This Week In The Coronapocalypse | In An Instant: Charles James Fox

This is Charles James Fox ( 1749 to 1806), former resident of Chertsey and the first ever British Foreign Secretary. Just like our current Prime Minister who also once held that office, he was an Old Etonian with a reputation for laziness, womanising, and ridiculous hair. Fox, however, was a passionate campaigner for abolishing the slave trade, whereas Boris Johnson’s time in the role is infamous for his incompetent scuppering of plans to get British Citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe released from an Iranian jail.

Charles James Fox sculpture, Chertsey / Polaroid SX-70 Sonar / Polaroid Originals SX-70 Color Film

Charles James Fox


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:

  • Restaurants and churches reopen in Italy
  • Loss of taste / smell added to official list of Covid-19 symptoms
  • Donald Trump wins this week’s WTF Award (again) by saying he’s taking Hydroxychloroquine (‘at best ineffective, at worst deadly’) to own the Libs
  • Number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the UK surged in April by about 856,000
  • Huge row ensues over Government plan to reopen schools on 01 June for some pupils
  • Rolls-Royce to cut 9,000 jobs
  • Global death toll accelerating
  • NHS chiefs warn ‘time is running out’ to launch track-and-trace system to avoid a second deadly wave
  • Major study shows less than half of 19 to 30 year-olds ‘strictly’ abiding by Britain’s lockdown rules
  • 25% of Americans have little or no interest in taking a coronavirus vaccine, according to Reuters/Ipsos poll, with 36% less willing to take vaccine if Donald Trump said it was safe
  • All people arriving in UK from 8 June must quarantine for 14 days
  • Tests now available to anyone with symptoms
  • South Korean football team fined for placing sex dolls in its stands to add atmosphere during closed match.
  • Chief Government advisor and architect of UK lockdown policy Dominic Cummings under fire for breaking lockdown policy whilst having Covid-19 symptoms *sigh*
  • Poll shows more Brits would prefer pubs to reopen rather than schools


Worldwide cases: 5,407,378 (previous week 4,722,233)
Worldwide deaths: 344,019(previous week 313,266 )
UK cases: 257,154 (previous week 240,161)
UK deaths: 36,675 (previous week 34,466)

source

This Week In The Coronapocalypse | In An Instant: Botleys Mansion

This week the Government urged those unable to work from home to go back to work. Meanwhile, the rest of us can continue to ping off a few emails in the morning, have the occasional video call in our underpants, and spend the afternoon watching Netflix. Or is that just me? Anyway, during this difficult period our Prime minister has certainly lived up to his reputation. Unfortunately, that reputation is for laziness, incompetence, and pathological dishonesty. Yes, as Britain stands on the edge of a precipice, nobody is better equipped than Boris Johnson to take us forward.

From this week, we’re also no longer officially restricted to exercising once a day. To be honest, I’ve been doing more than that anyway. The streets have been practically empty, and when I do come across someone we smile and politely do the now-familiar social distance dance. Exercise is one of the things keeping me sane, although part of me thinks that the only rational thing to do in these circumstances is to go mad.

Some non-essential shops are now allowed to open, provided they take the proper precautions. The Subway near me has a sign saying four people only, but every time I walk by they seem unable to even muster that many victims customers. It almost as if people think a chipotle ‘chicken’ foot-long sub is not worth risking death for. Who’d have thought?

When Bertie was here we took our walks down by the Thames, and through the meadows and woods. Now he’s gone I’m back to walking along the pavement and through the parks. My morning walk now takes me through Homewood Park and past Botelys Mansion. Botleys is a Palladian house built in the 1760s. It’s changed hands many times during its lifetime, but for much of the 20th Century it was variously a war hospital, a psychiatric hospital, and a nurses’ home. These days it’s owned by a private company that hires it out for weddings.

Botleys Mansion, Chertsey / Polaroid SX-70 Sonar / Polaroid Originals SX-70 Color Film

Botleys Mansion


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:

  • In a devastating blow to the virus, the Government changes its slogan from ‘Stay Home’ to ‘Stay Alert’
  • PM announces three-step approach to ease country back to normality, but forgets to include his resignation
  • Some non-essential shops allowed to re-open, provided they take necessary precautions
  • Avianca, the world’s second-oldest airline, folds
  • Furlough scheme to continue until October
  • Football restarts behind closed doors in the German Bundesliga
  • Goverment recommends homemade face coverings in enclosed places
  • People who can’t work from home should go back to work, provided they can social distance
  • Trump declares victory over “invisible enemy” as US deaths surpass 80,000
  • Covid-19 breaches supposedly one of the most secure facilities in the world: The White House
  • Public Health England approves use of ‘100% accurate’ antibody test
  • Large areas of London are to be closed to vans and cars, allowing people to walk and cycle safely and thus avoid public transport
  • UK trial begins to see if dogs can ‘sniff out’ virus
  • Anti-lockdown protests take place in Hyde Park and Britain takes back the Covidiot Crown. Donald Trump demands a recount


Worldwide cases: 4,722,233 (previous week 3,484,558)
Worldwide deaths: 313,266 (previous week 244,786)
UK cases: 240,161 (previous week 182,260)
UK deaths: 34,466 (previous week 28,131)

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

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Chertsey & The War Of The Worlds

Chertsey & The War Of The Worlds

This Week In The Coronapocalypse | In An Instant: Why The Long Face?

I came across this beautiful and friendly chap on one of my recent expeditions to that dark and mysterious territory known as The Outside.

Chertsey / Polaroid SX-70 Sonar / Polaroid Originals SX-70 Black & White Film

polaroid horse


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:

  • Scottish Chief Medical Officer resigns for breaching her own social distancing rules after holiday home visits
  • PM Boris Johnson admitted to hospital ‘as a precaution’, having suffered prolonged Covid-19 symptoms
  • Queen gives rousing special address to the nation for only the fifth time in her 68 year reign. Nation heartened
  • Boris Johnson admitted to intensive care as health worsens. Nation deflated
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab apparently now running Government
  • Nobody is really sure who is running Government
  • NHS Nightingale recieves first patients
  • Daily deaths in Italy gradually decreasing
  • Daily deaths in UK significantly increasing
  • No new deaths recorded in China
  • NHS workers put at risk due to lack of PPE. Some use plastic bags
  • Airbnb halts bookings in UK following complaints that hosts have been advertising properties as Covid-19 retreats
  • Chocolate giant Mondelēz (Cadbury and Oreo) repurposes 3D printing technology used for chocolate sculptures to make medical visiors for NHS staff
  • Some NHS workers send children to live with relatives in bid to protect them from Covid-19. It’s the Blitz all over again
  • PM transferred from intensive care to low dependency ward as health improves
  • Massive advertising campaign launched to discourage Brits from going out during the long and sunny Easter weekend
  • US becomes first country to record more than 2000 deaths in one day
  • Images emerge of coffins being buried in mass grave in New York City
  • Daily deaths in Spain gradually decreasing
  • EU agrees €500bn rescue package
  • PM improving and sitting up in bed


Worldwide cases: 1,784,331 (previous week 1,203,109)
Worldwide deaths: 108,962 (previous week 64,743)
UK cases: 78,991 (previous week 41,903)
UK deaths: 9,875 (previous week 4,313 )

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

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

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Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

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Chertsey in Lockdown

Chertsey in Lockdown

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Chertsey

Chertsey Lockdown

Chertsey Lockdown

Chertsey Lockdown

Chertsey Lockdown

Chertsey Lockdown

Chertsey Lockdown