the brilliantly leaping gazelle

Ruffians!

The self-isolating precaution that we are collectively taking as a household will invariably require certain sacrifices to be made, some temporary curtailment of the norms of everyday life, things we take for granted, for the common good.

I must practice saying that in a sincere voice, because this is only Day One and given enough time and with enough practice I might get the hang of it.

Until then, however…

I was out for a stroll yesterday, being as how the sun was out and I wanted to make the most of it. But, as is so often the case, what should’ve been a pleasant experience, wasn’t, because of other people. Whenever I approached anyone, they’d swerve to avoid me. Not in a subtle way either.

No.

What annoyed me was when they would start to swerve some distance away from, to make a point of being seen to do it so I could see them do it, and then continue to swerve lest I tried to jump them. If I could, believe me I would. This got me thinking.

Does anyone know with any degree of certainty 2m, is? I mean we know that it’s 120cm, but not in a practical application of it. We have no idea. I definately don’t and the people that annoyed me so yesterday certainly didn’t. So the government’s health advice about keeping 2m away from people is as meaningless as Boris’s Johnson wedding vows.

This got me thinking. If no-one is sure what exactly 2m is, then there is a gap in the market, which needs to be filled very soon if social distancing is going to stand the slightest chance of success.

The answer? Ruffs. Lie the one’s the Elizabethan’s used to wear only bigger. Much bigger. Huge, fuck off ruffs. They’d just slip over your head, be exactly 2m in diameter, with your head being the axis. If they came in a variety of colours, a flash mob of people wearing them would like a cross between ‘The Umberella’s of Cherbourg’ and a Busby Berkley number.

Face masks. Another gap in the market right there! This morning my housemates popped out to the shops wearing them and was I  thinking ‘What a sensible and prudent thing to do’? Hazard a wild guess. What I was thinking was ‘If you just drew on some vertical lines where the mouth is, you could look like Hannibal Lector’. Remember that scene in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ when he’s all trussed up in large chair with a straitjacket, restraints and everything? Like that. Being a demented wrongcock, I naturally thought that if you bought a hockey mask, with a few modifications it could be worn as a face mask and you’d look like the killer in either ‘Halloween’ or ‘Friday 13th

Those horror films being as inditinguishable from each other as the days news is. Not that I see or hear much of it, you understand but I get the gloomy headlines from those who d

When you’re in a hole stop digging?

Last night my partner drove me back to Camberwell from Stoke Newington, so that I could be at my house in order to allow our house’s collective decision to take place. To do this, we had to drive from North to South London. I mention this only because my partner and I are unusual, she more than me I’d say – a lot more than me actually – but in this instance because we were born here. We’ve lived here all our lives so therefore the sight of a deserted London on a Saturday night– hardly any cars meaning green lights all the way – made London feel both eerily empty and at the same time kind of how we both remembered it as children. Less busy, easier to drive through…just less.

 

Driving past a deserted Trafalgar Square triggered youthful memories of schlepping down to it after a night of clubbing – well hardly, as clubs would close at 3am in olden times – to get a night bus home. They’d be swarms of people, like small rivers that would form larger ones, all heading for the same place. Because you wanted to get on one – something that had a different meaning for clubbers years later – ideally get a seat but more likely to end standing with your nose in someone’s armpit, as they’d be invariably packed so tight that drivers wouldn’t let half as many people on now. But what with there being only one every hour, a stampede would ensue the moment the doors to the bus opened. Getting onto a night bus was nearly as difficult as getting into ‘The Wag Club”

 

But they are now memories, like the memory of on one building on the square shining a light onto the South African embassy on the other side of the square, of a swastika.

 

Apartheid, in case you’re wondering why.

 

Anyway, enough reminiscing. I’m let you know that there’s been an isolated incident of foot and mouth disease, involving me putting both my feet into my mouth. It happened last night, after I was safely in sunny Camberwell and had called my partner for a chat. Ah, how nice, you might think, but read on. We were chatting away quite merrily when she referenced my fears of a Berlin Wall type sudden lockdown of London in a mocking way. Affronted by this, I suggested that by closing the bridges over the Thames the government could effectively cut London in two. Hah! I thought, only for her to come back with “Oh, is that why you wanted to get back, in case you were stranded in North London?” leading me to reply without thinking “No, because all my music is there.” You know the feeling of instant regret you have when you’ve said something you shouldn’t? I had that and she pounced on my comment as if she was a shopper and it was the last toilet roll in the world.

 

Cue caustic barbs about it being good to know where my priorities were, pointed remarks about not caring, the sort of thing anyone would say after hearing that.

 

You might’ve thought I’d have stopped there. But no, foolishly, I thought I can still salvage this, but if there was a right combination of words to effect this, they were not, unfortunately, the ones I used. Firstly, I claimed that she was twisting my words – this got a snort of derision – but then “Well it’s not just that, there’s a huge garden here as well.” Then I stopped digging. But it was too late. If I though the previous amount of righteous indignation had been bad, it was as nothing when compared to the response these words elicited.

 

One of the worst things she said was that while me saying this sort of thing was ‘shocking’, it wasn’t ‘unexpected’. And as disapproving teachers and parents have done to me all my life, I was invited to think about what I’d said, and to tell her today why they were wrong.

 

But to me they weren’t wrong. Ill judged, tactless, selfish, and other words that mean the same thing, yes. Putting things ahead of her might be construed as crass and insensitive. Might? Would it have been better had I not said them? Undoubtedly! But were they wrong?

 

This digging malarkey is ruining my clothes. I should stop.

Mea Culpa!

O.K, I’ll put my hands up to it – after I’ve washed them of course – that I may have been guilty of not taking this coronavirus thing as seriously as I might have. Watching the BBC News last night was both sobering and alarming and not just because I hardly ever watch television news, but more that I’ve been consciously avoiding all news since the start of the year, so was wholly unprepared for the entirety of the news to be given over to coronavirus. There were reporters reporting from squares that would normally have been packed on a Friday night, but because of the shutdown were empty. One reporter gave her piece live to camera as the lights in the bar behind her were switched off and plunged the background into darkness. It could’ve been an ominous portent of things to come, had not some maverick genius wearing one of those ‘anonymous’ masks goofed about and made obscene gestures behind her.

Well it made me laugh.

What didn’t make me laugh however was a reporter standing in a deserted Leicester Square reporting something we cold see with our own eyes. The news a reiterated the latest government prediction that 2% of adults under 50 would require hospitalization and that 45% of people of 80 would require hospitalization. Am I alone in thinking this makes no sense whatsoever? We are frequently told that the NHS is woefully underfunded and is close to breaking point. So, at the risk of sounding a completely cold and heartless bastard, what exactly is there to be gained by frittering away money on expensive medical interventions on the old, as the amount by which their life will be extended, frankly isn’t worth the money? And before you bleat on about how you can’t put a price on a life, well here’s some bad news; you can.

Governments do it all the time, most pertinently when assessing which drugs to approve for the NHS to prescribe by working out how long it will extend someone’s life by, the cost of prescribing that to an individual, and calculating how much the total cost will be to the NHS, to help come up with a cost benefit analysis to determine if it represents good value for money.

The problem is that people are reductive – they tend to see things only as they apply to themselves’ and those dearest to them – and tend to have only a fleeting regard for other people. I’d invite you to look at supermarket shelves before peeling an onion.

Consider this; that whilst have been around 11,000 reported world wide deaths from Coronavirus, roughly 4,000 people a day die of malaria.

“They really haven’t thought this through have they?” (pt. 2)

The news that the government has suggested that measures in place to combat the Coronavirus could last for up to a year carries with it some unforeseen consequences. The main one that occurs to me is – as you’ll know if you’ve read my posts – that enforced proximity to ones family for any prolonged amount of time might lead to households more reminiscent of a remake of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ directed by Hieronymous Bosch!

Far more likely however than numerous blood-drenched crime scenes is the health crisis that could inevitably ensue when lots of people are cooped up indoor’s with nothing to do but to eat. And given we have an obesity epidemic in this country, this is only going to make matters worse. But I did write ‘could’ because if anything we are to be grateful that the shelves in the supermarket are empty and there is nothing to buy.Hang on, that means that if there is no food to buy in the supermarkets people and therefore no food, people will still be hungry and that hunger will only intensify the longer it lasts. People desperate for food might consider, as a last resort, another meat source with the inevitable result that people resort to cannibalism! You may scoff at this idea but everything it seems is on the table at this point and when nothing has been on the table for a long time, you might scoff anything

I

 

I’ve just a truly weird experience.

Driving back from Camberwell to my partners gaff in Stoke Newington on a Friday night normally takes nearly an hour and a half, sometimes longer if the traffic is really bad. But tonight? Well under an hour. The roads had some traffic but nowhere like the usual amount, and I’ve seen more people out and about on a Tuesday at 2 a.m. than I saw tonight. You know the phrase ‘the lights were on but no-one was at home’, it was like that. The shops, bars and some restaurants were open but no-one was in them.

Fatuous nonsense.

This afternoon I heard the most fatuous nonsense I’ve heard in ages, when the newsreader on R4’s ‘The World at One’ said that this was ‘an unprecedented week in our nations history.’ I may be missing something here, but aren’t all weeks that have ever happened unprecedented, or are there lots of weeks held in reserve for when other weeks can’t be bothered, have something more pressing to deal with or just fancy a break? Weeks where nothing much happens and so can easily be switched without anybody noticing. How have I missed this?

If I could swap weeks, I’d swap the week I had my accident for the final week of June 2001. Pet Shop Boys made their debut at Glastonbury on the Saturday and later that same night Orbital played. Or any of the weeks in March 2004, when I was in Australia, where I spent one week on Rottnest Island snorkelling and three glorious weeks in Ningaloo snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef.

I’d have those weeks, the ones in Australia, as an annual swap. I’d more than happily do without any month between now and then to relive that one again.

But life isn’t the sweet counter at Woolworth’s, it isn’t a pick and mix. It sucks cocks in hell.

Here is Orbital’s performance of ‘The Girl With The Sun In Her Head’ at Glastonbury 2001 for you to enjoy.

When exactly does irrational become rational?

This morning I woke up at 6 am with a feeling of, well it wasn’t exactly foreboding, wasn’t exactly unease either, but more a feeling that was kind of like a strange and unsettling mixture of the two but wasn’t, if that makes sense. It has stayed with me throughout the day but has thankfully abated somewhat, rather like how a really vividly disturbing nightmare gradually fades from your consciousness, but still leaves you feeling uneasy.

One of the things that troubles me is this, something that has long bothered me but current events have brought to the fore. Namely if people are acting irrationally, at what point does irrationality become the norm, at what point does what was considered rational suddenly become irrational?

Then I thought an impending lockdown of London, what with it being by far and away home to the most amount of coronavirus cases and all – and my borough having the single biggest cases in London for good measure. I pooh-poohed the idea as being nothing more than the effects of continued exposure to housemates who read the news – or so I thought. Then I opened up my computer and BBC news is my homepage, saw this:

There is “zero prospect of any restrictions being placed on travelling in and out of London”, the UK government has said.

A spokesperson said there were also “no plans to use military personnel for public order during the coronavirus pandemic”.

Asked to comment on the suggestion only one person would be allowed to leave a house at a time, Downing Street said this was “not true”, according to BBC political correspondent Chris Mason.

It comes after speculation London could face a lockdown by the weekend.

Which of course had the very opposite effect. You know when a government minister is embroiled in some scandal or other, and the PM says they have every confidence in them and enjoys their full support, you know then they’ll be taking a long walk off a short pier. Or when there’s leadership speculation and someone says ‘I have no plans at the present time’, ‘There is no vacancy and the PM has my full support’ and you know, because you’ve heard the same lie again and again, that ‘full support’ in this context means the exact opposite.

Same thing here.

I’m sure there’s a name for it, a denial of something that makes it the thing much more likely. I mean, yes, I’d thought of a lockdown, but the idea that were definitely ’ no plans to use military personnel for public order’ was a bit of a shock, although not as much of a shock as Asked to comment on the suggestion only one person would be allowed to leave a house at a time, Downing Street said this was “not true”,

I think of the Berlin Wall that divided Soviet controlled East Berlin, from the democratic West Berlin. How a ring of barbed wire fences patrolled by armed guards with dogs sprang up overnight without any warning, until a proper wall could be built. Those unfortunate to have been just visiting relatives or friends were stuck on whatever side they woke up on. For nearly over two decades.

The impossible can never happen, until it does, and given the times in which we find ourselves, when does irrationality become rational? As I’m fond of saying ‘Anyone can be wise after the event, the trick is to be wise before the event’

Suffer little children..

The news goes from bad to worse, with the announcement of schools being closed from Friday, for two weeks initially, but in all probability longer. Much longer.

The powers that be clearly haven’t though this through, either that or their experience of being a parent was to let a nanny do all the work, leaving them free to do grown up things and have minimal unscheduled interaction with their children. Unless if it was strictly necessary or an emergency. Why am I thinking about Jacob Rees-Mogg?

This plus the Easter Holidays equals multiple mass murders across the country. I’m talking triple figures here. You think the deaths caused by the coronavirus are bad? Wait till the deaths caused the school closure start to mount? That’ll be loss of life on a biblical scale. Not just numbers of deaths, but the sheer depravity of the way they were killed. Holed up 24hrs a day, driving each other increasingly mad, with no food and less respite?Think ofa remake of ‘The Texas Chainshaw Massacre’ directed by Hieronymus Bosch. Think of the Old Testament. You get the idea.

Which leads me neatly on to an incident today whereby I had such an unexpectedly sudden thought out of nowhere I made an involuntarily loud noise, such that my friend remarked on it. ‘It’s just me being misanthropic.’ I explained. For some reason, self isolating made me think of an anchorite who Wikipedia describe as.

someone who, for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society so as to be able to lead an intensely prayer-oriented, ascetic, or Eucharist-focused life. Whilst anchorites are frequently considered to be a type of religious hermit,[5] unlike hermits they were required to take a vow of stability of place, opting for permanent enclosure in cells often attached to churches. Also unlike hermits, anchorites were subject to a religious rite of consecration that closely resembled the funeral rite, following which they would be considered dead to the world, a type of living saint.

This was popular in 13th -16th Century Europe. Time for a return?

Every little helps…

The news today that many supermarkets will have reserved early morning slots for elderly or disabled customers, in order to ensure the shelves haven’t been emptied by people panic buying is a good thing. I hope all supermarket chains adopt this fair principle and apply it to every day. In no way is there any hint of self interest in this. Perish the thought! I have not though of placing an advert online pimping myself out at £20 or £30 a time, although obviously, having grown up in Thatcher’s Britain, I well understand if the demand for something grows and that things is rationed, the cost of getting that thing will increase. Nor have I checked to see how many supermarkets are near me and if some have different designated slots available well, I could easily make £60 a day cash in hand! The cost might rise for the same basic service, but I’ll refuse to do extra’s. Absolutely. No way.

I might consider a block booking though, if a family want exclusivity so they can have me seven days a week, well that’ll cost ‘em. It’s a sellers market if they want to get to the supermarket.

Hang on! What about a women of a certain age who because of years of beauty creams and such, no longer look it? Will one need a passport to prove how old they are? And how disabled will you have to be? And how do you prove it? And to whom? And would it be like a nightclub, you know, where they stamp your back of your hand so you can get back in, so you can’t visit more than one a day?

Callous or logical…or both?

As will come as a surprise to absolutely no-one familiar the writings my blog, I do not value the survival of our species as much as other people seem to do. The hysteria and doom mongering that has characterized the response Coronavirus episode is, to me at any rate, as bewildering as it is nonsensical. Yes, by all means be aware of the risks and ways to minimise them, but some perspective please. At the risk of causing offence to people who get offended by logic, all but one of the people who’ve died so far have been over 60 years old and all of them had underlying health problems, so the chances are that a harsh winter would have killed them anyway. Why is this not even mentioned, that we have an ageing population, one that the adult social care system is struggling to cope with so in essence all the Coronavirus is doing is hastening the inevitable.

Yesterday the government announced a raft of financial measures, which they hope will help people cope with the unprecedented economic challenges that necessarily arise following the government’s health advice. Good for them.! Jolly well done! Bravo! Goody gum drops!

However, methinks there is a better, more effective way to spend some of the money, a spend moreover that if properly implemented could easily become a truly innovative solution to the conundrum of footing the bill of an ageing population.

Government sponsored euthanasia.

No, seriously, before you dismiss it as ludicrous, think of the measures announced yesterday and then ask yourself exactly how many of them will have any practical efficacy beyond this present situation? Remember quantative easing and the theory that if the Bank of England printed £billions of new money, the banks would then pass that money onto small and medium sized businesses and this would help revive the economy after the global financial crisis? And, as is so often the case, what works in the theory doesn’t work in practice but what did work was the banks working for themselves and using the money to shore up their losses. Jo and Janet Nobody might get a little bit of help but it’ll be the usual snouts getting their fill at the trough.

Anyway, where we? Ah yes! Government sponsored euthanasia, that’s where!

Given the age group of death victims perhaps that might be hitherto electorally suicidal policy a couple of months ago, but faced with a rapidly changing landscape might the previously unthinkable soon become not just thinkable but eminently sensible.

If the government works out the cost of a patient with certain ailments to the NHS, local authorities and social services et al., per year and then work out the life expectancy on average is for those affected, calculate the total cost to the public purse, then offer them a lump sum of 60% of the sum when their 80 and commit to die within two years. This figure would decrease by 3.5%% every year, so if you were 86 and finally came round to this, you’d get a lump sum of 39% of the average annual cost. That’d be the last age it would apply to. Everyone’s a winner, society, the government and the individual, given as how the average life expectancy for a UK national is 80.96 years. I haven’t yet worked out how this would be enforced but the idea’s sound.

You disagree? Oh grow up! How do you think life insurance companies work out their premiums? Or do you think actuaries are actors who perform Shakespearian tragedies? Why should the state have to pay to prevent nature taking its course? Why, given the challenges faced by the NHS don’t they implement an upper age limit beyond which any type of in-patient hospital care wouldn’t be allowed? Why is an old persons life as equal as a younger persons? Please explain it to me using words of four syllables or less, because this baffles me. The NHS is a resource like any other and like every other resource it isn’t finite.

If people did opt for government sponsored euthanasia it’d be the adult nappies, dementia and soft food years they’d be missing out on remember. Not a trip to Disneyland – the proper one mind, not the one in Paris. It would also put the nails in the coffin of the  suspicion that the Tory party have been unduly influenced by their membership, who tend to be old, male, white and comfortably off and not the overwhelming majority of people who voted for them, who are not.

Nigel Tufnel, Franklin Roosevelt, coronavirus and the media.

I’ve been as good as my word, insofar as I’ve studiously avoided whenever possible all news reports, news websites and anything else that might distract me from more important concerns. But last night I was struck by the thought that instead of having the pips to herald the imminent arrival of the news on Radio Four, they should instead prepare the listener for the misery to follow with the first few notes of the funeral march. Or better yet, the boom-boom-bo-bo-boom of the ‘Eastenders’ theme. That’d set the mood nicely.

At his Inauguration address as President, Franklin Roosevelt uttered words that today have as much resonance now as they did nearly eighty years ago when he said ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’

Last week my housemate’s daughter’s school was visited by the Coronavirus fear. Not the Coronavirus itself you understand, but the fear of it. This was in the form of a parent of a child had tested positive. No one was quite sure if anyone else in the family was affected but given the current climate the school had decided that they needed to close on the Thursday in order to do a deep clean ready to re-open on the Friday. To anyone trusted enough to write with more than crayons this raises some questions. First of all, how deep is a deep clean going to be if it can be done in one day? Most schools comprise of multiple buildings and so presumably a deep clean would not be a quick process. Why not keep it closed, do a really thorough job of it and re-open for the start of the new school week. Secondly, who would evaluate how effective such a clean would be? Or is it the case of a school marking its own homework? However, much more concerning to me is that no one saw this as an over-reaction, so premature that if it were a foetus, it’d be just past the sperm fertilizing the egg stage.

But in this current climate of media inflated hysteria, what can one expect? Far from being calming and restrained in its reporting, the media has helped create they very fear that leads people to clear supermarket shelves of toilet paper! Talk about the shits getting people so shit scared they stock up on shit rags! In fact, just a few moments ago one of housemates has just returned from our local Sainsbury’s with nothing more a cabbage, some peppers and loads of ‘photo’s of aisle upon aisle of empty shelves’. On Wednesday, my housemate who seems almost glued to her ‘phone for ever more depressing ‘facts’ showed me a thing on the government webshite whereby you see exactly how many cases had occurred within a specific geographical area and learning that London had the most by quite a large margin, it allowed one to zoom in and see how many cases in each borough.

It is worth bearing in mind that 4 out every 5 people who get Coronavirus will only get a mild illness. The other 1 might die. But as most deaths of any flu occur to those that are elderly, with weakened immune systems and respiratory problems, is it really a ‘killer virus’? Or an inevitable consequence of living far too long? As the BBC reported yesterday;

Ten more people in the UK have died in the last 24 hours after testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths to 21.

The UK government’s chief medical adviser said the patients were all in “at-risk” groups from across England.

The total number of confirmed cases in the UK has reached 1,140 while 37,746 people have been tested.

So hang on! If my maths are correct, less than 5% of those tested for the virus actually have it, and of that 5%, less than 2% had died. That means therefore that not only are the chances of getting the virus smaller, even smaller still is the likelihood of one dying from it. But that was yesterday. Anything could happen between the time I post this –  12.38pm on Sunday 15th March – and the time you read this and quite possibly will. Besides why let pesky facts get in the way of of fear and irrationality.

The media has created a snowball effect of fear which builds and builds, and the more it builds, the more politicians and health officials wish to appear to have some degree of control, whereas in actuality, they can only react to events and increasingly react to the way the media chooses to portray those events. Were can the media go from here?

My mind inevitably turns to Nigel Tufnel, the eponymous guitarist from Spinal Tap, who, when proudly showing off his custom-made amplifier to Marty Diberg, announced that it went up to 11. When Marty quizzed him about why it went up to 11, Nigel replied that when you needed an extra push, and you are on 10, where can you go? Nowhere. But on his custom made one, you could go to 11. It is the same with the media’s coverage of Coronavirus. They need an 11, a 12, a 13….

Remember ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’