting as they are. Simple greed? Have they decided the best thing to do is to milk this country for all it has, sharing the spoils with their pals while the rest of us starve, before rushing off somewhere else on the planet with their cash? If they intend to remain here, trashing the country doesn’t seem a great approach. Or maybe they like raw sewage in the waterways, people living in tents on any stretch of land, overburdened hospitals and collapsing infrastructure.

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The *Is It Safe Yet Diaries?* 19th June 2022

So busy. It’s like the old days. I am working. Due the current economic climate I hardly dare to turn anything down, just like the old days, but boy it makes me tired. Today was a welcome day off. Colm returned the book table yesterday. While it’s been at his workshop I have realised how much bigger the room seems without it. In the long term it’s a piece of furniture I could part with. In the short term it’s much too useful. Still, I felt inspired to cull some of the books normally housed in it. They have been taking up an impressive amount of space in their strong carrier bags in the corner of the living room.

I carried as many as I could to the Oxfam bookshop in Bloomsbury. Since coming home I have filled another bag, and put a selection aside for my great nieces. Some of the books are too old for them now, but they are growing up fast.

Others are old in a different way. Two big books on natural history belonged to my great grandfather and he has written his name on the flyleaf. How do others part with inscribed books like these? I foresee a day when the only books I own will belong to long dead relatives, most of whom I never met.

The news: Could it be bleaker? The war in Ukraine goes on with no end in sight. News of atrocities have become everyday. Here, the government says it cannot provide for everyone as the economy goes tits up. Which means what exactly? Will we become accustomed to mass homelessness and starvation, and primed to accept it as the only option? Dead people on the streets an everyday occurrence. Shrug and pass on until the day comes when we are those desperate, abandoned people. Laws are being passed which make the government unassailable. Those at the top cling on to power for power’s sake. They don’t even try to hide it, yet a compliant press published distracting non-stories on their front pages: family rifts between William and Harry as related by William’s ‘close friends’. He doesn’t need enemies then. Faux outrage that Keir Starmer has sympathy with striking rail workers. Who in their right mind wouldn’t have? Grant Schapps saying the last thing rail workers need to do is strike. Well Grant, what’s the first thing they should do then? Do tell. Strikes are not popular, they are disruptive, and that’s the point of them. And they are often the only effective way that continued grievance over pay and work conditions can be conveyed to an apathetic public, and a government which frankly does not care. Its indifference shown by its refusal to join last ditch talks. Cynical conniving bastards.

Boris Johnson has so far stayed out of prison, as indeed has Trump which seems daily more improbable, but surely it’s only a matter of time. Oh no, I’m forgetting the new laws. Johnson’s inviolate. Nadine Dorries (if you live in another country than the UK and have never heard of heard Ms Dorries, thank your lucky stars) will be the person who decides what should be censored from our news feeds. Read about it here. It seems someone has jumped the gun. A story about Boris Johnson trying to get Carrie Symonds a £100,000 per annum job when he was at the Foreign Office, a story which was reported in the newspapers, has disappeared both the Times and the Mail online. Well what a surprise.

Fortunately The Outlaws has returned for a second series, and as it’s starting in less than five minutes, I am stopping here.

Have fun.

Antisemites to the left of us, islamophobes to the right; let’s stick in the middle with EU

Only a few days to go before the general election and Boris Johnson has yet to take the opportunity to say anything truthful. He has also refused to be interviewed by Andrew Neil, presumably because he knows he would come out of it badly, though he might choose, as he did in the Leaders’ Debate, to make jokes when asked about the importance of truth. For most of us being caught telling lies in our professional lives would spell the end of our careers. Not so Johnson, his is a career built on lies. Lies are the key to his success. We all know he lies, he knows we know he lies, so if elected and it turns out – surprise! – he has again lied about the NHS, getting Brexit ‘done’, about the glorious and golden opportunities that will unfold once we have left the supportive embrace of the EU, well we knew in advance he wasn’t telling the truth, so how can we feel betrayed?
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Lessons From History: Tourism and Trump

I woke early this morning and remembered Trump had won the Presidential election. Further sleep was impossible. The television has been turned on in the room on other side of the wall behind my head, so I guess I am not the only one feeling a horrified fascination with the result.

We got an intimation of how it was going yesterday lunchtime at Federation Square where Vcki and I had headed via a boat that looked remarkably like das Boot, only quite a bit bigger.

 

There was a screen at the square, and the subtitles were reporting gains for Trump. We watched, appalled, for a few minutes, hoped it was wrong, and headed off on Trail 7, Victorian Melbourne. We moved swiftly from the big riverside buildings to homes that have been through cycles of varying status.

It maybe an evolutionary safety device to help us hold onto our sanity in the face of the unthinkable that allows us to inhabit several planes of thought at once.

I love the lace decorations on the older houses in Melbourne, and yesterday’s walk was full of them.

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A Week

I feel like someone who has got behind with her homework; no posts for a week, and the less I post the less motivated I am. Is this the beginning of the end, or just a bit of a pause? So just a few random thoughts about the last week or so while I catch up.

British politics continue to bemuse and frustrate me. Goodness only knows where or what the Labour party will be in twelve months time. Theresa May, our safe pair of hands, has suggested that people who live in homes where the government would like to frack could receive financial compensation. Sorry, but to me that makes no sense. Fracking makes no sense; the risks far outweigh the advantages, surely we should be investing in sustainable energy? And those people who live on that land are only the temporary custodians, the effects of fracking are something that future generations will have to deal with.

The local feline population has quadrupled over the last few weeks. The mystery of the pretty tabby has been solved, and she’s a he, so I got that wrong. My neighbour Wendy has been rather hoping he’s homeless, but it turns out he is called Romeo and is the loved cat belonging to the local Kurdish supermarket. The manager was both surprised and amused to learn Romeo has been exploring our garden. So that just leaves us wondering if the scruffy black cat with the white bib, the white and ginger cat, the two huge cats that look like pumas, have homes. The two fluffy black and white cats live over the wall; I think the smart (as in appearance, his IQ is questionable) black cat with the white bib is Johnny from over the road, and there seemed to be another tabby tonight. I am going to be on litter tray duty for a while yet.

But MasterB is still enjoying his new wobble biscuit toy, which from my point of view is great, as it doesn’t roll away and get hidden or stuck in awkward places round the flat.

Wobbly toy

Wobbly toy

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Of the Supervet, Trump, BoJo and the Brexiteers

It’s the usual story: I should like to be in bed, but just as I started to make tracks, MasterB, who has been feather hunting most of the evening while I tried to watch The Supervet, Noel Fitzpatrick, without crying (fail), decided it was time for him to go outside. Then we stood on the pavement for an eternity until he could be persuaded into the safety of the garden. There I left him and came indoors.

After The Supervet, Channel 4 had a programme I could not bring myself to watch about what it might be like if Donald Trump were to win the US presidential elections. Truly I can believe that western civilisation is on the rocks and terminal decline when a man such as Trump can be a serious (sic) contender for this job. Ditto that for BoJo as UK Prime Minister. Politics trivialised.

I did see an excerpt where Trump, or ‘the floss-haired one’, as he was described in the Guardian TV guide, declared that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose votes. Can you still run for President of the US when standing trial for murder? Or would his argument – and I use the term as loosely as he does – be that he doesn’t know the bullet killed the person, maybe they were dead before he fired. He has defended his aide who has been charged with bruising a journalist who wanted to ask Trump a question – imagine going into journalism and finding yourself having to do that; no wonder they call it Grub Street – by saying he doesn’t know if the bruises were there before, and that surely if the journalist’s arm had been gripped so hard as to cause a bruise he’d have expected her to cry out.

When I broke my wrist I didn’t cry out. Did that mean it was a fracture I had overlooked, and been carelessly walking and riding around with, but only admitted to once I had done my brief Superwoman flight and crash landed on the road? Continue reading

A Week

I may have to stop MasterB listening to the news; he seems to be adopting statesmanlike poses. What shall I do if he starts to brush his fur into an Osborne?

The Statescat

The Statescat


I just listened to Stephanie Cole reading one of Penelope Lively’s short stories, Licence to Kill. It had all the hallmarks of classic Lively – a certain dry tone, economy of words, acute observation and insight into the human condition. I want to write to her to say how much I have enjoyed her writing over the last thirty years, but I don’t think she’s on Linked In, and even if she is, I’m not.

There are a few fan mail letters I need to write; thank-yous to people whose writing has informed, entertained and enthralled me all my adult life. Katharine Whitehorn’s Observer columns made me want to read the newspaper. Clive James TV columns in the same newspaper introduced me to literate, crafted reviews.

If anyone knows where I can send the thank-yous, please tell me.
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In It Together

Maybe it’s the optimism of spring, but the general election is looking a lot more interesting now than it did back in January.

Sunny Boy

Sunny Boy


The leaders of the three main parties still look and sound like Stepford Wives and could probably make a mint selling recordings of their speeches to cure insomnia. Well not David Cameron. At least not for me. He does bad things to my blood pressure.

Sal of Greece, aka Japonica Flowers here in wordpress Land, says that when the anti-austerity party was elected to government in her adopted country people started smiling aagin.

It’s a comment that has stayed with me. The speeches I have heard from the three main parties have each extolled their party’s virtues as being the best to govern, but they don’t exactly make your heart sing. UKIP is about the politics of fear, and could cause a surge in prescriptions for anti-depressants, and we keep being told that the NHS is pretty hard up right now.

Increasingly I find I am paying attention to groups of people who are not standing for parliament but who are working to achieve change in different parts of the country. People like Focus E15 who grew out of a protest when a local council tried to disperse single mothers from a Newham hostel to private rentals 100 miles away; people like the New Economic Foundation “Economics as though people and the planet matter”. At times it feels like the spirit of Greenham Common still lives. Continue reading

Whose Country?

There’s a debate on the television tonight. I may or may not watch it. Probably not.

It’s billed as the leaders’ debate. Seven people who lead parties standing for election next month. I anticipate it will be an event where each of these leaders have several carefully crafted lines that they will at all cost say. I doubt very much whether we will be treated to a thoughtful discussion about how our country is, the choices we might make.

I watched George Osborne on Channel 4 News the other night. The experience was bad for my health. If you don’t know who George Osborne is, congratulate yourself on having escaped exposure to a man I described on Twitter as an oleaginous git.

I am hoping Natalie Bennet will at least be unscripted. She was ridiculed some weeks ago when she admitted not knowing the answers the questions she was asked. I found it quite refreshingly honest. Most politicians ride roughshod over their questioners just bleating out the lines their spin doctors have coached them to say.

I saw another interview with someone last night. I don’t recall his name, but he was part of the business community who say we should vote Tory because that would be best for the country. I really wanted him to define what and who he means by country. For I had a very strong feeling his country is composed of a small percentage of the population who have most of the wealth.

The mantra of there are more people in jobs and more jobs is a mantra full of holes.

Zero hours contracts are great for those people because they never have to live on them. Ed Miliband wants those on zero hour contracts for three months to have those contracts converted to permanent ones. This is either fudging the issue or showing a belief in human nature that is touching but probably misled. It would be all to easy to tell the employees their services weren’t needed after ten weeks.
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