Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Clean sweep


In the heady, care-free days when Jeremy Corbyn was Leader of the Opposition, I remember at least one refreshingly simple-minded voter saying that he hoped that Corbyn would continue in the role for many years to come, because that would guarantee that the Labour party would never get anywhere near Downing Street.

Now Boris Johnson is doing the same thing to the Conservative party, but the difference is that I do actually care if he brings down the Tories at the same time as everything else, because the net result of all this affects us all for years to come. We need (but I am not sure deserve) a sound government with a sound opposition, but when was the last time you saw either?

The Tories need to show a bit of backbone and get rid of Boris. He is much worse than a distraction and they must know by now that he is a serial and unrepentant liar. They have been told over and over again, but they are so incompetent that they think that if they save him they will save their jobs. 

Saturday, 2 July 2022

Making the most of it


I cannot say that I have been deliriously happy over the last few days, but I can say that I have been delirious and happy.

I am going through all the symptoms one by one, and today it's nausea's turn. They all come in waves and thankfully they are all mild. I don't know whether or not I am unusual in that, once I accept the idea that I am ill and there is nothing I can do except ride it out, I begin to enjoy it. I enjoy the light-headedness and I enjoy the way my mind wanders as if only half awake.

A few days ago I decided that I really must call up my parents and let them know I have covid. It just seemed the natural thing to do, especially since I have not called them for a long time and am feeling a little guilty about it.

The last time I had full-blown influenza so badly that I could not get out of bed, someone gave me a pile of National Geographic magazines to read. One of them featured the Emperor Napoleon. Being so picture-heavy, National Geographic is ideal for sick people who do not want to exhaust themselves by reading fine print. This issue went one step further.

One of the pages had a folded seam down one edge under which was a scratch-and-sniff sample of what was described as 'Napoleon's favourite perfume'. I was so lucky that it had not been opened.

I tore the seam open, releasing the scent from the microscopic capsules, and was instantly transported back 200 years to the palaces, battlefields and campaign tents all over the world in which the Emperor had marched his troops and plundered his wealth. I could go between the tombs of the Pharaohs in Egypt and the palace of Versailles in France with less effort than it would have taken me to get out of bed.

The scent haunted me and for the several days and nights that it lasted I would go back and unfold the seam of the magazine to visit those places again. It was like entering a magic world.

The perfume wore off at the same rate that my illness did, and by the time I was well again it had completely gone. Every now and then - particularly now - I sense a fleeting memory of it.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Dead from the eyes back


I ran into Simon, my camera-operator friend yesterday, and we went to a pub garden briefly for a catch-up.

We inevitably got talking about things related to his job and mine, and because his job is what it is, actors and TV series featured quite a bit. He has filmed the whole of Doc Martin since series 4, so I trusted him when he told me that - in his opinion - the BBC series 'Sherwood' was one of the best things to be done in years on every level. 

I said that because of the subject matter (complicated aftermath of the miner's strike in 1984) I had not been inclined to to watch it, preferring more unchallenging programs in the current climate. I asked if it was anything to do with Robin Hood and he paused for a moment before saying not really, but it does feature a man with a bow and arrow. We watched the first three episodes back to back last night, and now I know what he means.

At one point I admitted that I have not seen a single episode of Doc Martin, and he graciously said that it was nothing to be ashamed about. It seems like I am one of the few people in the world who have never watched it though. It is now shown in places like Japan with subtitles. I'll get around to it one day.

At some point, Ralph Fiennes came up. I said that I have been wondering what singles him out from all the other good actors that are available these days, and came to the conclusion that what makes him special is a magic mix of qualities which, I am guessing, enable him to walk around without being immediately recognised as some of his contemporaries are - until he looks at you. He is in every way average except for his eyes. Simon said that he had spotted him sitting outside a Bath cafe fairly recently, so I am guessing that he must have been looked at. We re-watched 'The Dig' a couple of nights ago, then compared him to 1940s photographs of the real Basil Brown. Perfect. Not a trace of Voldemort to be seen - except for the eyes. Same when we watched 'In Bruge' again, but there was a little more East-End Voldemort required in that role.

We got talking about legendarily good actors in general, and I said that I had heard that Lawrence Olivier had so completely emptied himself in order to fully take on the personas of the various roles, that there was nothing of the real man left behind. When you think of the ghastly, animated face of Archie Rice and then compare it to Olivier's in repose, you begin to think that he really did sell his soul to the Devil. Some actors are known and loved for playing themselves in every production they are in, and others make a bit more of an effort.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Midsummer's nightmare

Listening to Farming Today early this morning, a turkey farmer was warning of shortages at Christmas, not that I care. The reason is that he (and his colleagues) had asked for 5000 workers to be allowed to come over from Europe for a couple of weeks to help out in the season, but the government said they were only allowed to have 2000. If this is not a decision based on ideology not pragmatism, I don't know what is.

What with the train strikes and the old arguments between unions and Tories, they are talking of another 'Winter of discontent'. Shakespeare's line referred to the final stages of discontent, not the actual season. Think of it as being in the Autumn of your life. Or the Winter if you like.

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Keep your six-pack, I'll have your teeth


I have clocked up a few posts, followers and likes on Instagram now and I am beginning to get the hang of it. Whether or not it will do me any good remains to be seen.

The place seems to be equally divided between girls in bikinis lying on beaches with cocktails in their hands, and boring, work-related pitches like mine. I have never watch a second of 'Love Island', but I am starting to understand how the culture came about. Somehow I have begun following a local girl who seems to be followed by all my friends and family, and her posts consist of hundreds of selfies that show off her admittedly hot (insert flame emoji here) and tanned body, which is a bit distracting - especially when H.I. is looking over my shoulder. It would seem like a slight to unfollow her, so I will just have to put up with it.

I don't understand it, but I am also being followed by a local actor/model/all-round silver fox of a hunk who would make John cream his pants. He bears a striking resemblance to George Clooney and seems to spend most of his time in the gym, honing his enviably hench, 50-something year-old body. Like Clooney, he has perfect teeth too, which is what I envy most about him. You can keep your six-pack, I'll settle for your teeth.

I have never understood businesses such as removal firms, plumbers, accountants and the like who put 'Follow us on Facebook!' at the bottom of their adverts and livery. I mean, who the hell would want to follow them? Everyone ticks the box which says, 'click here if you do not wish to receive future promotions and offers', so I cannot imagine willingly subscribing to their social media pages if you have the choice not to.

Talking of having choice, something I have been praying for for years may be about to happen. They are about to change the rules governing the use of ubiquitous cookies so that you have to opt-in rather than opt-out.

You cannot avoid badly targeted adverts from Instagram on your phone (they know my age...), but whenever I have cleared the cache of cookies on my computer, nothing ever works properly again until you have sheepishly accepted dozens more on their websites. This can be inconvenient when it comes to sites like You Tube, when your search history just disappears and you have to begin all over again.

Hopefully, being forced to accept their terms and conditions before you view anything will soon be a thing of the past, but I am not holding out too much hope. They stand to lose millions in advertising revenue.

Friday, 17 June 2022

Mexican sick-note


I feel like an old dog, irritably snapping at flies from a prone position on a hot Summer afternoon.

There is a curious - and perhaps unprecedented - situation here in that, since lockdown, there are a lot of job vacancies at the same time as the standard of living is falling rapidly and costs rise.

The curtailing of freedom of movement due to the pandemic and Brexit has something to do with it to a certain extent, but something else has happened.

To stop themselves from going mad during lockdown, people were encouraged to use their empty days to take stock of their world, slow down and appreciate nature. Take time to look up at the sky and trees, relax and stop worrying about the future.

Once you have done all these things it is difficult to get back on the treadmill, and many people have decided that they never want to again.

Richard Braughtigan once found a scrap of paper in a laundromat. On it was a note written by a Mexican worker to his American boss. It said:

Sorry I am not coming in today, boss. I am not ill, I just feel too good to work. If I feel any worse tomorrow I will come in.