Now For The Hard Part

It’s twelvety-seven weeks since lockdown started, and over the last few weeks it’s felt like I’ve run out of words. Whilst these months of isolation have been far from easy, they have at least been simple. Stay home; don’t go near anyone; try to at least wear some underwear during Zoom calls. But as we ease out of lockdown, the long slog back to normality has become ever more apparent.

Like America, we’re realising a global catastrophe is not the best time to have a morally bankrupt leader in a dysfunctional relationship with the truth. But unlike the US, where people can solve the problem in four months’ time, it’s hard to imagine what Britain will look like after the remaining four years of this Government.

So where are we? Well, by the weekend the vast majority of shops, restaurants and pubs will be allowed to reopen. Providing they adhere to the strict social distancing regulations, that is. The same goes for offices, although like many people working from home, it’ll be months before I’m compelled to go back. And in many cases, two households can now act as one. On a personal level, this means I now get to spend time at Jane’s house. My gain is her loss.

As the UK flounders around the top of the worst affected countries, even the Government’s most outwardly ardent supporters no longer trust it. We’re told to rely on ‘Good Britsh Common Sense’ (none of that foreign rubbish), but there are 65 million different versions of Britsh Common Sense in this country. As Bournemouth beach filled up with thousands of sunseekers last week, the council declared a major incident. The city of Leicester is now forced to extend its lockdown based on infection data two weeks overdue. As well as a failure of competence, even more crucially, we’ve seen a failure of leadership. We have a Government whose main claim to fame is the ability to come up with three-word slogans. The country’s being run by a third-rate PR Agency.

You probably wish I’d shut up for another month now.

In an attempt to start the return to normality, I decided to go up to central London for the first time since this all started. I live right by the station, so can leave my house and be on the South Bank in under an hour. Masks are now compulsory on public transport. I’d expected things to be much busier now, but of course, there are none of the tourists that would normally pack this part of London. Even after everything that’s happened, it’s still a strange experience.

A person who is tired of London is not necessarily tired of life; it might be that he just can’t find a parking place.

– Paul Theroux

All photos Nikon F100 / Ilford Delta 100 / Developed in Bellini Foto Eco Film Developer

Waterloo Station looking uncharacteristically quiet


I’m seeing lots of good mask etiquette


The London Eye still has no reopening date. Disappointing for those who want to pay for a panoramic full HD view of London, and then watch it through a six-inch phone screen.


The Houses Of Parliament. The only time I’ve seen Westminster Bridge this empty was during the Rage pandemic of 2002.


Winston & Abe, still looking on from Parliament Square


Normally these steps opposite the National Gallery would be packed with people chatting and eating


And you’ll never see Covent Garden looking this empty during waking hours


Not much movement on the Thames


Hand sanitisers! On the streets!

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

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

Chertsey & The War Of The Worlds

v

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