the brilliantly leaping gazelle

The fingeratti!

A few days ago, a book arrived for Marge entitled ‘A Portable Paradise.’ Which was ambitious, given as how it is a collection of poetry and my feeling regarding poetry mirror almost entirely my feelings about homeopathy. But the book isn’t what this post concerns itself with; instead my hackles were raised by one of the testimonials on the back cover, by Afua Hirsch, who claims that the poet is ‘the voice of our communal consciousness’. He may well be, but whether she is qualified to say that is another matter.

A look at her Wikipedia page tells us

Hirsch was educated at the private Wimbledon High School and then studied philosophy, politics, and economics at St Peter’s College, Oxford. After her graduation with a Bachelor of Arts degree, she took the Graduate Diploma in Law at the BPP Law School.

Private school and then Oxford and law school? Doesn’t sound to me like of kind of upbringing and education that would afford one to have the necessary lived experiences to then make the claim that someone is ‘the voice of our communal consciousness’. How can she possibly know what a ‘communal consciousness’ even is, if the formative years of her life were spent enduring the humiliating privilege denied to most people. Anyway, after law school,

(she) worked in international development, law and journalism. She began working as a lawyer in criminal defence, public and international law. She then became a legal correspondent for The Guardian.

 Ah yes ‘The Guardian’ which claims to be ‘the world’s leading liberal voice’ but is increasingly anything but. There is ample evidence for this, not least in its heavily one-sided coverage of the whole Brexit issue. Their much-vaunted ‘liberal voice’ was silent when it came to understanding the many reasons why people voted to leave, respecting their choice or supporting the government as it attempted to enact the will of the people.

She still works ‘the world’s leading liberal voice’ as a columnist, one of many the fingeratti who work for them – those who point the finger of blame at someone or something, seemingly finding endless reasons to somehow guilt their readers about this or that – and one of the reasons why I no longer read it.

So when she claims someone is ‘the voice of our communal consciousness’, what she in fact means is the rather absurd version of ‘liberal’ consciousness that exists only in the pages of ‘The Guardian’. Nowhere else. She doesn’t mean ‘communal’ in the sense that might imply a shared set of values that we believe in. For one thing, there are so many different tribes that there is no one ‘we’ anymore, not that there ever was. Secondly, an individual may identify with any number of different tribes, and these tribes may have conflicting and contradictory values from each other.

I don’t know what she means by ‘the voice of our communal consciousness’. I don’t think we have one. I think ‘The Guardian’ would like it if we did, as long it met with their approval and was constantly updated by them. The irony is that people even think a ‘communal consciousness’ is a desirable thing, and not some sort of totalitarian groupthink and not the least bit ‘liberal’

Normal serviceis resumed

Last night I was in the park with Marge, Joe and LMS having a birthday picnic, and being a balmy summers evening, lots of other people had the same idea. Lots of people in small groups, mostly couples, no groups of more than five, all situated a good distance from each other and best of all, no amplified music.

I was sitting there thinking ‘Ah, this is nice, after so long seeing people gathered together, but being sensible with it.’ And then suddenly the air was rent asunder by the sound of communal onansim, people clapping, cheering and generally making an infernal racket. My views on the whole clapping nonsense is not a secret, if people had wanted to show their support for the NHS, they should have voted Labour at every election. But that’s private, between you and the ballot box, whereas this clapping fuckwittery has the benefit of showcasing your concern, that you’re a nice person, that you care.

Only this morning I saw that Amazon are now selling Handmade Rainbows of Hope, to save people the hassle of making something themselves. I Immediately thought of the line in ‘Withnail & I’ ‘There selling hippy wigs in Woolworths’, both to indicate the way in which the commercial imperative will quickly see a money making opportunity in something that was seemingly impervious to it and to herald its end. If people can buy ready-made culture, like they do a pair of socks, then is it culture?

Amazon is generously donating 12% of the proceeds to various charities. That would be the Amazon, which avoids paying the tax it should pay in the UK, which could directly help the NHS. Instead of asking people to buy things with money they’ve already paid tax on and donating a pitiful amount of the profits, not the actual sales total. Paying a small percentage of a small percentage? How very Amazon!

See? Normal service has been resumed.

Happy Birthday Marge!

Today is Marge’s birthday, the something anniversary of her 21st birthday, and while I’m normally quite cynical about things, Marge’s birthday isn’t the day be so. As I’ve noted many times on this blog, most of my so called ‘friends’ upped sticks and vanished either soon after the accident or when they realized that I wasn’t going to make some kind of miraculous recovery so that things could return to how they were.

Marge could have done that. Course she could. And who could blame her? Not me. Her plate was quite full enough as it was. She didn’t need the added complications that my brain injury provided as well. Shortly after my brain injury we had to move house, a perfect opportunity for her decide, ‘Well I’ve done my bit, I’ve got to think of my own needs, what they are and might yet be, and so I wish you all the best, keep in touch and let me know how its all going’

But she didn’t. Instead she found a house nearby, with a downstairs room and a toilet that could be used a bedroom, the room that is, not the toilet. She has also been of incalculable help in helping to manage my care plan, something for which I’m not always as thankful as I should. But she always seems able to reframe my negativity into less of a negative, to see the potential in any given situation, to cajole using her own unique brand of encouragement, indeed she is imbued with such boundless optimism that it would make Pollyanna seem like a miserabilist.

One might think therefore, that in return for the countless kindnesses she bestows on me, I would perhaps be not as caustic about all the things I’ve just deleted. But I’m not. Quite why she hasn’t killed me yet is a testament to how forbearing and wonderful she is. Come to think of it, I can’t recall her ever having really gone off the deep end at me, shouty wise, in fact not even in the shallow end, even though I don’t doubt there’s a voodoo doll of me in her room full of needles.

I don’t do ‘Hallmark’ sentiment and don’t worry, I’m not going to start now, but she has come through for me in a way that is quite beyond mere words.

So Happy Birthday Marge!

Doris

Bit hot and bothered today. Actually very bothered today, but thats only to be expected, everyone is. This lockdown is exacerbating things and no mistake. The weather isn’t helping either. If it had just stayed the way it was two weeks ago, hot, but not unpleasantly so, then great. But it isn’t. Life sucks.

A bit of Doris Day helps though!

Feeling not posting too much today. Been in the garden most of the morning, busy doing nothing, and my partner is due over soon. So the Jew is due! I know, but I’m trapped inside the body of someone who looks like they should know better but doesn’t. Anyway, here’s ‘Another Day of Sun’ from the wonderful film ‘La La Land’ As I wrote a while back – I told you I was feeling lazy -,

From the spectacular opening musical number ‘Another Day Of Sun’   – expertly choreographed on a traffic jam on a Los Angles’ flyover and edited to look as if it was done in one take – it’s as if the film is saying to the audience ‘Sit back, strap on and enjoy the ride, because we’re going to entertain you.’ And unashamedly, it does just that. Rarely does a film deliver on the breathtaking potential that cinema can offer. Rarely does a film not only make you feel better for having seen it, but also have that feeling stay with you for days. The last film I saw that had a similar effect was ‘Strictly Ballroom’ where the audience burst into spontaneous applause at the end.

Thomas Dolby Remixed

In yesterdays post I claimed that LMS had stated that a nucleus weighed as much as eight billion cars. This is wrong and I am happy to put my washed thoroughly hands up to it. She said that a nucleus was as dense as if you crushed eight billion cars up and squashed them into an orange. I know this because Marge referenced my blog yesterday and LMS pointed out my mistake.

Except that squashing down eight billion cars so much so that they could fit into an orange makes as much sense to me as, well actually, now I think about it, something equally beyond the realm of understanding. If she had said that a nucleus was as densely packed as the 7.14 South Eastern train into Victoria multiplied by more than a thousand, I’d have been with her. I know how packed the rush hour trains are and using that as an example renders it within my knowledge of relatable comparisons. But millions or billions of cars being crushed so small they’d fit into an orange? Meaningless!

So it was with no little scepticism that followed LMS and Joe stating that there was a video on YouTube that explained this. Oh YouTube? You should’ve said so earlier! The YouTube that is full of scrupulously fact-checked videos, hosts no implausibly absurd conspiracy theories, immediately removes any offensive comment and has hours of cats who look like Hitler chasing balls of wool on slippery wooden floors? That one? According to LMS, this video had claimed that if you were God – we’ll skip that one – and looked down at the earth then a nucleus would be the same size as a blueberry on it. What’s all this fascination with fruit related comparisons?

Later last night Marge and I were discussing the benefit of knowing how something worked as opposed to knowing that it works and leaving it at that. Marge was of the opinion that humans being curious beings, want to know how things work. I wasn’t. It doesn’t benefit me to know; yes, at a dinner party or a similar opportunity to astound and amaze people with how much you know, it might come in handy there. But does your car save you petrol, give better fuel consumption, because you know how the internal combustion engine works?

For some reason, Leonardo ad Vinci became involved in all of this. I think it may have been me, me suggesting he’d claimed that a bumble-bee shouldn’t be able to fly, in defence of my assertion that I don’t need to know why an aeroplane flies, I just need to know that it does. Marge used him as an example of an incredibly curious mind being incredibly curious.

Mind you, he was in all probability independently wealthy, if he could twat about thinking about things rather than get up at 4am every morning to milk the cows like his poorer neighbours. I said that as he lived in olden times, when there wasn’t dogging, good quality drugs or the internet to occupy his leisure time, then what else was there for him to do?

This observation amused Joe greatly, as indeed did my assertion that knowing the how’s and why’s of how things worked was useless knowledge. Other people had figured out a way of putting together things that did things and that if you put enough of those things together, then a great thing would happen. I don’t need to double-check that they got the sums right and besides, not knowing how a bird flies, how a ship stays afloat or how solar energy capture works, to name but three things I don’t know, has not had a markedly detrimental impact on my life. I’d even go so far as to contend that knowing how these and other things work hasn’t had a massively beneficial impact for vast numbers of people either.

Things work or they don’t. End of.

Thomas Dolby

This’ll make you laugh. This morning LMS and I had a conversation whilst I was making us porridge that simply reaffirmed both our beliefs not only in the correctness of our opinions, but concern that the other was being deliberately annoying.

I was watching the porridge, stirring it occasionally lest it stick and LMS was watching me watching it when out of the blue she asked,

“Do you know how much a nucleus weighs?”*

“No,” I replied distractedly, “do you?”

“Yes, it weighs as much as if you crushed all the cars in the world”

“Really?”

“There are eight billion cars in the world and if you crushed them really really small they’d weigh the same a nucleus.”

“One car weighs an awful lot so I can’t even imagine how many a billion weighs. How do you know this?”

A look of patient indulgence greeted this one.

“Because scientists proved it. They looked inside a nucleus-“

“No, what I mean is, how do you know this”

“Because scientists-“

“No, no, no, you misunderstand me, why do you believe it to be true? A nucleus is invisible to the naked eye. They could say whatever they liked actually. Who could prove them wrong?”

“Because scientists proved it”

“ Says who? Other than scientists?”

And here we have the great conundrum of science. Provability. The amount of times I’ve heard on the news that scientists have discovered this or found that and thought ‘That’s unverifiable, no-one with an active social life is going to check that.’

And I thought back to a few weeks ago, when Joe was patiently explaining how a light bulb works, for LMS’s homework about filaments and currents in great detail. And being the sort of adult who should never be responsible for teaching a child anything, I thought when her teacher asked how a light bulb worked, she could reply, “I don’t know. Do I need to know? I just flick a switch and it does.” Or “I think it’s all thanks to magic, actually. This whole electricity thing just nonsense.”

Back to this morning. Sensing that I didn’t believe her she fixed me with a look of sorrowful exasperation and said, “Well you can have your opinions, I’ll have the truth”

*It turns out if a nucleus was the same size as an orange, it would weigh the same as eight billion cars. According to Joe, who got it from scientists. So it must be true. Hang was it eight billion or eight million? And was it an orange? Maybe a large satsuma…..

“This never happened to the other fella”

Last night I had a ‘Billy Liar’ moment.

For those of you who haven’t seen the classic British film ‘Billy Liar’ – and you really need to take a long hard look at yourselves if you haven’t – Billy is a fantasist who yearns to escape the drab northern town where he lives with parents to seek fame and fortune in London.

Anyway, at one point in the film Billy is outlining his plans to his parents during breakfast, who in a 1950’s provincial way, pour scorn on his ambition. Billy retreats into his fantasy world, where imagines machine gunning them to death over their boiled eggs and toast. I know how he feels. In my mind, I’ve committed the most unspeakably heinous crimes countless times throughout my life. Last night being case a case in point, one where I imagined all manner of gruesome ways to put others out of my misery. That isn’t my line. That belongs to Hugo Drax in ‘Moonraker, one of Roger Moore’s woeful Bond films.

In fact all of Moore’s outings Bond were embarrassing. It was nearly as difficult to imagine him as a hard man who could handle himself, as it was to imagine as him as hard man that ladies would want to handle. What? If you think that was bad, I’ve got some pure filth cuming soon.

Although Moore didn’t have much to beat in Connery, to be fair. As someone who has read all the books, and once as a 14-year-old boy went to a Bond convention, I think I know what I’m talking about here. Actually, come to mention it, the Bond in the books is as different to the Bond in the Connery/Moore/Dalton/Brosnan films as to be an entirely different character. The Bond in the books is a bit of a sadist, a bit unsure of himself, there are hardly any gadgets – other than those you’d expect a spy to have – so no invisible cars and he is far from the walking S.T.D he is in the films. In the books, if memory serves, he only beds fourteen women and marries one, who is then murdered.

In fact, the book ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ was only published after Fleming’s death, written as it was, from the woman’s point of view. For some reason, the heroine finds herself in a motel and is being terrorised by some mafia types. Bond, by chance, is staying there, learns of this and does what Bond does. After all, what good is a licence to kill if you don’t kill anyone? Fleming was conflicted by this departure from the norm and fearful of the public’s reaction, stipulated publication posthumously.

Until Daniel Craig rescued the films from disappearing up their own Q branch, the best Bond film was by quite a wide margin the superb ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.’ Quite faithful to the book – by then the films were only using book title and characters names and making the plot up -, having an actor who looked the part, fantastic action sequences – a simply amazing ski chase – a fantastic Tracey, who Bond marries – and, lets face it who wouldn’t marry Diana Rigg? A heartbreak of an ending, and by far, the best score of any Bond film ever. Takes the one from the dismal ‘Spectre’ outside and pisses all over it.

My theory is that after a really good Craig Bond, there follows a really bad one. After ‘Casino Royale’ – again, faithful to the book – there followed the eminently forgettable ‘Quantum Of Solace. And after excellent ‘Skyfall’ the execrable ‘Spectre’

Sorry but I can never resist a stroll down Tangent Street. and besides. it bothers me, the people think the Bond in the books is the quip loving, bed hopping, stuffed shirt he was in most of the films. Always has.

Anyway.

Back to last night.

After various homicidal imaginings, I repaired to my room, where I decided that perhaps getting pissed up on beer wasn’t the most sensible thing to do, given the mood I was in. I then wisely fell asleep. Unwisely, I woke up at about 1am, and even more unwisely, decided to use my exercise bike. Not that using the bike is a bad thing, but more that exiting my room into the kitchen my eyes fell upon an open box with some of that evenings fish and chips on the cooker. Yes that would be the kitchen with the mice. Just inviting the mice to have their fill. Remember that filth I mentioned earlier. Here it cums. I looked at the open box and it put me in mind of a cottage – not one with a white picket fence – and someone waiting with their mouth open by a glory hole.

Obviously.

There’s a fourth wall break at the end of the ‘OHMSS’ pre-credit sequence which accurately sums up how I feel about myself some of the time. I think of me as two distinct personages; pre-brain injury me and post-brain injury me. The story I tell myself is that whilst I wasn’t happy all the tine, I certainly wasn’t as unhappy all the time.

It doesn’t add up.

This lockdown, this self-isolation or whatever one chooses to call it, reminds me of the ‘restore factory settings’ on my ‘phone, inasmuch as one is stripped of the usual daily social interactions that make up the day, and if one lives with someone, has to spend a large proportion of your waking hours with them. And that being the case, might people realise that time isn’t what it seems, it is, in fact less, much less time than it seems and rethink their relationship? To re-configure their work/life balance to achieve a more harmonious situation than the one this lockdown has forced them to accept the reality of.

Bear with me here.

Lets take an average couple. Lets call them Janet and John. Lets give them both jobs. Lets assume they live together. Now, lets have them sleeping for 8 hours a day – the lightweights -, working for 8 hours, travelling to and from work takes up 2 hours – longer if they commute into London or use public transport in London, 2 hours for cooking, that’s 20 hours out of a 24 hour day. Some people have less depending on how much of a workaholic they are, how much sleep they can get away with or how little they cook.

But let’s be kind and allow them six hours a day exclusively – meaning not doing anything else – in each others company. Into those six hours, they have to cram in socialising, hobbies, watching TV and having sex. Not all at the same time, but hang on; they might be sneaky, and combine watching TV with cooking, perhaps having sex is a hobby of theirs. Furthermore, lets assume they’ve lived together for 6 years. Well 6 years on paper. (So unlikely that having sex is a thing they do together anymore.) But if my calculations are correct and the average couple spends around 6 hours a day together, multiply that by 5 and then again by 52,  we get 1664.

I’ll give them back the 16 hours they would’ve spent working at the weekend because I’m not totally heartless, and I’ll assume that after a weeks work they’ll want to make the most of their precious freedom I’ll give them 2 hours back for lie-ins, and while I’m about it, another 4 hours back for whatever things Janet and John enjoy doing at the weekend. Keeping fit. DIYing. Gong to pubs and getting pissed, going to clubs and getting shit-faced, going to festivals and getting henna tatoos. Although not doing each other! After 6 years, it’s a birthday treat only.  Maybe.

So on an average weekend the average couple spend 34 hours together; that’s 1768 hours a year. If we add the 6 hours a day we’ve already established they have each weekday, which amounts to 1664 hours per year and if we add that all up, 1664 +1768 we have a grand total of 3432 hours a year. And if we divide that by 24, we get 143.

So six years on paper, whilst sounding great and everything, is only a year of 143 days and not of 365 when you think about it. OK. Yes I’ll grant you, sleep is a constant, so I could give them those 8 hours a day back, but as those hours represent time not actively doing things together, they can be ignored. So 858 days = 6 years for Janet and John, not 2190 days.

Of course I’m not counting holidays here, and holidays are exceptional, holidays away from home together I mean, exceptional because everything is unfamiliar and waiting to be discovered. Because holidays are a break from the routine and by dint of that fact, free from the tyranny of work – but safe in the knowledge its not going to be an ongoing state of affairs, but rather a very temporary circumstance – they can enjoy each others company.

This state of affairs, the one the lockdown presents us with I mean, is uncharted territory for all of us, with a high probability of accidents – or accidents that look like accidents but aren’t for some – given as how I think that how the average couple spends 143 days a year in each others company.

Because people are not used to spending so much time together, suddenly having to out of enforced necessity might cause them to reflect of exactly how much they like their partner. How possibly the pleasure of spending so much time with them, to just be and enjoy each others company might instead reveal a deeper truth, one that the mundane reality of day to day living has obscured? That far from being a pleasure, it’s a pain, and a pain moreover that’ll be dealt with as soon as the lockdown is over.

I, of course, am excluded from such calculations, being as how I am exceedingly good company, a source of joy to those fortunate enough to know me and utterly beyond reproach all times. Just thought I needed to add that.

Cynicism

 

Because maybe I’m wired up wrong but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact I’m brain damaged. I’ve always been a cynical bastard and besides, why stop now when there’s just so much to be cynical about.

Such as this, from the BBC today as part one of its ‘live coronavirus updates’,

The UN says the pandemic has caused widespread psychological distress worldwide

and I thought ‘You managed to work that all out on your own? Really? That enforced isolation, the sudden suspension of normal social inter-actions and the constant sense of anxiety that a cough or sneeze might be the harbinger of your death, you mean those have? What next? Eating nothing but chips, fried food, cream cakes and fizzy drinks might lead to obesity and a heart attack?’

It was followed up by this equally fatuous piece of nonsense,

It calls on all countries to make mental health support a key part of their virus response

Mmm. A call that will be lost among all the other calls to do this and that, given that tax revenues will have taken a massive hit and that mental health has always been seen as the ‘Cinderella’ service, certainly as far as NHS spending on it is concerned.

Oops, I wrote too soon, because what do we find as their next astounding revelation, this

The virus “may never go away”, even with a vaccine, the WHO has warned

you mean that despite the fact that there isn’t being even a cure for the common cold, despite the unlikeliness of a vaccine and the gradual adjustment in behaviours this will invariably necessitate and despite the global financial shitstorm?

No wonder these guys get the big bucks?

And just to make my day, but not a ‘Dirty Harry’ way,

Globally, the number of people confirmed to have died with Covid-19 is nearing 300,000

Anyone familiar with my blog will know how I’m going to respond to this. 300,000 deaths? Is that all? The global population is nearly 7 billion, so 300,000 isn’t even ½ of a 1% of that. A big number to be sure, but dwarfed by a much bigger one. Even 300 million is less than 45 of the global total.

For a global killer, it certainly isn’t doing that much killing. Early days though.