Greetings from Plague Island

Mon 4 – Sun 10 Jan 2021

Apparently a newspaper in the USA has referred to the UK as ‘Plague Island’ and it’s a pretty good description of where we are. Particularly, alas, in London. Across the UK (primarily England), well over 1,000 people dying and up to 70,000 newly diagnosed each day.

The curse of British Exceptionalism

This curse means that we focus on good news around the vaccines and ignore the fact that they way we have dealt with this plague has been amongst the worst in the world. Sure we can look to America to think how awful and even worse it is there. 🙁

But success comes measuring yourself against the best and living up to that level. Not comparing yourself to disaster areas. The riots and deaths in America showed the shortcomings of Trump’s government. The failure here in terms of Covid shows those of Johnson’s government.

Consider the amount spent on Track and Trace. All that money pissed up the wall for a service that should have halted the virus wherever it broke out. I still think there is more than coincidence that Eat Out to Help Out coincided with the start of the second wave. And SAGE said lockdown in Sept as soon as things started getting worse, Johnson said ‘no’.

Meanwhile, on Plague Island we celebrate ‘Global Britain’. What that means is we can revel in our history like a pig in muck – when are we going to accept how evil the British Empire was? And the new Brexit rules start with trade disruption and reduced freedom to go out into the world to live, study, work, and retire. 🙁

Colonial mentality

Living through plagues is actually normal

A pandemic has been one of the main risks identified for modern life. And yet we thought it would never happen and it seems a huge shock. But the truth is that disease is present throughout human history. Various plagues have wiped out masses of people. And they still do. In other part of the world death via malaria and even diarrhoea are common place.

Bio-hazard symbol

And in our lifetimes there have been flu, Ebola, SARS, Zika, CJD, and others. I remember well those who suffered and died when AIDS arrived. Now HIV is my own plague I live with. We have ignored these plagues because they didn’t become pandemics or treatments have been identified.

Clearly things will be different once this is all over. How easy will people go back to packed commuter trains, handshakes, and hugging? Perhaps one of the good things that may come out of Covid is that we will be more aware of potential future dangers and act accordingly. Perhaps we will also have more time for those suffering elsewhere…

The personal development continues that has been key to my life post-redundancy. Still pushing on with my European language learning. And also dipping into exercises to improve my digital skills.

And I continue with my search for work and a new income source. I’m really not seeing anything particularly desirable. Indeed, many of the posts I am seeing are for someone to come into a charity like a magician and charm new money out of thin air. I’m not in the game of telling people what they want to hear if it’s impossible. Honesty is one of my key features for better or worse.

What I am thinking about is if now is the right time for real change? Perhaps this is the time for me to strike out and set up my own business. And this might even be in areas that I’ve not traditionally been involved with. The future may be a business or social business rather than the charity sector I am so used to. Perhaps it’s even time to leave Plague Island or do something with international connections. 🙂

It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.

Mark Fisher

Jog-runs

lady going for jog-run in cold weather

Just two slow jog-runs done last week – which was what I planned. 🙂 It’s winter on Plague Island and bloody cold. This makes it harder to do exercise. But it’s OK if you wrap up in 3 layers top and bottom.

First jog-run was on Wed. Had been a few days since my previous run and twas not a bad day considering this time of year. Partly explains why I went a bit too fast. Plus also the euphoria of hitting 3 km through my gradual increase in distance each week. Thankfully didn’t aggravate my knees though. 🙂

Second jog-run was on Fri. Only a one day space to recover but I knew I would be doing a long walk on Sun so had to be done. A nice slow jog-run that felt energising and relaxing – really nice! Though strange that my knee felt more aggravated than after Wed’s run. Gave me some jip when I was sleeping at night. Perhaps an insufficient rest gap between the two jog-runs?

Walks and internet sessions

Some big long walks – what else is there to do whilst we are in lockdown and allowed out once per day but not to be in contact anyone? And some internet exercise sessions done using guidance from Bloom Young. They are pretty low level but nice 20 minute sessions. Suspect Joe Wicks stuff is just as good.

Weight

overweight black and white cat

Good news in that I have stayed at 13 stone, 5 & a half pounds. 🙂 I have a suspicion this may be my new plateau weight after my recent losses. And to get on a downward trend again may take some real dieting effort – deliberate periods of being hungry. Oh well, we shall see.

Details on jog-runs and weight here.

INR

Ongoing maintenance of my chronic health condition whereby I am liable to develop blood clots on my lungs. So last Mon was back to the GP for my INR test. Good result – just right between being prone to clots and being prone to internal bleeding. 🙂

Books and reading: ‘Days Without End’ by Sebastian Barry

A book I’ve been meaning to read for ages. It’s one we read for the Velvet Page book club months ago. But for some reason I never read it then – pretty sure I didn’t attend that meeting either. Barry is a very good writer and certainly not a gay writer but this is clearly a queer novel.

It’s the story of two American soldiers in the mid-nineteenth century who are in a relationship. The book is written in the first person by one of the two men and reflects the way he would have understood his society. One of the soldiers sometimes dresses as a woman and I suppose that plays to how repressed gay men strove to identify themselves in the past. The soldiers are involved in the wars against the native Americans and the civil war. They also ‘adopt’ a native American girl to become a ‘family’.

LGBT rainbow flag

It’s a quite surreal book. Stretching from gender identity and gay families to the horrors of war and the injustices done to the native Americans. Not always the easiest read and I would have liked more character development but still very good.

Books and reading: ‘Beneath the Streets’ by Adam MacQueen

So I finished the Barry book last week and this one. Again, one I had heard a lot about and been meaning to read for awhile. Also another book about queerdom. 🙂 Not a literary great but still a very enjoyable novel.

Set in the mid-70s where Jeremy Thorpe never went on trial for the attempted murder of Normal Scott but the latter had actually been killed off. A rent boy comes across evidence of other rent boys being killed and investigates. It leads onto a look at the rotten heart of the British establishment.

Perhaps a bit silly in the way various famous people are drafted in. But it’s also a telling story of the rottenness of so many politicians and other establishment figures. Their belief that the end always justifies the means. And we all now know more about the paedophile networks, sexual abuse, and corruption that do in fact filter throughout society’s echelons. 🙁

Details on all the books I have read here.

Velvet Page

Meeting last Thurs and I missed it. 🙁 Hadn’t read the book and just simply forgot about it happening. The Covid plague sometimes plays havoc with my memory and routines. As an example, I’ve previously said how my sleep patterns have changed. Though at least I can sleep full and deep at night without needing snoozes during the day. Hopefully I will take part in the Feb meeting,

Friends: Phyllis

Spanish flag

Great to have my weekly catch-up with Philip in Andalucia. Unseasonably cold there (thick snow in Madrid). But his move to Torremolinos has gone well. They are still affected by Covid but not as bad as us. Remember how we used to look at the Spanish situation and think how awful it was? Now we live in our own far worse situation. 🙁

Friends: Irene

Lovely to have a catch-up with my old Comic Relief colleague. So much fun just to chew the cud and find out what each is up to. Also to bounce around ideas for the future. Fascinating that Irene and her family are entranced like so many by ‘Bridgerton’ on Netflix. Included in this is my partner Dave who absolutely loves it.

Family: The mums

Both mine and Dave’s mum are still dealing with the Covid plague but thankfully are well. They are bored with lockdown but then who isn’t? When we talk, they give us updates on the health of relatives and friends to say if any have become ill. They are also both consulting with anyone as old or older than them to check if they have heard about getting the vaccine.

Frugal living: the Circular Economy

Two blue hands shaking

As I wrote last week (you can read the blog here), I continue to keep my spending as minimal as possible. And I am still flogging things I don’t need on the internet. It feels good to offload stuff and perhaps others will use these things more than me.

I actually enjoy selling – lots of people don’t. It’s easy if you believe in what you are flogging. And I think I’ve got a good eye for what does or doesn’t sell. Perhaps this can help me in my plans to set up a business. 🙂

Sustainability: Plants

As I’ve written before, living through the Covid plague has given me a heightened interest in looking after mine and Dave’s plants. I think we’ve all got a greater connection with nature over the last plague year. Bit of a disaster this week in that I lost two of my succulents. 🙁 And yet one has done amazing and I can’t remember us ever watering it since we first got it.

Spider plant

And Dave’s balconies look so forlorn. Winter is dreary – even the luxuriant outside spider plants look like they’re roughing it. 🙁 The days are supposed to be getting longer but it doesn’t feel like that. The plants are just trying to survive so they can bloom again in the future. Pretty much how we all are at the moment. 🙂

Film: ‘A Year Without Love’

As per usual for everyone, my art and culture currently primarily comes via a screen. I suppose the only other options are what I read and what I listen to. For the latter, I have particularly been listening to Bowie and Bowie inspired playlists in memory of 5 years since his untimely death – he would be 74 now. Basically the world has deteriorated since Bowie died – coincidence….? 🙁

Meanwhile I continue to enjoy my daily diet of soaps though ‘Doctors’ hasn’t begun again post-Christmas. 🙁 Plus I enjoy the cream of daytime TV. Last week we had new series of ‘Dickinson’s Real Deal’, ‘Place in the Sun’, and ‘New Life in the Sun’.

I also caught up with the film ‘A Year Without Love’. Set in Buenos Aires in the mid-nineties, it follows the life of man with AIDS. His life is pretty shit and he finds some release through being the masochist in SM relationships. It’s grim and shows how so many people try to find meaning to life in various ways. A modern day example is those who believe in QAnon and Anti-Vax. But the portrayal and reminder of nineties gay life and attitudes was pleasing to me.

The Week Ahead

  • The plague carries on and so do we 🙂
  • Need to carry on thinking about my options for future employment
  • My personal development ‘hobby’ will go on – language learning and tech skills
  • Aim to have a bit of a Dr Who week: read a Dr Who book, watch some old episodes online, and listen to some Big Finish adventures as I’m walking
  • Again, for exercise target = 2 slow jog-runs, some long walks, and some internet exercise sessions.
  • Weight target = stay at 13 stone 5 & a half pounds
  • Will continue to catch up on some good films
  • Phyllis on Wed and must arrange some more catch-ups with other mates as well
  • Sell some more stuff online

And Finally…

Black Lives Matter

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