So What Now?

UPDATE FROM LAST NIGHT

As I said, the last of the Covid Diaries was yesterday and I won’t be doing that again. I have a couple of observations as a result of last night and the preceding couple of days which I thought I should share, before taking my leave.

If you think this is a left v right issue, you should listen to someone as close to me as can be, who is not of my political persuasion, and they are more livid than I am – by a distance. I am at hurricane force, they are at warp speed angry.

When did we put up with this? If that Barnard Castle excuse was given to you as a parent, you’d punish your son/daughter. You’d be even madder for the sheer untruth behind it instead of confessing. Here? As long as it made the left mad, and you can laugh at that, great? As long as you tolerate basic gaslighting from the government, fine. We’re done.

Look, I’m not going into it any more on here. All those people who shared the frustrations of Parklife, who then say “he was only doing his best for his family” need to look at themselves. I can’t write any more about it at this stage. The sheer arrogance of what that man did, and how he is protected, is beyond my comprehension.

I am now going to confine myself to photographs of my dog on The Teddy Times. There are some new pictures up from my walk with him over Avery Hill, where I ventured 3.7 miles away from my house – the furthest I’ve been since March 16th. I will also look to update the Paddington blog. Yes, this does mean, for the time being, I will also not be writing for Being Outside Cricket. That has been on my mind a while. But I’ll decide the future with the guys on there in due course.

I will also take a step back on Facebook and on Twitter. Both apps have been removed from my mobile media, and while I will check up to see notifications (if there are any), on the laptop, living on those platforms corrodes the mind. I’ve wasted a weekend on them and I am so mad at myself for doing so.

I miss my friends terribly. But sometimes things need to be cut out. For a while it will be those two platforms. This means friendships are paused, I will have to live with it.

As for here on this blog? I really don’t know. The love of writing will overcome a lot, and I will probably be back on here at some point. But not at this time. Anything I want to write about makes me livid. That’s not a great place to be.

I’m still on WhatsApp so feel free to catch me there. I’ve deleted Instagram on the devices, but I never used that much anyway. Say hello if you feel like it. I just don’t feel up to doing this. It’s not depression, it’s not anxiety, but this is the sort of stuff that erodes mental health. That’s why you stop.

Be good. Be safe. Love to friends and family. See you around (on The Teddy Times). You only came on here to see him, I know that! Who can blame you?

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The ultimate raiser of spirits! Taken today at Chinbrook Meadows.

https://theteddytimes.home.blog/

Bye for now.

Peter

The End of the Covid-19 Tales

At the start of all this I thought I would put down my thoughts on how the lockdown period was going, and what I thought of some of the stuff going on. I have to say the last 48 hours have not surprised me in the slightest, and has left me disheartened, disgusted and dismayed. No Teddy picture. No music. Nothing else. Just a sign-off.

Life isn’t meant to be torture. It isn’t meant to be easy either. Blogging is meant to be fun, and I say writing is catharsis, but not even that can begin to work right now. I have sat and watched and followed the events surrounding Dominic Cummings. For reasons I cannot go into, and which only a few know, and putting cards on the table, there is a personal angle here. I don’t know Cummings personally. I haven’t met him. But there is an angle here for me. At this point, if you listen to anyone in power, I am the enemy, and should be ignored.

That’s how it is played these days, folks. If you aren’t with us, you are against us. So let me take you back to this from earlier in the lockdown on this blog:

Look, I don’t want to get into a Tory v Labour thing here. I have no intention of going there. They are my government at this time. Their success is keeping me, and millions of us alive. Being brutal, if Boris didn’t make it, it is next man or woman up, and the support continues to get them through this crisis. You can still disagree, but those in seemingly blind devotion to him see even the slightest gripe as a personal attack. I suggest they grow up. We literally, are all in this together, or we are in anarchy.

Written on 7 April.

I’m not commenting on the UK response either, because at this time you have to lend them your trust, because if they eff up, they should be made to pay. But there is a massive amount of personal responsibility to follow the advice. I’m a know-it-all nearly at the best of times, but these are the people we need to follow, right now, because not to do so will lead to anarchy and that, my friends, is a million times worse.

Written on 5 April

Looking back on my last post and I’m struck by my state of confusion and despair. And don’t get me wrong, there is still no lack of both of those emotions, but today I feel somewhat different. As if a corner has been turned, not that there is any end of the horror in sight, but that something has changed. That things have to happen, and to happen, the people, most of them, need to be trusted. You can search all you want for clear guidance, absolute clarity, the government to tell you what you can and can’t do in every nuance in your life, but it isn’t going to happen. This whole situation requires YOU to think. To make the correct decisions based on the advice you are given. YOU are to blame for what happens now if you take a chance. Don’t look to blame someone else.

Written on 24 March

For once, I’m not judging Boris. I loathe him, but he is who we have and I am not going to lose my rag with him at a time when he has the devil’s own job and quite patently, isn’t enjoying it. Yep, he made his bed, but I bet he didn’t think it came with quite these sharp nails.

Also written on 24 March

I hope reading this you might see that I have tried to be understanding and that I fully recognise there is a tough predicament. That understanding went yesterday and then today. I could write a thousand words and I wouldn’t do it justice. Open your eyes, and your minds, to what you are being told. The media are bad, but that doesn’t mean that the politicians are saints. You’ve not been for a 30 mile drive to the coast in March and April because you were told not to. Those were the rules. You can’t just brush that question off. But they did. If you sit here and think that the media was harsh asking it, well the problem is you, not the media. What would you rather have?

I am done. I will write when I can be bothered, which will happen. But I am done. Get through this, pray there isn’t a second wave, hope for the best, cross your fingers, and pray that the virus will just die out. Stick your ten favourite albums to pull you through on Facebook or on here, and pretend it is for community spirit. We’ll be back being evil, divisive arseholes before you know it. This is their world, we just occupy a disposable space in it.

Look after yourselves. See you around.

One footnote. I have friends of all political persuasion. I want the best for all of us. I feel no joy when the other side loses, and only despair when someone I fear wins. I have feared three people winning elections. Thatcher (87). Trump. Johnson. I feel no reason to gloat. These are people’s lives. I suggest anyone who thinks taking the piss out of me, this post, or whatever because my side “lost” so deal with it, stop following me. I think friends don’t do that.

A couple of further footnotes. My apologies. I didn’t thank those of you who have followed me on this diary. I hope you enjoyed some of it. Because if you enjoyed all of it, you are odd, or me. You may never know the final four songs in the playlist, or the last three albums (not sure if I knew them) or the 30 day song challenge.

Also, I may carry on with the Teddy pics on The Teddy Times. I’ll link on Facebook and Twitter (if I stay).

There are people who told me how much they agreed with the Parklife stuff, how outrageous it is, and then have sat, and listened today to a bloke who, on Easter Sunday, when we all stayed in, went to a tourist hotspot and sat on a bench, and they feel sorry for him. I’ve even had my walks with Teddy thrown at me as being similar. I think the only thing for it is to stay in all the time. You can’t be accusing if you’ve been abusing, even if you haven’t been.

You wonder how mental health suffers. This is how.

The Covid-19 Tales – Episode 22

Dateline – 18th May 2020

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Somewhere down the line I changed “Episode” in the title to “Part”. It’s back to “Episode”. These things matter.

So, I last wrote on Thursday. The weekend was largely uneventful, except for the excitement of a full-on weekly-big-shop to Morrison’s in Sidcup. This event should not really be exciting, but it was. The anticipation of finding a car park space? What would the queue to get in be like? How long would I have to wait? How was social distancing enforced? What about queuing to pay? What would the stocks be like – last time I went on 20 March, it was horrendous? How about the traffic? Answers in order:

  • No problem. Plenty of space
  • Twenty in front of me. Small shopping (baskets) given priority.
  • About 10-15 minutes. Weather was nice.
  • Wasn’t. At all.
  • Longer than the queue to get in, but about a 5 minute wait in total. Made a mistake not putting the queue down the beer or crisp line to offer temptation. Instead you were queued down the kitchen appliance and utensil rack. Hmmm, I do need a new toaster!
  • Pretty good. No honey nut cornflakes, pasta a bit low, some gaps, but nothing horrific. Had my Sapporo beer. Lovely. Not on sale like last time. Boo.
  • Not as heavy as a normal Sunday, nowhere near, but certainly a lot more than I’ve been used to under lockdown.

OK, so after the thrill of going wild in the supermarket, stocking up on alcohol I’m not drinking, buying crap I shouldn’t eat, and all parts in between, I chilled out in the evening and did virtually nothing. Which sort of sums up the weekend, really. So before I hit the serious stuff at the end, let’s do all the social side that I know some of you like, and some of you don’t.

The Ipod 24

On the Ipod 24, we are now onto Track 20 of the top playlist, and it is a cheery, light little ditty, one to while away those hot summer days, and chill out to. It even mentions cultural icons Elvis Presley and John Wayne!

Fight the Power. 1989. A number, another summer…. This came out just after I’d really got into Public Enemy with It’s A Nation Of Millions, and this track is just immense. This is the full video version – skip to three minutes for the song to start. From the movie “Do The Right Thing” and feature on the as good as Millions album “Fear of a Black Planet”, there’s no doubt it shouldn’t be in my top 24. Lord, I’ve felt my own need to fight back on more than one occasion, and yes, I know my struggles are minuscule compared to those referred to on here. But it’s an inspirational and brilliantly angry song. Chuck D at his uninhibited best. I wonder where this kind of rap went to?

Top 20 Albums

On to the album next, and I am starting to struggle to sort the wheat from the chaff. I am limiting myself to an album per artist (except compilation mixes when the tune selection does the talking) and am not allowing Greatest Hits albums. So I started searching my brain for an album I played many many times and still rate, and perhaps some added meaning. I have decided upon this one, because, well I’ll explain in my permitted sentence below:

Way_Out_West_-_Intensify

This is, again, the second album released by this duo – Nick Warren and Jody Wisternoff – and is still my favourite collection from them. None of the five studio albums released by the pair are below very good. This, however, has the greatest collection of really good songs. That’s more than one sentence. Sue me.

30 Day Challenge – Days 22 and 23

So the 30 day challenge wants me to issue a Song The Moves Me Forward. I will try to avoid any of my top 24 then, as they are the inspiring songs that seem to give me a purpose. I would quite possibly have used the Jamie Matrix track from a few weeks ago. So for no other reason that I dug it out this weekend, that I think every time I listen to it I feel like there’s an energy to it that needs to come out, and that the sheer brilliance of the layered composition, I am going for Xpander by Sasha.

The full 11 minute version.

This appears on Global Underground 13, one of my top 10 albums, and I love how, after the intro, the track is pared down to its basic element, and built on sound by sound. Also, from that EP above, don’t sleep on Belfunk or Baja, which are also really good examples of the late 90s progressive / trance scene.

Sometimes, though, I think that the music I’m being asked for is under such a generic label, it is getting harder to match. However, my cricket blogging colleague has gone all in and is doing a 30 for 30 approach to all this. Have a look here. I’m struggling with one, most days.

So as it has been a weekend, let us add to the merriment by choosing the song for Day 23. A song you think everyone should listen to. I am going to take this as by an artist you don’t think gets the recognition you think they deserve, you won’t know it, people might like it if they are pointed towards it and so on. There’s a hell of an amount of ego in this one. I’ve always felt musical tastes are your own, so why should they be imposed on anyone else. Also, how do I narrow this down?

I love the band Trafik, and if I had to volunteer a track of their’s that I really like and not mentioned yet it is probably this one. But I’ve done Trafik to death. Try also Paid Up In Full, Echoes, Surrender, Smoke, Dark Times or Perfume Suite. A much under-rated and ignored band. Still waiting for that next album John and Andrew.

I’m looking at one track that is relatively new, and perhaps an oldie but underappreciated goodie in my eyes. For the new, I think the artist that recently impressed me the most is Finnish producer Yotto. I love North, also really like Fire Walk, but I think the best he has done is Wondering (featuring Caps).

The song from the past is a B-side to a very famous A-side, released in 1987. I think it is in the Pet Shop Boys’ top five songs, and yet it was a B-side. Amazing. Put it this way, this didn’t make the cut for Actually, which increasingly is defined by the songs they had at the time that weren’t included on the album (Always on My Mind being another).

So that is my musical obligations discharged for the evening.

More Musical Merriment – Albums Listened To

In the interim, I am trying to listen to some of the albums I don’t really have on any sort of loop, may not have listened to in full ever, or just feel like putting them on. Again, partly inspired by Danny’s musical blogging, because there’s opportunity here, I like working with music on, and also it gives me something to write.

Three albums to review this weekend, then…

Exile - Hurts

Exile by Hurts – I had not heard of this duo until I listened to Sasha’s Radio 6 mix a few years ago, where he played a very decent remix of Miracles. I thought this sounded a half decent song, but never felt the need to purchase their album. In the last few years I sort of resisted purchasing the risky album that I was so keen to do in my younger days. After all, that’s how I ended up buying that Way Out West album above. A few years ago though I went on a raid of all the Poundlands I could get to in my lunch break to pick up their used CDs for a quid, and in one of them, this was there. So I snapped it up. It’s downloaded onto my MP3 players, Itunes and such. But I’d never listened to it. I knew Miracle was a good song. The reviews of the album weren’t crash hot. Some think they are playing at being Muse, and I can see that, but I see more of the Japan / ABC / Heaven 17 type approach of theatrical and almost serious pop. But stuff pigeonholing music. It comes down to whether you like it. I was rather ambivalent. It all seemed a bit overwrought, a bit over-thought to me. This isn’t awful, not by any manner of means. Far from it. It’s just there, really. However, and this is why doing this sort of thing is good, I came across a song on the album I really liked that I hadn’t heard before.

It’s the penultimate track on the album, and yes, is probably the one that sounds most like Miracle. But I liked it if only for the cheesy oooooh a wooooh a ooooooh backing vocal in the chorus. There’s worse things in life than liking a song for that reason!

Dirty Vegas One

One – Dirty Vegas

No-one stands behind me in my loving of Dirty Vegas. I think they have done so much decent stuff that even the album I struggled to get into sounds good today. I was cogniscent that I hadn’t listened to One, their second album, for quite some time. So in my singalong with the lyrics evening on Saturday, I put it on. The album has some personal significance for me as it coincided with the end of something important (at the time), and for some reason it reminds me of the queue through Rotherhithe Tunnel! Not even Blackwall. Overall, though, I can’t say I missed not playing it on the further listen. There are good songs on there, such as Human Love, Given You Everything and especially Walk Into The Sun, which is still a fantastic song, but if I were doing a “Best of Dirty Vegas” album, the others would struggle to figure.

Photograph, their last album (two of the three original band members) is really good, and I think I might play that soon.

Artwork-600_grande

Scene Delete – Sasha

Now, you know I like Sasha, mainly as a compiler of iconic dance mixes and innovative albums like Involver and his two massive Global Underground Mixes. He also released a really quite good album back in the early noughties called Airdrawndagger. This album was released as part of the Late Night Tales series, and Sasha himself said he was inspired by the John Hopkins iteration of the series. This was released in 2016, and I have to say I was really looking forward to it. The ambient music scene can be hypnotic and entrancing, but it can also, if done wrongly or not to your taste, phenomenally dull and self-indulgent. I think you can guess that I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed by this album because in my eyes, and coming to it this weekend, I think I listened to it before and was underwhelmed. I have listened to it with work today and, while my initial view might have been harsh, it does go through some really dull moments. However, there are some good bits. I do like “Bring on the Night-time” which, maybe not uncoincidentally, is probably the most upbeat track so far:

I’m listening to this as I am writing it, so keep with me and I’ll come back to this at the end.

I forgot this album has the absolutely amazing “Rooms”. The vocalist is John Graham. I love that guy too (his solo album Cold Sun is worth a listen).

Wow. I forgot just how damn good a track that is/was. He stuck it at Track 19 out of 21 for heaven’s sake! Vapour Trails is a lovely ending to it.

I am loathe to ever criticise Sasha, and while I don’t think this quite worked, there are those glimpses in the album that make you just melt. Like Rooms. I would suggest if you like your music chilled, then this is an album you might like to try. It isn’t bad – Sasha doesn’t generally just chuck out any old thing – but it didn’t float my boat. The middle is extremely dull. I have the unmixed version, with the mix as the final track. Rooms has just been put on my playlist for May/June!

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It is now nine full weeks working from home. Life has changed in so many ways, but I sense the desire to get us back to some sort of normalcy is gaining pace. No-one over the park seems as bothered than a few weeks ago, and while no-one is going up to a stranger and talking to them, there are more people sunbathing, more people on the exercise equipment, more people running and playing sport. Even the gym equipment, which has been unused since those cretins above in the banner were on it, had people on it today. There seems to be more on the roads, more people about, and is it purely down to the lovely weather. I feel the nine weeks being isolated heavily, not only emotionally, but physically. I find the legs to do the walking aren’t there every day – today certainly not – and while my breathing is undoubtedly better with the lack of crap air, that’s not being compensated for in my physical wellbeing. I know that’s down to me. I know.

I sense covid-fatigue. I sense people slipping. I don’t believe that if the figures significantly upturn, we’ll be told. In that case, the leaders won’t lead and take the blame. The people will. Individual decisions. I walked around a non-socially distanced supermarket yesterday and I reckon I was the one in 15 who had a mask on, and the 1 in 30 who wore gloves. Am I doing the right thing? I really have no way of knowing, but let’s do what seems best. Still, on the bright side, that blue/green Innocent juice containing lord heaven knows what didn’t taste too bad, so that was a plus point.

Football came back in Germany at the weekend. This is cynically to fulfill the TV contract, packaged to say “it’s better than nothing”. Ask yourself this as a sports fan. How good would, say, Jessica Ennis winning the Heptathlon have been at the Olympics without a crowd? How would the comeback in Istanbul, the miracle of Barcelona, the penalty shoot out in Munich have been in front of no-one? Better than nothing, maybe. But it isn’t sport. I’ll have more to say on this pretend nonsense.

But better to save the rest for later. We have a whole week ahead of us. I still have The Last Dance to watch – the final two episodes – and a comment or two on the completion of two series on Netflix – Sunderland ’til I Die and All or Nothing (Dallas Cowboys). I’m sure the politics and the virus will make a visit as well. But for now, there is relative tranquility. I then took my temperature. 37.0. Is that high?

Stay safe. Love lots. Be good. Enjoy what you can.

Peter

The Covid-19 Tales – Part 21

Dateline – 14 May 2020

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OK – a ramble as always, a thought dump, a maelstrom in my brain that finds no way of calming. What am I to think? Why? Then after that, music, sport and parklife – including blogging elsewhere.

The Covid Stuff

So the next thing is, the next question that is going to be posed is clear. It is coming, as sure as anything. The drums are beating in the background, getting closer and closer. The question is simple. Am I a coward for not wanting to come out of this “hibernation” until I can be reasonably assured that I won’t contract this virus? It is going to be the teachers who are going to get this thrown at them first. You can see the arguments being marshalled – health service workers have risked their lives, so why shouldn’t teachers. The argument should be thrown right back to the people asking the question. Are you working from home? Are you socially distancing all the time? What does your employer tell you to do?

You don’t have to be a genius, if you’ve read this diary, to recognise my core belief throughout this. You can recover from an economic slump, you can’t recover from being dead. I don’t buy the patriotic bullshit that is marshalled when anyone harks back to some marvelous yesteryear, or some exceptionalism that is actually the square root of eff all down to me. You don’t have to be a genius to work out my views on Brexit. I can disagree fundamentally with your point of view, and I try to stick to economics and the better to get along than go alone theory, but when I, and people like me, are just dubbed as traitors etc., then you can see why someone like me might be a teeny bit wary of these Tinpot Churchills, and when the flag or the country is invoked. I want my country’s teams to do well in sport, but when that is based on some need to have our past “brilliance” validated, no thanks. So if you invoke some greater good which appears to me to be it is patriotic and your duty to put yourself at risk so some richer people can make more money and avoid tax (yeah, I know, lots of small businessmen and women are not rich, but you don’t think the Barclay Brothers or Murdoch give the first shit about them, do you?), I’m sorry, people, but I’ll look after mine first. Then second, then third. By mine I mean my family, my friends, my health, their health.

Look, I am lucky. I can do 90% of my job at home. My employer is content for me to stay here for as long as needed. I think I am well regarded by my bosses, who know I will deliver. We have worked longer hours. I speak to my boss as much as I did when I was in the office. But as I’ve said, I really miss the freedom to see them in person. Human interaction can be masked if you can’t talk in person. You can’t see the face changes, the body language on Teams, especially if you don’t use the video function. It’s horrible to know I haven’t seen my best mates. I am limited in seeing my brother. Do you think people like me WANT this. Because that’s the inference. That this is somehow better than returning to the office when you are told that IF you do things right, you won’t catch the disease.

There are forces at play here. Some random bullet points:

  • A good point was made that to get the country to adhere, in the main, to lockdown, they had to scare people to death. To do it too early would mean that people would get sick of tired of it, and jeopardise the NHS with a second wave. They believed it would not hold for any more than 2 months. Those people have been proved right. Or have they? 75% of people still believe we should be lockdowned, but that isn’t reflected in 75% of the media who give their content away free on the internet, but can’t get people to buy newspapers, for instance.
  • Also made a point that in scaring people to extremes in the early stages (and let us be frank, it wasn’t hard. 600, 700, 800, 900 deaths per day is scary without much added doom) would mean that to get them out again you would have to “un-scare” them. Make them feel safe. Well. That’s not going to work while there are 600+ deaths a day still being reported. We are where we were around late March, coming up to the peak in early April. How did YOU feel in mid-March. Were you ready to come out to play?
  • Here’s where the art of political deception, or as it should be known, lying, isn’t a victimless act. When a politician lies, and the more egregious the better, and you accept it as “they all do it” and “it is par for the course”, you have given up in the pursuit of honesty. What happens next is that you are arguing about degrees, and that can be exploited. Let me take Trump, for instance. On his first day in office he egregiously lied about the size of the audience. Anyone with their own eyes could tell you it wasn’t up to Obama 2009. But you were told it was more. When the lie was pointed out, supporters of the Trump ticket called the press liars. Anyone agreeing with them were also lying, because they hated Trump. Every media arm, every person should have been worried there and then. But supporters who even acknowledged that this was Trump’s sales technique and did it really matter were the dangerous ones. You’d accepted that that lie was acceptable. Everything else that followed is just a matter of degree, and each side digs in more and more. In the UK, this is what happened with Brexit, in my view. The point here is not to excoriate the liars, it’s to say that once they get away with brazen lies (a) you will probably convince yourself, if you are a supporter, that any lies subsequently picked up on are ONLY political hack jobs and (b) when you need them to tell you the truth, and when they do, if you oppose them you will NEVER believe them. Oh, and somewhere someone is making a lot of money out of this.
  • That was a long thought, and the usual people will say I am spouting anti-Trump stuff. But the point remains that we have accepted lying as par for the course, and when we need the truth, it is that Manic Street Preachers album title. This is my truth, tell me yours. Except no. I am comfortable with my truth, and if yours is not the same, well you are just a Trump/Clinton Hater/Lover Johnson/Corbyn fanboy/cultist. We aren’t developing political discourse. We are destroying it. I blame Twitter!
  • I would say, from my perspective, that the attempts to reassure in the UK are floundering with me because people are coming on to social media and telling me I am an idiot, or politically motivated, to say I don’t understand them. Here’s what I don’t understand. Are we going for herd immunity or not? Is the only motivation here not to overwhelm the NHS, or to minimise in totality, the number of people who contract the virus? Tell me, in late March / early April, when death toll and infections were around this level, were you scared to go out? Why can I visit my brother now at a socially distant level in the park, but not last week? If you have read my blog throughout this, you will know I initially supported the government’s actions because it looked designed to save our lives. My attitude changed somewhat, when I came back on Twitter after Easter. I am influenced. Just admit you are too, eh? Don’t sit there, all high and mighty, and say to me “it’s common sense, and you are just picking holes in it” because, rightly or wrongly, I think my life, and that of my friends and family, depend on it. A lot of people have gone down in my estimation over this. That is also terribly, terribly sad.
  • The media is not your friend. The papers want a return for selfish reasons. If this disease only affected journos, and lockdown was the only answer, you wouldn’t see their arses for dust. In the US, Fox News is very anti-lockdown, but extended their stay at home working provision until 15 June. Don’t do as I do, eh? Piers Morgan isn’t your friend either. I wouldn’t go on his show if I was a Tory, not because I’d be hammered in a Q&A, is because unlike the great political interviewers, the tough ones, the interview was about getting information from the subject, and questioning them on it, not how loud can I scream at you to claim the spotlight and show ME ME ME. That’s all that man has ever been about. I’m not buying his Damascene conversion.

OK. Enough of that. I did a large social piece yesterday on music and stuff. I’ll keep some of that going today.

The Music Stuff

First up, the top 24 on the Ipod. This one is more eclectic, and comes from James Holden’s Balance CD. Disc 1 is one of the better ones I’ve heard, and contains this track which has a funky little groove running through it like a stick of rock.

This is the unmixed version, whereas the one on the top 24 is weaved into the first cd mix. It’s one of my favourite jaunty little tracks.

On the song challenge, I am up to Day 21, and it is a song with a person’s name in it. I mentioned two I excluded, so now need to think of a tune I like with someone’s name in it. Ah yes. This will do:

Yep. I really like this one, Jesus is certainly eligible as a name.

The Top 20 album also needs consideration. Again, I am not doing more than one by any artist unless it is a dance mix (so Sasha gets two, but can’t see anyone else coming close). I’m now going down the list of artists that I could say influenced my music tastes and then selecting their best album. So, for that, it is this one:

Don't Disturb

A little more context. I think Pleasure Seekers and Rhythm and Romance are better albums, but this one really got me into them, and has two OUTSTANDING tracks at the start of each side of the LP/cassette.

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Not a lot to report today. Teddy wasn’t massively well behaved, and we saw just the one knobhead who thought he was cool on the vertical bars, so we steered well clear of him, so no. It’s interesting that as the sun goes in, and the wind blows a little more, that the fitness freaks who don’t believe in social distancing stay indoors. How utterly peculiar.

This one has currently reached the 1800 word mark. I am spending a lot of my free time at the moment monitoring the competition others are running on our twitter feed for Being Outside Cricket, for the biggest knob in international cricket. Currently going through predictable lines. For those who don’t know, I am the founder of Being Outside Cricket (the blog) but less of a factor on the Twitter site. I’m also less active on the cricket blog even before this shutdown of international sport. There’s a story to be told about how I caught the mood of an angry cricket public in 2014, kept it going through the ending of the original blog, and the start-up of Being Outside Cricket in February 2015, when I was joined by Chris soon after, then two other editors, Sean and Danny. While we aren’t quite at the heights we were back in the angry days, we are still the “bad news blog” when England cricket doesn’t go quite as it should. Some of my best writing was in the early days. Today, I feel like a relic. Others have moved in, taken what place I had, and my voice doesn’t impact as it should there. I feel quite sad about it sometimes, but also relieved. You have a shelf life, recognise it. Don’t ever think you will make money out of it. Prepare to be attacked by some really strange individuals. Open your eyes, don’t keep them shut. You can’t let down your guard. It is emotionally knackering. But I loved it. I think.

Many times I have considered saying to the others, it is yours now. I want no part of it. Not because I don’t like them, of course not. They are great writers, and I’m proud we have a platform. I’m just knackered. Maybe I’ll be less knackered later. I’m enjoying writing this, but I choose my timings to write, not, as it used to be, I had to get something out.

Before I go, I wanted to touch on someone who was an important part of my life. I never met him, am never likely to meet him, never saw him in person, only on TV. I followed a whole sport because of him, and it has not been the same since, and never will be. He is a superstar, but his image has been tarnished for some post his career because he wasn’t the nice guy his image portrayed (and I never believed that). But to me he is my favourite ever sportsman and it isn’t even close for second place.

There is a documentary series out on Netflix called The Last Dance. Even if you are not a basketball fan, and don’t want to get into the story too deeply, watch Episode 7. It’s about how my man retires, plays another sport to say, in football terms, lower professional league standard (say League Two), then the end of it contains two minutes of his attitude to sport, how he is perceived, was perceived, and why, and I teared up with admiration. Michael Jordan, if it was possible, has stretched that lead over second place. The clip is in the tweet below. The series is incredible, but I am a fan. This man was a leader of men. They won six titles with him. He was the reason I took days off work to watch him play on ropey satellite feeds. He was the reason I spent money to acquire videos of his games that weren’t on our TV. He is the man. Still.

See you soon, maybe even tomorrow. All the best, stay safe, be good.

Peter

The Covid-19 Tales – Part 20A

Dateline – 13 May 2020

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Despite writing 2500 words yesterday on the state of mind in the past few days, I genuinely didn’t think I did it justice. I deliberately don’t structure posts, and so you will get my thought streams spewed out onto the screen as they come into my head. Something today made my head explode, and explains some of the problems we are encountering. I won’t name the person, but they are associated to one of my social media contacts. They were saying how they were prepared to wear a mask to help prevent the disease spreading. They posed the question:

“We are only asked to wear it [the mask] while out in public…. Are we really so selfish that we don’t want to possibly help our fellow human?”

An answer came:

Keep giving away those rights. Sick, stay home.”

Cue blood boiling. This post comes from the USA, but lets not pretend that this attitude isn’t prevalent here, despite no precious constitution or some ludicrous idea that you are currently “free” anywhere. There are people in the UK who are more concerned that they are subsidising one “layabout” being furloughed than they are the physical wellbeing of the masses. They then hide it under the bushel of your “rights”, our “freedoms” etc. I’m only surprised that oft-used quotation of those who would compromise freedoms for liberty, or whatever, deserve neither hasn’t popped up. How about my right not to be infected by an asymptomatic cretin with a disease with a high mortality rate, relatively speaking, the older you are? No, keep you precious, selfish freedom, and worry more about some police state. I am straining every sinew at this point not to invoke what is going on to your precious government and constitution while you sleepwalk around fighting for the right to be a selfish asshole, Or arsehole as we would say. By not doing something that might, actually, be beneficial to your fellow human.

“Sick. Stay home”. I infer, and that’s dangerous, that this is done with a knowing sneer. If only work sick leave policies in the past few years anywhere in the western world hadn’t become so constructed on the assumption that all workers will skive if given the chance, so we should make them as draconian as possible, infer it is you fault if you catch an illness, and actively encourage you to come into work sick and infect everyone else on pain of disciplinary for exceeding an arbitrary small limit of sick leave. I caught a cold before Christmas. I know how I did. I was sat next to a guy on a train, and for the entire journey on a packed, peak-time train, where you can’t move, I had the poor man coughing and spluttering all journey. No doubt he did not want to be in work, because he was dog sick. But felt, for some reason, he had to, because in the minds of many workers, sick leave is theft. They’ve been told it often enough. Sure enough, a couple of days later, the sort of symptoms that if I had them now, I’d be in terror. Terrible sore throat. Cough. Temperature.

But now it’s “sick, stay home”. What if that guy had no sick pay? What if that guy is under threat of dismissal if he stays off? With this illness, he may have caught it and not seen symptoms, and he’s still a candidate to pass it on. You can’t live your life in terror, but you don’t have to resort to abject nonsense as a retort. The whole danger of this disease is that it is transmissible even if you are asymptomatic. Has that actually permeated skulls yet? Do people even care. As I type now, I might have it. I can get a test if I have symptoms, but not if I don’t unless I intend to non socially-distance. Should I have a test if I go to the shops. I take my temperature every day, get a scratchy throat due toe hayfever, same with sinus headaches. But I could have it. That socially distant drink on Friday may not have been socially distant enough…. what about in the co-op (I had a mask on, the bloke near me didn’t)… taking the dogs for a socially distant walk. We’ve all slipped up, due to ourselves, or others. It isn’t easy. I am not pretending for one damn minute that this is good. It isn’t. To turn this into some precious affront on your fucking libertarian arsehole principles makes my blood boil. Libertarianism is one of those things that sounds great, until it meets contact with the real world. Then it becomes an excuse to be selfish. Good on you. See how libertarian I feel if I set up a massive sound system next to your house. I have the right to play my music next door to you at 3am, and I’m sure your libertarian principles would agree with me, as your sleep deprivation will no doubt agree! If you don’t like it, you can move. Good luck selling your house.

Anyway, let’s do some of the music stuff before we move on to more of the same. Actually, I’ll come back to that tomorrow.

One thing to tick off:

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Nil return. You might notice on the noticeboard in the above picture, a notice hanging on it. That says the equipment should not be used.  My anger increased a notch.

On to the music.

Let’s take the next two on the 30 song list.

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Day 19 – A song that makes you think about life. Hmmm. What the hell does that mean. I’m not sure a song has really done that. Not a massive fan of political songs, as frankly, I listen to music to escape the realities of life, not be reminded of them. Other people can have their views. There have been some with decent tunes, with some meaning to them, but they are only expressing their own views. All this waffle means I am going to come up with something totally inappropriate. There was a song that deeply affected me at a time when I wasn’t at my mental best. It seemed to speak to me in a way few did, which is why I call it a “dangerous” song. It made me think about my life at the time. It’s also bloody obscure, by a band I love, but no-one has really heard of. It is Recovery Position by Trafik:

Day 20 – A Song That Has Many Meanings To You? Again, what? Maybe my brain being addled with progressive house for the past 20 years means that I am totally devoid of meaning in songs. I’m listening more to sounds than words. Before that, it was mainly songs about shagging, let’s be frank. So many meanings? Lord, that’s tough. I genuinely might have to pass on this one, because I just don’t really understand the question. In the absence of this, there are songs where you notice different things each time you listen to it, and perhaps different meanings, so in the absence of much else, I’ll go with Disappear Here by Hybrid:

I’ll do Day 22 soon, but rest assured it won’t be Frankie by Sister Sledge, or Maggie May by Rod Stewart. Music for the scrapheap.

As I’m writing this, there’s a cracking track playing on my MP3 player, called Metaverse, by Orkidea (or is it the other way around) and it is the Jody Wisternoff remix of it.

More from the music coming up, and it is my top 24 Ipod playlist – the next two on the list. The first is a quirk of fate. This is by no means my favourite song by OneRepublic, but for some reason it has been played more than any other, including Apologize, which is the best on their first album. It is Stop and Stare. I really like it, so no harm done there, but again, a little quirky. I think as a pop band, and with Ryan Tedder’s voice, OneRepublic are one of those guilty pleasure bands for me (like Maroon 5, sometimes) who come out with some genuinely good songs. I’m not looking for depth of meaning, I’m looking for damn fine singalong tunes. OneRepublic do it:

As you can tell, I don’t choose my music to be fashionable, I choose it because, wow, I like it. I am awfully defensive, aren’t I?

The next song on the Ipod playlist Top 24 needs absolutely no introduction:

If a song has meant more to me in my life, then I will be struggling. It is the song I sing best, and have sung it live many many times. Our band’s version, when we nail it, and we generally do, is brilliant, even if I say so myself. When I sung it at our work’s Christmas party this year, on the back of a knackered throat (see illness above), someone in the audience actually believed I was miming it to the real thing. To say I stay faithful to the original would be an understatement. It has done so much for me as a song. It puts belief in my ability to sing. It makes me admire my mates in the band for the brilliant arrangement we have, including the harmonic second verse. It gets people dancing. I love this song like a brother!

I’ve sort of given up with the album covers, so let’s review what I have put down so far:

  • Liverpool – Frankie Goes to Hollywood*
  • So – Peter Gabriel*
  • A Strangely Isolated Place – Ulrich Schnauss*
  • War Stories – UNKLE*
  • Involver – Sasha
  • It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back – Public Enemy*
  • Actually – Pet Shop Boys*
  • Hearsay – Alexander O’Neal*
  • The Future – Guy*
  • Visions – Jakatta
  • My Heart – Donell Jones
  • Global Underground 13 – Ibiza – Sasha*
  • Dirty Vegas – Dirty Vegas
  • (What’s The Story) Morning Glory – Oasis

* denotes those in my Facebook Top 10.

There is one left in my top 10 to do on here, so I need to find another five to add on to the list inside a nominal top 20, but outside top 10. There are so many albums I have where I genuinely liked two or three songs, but wouldn’t say the whole album had me going. But despite being cringeworthy, despite not being particularly fashionable to say so, I liked this album, went to see him in concert, and genuinely enjoyed it at the time. Would I now? Probably not. (Actually Don’t Be Cruel, Every Little Step and My Prerogative, all good still).

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Not supposed to say why, but I allow myself a sentence. Introduced me to LA & Babyface, and to Teddy Riley; that is the definition of influential to my music tastes.

On the books front, I’ve finished three books in the last couple of weeks. The first, and by far least memorable, was a book on 80s and early 90s English cricket by Neville Scott and Nick Cook. It was one of those books found on the secondhand market, and while instructive of what Mr Scott in particular thought about selection processes, and a certain fanboy crush on Graham Gooch, it took my thinking no further forward.

The book In Black and White by Donald McRae is one that I am really not sure about. The story is compelling. Both famous sportsmen in the book, Jesse Owens and Joe Louis, were bedevilled by problems. Owens, I never realised, basically had his athletics career ended straight after Berlin 1936 by a US Olympic authority that banned him for earning money out of his fame. He was basically ordered to go on a European tour after Berlin, for no money, and run for the benefit of sports authorities and not the athlete. When he took a chance to earn some side money, bang, he was banned. There are so many stories in there about his jobs, his patriotism, and how his fellow black athletes turned against him in the 1968 Olympics that it is a heart-rending story. Joe Louis, of course, is considered by many to be the greatest heavyweight of all time. His early career was interesting into how he weaved his awesome destructive power in the ring, but not alienating the white population by, basically, acting like Jack Johnson. This reaches its peak when he loses to, but then later defeats, Max Schmeling. Then there is the sad old tale of every boxer. Too many fights, too little responsibility with money, too many hangers on selling pipe dreams. Then there is the fight with the IRS, the downhill slopes of jobs and ill health, and finally his passing. It was amazing to read that Schmeling actually paid for some of his funeral. The end of the book is very emotional. It is a compelling read. The reason I am in two minds about it? The copious use of the n-word throughout by a white South African grates. Of course he is telling an unvarnished story. Of course it should make me uncomfortable. I just don’t particularly like it.

Thirdly there is “Provided You Don’t Kiss Me” by Duncan Hamilton. This is about the author’s working relationship with Brian Clough over the glory, and then relegation, years of Nottingham Forest. Hamilton is just brilliant throughout this book in conveying all Clough’s brilliance, and his enormous insecurities. He doesn’t varnish over the drinking issues which marred his final years in the job, but says, in a Q&A at the end that it was the hardest part to include. He talks about how he was close to Clough, but always on the manager’s terms. There is a striking part when, after Clough leaves Forest, he seeks a way to have a column in a local paper. The local paper don’t want to pay the fee, and Hamilton is instructed to give the message, and when he does, Clough never speaks to him again. It’s brutal in both ways – the moving on from a legend in so short a time, and the failure to realise you are yesterday’s man. Hamilton, while recognising the genius, also is clear in thinking that Clough could not have managed now. Look, there’s tons to this book that I can’t do justice to. It’s up there with Gary Imlach’s book about his father for being the best football book I’ve read. The journo falls out of love with football, post Clough, and only reconsiders this once Clough’s death is announced. It, again, hits you that sport does matter, when probably, it really shouldn’t. Hamilton is just an amazing writer. I can’t speak highly enough of this book.

OK. Don’t want to fire all my shots today, and hopefully if enthused enough about things, I can write tomorrow. In the meantime, for a tune of the day that isn’t the one I posted above, I will go for this which I heard on Lee Burridge’s NuBreed Disc 2 today. Takes a while to get going, but it’s pretty good when it does:

Stay safe everyone. Be good and follow the guidelines. Common sense ain’t that common. Look after yourself but don’t be selfish. All the best.

PS – Teddy has a girl dog he absolutely adores… he just can’t catch here…

Her name is Gabby, and she’s a whippet. Teddy absolutely adores running after her, but she’s too damn fast! Including for my camera!

Goodnight all.

Peter

 

 

The Covid-19 Tales – Part 20

Dateline – 12 May 2020

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Advance warning. No musical selections today. Just some thoughts on how this is affecting me, as we enter the ninth week of lockdown.

It has been a week since I last wrote. Apathy is becoming a dangerous infection. Resignation and recrimination eroding the soul, rotting away any purpose you pretend you might have. Merely continuing to tick over work feels like the heaviest of lifting, your fibre more brittle, your resolve more elusive. I feel more short-tempered, more emotional outside of my household routine, and within my work routine, than I have felt for some while. Not the unexplained, out of the blue, probably jet-lagged funk of last May, but something more substantial. That has built up over the last 8 weeks. The eradication of hope, as the end looks as far away as ever.

Minor setbacks affect you more. In many ways it all feels like pointlessness. Groundhog Day is a bit of a cliche, but sometimes it feels like it. Mental strength can only fend off these corrosive elements for so long. Sometimes you need to bare your soul, let people know how it is you feel, what it is to be yourself, but then you worry about the consequences. This isn’t going to go down well. Worst of all, people think of you as mentally weak. I prefer to think of it as mentally spent. I can’t walk a mile in their shoes, just as they can’t do the same. They can judge.

You also see how the politics taints peoples decision-making. You have a contrast between not wanting your loved ones to take on any risk, but also seeing your political masters inferring you are either a coward, or worse, a traitor if you do. When you are in the middle of this, it is wearing. This is NOT about me, but it could be about me. It could be about any of us.

Apathy, is, I believe, for someone like me, natural. I care greatly for my job, for my work and for my colleagues. I miss them. And yes, I still have a job, and am still working, but this is playing at it, pretending we are doing something when all I see are the wheels spinning, and the bosses being effervescent to keep the troops actively engaged. There is so much on here I would love to write about the seismic changes in my role proposed, but I can’t for obvious reasons. People would willfully, mischievously, even nastily twist my words, make me out to be something I am. When seismic changes are on the cards, what can I do? I feel powerless. I don’t think my bosses understand this properly, because they aren’t walking in my individual shoes, just as I don’t really know how my colleagues are doing – I’ve said that again. We are individuals.

With Friday being a Bank Holiday, I took the opportunity to take Monday as a day’s leave to have a recharge over a long weekend. I woke up this morning and dreaded switching on the laptop. There was nothing to fear from what was on there. There was nothing I can’t handle in the normal run of the job. There was nothing to think today was going to provide me with a tough challenge. There was nothing really to it. An ordinary day. So it’s not the work per se that is doing it. It therefore has to be something inside. That the psychological barrier between office and home is something significant and that the blurring of the line is harder to take the longer it goes on. That the home is a relative sanctuary from the office, and in some ways, the office is where those niggling issues that eat away at home don’t affect you as much. For example, the toaster breaking down! The collapse of Virgin Media services on Friday! I have to tackle them in my office now. I really have no idea if that is a thing either.

What I do know is a “thing” is that as many of my friends would attest to, I was so looking forward to a long holiday this year. Where I could just get out of the country and relax with the beloved. We could go see things, go somewhere different. I had kept the leave down all Autumn to do it, and now, it’s gone. I absolutely understand the sacrifices we have to make, and I am really trying to do the right thing. But it’s still there. All the time. How can this ever happen? While there are live cases of this disease anywhere in the world, how can we travel anywhere safely? 8 weeks ago, when I left the office, there were, what, double figure deaths in the UK. Maybe early triple figures. Now there is anywhere between 32000 and 55000 dead. Yes, many are old, but many are like me – underlying condition, early 50s, vulnerable and still active. How can we travel when it can go from so few to so many, and yet that’s what people are selling me. I don’t want to get on an aeroplane in close proximity to everyone else. I won’t be able to eat out if I do go anywhere. Our lamentable death toll is going to get us quarantined wherever we go. Even the Welsh are telling the English not to visit. The hopelessness of this all is damaging. I loved the travel elements of my job, felt privileged to have them, never took them for granted. They are gone. It is a massive void.

I also miss seeing my friends and work colleagues. People engage in social media on different scales. With some, I think they’ve forgotten me. I am sure some of mine think the same in return. While it has been much better domestically for me to be home, keeping Teddy’s training consistent is also a bonus, and I can’t fault the beloved’s patience and practical brilliance with the allotment (it really is some sight, as well as being a fantastic source for lettuce in particular), I miss seeing my good mates down the pub, or the regular meet-ups with ex-cricket colleagues, the editorial board at Being Outside Cricket and the other circles of friends I have. Zoom is OK. Teams is OK. But it’s not the same. It can never be the same. On some occasions, I don’t even bother. I don’t drink at home, and liked to keep it that way. Now I do, I feel it’s not a good thing, even in the moderate amounts I do. It’s not the same as “one more round” when you have to book another 40 minute slot via a social media app.

I make this Day 56 of Lockdown. It is certainly since I started working from home having been sent home not to return. Given my medical condition, age, and capacity to social distance, I am certainly looking at another four months MINIMUM in solitary confinement. The prospect of this shatters me. You need to take it day by day, some will be better than others, I know I am “lucky” to have a job and on full pay, but it’s feeling a lot less like home, and more like the office. And you shouldn’t live in your office.

It came into stark contrast on Friday. Our toaster broke – not a massive setback, but an annoyance. Then, at just after 11, the beloved said “the internet has gone down”. Not just the internet, but due to having to be on Virgin Media (trees prevent us getting satellite TV) we have phone and TV bundled too, and that was down. This happened pre-Lockdown when we had a power cut, and it took Virgin a day to fix all of the telecoms, despite telling us there was an engineer on site on that Sunday (I saw said engineer on site on the Monday morning, when he took five minutes to solve the problem). The prospect of it being out for a Bank Holiday weekend, and one where US Mother’s Day also took place, was worrying as at the start we seemed to be the only ones with an issue (so I booked an engineer and the earliest appointment was Monday). Seeing how upset the beloved was, and my own anger raging inside, I did what I do a lot. I went into a funk. Negativity consumed me. I did what I do a lot, I retreated. Neighbours asked if I wanted to have socially distant beer to mark VE Day, and I said no.

The service was restored in totality by 5pm, and I did have a late socially distant beer with my neighbours that night, and while it was really nice, it reminded me of what I am missing. It was fun talking to them. Teddy was all over them. I can’t remember the last drink I had with the neighbours. It was a slight risk, but they are like my household, really. That’s what I’m telling myself. We were sensible. Now I feel guilty that I might have breached guidelines and stuff. The same when I went for a socially distant dog walk with my brother on Saturday. Always mindful to keep the right distance apart, and to see how Taz, his dog is, growing, and how he interacts with Teddy. It’s no different to the talks you have over the park with other dog walkers. But I’m breaching the guidelines, and I feel guilt about it.

Which brings me to:

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So while there were the usual resident lunatics on the weekend, today hit me much harder. Having had a day on the main football field part of Chinbrook Meadows to myself as it was so bitter and cold yesterday, today the main lunatics made up for it. There seems to be a magic attraction to the outdoor gymnasium equipment at the moment, despite it being EXPLICITLY against the guidelines to use it, because it inhibits social distancing, the equipment isn’t cleaned, and encourages gathering. I walk over the bridge on the NW side of Chinbrook Meadows and I clock the equipment – Parallel bars opposite to the right (no-one today), Chin-up bars near the railway bridge (nope, all clear), Football and Tennis court (football court had someone very ostentatiously doing aerobics, while a man and child messed around with a basketball). As I walked further along, and the gym equipment came into view, there were four people using it. I walked Teddy for a bit, and then took him to the log (which I get him to jump over) and then to say “In The Stream”, whereupon he bolts into the little brook that goes through the Meadows. There I waited, to the side of the path, to give people the chance to pass me at a socially distant level.

I read the original sentence back on this and didn’t like it – so I’ve changed it. Two people brushed past me (I referenced that they were Eastern European – too many times that is used to “other” people – I know so many good people of so many nationalities that this was not relevant, but the point is that so many think it is only “them” being the arseholes. It isn’t. It’s lazy to label and I should not have been so casual about it. Their nationalities are irrelevant). They were idiots. They made a bee-line for the gym equipment and cared not about my personal space when doing so. There were now five, sometimes six, at the equipment. I would be extremely shocked if they were all from the same household. People who follow me on Twitter and Facebook have seen this picture. I think the nicest of touches is the bike leaned up against the rack, because using the aerobic machines of the equipment is a better thing to do than ride a bike. I despair.

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You see, this is the issue. I’ve seen a creeping tendency from those who seem to know better than anyone else, that the instructions given on Sunday are clear, require common sense, and thus why do we need to be led by the hand and told what to do by a government. The answer to me is stunningly clear. BECAUSE OF IDIOTS LIKE THIS! That clown and his partner who brushed by me might cough as they come up to me, and boom, I could be infected. I did all I was told, but someone invaded my personal space, could have it asymptomatically as far as I know, and bang. I have a higher likelihood of complications, but can’t stay indoors permanently. I may have it and not know, so I stay my distance, and if I know I am going to be close to people, I wear a mask. But these, and I really don’t want to swear, are jeopardising everything. We are only as strong as our weakest link.

You’d believe for the self-righteous who think people want this shit to continue because “I is getting paid to do nothing”, and who live in ivory towers where they probably don’t meet the outside world, don’t come into contact with this. I get 2500 steps a day out of this dog walk. It is the only thing, given I’m not a jogger, that gets me out of the house. We aren’t blessed with lovely walks within shooting distance of my house. My other exercise is ludicrous dancing and walking on the spot to dance music! Wow, I can take Teddy out for another walk now if I want – I can either come into contact with these fools, or go to Foxes Fields and take the chance that one of the many Pitbulls, I mean Staffs, don’t attack the border collie like they did Jake. But to them, it’s a piece of cake. “I understood the rules, so why can’t you” “I don’t need the government to tell me how to live my life, it’s common sense” and best of all “If you don’t understand, you are a lefty that just wants to find fault in everything they do”.

What none of them actually stop and think is “why are you worried” “you may have a point” “actually I hadn’t thought of that” and actually this lefty desperately wants to get out of this damn nightmare, and mixed messages and idiocy are stopping it. The base level is I don’t want to catch this and hope my body is up to it. It’s quite basic really.

None of the music or other stuff today. If I feel less apathetic, I’ll do some more of it on Thursday. Until then, stay safe, be well, adhere to the guidelines, and please, please, please, don’t catch this thing. To those I know, I miss seeing you. To those I don’t, I wouldn’t mind when, if, this is ever over!

Peter

The Covid-19 Tales – Part 19

Dateline – 5th May 2020

To explain this diary entry – the first part is views and stuff, and is a bit of the same sort of comment as the past view. The Parklife and music sections are in the second half.

So I know none of you missed my updates on Sunday being there – I didn’t. As I said before, writing a blog is a time consuming and ultimately a selfish effort. I am writing to record my feelings and thoughts, and if shared with others, then good. I hope people enjoy them, but it isn’t the primary purpose. I have always said in my blogging “career” that if you write for someone else, you lose your own character. It has been the different way I write and approach things that got the success with Being Outside Cricket and How Did We Lose in Adelaide. I don’t intend changing now. So when you feel like writing, write. When you don’t, don’t force it. You are your toughest audience, and you know when you are faking it. So yes, on Sunday, I didn’t feel like it.

On Sunday I had a bad evening. Nothing Covid-related or work induced, although the prospect of Monday wasn’t alluring. I’ll leave it as a bad evening, that was then compounded by an absolute [expletive deleted] taking to the cricket blog to call me a racist. He was an idiot, but wrong accusation at the wrong time (it was in relation to my blog colleagues calling out ESPN for re-running a poll to garner more clicks from the Indian cricket-mad community). My friends on there told me to ignore it, but you, well, I can’t. If someone calls you something so heinous, then how can you mentally compartmentalise it. Others are stronger than me, I freely admit. Idiots are a part of blogging, and if you put yourself out there, expect flak, but I hope I carry myself a bit better than that, and certainly recently I have in terms of those who have induced my ire in the cricket world. Some might say if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the blogging kitchen. They may have a point.

But this is self-indulgent, and a day later, I’ve passed that bump in the road and faced with others. Like a mysterious pain in my calf muscle that comes and goes, the increased discomfort of the office chair I have to sit on, the tedium of the work processes we need to go through, and, of course, the manic uncertainty, the enormous contradictory advice, and the political point scoring that pollutes my twitter feed like raw sewage poured onto a glacier. My hair continues to grow, although I did shave off the beard after six weeks of it, and I feel I am getting slightly less fit each day. Yesterday when I walked Teddy, the legs felt like lead. I had that sense that every step took more effort. I wasn’t massively happy, so took to the walking up and down, and jogging on the spot to loosen the limbs in the afternoon. It looks mad but it works. Yesterday I did the walking etc. to John Digweed’s Live in Tokyo set, discs 1 and 2. It was an excellent set, and the walking makes you feel more alive. But it doesn’t last.

Once the switch off point for the day is over, I find myself in lethargy, doing all the things I wasn’t doing pre-Lent, which is scouring the horror of Twitter to find something to comment upon, or whether anyone responds to mine. The amount of Bot traffic on there is something else, but I also see friends of mine, people I really like, retweeting or liking the most awful batshit stuff, that I wonder. I wonder how they can be fooled by what I see is blatant misinformation. I wonder why they want to be fooled. Then you ask yourselves the exact same thing. This is the world we live in.

A particular Tweeter is latching on to my every utterance that isn’t unfettered free market capitalism with a dose of misplaced nationalism, and poking back. I’ve ignored him so far, but then, just by mentioning them on here, I haven’t, have I? As people know, I am not exactly a far-left person, so again, I don’t know what his (I’m assuming he is a he) game is.

In a time when what we really need is clarity of message, factual and detailed analysis based on what is going on, not what we hope is, and that given to the British people in a clear a way as possible, what do we get? We get people who think they know the answer. We get people as self-appointed representatives of “the people”. We get others circulating memes demanding we have optimism. As I’ve said before, we’ve probably lost more than 30,000 to this disease, so excuse me if I can’t look on the bright side. Another thing that is creeping in is that it is the obese who are likely to suffer the most. Of course we are. It keeps you fitness freak, virtue signalling, look at me wankers in comfort, then so be it. I’m glad we can be of service to you. I mean, because I am overweight, I’m more than asking for it, aren’t I. Say it loud. You know you want to. “YOU DESERVE TO GET IT, AND YOU DON’T DESERVE TREATMENT”.

I was never skinny, and yes I like rubbish food. I will probably pay for that. But I got hooked on smoking and stopped. I stopped driving to work, and walk to the station, and very day in the office racked up 10000 steps per day. Over four years I’ve lost around 5 stone. I’ve put some of it back on, but not so much that I can’t get into certain clothes now. For example, one of my friends bought me a souvenir Venezuela shirt a few years ago, in XL. I can get that on now (a world of difference between actually wearing outside of the house). A belt of mine has had to have a new notch inserted into it. I am still very overweight, and I still can’t bear many kinds of healthy food, despite my dear wife trying and actually, in some cases, succeeding! I’m cutting out much of my sugar intake, trying not to go overboard on snacking, but it is an addiction. As an ex-smoker, I know what addiction is.

I see numerous voices online, in their thinly veiled sneers, imply we, the overweight, bring everything on ourselves and we deserve it. That’s why me, and people like me, don’t go to doctors. Because often they are the worst for it. They demean you. They make you feel like the shit on their shoes. I left one practice because I came out of there destroyed by a doctor (the same practice had two superb trainees, who both left, who I would have followed to the end of the earth, and improved my attitude and will-power). You do need the truth told to you, but it’s hard to take them seriously sometimes. I had an infected bite on my back once, and the doctor said it was down to me being overweight. Really? I got gout – overweight – but my two colleagues in the office who had it as well were as fit as fiddles, so have a next go (almost certainly with me it’s undercooked red meat, but hey, who cares – the doctor didn’t).

Look, I can go on, but every victim of coronavirus, is a victim. Not a weight, not an age, not an underlying condition. It’s an individual. No-one deserves it. We should, you know, try to look after each other by social distancing, going out only when we have to, and, you know, battering conspiracy theorists and virtue signallers into submission. They are two sides of the same damn coin. The dangerous siren voices that think the worst of other people, and not the best of many of their friends and colleagues. It’s easier to be suspicious of the unknown, those you don’t talk to, but harder to put faith in them. You want to believe it won’t affect you if it hits, but you never know. As someone with asthma, I’m at risk. As someone overweight, I’m at risk. As someone over 50, I’m at risk. As a human being, I AM AT RISK. There’s no sugar-coating it, no absolving of my conscience, no virtue signalling about abiding by the guidelines. I’m shit scared but can’t show it. So, those on social media who say all of us who don’t want to go back to the office are lazy good-for-nothings. Foxtrot Oscar.

OK. To the regulars:

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It’s been five days since I reported, and with some glorious exceptions, by jove, I think the people might have got it. The parallel bars, the chin-up bars, the swing bars, have all been graced by no-one while I’ve been there. Certainly not since Saturday. We had some people having a kick-a-bout in the court, and a guy practicing his basketball skills solo yesterday, but I’m not as down on those. We had some sunbathers today, even with a brisk cool breeze, but my anger is just giving way to “let me just avoid these muppets”. The only person to really get the head shaking was on Sunday. She was a cyclist and was, presumably, using the time out for exercise, and that would be the very healthy pursuit of riding your bicycle. But wait. This person chained her bike to the stand, got out the wet wipes (which I believe may still be in short supply) and cleaned off the handlebars of a part of the outdoor gym equipment! WTF. You have a bike. The real thing. Why use the outdoor equipment that might have had any muppet on it, was taped off with big, red and white tape, and jeopardise your health? I guess I’ll never understand thickos.

I think my positivity goes with how great Teddy has been. It’s tooting my own horn a bit, but I am so proud of the little lad. He responds almost perfectly to every command of sit, wait, stay, without question and without pushing the line. Even under the railway tunnel which leads directly to the stream, which he is dying to get into, he stops. Even his lack of concentration at the end is improving. Today, from 100 yards away, I shouted “in the stream” to Teddy and he bolted for it, but checked before he went in to see if it was OK. It is genuinely gratifying to see him, in this situation, behave so really well. Now if we could only cure the evening madness, we’d be more than happy. The walk is a joy, a break from the sitting at my desk, waiting for the latest thing to drop. Teddy loves it, I now like it, and that’s what matters.

The Ipod 24 tune today is an odd one. It is actually quite a banging tune, in terms of its bassline and the need to play it at high volume. But I’m not sure I’ve really loved it at any time, wasn’t mad keen on the album it was from (bought it anyway), and probably stayed in the top 24 because I played it whenever that playlist was played. It is Satisfy by Nero.

I’m not sure there’s a video for it either, although the above has had over 5 million hits.

The Top 20 albums continue though, and I’m struggling to remember what I’ve put down now. Forgive me. I’ll come back to this. Instead, let’s do a song of the day. I signed up to Amazon Music Unlimited for three months at £4 per, and I hope to catch up on some albums I may not buy, but might lead as a gateway “drug” into investigating more of their work. One of the suggestions was Rufus, or Rufus du Soul, to avoid confusion with Chaka Khan’s partners, and on their album Bloom, which I really liked, there was this little song that caught my ears…

It’s quite Australian, which means I can’t really describe why I say that, but before knowing where they came from that would have been the country I guessed they came from, even with the umlauts! It’s quite chilled out. Genuinely nice. I can certainly recommend the album if you like your music quite downtempo, light and chilling.

On to the song challenge, which I am falling behind with. Let’s do two today.

Day 16 – A song that’s a classic favourite. Who determines what is a classic, other than the person selecting it. Let me commit heresy. People have determined that songs like Stairway to Heaven and Maggie May are “classics”. They aren’t in my eyes – pretentious self-indulgent bollocks in the first instance, utter shite the second. So I have to choose a song that people have determined is a classic because they said so. Say I chose a Beatles song – people say Sgt Pepper is a classic, but so what. I think it’s hippy nonsense. Take possibly my favourite Beatles song, Hello, Goodbye:

“Hello, Goodbye” has traditionally received a varied response from music critics. While some reviewers praise the song for its classic pop qualities, others deem it unadventurous by the Beatles’ standards, and inconsequential.”

Probably the same people who tell me Pulp Fiction is a classic film (it’s not, it’s egotistical shite). Man, I’m burning some bridges here. So let me go with ELO’s Mr Blue Sky. Yeah, snark all you want, but it’s uplifting, it’s fun, it’s great to sing along to in the car, it’s a great karaoke song, and I’d love the band to play it except the bass player threatens to go down the chicken shop while we do. I do have some sympathy with the bass part!

It makes me smile! It’s a classic in my eyes!

On to the next day, and what do I have to do next? A Song you would do a duet with someone on Karaoke. Needless to say we need to have some ground rules here. This is not someone singing backing vocals, and it doesn’t need to be an actual duet like they did back in the day. This isn’t Dmitri Old featuring someone either. This makes it difficult, as duets don’t generally work on Karaoke, I find. Egos take over. One of the karaoke meisters, Sir Peter’s brother, refuses to do duets. Just as well, as he’s a microphone hog. So we need to get that clear.

A song I have sung as a duet will do here. I have actually sung it more than once with Sir Peter, and we haven’t taken it all that seriously. It’s also not meant to be taken seriously. How can you? Club Tropicana by Wham!

Oh, it is five days since the last one. We’ll do another. Day 18 is a song from the year I was born. I will then be supplying my mother’s maiden name, the name of my favourite teacher, and the first three and last three digits of my six number pin. Let me look at the chart on the day I was born and pick something. Or a number 1 from that year…

I have had a look, and man alive, there’s nothing there that jumps out. I don’t mind Suspicious Minds, the number 1 the day I was born was rubbish, the top selling single of the year was The Archies and Sugar, Sugar, which I remember vividly as a kid, but presumably a few years later on, but in the Top 10 singles for the year (that is songs that reached the top 10 in the UK in any one chart) there is a gem, even though it was released in the US in 1968. It is one of my all time favourite songs.

I am no country and western fan, but this song is just lovely. Magnificent. So I’m having this one.

The next one is about the meaning of life or something, so that can certainly wait.

What have I been up to since Thursday? Catching up with the burning off of all sorts of series to watch at some future date that never comes up. Been catching up with the America’s Game Super Bowl winner programmes that are good, and even more relevant given Miami Dolphins’ legendary coach passed away yesterday. Also loved watching the World Series Film from 2013, my favourite Boston Red Sox team that went last-to-first-to-last. That team had a short shelf life. Also watched the third and fourth instalments of The Last Dance, which I might review for my US sport blog. Also the Dallas Cowboys All or Nothing series, a couple of episodes of NCIS New Orleans (my favourite of the three) and various other stuff. But as I indicated earlier, I’m not massively enthused to do anything even though, in a positive sign, I am sleeping better.

I do want to play some of the XBox games I have, but there is always a block. I can’t invest the time in being totally useless at them – like I was on one of the NBA 2K things – and instead want something I can play to some proficiency soon, but not so I’ve mastered it in five minutes. I have one of the Call of Duty games, Madden, NHL, Ashes Cricket, Dishonored.. all sorts. Had them for years. Never played them. Which one should I have a go at? Anyone with gaming instincts, please let me know.

OK. Enough. Signing off for today. Fajitas today as it is Cinco de Maio, or whatever. They were magnificent, as always. Added to the awesome home-made tortilla chips, this has been a great culinary day. Added to fresh salad from the plot, life is a lot better on the food front. Well done Beloved!

Be good, be safe, take care.

Peter