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)

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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

Chertsey & The War Of The Worlds

When we’re out for our daily walks, Bertie and I see little evidence that Chertsey was almost destroyed by Martians in 1897. The town has put things back together pretty well (although Simpson’s Fried Chicken is still looking a bit worse for wear). Fortunately, local writer Herbert George Wells was on hand back then to document everything:

“Here they are!” shouted a man in a blue jersey. “Yonder! D’yer see them? Yonder!”

Quickly, one after the other, one, two, three, four of the armoured Martians appeared, far away over the little trees, across the flat meadows that stretched towards Chertsey, and striding hurriedly towards the river. Little cowled figures they seemed at first, going with a rolling motion and as fast as flying birds.

Then, advancing obliquely towards us, came a fifth. Their armoured bodies glittered in the sun as they swept swiftly forward upon the guns, growing rapidly larger as they drew nearer. One on the extreme left, the remotest that is, flourished a huge case high in the air, and the ghostly, terrible Heat-Ray I had already seen on Friday night smote towards Chertsey, and struck the town.

These are strange and unprecedented times. As I walk across those same flat meadows, my overactive imagination finds it easy to picture those vast Martian fighting machines stomping across the river, trampling everything in their path.

…higher than many houses, striding over the young pine trees, and smashing them aside in its career; a walking engine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather; articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clattering tumult of its passage mingling with the riot of the thunder.

Chertsey & The War Of The Worlds / Chertsey Meads Meadows / All photos Nikon F100 / Ilford Pan F Plus / Developed in Bellini Foto Eco Film Developer

Chertsey & The War Of The Worlds

Chertsey & The War Of The Worlds

Chertsey & The War Of The Worlds

Chertsey & The War Of The Worlds

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Chertsey & The War Of The Worlds

Chertsey & The War Of The Worlds

This Week In The Coronapocalypse | Bertie Comes To Stay

I met Jane in the plaza beneath my flat. We sat at opposite ends of a bench like two spies about to hand over state secrets. What we did actually hand over – or more accurately, what ran across the social distance between us – was Bertie.

We had a health scare with Coco at the beginning of the week, resulting in a couple of sleepless nights for us and an operation for her. She’s fine, and is recuperating at home. But what she doesn’t need is Bertie wrestling with her all hours of the day. So now I’m on Puppy Patrol.

This has had an enormously positive impact on my life. The cumulative weeks of insolation were having an effect on me that I wasn’t even admitting to myself. Now I have some company. He’s my Wilson to Tom Hanks’s Castaway. He’s one of the funniest, and certainly the most affectionate dog I’ve ever known, and barely leaves my side for a second.

Being a Working Cocker Spaniel his energy levels are off the scale. This has added some welcome enforced structure and exercise to my current life:

06:00 – 90 minute walk

08:00 – Breakfast for two

08:30 – Work

12:00 – Lunch for two

12:30 – 90 minute walk

14:00 – Work

18:00 – Dinner for two

19:00 – 60 minute walk

20:30 – Fall asleep in front of the telly whilst attempting to watch first episode of box set for the 10th time

I’m just very grateful that social distancing doesn’t extend to dogs.

All photos Fujifilm X100F, Acros Film Simulation


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:

  • US oil prices go below zero for first time on record
  • Oktoberfest cancelled
  • Denmark bans gatherings of 500+ until September
  • France bans all flights outside the Schengen zone
  • Parliament re-convenes using video conferencing technology
  • President Trump announces plan to suspend immigration to US
  • Government’s chief medical officer says return to normal in short term is ‘wholly unrealistic’
  • UK will need social distancing until at least end of year
  • Oxford University starts first human trials of Covid-19 vaccine
  • In this week’s edition of Don’t Try This At Home, President Trump floats the idea of injecting disinfectant as a treatment for Covid-19
  • Disinfectant & bleach manufacturers issue statements advsing people not to drink their products
  • Government to setup website to roll out mass testing to UK keyworkers
  • Government website runs out of tests within 120 seconds
  • Road traffic levels on the rise again
  • Home Secretry Priti Patel mocked for boasting shoplifting has declined. (clue: shops are closed)
  • 99 Year old veteran Captain Tom Moore becomes oldest person ever to have UK No. 1 hit


Worldwide cases: 2,921,556 (previous week 2,332,471)
Worldwide deaths: 203,299 (previous week 160,784 )
UK cases: 148,377 (previous week 114,217 )
UK deaths: 20,319 (previous week 15,464)

source

Where Is Everybody?

The place is here. The time is now, and the journey into the shadows that we are about to watch, could be our journey.

A man in an Air Force flight suit is alone on a dirt track, with no memory of who he is or how he got there. He stumbles into a nearby diner, and although the jukebox is playing, there are no customers. In the kitchen, he finds a pot of hot coffee and freshly made pies, but there are no other people besides himself.

He wanders into a nearby town. Like the diner, it is also deserted, yet he has the feeling that someone’s around and he’s being watched. A telephone rings in a phonebox, but when he rushes to answer no one is there. In the police station, a lit cigar is in the ashtray. In the cells, a recently used shaving brush and razor. Across the street in the ice cream parlour, he finds a rack of identical books, each one titled The Last Man on Earth. As he wanders around he becomes increasingly distressed and anxious to find someone to talk to. He thinks he’s dreaming and wants to wake up.

I’d like to wake up now. If I can’t wake up, at least I’d like to find somebody to talk to.

As nightfall approaches, he becomes progressively paranoid and anxious, eventually running and stumbling through the town in a blind panic. Finally, he comes upon a pedestrian crossing and desperately pushes the call button again and again, begging for help.

The call button is revealed to be a panic button and the man is actually in an isolation booth being observed by a group of senior servicemen. He has been undergoing tests to determine his fitness as an astronaut and whether he can handle a prolonged trip to the Moon alone; the town was a hallucination caused by sensory deprivation.


Where Is Everybody {watch} is the first-ever episode of The Twilight Zone. It was first broadcast way back in 1959, but I probably saw it in the late ’70s when the BBC ran the series late at night. It was one of a handful of episodes that really stuck in my head. Little did I know that 40 years later I’d be living it.

Things in my little town are desolate. As I go for my Government-mandated daily exercise each morning, the streets are pretty much devoid of people and cars. There are more joggers around than usual, though. Nevertheless, the number of people jogging is expected to reach a peak in the next two weeks, after which the curve will flatten and eventually 80% of the population will develop lifelong immunity.

For most of my daily walks and runs I’ve been taking my Polaroid SX-70 Sonar. But I wanted to capture the emptiness of the streets, and so for the last couple of days I’ve taken my beloved Pentax KM with the ultra-wide Miranda 24mm F/2.8 lens. I bought the lens from Dan James for a snip. Whilst not a great performer, stop down to f/8 and beyond, slip on a lens hood, and you’ll get some decent results. That’s the lens, not Dan.

I’m a bit of an introvert and I’m used to living alone, so I thought I’d get through this fairly easily. But it’s week three of not physically interacting with another single person, and I’m finding it a bit harder than I thought.

The barrier of loneliness: The palpable, desperate need of the human animal to be with his fellow man. Up there, up there in the vastness of space, in the void that is sky, up there is an enemy known as isolation. It sits there in the stars waiting, waiting with the patience of eons, forever waiting… in The Twilight Zone.

Chertsey in lockdown / Pentax KM / Kodak Tmax 100 / Developed in Kodak D76 1+1

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