Breathe

Hello.

Yes, I have been quiet for a few days.

There’s a reason for that – and no, in case you’re concerned, it isn’t related to my Dad’s health (although at the time of writing he is still in hospital).

This is one of those posts which I’ve started writing and have no idea where it’s going, so bear with me.

I had a long chat on the phone the other day, and during that conversation the person I was chatting to mentioned they read this, and asked me how my stats were.

It was a trick question, for I had previously told them that I wasn’t interested in how many views or visitors this place has had anymore. And yet I was able to answer quite precisely. Which meant I was getting too fixated on that aspect of blogging, the chasing of numbers. And so I took some time out.

Saturday mornings, though, is almost traditionally where I have a rant about whatever’s going on in the world that yanks my chain. It used to be Brexit, but now it’s Covid-19, or more specifically the Government’s handling of it.

“Now is not the time to be apportioning blame!” howl the gammon-faced who habitually do just that. “Now is the time to come together to defeat the common enemy” they scream in a rare moment of lucidity, attempting to evoke some kind of Blitz-spirit, even though World War 2 and the current crisis are in no way comparable.

Ok. I won’t then. But let me know when it is okay to criticise the Government’s handling of the pandemic crisis and I’ll happily chip in. It’s clearly not the day when they missed their target of 100,00 tests a day by the end of April (goal posts moved: that was what the pledge was, but now it’s to have the capacity to test rather than to actually test).

And that’s why I’m slightly reticent about writing a political post today, for satirical behemoths – BBC1’s Have I Got News For You and BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz – have both aired; I’ve watched/listened to them both, so I worry I may be inavertently nicking a gag or a point from one of the more famous participants.

But the Goverment’s position – that they had achieved or nearly achieved the target – is just laughable. For the stats they announced failed to take into account those who were tested more than once, and included testing kits which had been posted out, rather than those which had actually been returned and tested.

The adjusted figures I have seen suggest a figure of around 714,000 per day was actually being tested. And that’s fine, that’s good: that’s better than 713,000 per day.

But here’s the problem: we don’t believe politicians any more. I mean, you only have to look at who our Prime Minister is to see that’s true. Nobody believes a word that Boris says, because it’s Boris and we all know his history as a liar, a serial philanderer, a bully, a Brexit flip-flopper until the moment suited him, and the most shamefully incompetent and yet self-promoting Mayor of London in history (OK, for the latter part I’ll give you Dick Whittington: say what you like about BoJo, he hasn’t got a pantomime named after him. Unless you count the Cabinet, of course. Boom! Satire! ) and yet we – and by we, I do not mean me – voted the tousle-haired absentee Latin-quoting shagger into office.

It’s not often I find myself agreeing with Janet Street-Porter, but I saw this the otherday and found myself nodding in consensual confirmation:

I mean, she’s right, isn’t she?

We may have a bull-shitting, bizarrely coiffured, absentee numb-nut in charge, but at least we don’t have this bull-shitting, bizarrely coiffured, (golfing) absentee numb-nut in charge:

I *love* the way he has to clarify the word “doctor” by prefixing it with the word “medical”. You know, like all those other kinds of non-medical doctors you might ask about this kind of thing.

The day after that press conference, there was a spike in the amount of people admitted to hospital in the US, having injected themselves with bleach in the hope of ridding themselves of any virus potentially coursing through their neanderthal veins. Cue the POTUS back-pedalling and claiming he was “being sarcastic” when he suggested it. Of course you were, Donny.

See, perhaps when you say something sarcastic that is no more ludicrous than many other things you say, you need to make it a bit more obvious that it wasn’t an instruction:

A thought: if someone is so stupid as to think that by injecting disinfectant directly into them is a good idea – and by which I actually mean not only believing but acting upon anything Trump says – aren’t these exactly the braying yee-haw rednecks we should celebrate being removed from the gene pool? (And a big hello to all my American readers!)

Pop Will Eat Itself – Inject Me

Praga Khan feat. Jade 4U – Injected With A Poison

That’s why Trump back-tracked: not through any concern or remorse for people self-harming as a result of his *coughs* sarcastic words, but because he realised that only his supporters would be dumb enough to do it, and dead people can’t vote him back in. Although he’d probably find a way to allow it. As long as they weren’t black, obviously.

But I’m not talking about any of that today. (Yes, that was me not talking about it. Welcome to my world.)

Instead, let me take you back to November 2019, when regular readers may recall I had to decant from my flat into temporary accommodation in a Travelodge whilst some anti-subsidence works were done to my residence.

I always promised I would write about my time in this Partridge-esque setting, but truth be told nothing much happened which deserved comment. There was no breakfast and so no Big Plate – sorry, there was breakfast but it was “breakfast on the go”, so a scrambled egg bagel, a coffee and a fruity muffin (stop it!) all for the princely sum of £5.25 per day and nowhere to sit and eat it, so I declined it every day – and other than my key not working every now and then (actually, more now and also then), there was nothing much to report.

Look. Here’s the view from my room; this as exciting as my time there got:

Beautiful, right? If that’s not inspiring, then I don’t know what is.

When I finally returned to my flat, I found that the workmen had literally done as little as possible. They had started painting my kitchen, but gone no further than painting the borders. They had been instructed to obtain new lampshades for the Big Lights in the living room and bedroom, but had elected to just swap them in the hope nobody would notice. They installed a new curtain rail and curtain which left about six inches between bottom of curtain and bottom of one window. They didn’t bother covering anything when painting the rooms, so now my belongings – a fridge/freezer, a coffee machine to name but two – have paint spattered on them, as does the bathroom and kitchen floor.

Along with the spattered paint, several clues had been left throughout the flat to confirm they had ever even been there: numerous fag ends tossed on the floor; paint on the windows – not just close to the window frames, but sloshed across the pane like blood at a crime scene; sandpaper, paint and rolling trays nonchalantly left on top of the cooker, a box of black rubber gloves left on the mantlepiece.

Wait, what?

Truth be told, that box of black rubber has subsequently saved me a couple of quid, since for the last month or so, the wearing of latex gloves has been demanded whenever leaving the boundaries of my residence.

Keen to observe goverment directives, (when they finally came) I ordered a surgical face mask, and was delighted when it arrived, for finally I could go outside without attracting the sort of glances usually reserved for serial killers and sexual deviants (I imagine).

Which was ironic for now I actually looked like a serial killer. Rocking the black latex gloves and surgical mouth-mask look gave me the appearance of popular 80s murderer Denis Nilson; whenever I ventured out I felt like I was en route to a serial killer-themed party.

Plus, I also found that every breath from my Covid-19 defiant, mask-covered mouth and nose caused my glasses to steam up. Any spectacles wearer who has walked into a crowded pub on a winter evening will know what I mean. Faced with the choice of inadvertently passing on a virus I don’t think I have or accidentally walking out into the middle of the road and the path of an oncoming bus, I chose the former.

And let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, that if there’s one thing worse than the disapproving looks you get for not wearing a surgical mask at all in public during pandemic times, it’s the looks you get for obviously having a mask but electing to wear it slung casually loose around your neck, rather than in place in front of your wheezing breath orifices.

I’m reminded of Rhod Gilbert’s encounter with the travelling chef on a train:

Time for an appropriate tune: Tina Turner’s Steamy Windows springs to mind, but I bloody hate that song, so instead, this:

R.E.M. – Try Not To Breathe

More soon.