While the lucky soar, the locked roar (poetry in no motion)

More and more of my friends in more fortunate countries are emerging from their lock-downs. I get pictures of happy children running down the beach, I hear of plans of parties, I see people’s hair getting trimmed and shinier, cave beards disappearing and track suits being dumped in the bin. Not here. If anything, we are adding more locks to the already heavy door that separates us from life.

The last few weeks have created a virtual solidarity which is now vanishing. Most inmates who get out forget the ones who are still in. It’s natural. As they go out to enjoy the beaches, the parks, the shops and some crazily lucky ones even the bars (!!), a small minority remains under lock, staring out the window with envy and quiet despair. Gone are the silly zoom parties, where you at least felt other people somewhere far away get you. Now they don’t. They are too busy going to the hairdresser.

Oh well. The crows remain.

Which inspired me to visit my old friend Poe (I might try to zoom him next, now that everyone else has fled). I have taken the liberty to update one of my favourite in the light of the inequality of easing.

But the Raven, much less lonely than I am, spoke only

That one word. All his loathing of the lockdown in one word he did outpour.

    ‘No more skype or zoom’ he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—

    Till I scarcely more than muttered “This was all my life before—

Please don’t leave me, I’m still lockedzoom with you is all I live for.”

            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

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Meet the Lockdown-ers

  1. The cheese ball This guy specializes in sending vacuous quotes that use words like cherish, enjoy, share, be grateful etc. The essence being that however shitty you feel, things are actually amazing. Insufferable
  2. The gloating parent. This person never tires of sharing videos of their offspring playing the piano, drawing egg like humans, writing code or simply discovering penicillin.
  3. The guilty parent will call you late at night clutching a bottle of wine and whispering ‘Am I a bad parent? I can’t take it anymore. All the other parents are posting activities on parents’ groups, I just wanna run away. What is wrong with me?’
  4. The conspiracy theorist will just talk nonsense and bombard you with ‘evidence’ videos in rather poor grammar. In a drinking game you’d be under the table very quickly if you had to drink every time they say 5 G or China. Snooze safely through the videos and say ‘interesting’ every 25 minutes and you’ll be ok.
  5. Mr and Mrs Doom and Gloom. Everything is shit, the world is going to hell in multiple hand baskets, we’ll soon end up eating each other. The lighter version of the Doomers can be quite fun.
  6. The quietly depressed doormouse. Now you rarely hear from the doormouse because he is quiet and depressed but if you give him a poke he’ll share. He’s often gentle and good company.
  7. The raving spiritualist. There is never enough meditation, yoga, Christianity, Islam,veganism, Marxism whatever in your life and this person wants to make sure you stock up. Before it’s too late. Or maybe too early. I’m never sure.
  8. The researcher. Would you like some information on the structure of command of the Polish army in the second world war? Or less known aspects of the Yazidi faith? History of affixation in English? You name it, this is your guy. Very entertaining.
  9. The nostalgic. Do you remember that summer of 1998? Even if you don’t, Mr Nostalgic will send you scanned pictures where you look like morning dew. Take another sip. Cry. Repeat.
  10. Lady Action upon Stations cannot stand idleness. As Lady Bracknell said, a young man should always have an occupation of some sort. She does. She signs petitions and thus she obviously feeds the hungry and fights climate change. She shares videos of breastfeeding in Parliament and takes uncompromising action against toxic masculinity. You tell her you’d like a tiny bit of that just as a memento at your own peril.

Ease comes with some unease

Things are starting to ease a bit. There are cars in the street (oh joy, oh rapture) and most shops are open. I don’t think the birds, who have become my lovely and steady companions, like this. I saw a distinctly pissed off dove surveying a small traffic jam earlier.

You think you’ve cracked open your cell door and are finally out, only to realize the door opens into a wider cell. People are walking around in their sports clothes with expressions that range from dismay to dulled indifference. I’ve never seen so many track suits in my life. I’ve also never seen so many living room angles revealed by one magic virtual instrument or another. I’ve become so familiar with the look of some friends’ sofas I feel like I’ve been sitting on them all my life. The sofas, not the friends. I know their mugs and their lamps and their slippers and I worry if the fridge magnet in the background is missing. Oh no, whatever happened to your Greek island?

In more interesting news, I’ve been reading Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year. I’m astounded at how little has changed in 400 years. The Lord Mayor’s orders in 1665 are as clear and detailed as the press briefing by the French Minister of Health the other day. Content wise, not much is different. Look:

Plays.

That all plays, bear-baitings, games, singing of ballads, buckler-play, or such-like causes of assemblies of people be utterly prohibited, and the parties offending severely punished by every alderman in his ward.

Feasting prohibited.

‘That all public feasting, and particularly by the companies of this city, and dinners at taverns, ale-houses, and other places of common entertainment, be forborne till further order and allowance; and that the money thereby spared be preserved and employed for the benefit and relief of the poor visited with the infection.

Tippling-houses.

‘That disorderly tippling in taverns, ale-houses, coffee-houses, and cellars be severely looked unto, as the common sin of this time and greatest occasion of dispersing the plague. 

I wonder if I’ll miss all this once we are out and we can once again go to tippling houses and attend singings of ballads.

Will I look back fondly on all the times I stared at my wall in wonderful peace and quiet? Will I think oh give me back those bra-less times, will you God of all things elastic? Entirely possible.

The museum of unnecessary things

I’m thinking of opening a museum.

It will obviously be a virtual one and I doubt any visitors will be interested, seeing as it’s the kind of museum most people also have in their living room.

The exhibits are dusty artefacts from life before Corona. In the main hall there will be wax recreations of groups of humans together.

Then, in a smaller hall, I will arrange the things I haven’t touched in 41 days:

a. My work badge

b. Make up of any sort

c. Any footwear except slippers and trainers

d. Bras

e. Passport (not that I used to touch it as frequently as the previous items:)

I’m sure more halls will open soon. I’ll keep you posted.

Where Flaubert meets melon votka and crows, much to my gratitude

I owe some gratitude to my virtual friend Tichris (https://tikichris.com/). He’s been publishing 5 good things every day for at least as long as I’ve been here (Five Good Things | #5GoodThings #5GoodThingsCovid19).

This means he has given me about 200 good things so far, which I have enjoyed reading. It also is a mighty number for someone like me who can see one good thing approximately every 42 days or so.

So here is my effort to honor my debt. My 5 good things:

a. Three Tales by Gustave Flaubert

b. A new votka, melon and tonic water cocktail which I (to my knowledge) authored (but may well be wrong. Not a cocktail drinker in normal circumstances. I find them a lot of fuss for not much gain but hey, isn’t that what life is about now anyway?)

c. An email from an old friend who mentioned the Netflix series Shtisel as a must watch. I’d already watched it and loved it. This also made me long to see friends but about that in a less grateful post later;)

d. I wanted to say long walks on empty streets but actually I don’t like that much:) So I’ll say long walks on streets I hope will be less empty soon.

e. This dignified rider on the sandstorm yesterday. It was very windy and there was sand everywhere- in the time it took me to send a text, my phone got covered in dust. I could taste sand in my mouth. And here she is, all dignity and poise.

What really annoys me is that

Some of my friends bang on about the benefits of this.

Oh look at the sky, oh and all this time with my kids, aren’t they sweet as they scalp each other there in the background and am I not the greatest pedagogue alive? Also, look at this vegan lasagna I made out of ethically sourced cardboard when I finally got out of bed at 11. And did you know that my husband is now basically a prisoner, isn’t it fab that he can’t spend his paycheck at the pub and swear at a screen with Everton players all over it? Isn’t this all marvelous?

Nooo, I usually scream at the other end of one virtual channel or another, this is shit.

I am then duly told that I need to get in touch with myself, discover meaning or some other form of nonsense.

If I get any more in touch with myself I’ll leave bruises. If I discover any more meaning to my life, I’ll probably turn into Bhagwan and start a cult from my living room. I have explored every uninteresting inch of myself, thanks. I am more full of meaning that the Oxford Dictionary.

Now can I please go to the pub and scream at Everton?

All the things we forgot

Now I know there is archeological evidence that full stadiums existed once. As did contact sports. There even used to be something called rugby it appears. Many are disputing this, in spite of a wealth of evidence. They simply can’t remember. Some doubt that all of these things could have really existed as they all seem so improbable.

Some of our curious ancestors even had one night stands. Imagine snogging a stranger! Or even worse, being in a crammed club at 4 am with other sweaty bodies pushing against yours.

There are records that some people even engaged in physical fights. People standing at a bar and pushing banknotes towards a busy bartender have also been immortalized in frescoes. Herodotus mentions anti government protests where hundreds linked arms.

You are shaking your head in disbelief, I know. I’m sure there is a well kept history museum somewhere that recreates all that in life-like detail. Somewhere in Canada maybe?

There’s always one who stands back

This morning’s encounters included a cat, a dog, several birds and a professional football player who also owns pigeons.These pigeons here. I love the one standing at the back ready to catch any delinquents. He told me (the football player not the pigeon in charge) that they are making a lot of babies these days and are always on top of each other and he really can’t get their attention like before. While he was talking, his eyes sparkled with a mix of disapproval and envy. Mine with probably more of the latter. Who can blame them. Not even their stern supervisor there at the back.

My walk has a very well established routine. I get a coffee, I feed a very clever cat I befriended recently, say hi to a dog who lives behind a green gate, I stare in the distance a bit, then check that I haven’t lost my keys (I don’t know why, but that would represent the final straw:) Ok, I’ve lost my keys. That’s it. Descend into the abyss.

Anyway, today’s novelty was that I stopped to look at the pigeons who were doing extremely disciplined and acrobatic runs in the sun aiming at this lady’s ecstatic neck. I was lost in contemplation when the football player appeared from under the pigeons’ terrace and explained their current spell of sauciness.

This has opened up a vast new line of inquiry. So captivity breeds desire but then it also very cunningly does the opposite. Right? Which wins? How?

Show me the way to the next date bar

In a rare explosion of human contact which lasted about 3 minutes, I received this as an Easter present from a fellow inmate 🙂

Which created an opportunity for some philosophical inquiries. I do have a bit of time on my hands you know.

Did the Easter Bunny hear me saying please please, I need a bar? It’s been tooooo loooong!! Here you go daughter, you’ve been so good. And while I’m at it, have a date too.

Does anyone even remember what these words could mean in our previous life? Around 100 BC*? Will all the bars I see in the near future be small and yellow and easily fit in my pocket?

More importantly, are you getting any bars behind your respective bars?

*Before Corona