West Wittering Beach

We’ve finally made it to the day the world has been waiting for. Yep, it’s my 54th birthday. Not only that, but it’s also the US election. I’ve been a very good boy it this year, so I’m hoping I get what I asked for.

It’s my dad’s birthday today too, although sadly he’s no longer here to celebrate it. This year has a particular resonance because he died aged 53, and it makes me realise just how young that is. So I just want to give a shout out to Robert (Bob) Frank Greenwood (1932-1985), whose name doesn’t appear anywhere on the internet. Well, it does now.

Birthdays and elections aside, there’s only really one milestone I’m concentrating on, and that’s Christmas with my (very small) family. Throughout this year, with all of its losses, that’s what’s kept me going. But this week England goes into a second lockdown that nobody believes will end by the promised four weeks. A lockdown that scientists and half the country think should have happened weeks ago, and the rest of the country thinks shouldn’t happen at all. I’m not going to get political, other than to make a general point, because I’m seeing and feeling something I’ve never felt before in my lifetime. When the overwhelming majority have completely lost faith in the leadership, particularly during a crisis, it’s a scary prospect. When you realise just how thin that line is between civilisation and going full-on Lord Of The Flies and running round in your underpants covered in blood, well…it’s actually rather unsettling. I’m sure my friends in America are feeling something similar.

None of which has anything to do with these photos of course, other than to point out that our little trip to the beach last week may be the last outing for a while. As we wandered along the coast, I couldn’t help but think of that pivotal beach scene from John Wyndham’s 1951 post-apocalyptic classic, Day Of The Triffids. Josella and Bill stare out to sea, contemplating the future for what’s left of society:

‘Don’t you still feel sometimes that if you were to close your eyes for a bit you might open them again to find it all as it was, Bill? – I do.’

‘Not often now,’ I told her. ‘But I’ve had to see so much more of it than you have. All the same, sometimes…’

‘Do you think we really are finished with, Bill?’

‘I think,’ I amplified, ‘only think, mind you, that we have a narrow chance – so narrow that it is going to take a long long time to get back. If it weren’t for the triffids, I’d say there was a very good chance indeed – though still taking a longish time. But the triffids are a real factor. They are something that no rising civilization has had to fight before. Are they going to take the world off us, or are we going to be able to stop them?

‘The real problem is to find some simple way of dealing with them. We aren’t so badly off – we can hold them away. But our grandchildren – what are they going to do about them? Are they going to have to spend all their lives in human reservations only kept free of triffids by unending toil?’

All photos West Wittering Beach / Fujifilm X100F

West Wittering Beach

West Wittering Beach

West Wittering Beach

West Wittering Beach

West Wittering Beach

West Wittering Beach

West Wittering Beach

West Wittering Beach

West Wittering Beach

West Wittering Beach

West Wittering Beach

Race With The Devil

The South Downs Way is a 100 mile national trail that follows the old routes along the chalk ridges of the South Downs, many of which have been used for 8000 years. Jane’s lucky enough to live in this part of the country, and last Friday we took a nine mile walk that included several sections of the trail. It turned out to be a race against the weather. A race in which we lost. Massively.

All photos Fujifilm X100F


Through the wayward pines, and some early indications of the weather to come


Lambs! Hundreds of ’em…


Some serious rain starting to close in….


The Devil’s Jumps are a group of five large burial mounds on the South Downs Way, just outside the hamlet of Treyford. They’re around three to four thousand years old, and the main line of five barrows is aligned with sunset on Midsummer Day. We had our sandwiches on the top of one, and now I’m wondering if we’ve been a bit disrespectful. I mean, I’ve seen Poltergeist and Pet Semetary. Don’t mess with ancient burial sites.

The Devil's Jumps Fingerpost

The Devil's Jumps

These guys know something is going down


All along the watchtower


Just a few miles to go, but things ahead are not looking too good…


…but we’re also being chased from behind

That was the last snap before we were hit by just the type of end-of-times rainstorm you’d expect in 2020. Obviously I dealt with it in my usual stoical way1, but it’s always good to know: in the rain, no one can see your tears.

1. The original title of this post, ‘How I Survived a Hurricane’, was rejected by the fact-checkers.

Storm

In the alternative universe where a certain microbe didn’t leap from a bat, there’s a version of me holidaying in Barcelona right now. (NOTE: I am neither a virologist nor a quantum physicist). And even though my version of me is serval hundred quid lighter and stuck in England, it’s great to be able to do some of the simple things that make life feel normal. For the last couple of weekends, this has meant walking through the South Downs with the dogs, and spending time in the pub with friends. Just like people used to do back in Normal Times.

But it’s hard to know which way things are going, on all levels. Photos are a lot easier than words for me right now. There’s a sense of Autumn in the air, and it feels like there might be a storm coming.

Midhurst & the South Downs / All photos Fujifilm X100F


There’s a polo game going on over there in the fields. No spectators allowed these days due to Covid.


It’s not easy being this handsome


The dogs and the chickens co-exist relatively peacefully


Potato Wars!


And in the pub with friends. As it should be.


On the tipsy shuffle back home at sundown and past the ruins of Cowdray House, destroyed by fire in September 1793

This Week In The Coronapocalypse | Bertie Goes Home

So. Bertie went home this morning and I’m back to solitary confinement. I’m sad about this. These are the photos from our last couple of days together.

All photos Fujifilm X100F


Prior to this pandemic, thanks to Brexit and the ensuing culture war, Britain has been engulfed in political turmoil for three years. Each day seemed to bring a new political calamity, which was then promptly forgotten when the next one happened 24 hours later. Weeks felt like months, months felt like years. I really regret not keeping a simple note of events as they happened, just so I could look back and try and make some sense of it all.

So during this period I’ve decided to sum up the weekly events that have struck me the most, from the deadly serious to the absurdly ridiculous. If my tone seems flippant at times…well, we all have our own way of getting through this horror.

See all previous updates here

This week in The Coronapocalypse:

  • Italy begins to ease lockdown after eight weeks, with parks reopening and relatives reunited
  • Contact-tracing smartphone app piloted on Isle of Wight
  • Five Eyes Alliance contradicts theory Covid-19 leaked from lab
  • Virgin Atlantic to axe 3000 jobs and shut Gatwick operations
  • More than half of UK adults receiving some form of state financial help
  • Air France, KLM and Lufthansa make face masks compulsory for all passengers
  • Key Government Covid-19 advisor resigns after breaching social distancing rules with visit from ‘mistress’ (note to tabloid editors: nobody has had a ‘mistress’ since about 1890)
  • Bank of England predicts economy 2020 will be biggest economic slump in 300 years
  • 400,000 emergency PPE gowns flown in from Turkey fail quality control checks
  • Britons commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day and remember those who died in WWII, whilst many of the survivors die in care homes
  • Britons celebrate VE Day with socially-distant street parties
  • President Trump says coronavirus will “go away without a vaccine” but offers no scientific evidence
  • 14-day quarantine proposed for air passengers
  • Government announces £2bn plan to encourage more cycling and walking


Worldwide cases: 4,152,885 (previous week 3,484,558)
Worldwide deaths: 282,733 (previous week 244,786 )
UK cases: 219,183 (previous week 182,260 )
UK deaths: 31,855 (previous week 28,131)

source

This Week In The Coronapocalypse | Bromance

The bromance (as Jane calls it) between me and Bertie happily continues. We’ve had a great week together. Romantic walks, intimate meals, evenings spent curled up on the sofa, and…erm…drinking puddle water and chasing birds1.

Mind you, it’s not easy living with someone who likes to chill by lying on his back, legs apart and testicles on display for all to see. But hey, I think he’s getting used to me.

1. Note to Jane: my days of chasing birds are over

All photos Fujifilm X100F


Prior to this pandemic, thanks to Brexit and the ensuing culture war, Britain has been engulfed in political turmoil for three years. Each day seemed to bring a new political calamity, which was then promptly forgotten when the next one happened 24 hours later. Weeks felt like months, months felt like years. I really regret not keeping a simple note of events as they happened, just so I could look back and try and make some sense of it all.

So during this period I’ve decided to sum up the weekly events that have struck me the most, from the deadly serious to the absurdly ridiculous. If my tone seems flippant at times…well, we all have our own way of getting through this horror.

See all previous updates here

This week in The Coronapocalypse:

  • PM Boris Johnson back to work after recovering from Coronavirus
  • UK records its lowest daily death toll for a month
  • New Zealanders queue for burgers, fries and takeaway coffee after being freed from month-long lockdown
  • Nation holds minute’s silence for key workers who have died
  • Scotland recommends use of non-surgical face masks when in a confined space. England does not.
  • 30 million have sought US unemployment aid since virus hit
  • Huge jump in official death numbers as government includes coronavirus deaths in care homes and the community
  • Number of recorded cases in US exceeds one million
  • 3-10% of UK population may have been infected
  • Flag carrier British Airways announces 12,000 redundancies
  • Boris Johnson and partner Carrie Symonds celebrate birth of baby boy
  • Captain Tom Moore, who raised more than £29m for NHS by walking laps of his garden, celebrates 100th birthday.
  • Sales of condoms down, as social distancing rules limit ‘number of intimate occasions’
  • Ryanair to cut 3,000 jobs and reduce staff pay by up to a fifth
  • Record falls in CO2 emissions
  • Legendary American investor Warren Buffett dumps entire holdings in four major US airlines, warning that “world has changed” for aviation industry
  • US intelligence agencies conclude that the virus was “not manmade or genetically modified”
  • President Trump claims to have evidence coronavirus started in Chinese lab but offers no details
  • Spain’s lockdown, one of the toughest in Europe, slowly eased as adults allowed outside again


Worldwide cases: 3,484,558 (previous week 2,921,556)
Worldwide deaths: 244,786 (previous week 203,299 )
UK cases: 182,260 (previous week 148,377 )
UK deaths: 28,131 (previous week 20,319)

source