Journal into the unknown continues… Homage to Catatonia

George Orwell, now that’s one Blair I do have time for!

Who would have thought that having free time would be such a problem? It has made me think quite a lot about Orwell’s take on the world and I am struck with the way day-to-day priorities change with circumstances.

No through road to Wigan Pier, the police will turn you back

As John Bunyan might well have said in these troubled times, it would appear that there’s no discouragement, shall make us once relent, in attempting to realise our undeniable right to take our dogs for a walk. Orwell could well have added that this applied even on the mythical Road to Wigan Pier, what with him being an ex-colonial police officer: Assistant District Superintendent Eric Blair of the Indian Imperial Police, stationed in Burma. Given his experience, he would have perhaps understood the Yorkshire Police using every trick in the book to try to keep the population in check:

“Exactly where have you come from, sir?” and “What is your intended destination?”

“What is the purpose of your trip, and is it really essential?”

“Why are you taking your Indian Spitz* for a walk on Ilkley Moor, when you live in South Derbyshire?”, and so on.

I’m not really criticising the Police; they have the rough end of the stick in trying to deliver what is at best an ill-defined message to a sometimes wilfully recalcitrant population.

* By the way, there really is an Indian Spitz. It is a relative of The Pomeranian, and the Pomeranian is the only breed of dog reputed to have had, or at least been able to carry, the virus – so there!

Coming up for air

I find that the barrage of encouragement to remain closeted here in West Yorkshire, in comparative affluence, in a self-isolationish environment, has made me focus on food. As a “Friend” on a Facebook group I’m hooked-up to posted; “I roam the house thinking about food”: What to eat, when to eat, what food can I reasonably ask someone to pick up for me, can I get a delivery slot from a supermarket before doomsday, and so on.

Unlike Orwell’s’ alter ego in Down and Out in Paris and London, it’s not that I’m perpetually hungry, it’s just that some kind of ennui has set in and the day’s meals seem to have become my main focus. It is so depressing and when you consider that some people’s lives are always like this, only much more so, it starts to provide a new value framework that we have to take on board. I mean, how many merchant bankers does it take to deep clean an ambulance, or drop off groceries at a local care home?

When we do come up for air at the end of all this, things have to change. We need to slam the door to Room 101 with all its addled policies and values that brought us to this pretty pass and nail it shut.

And don’t talk to me about numbers.

I don’t know why I need my daily fix of Covid 19 statistics, but I do! I know what horrific numbers look like, I know what ambiguous numbers look like, I know what a downturn looks like, yet something still draws me to the daily pantomime that is the UK government press conference with its two day old graphs that never seem to relate to the numbers being spun by the “experts”. There is a lag in the number of reported cases, an understandable time lag between these and the sadly growing numbers of deaths that follow, an even longer delay in the number of actual tests being carried out, and sometimes the graphs represent a picture that does not include the latest day’s figures. Apart from all this, and even more unforgivably, sometimes the graphs simply don’t appear on the TV screen at all, and the expert is left talking as though we were all privy to some unseen images.

Punch and Judy it ain’t – its a blooming pantomime!

Rather than cries of “That’s the way to do it” whilst robustly beating the problem to death with a string of sausages, we are treated to the spectacle of ugly sister Hancock doing his panto piece and “straining every sinew” with the likes of the deadly duo of Kuenssberg and Peston:

“You started testing too late!”

“Oh no I didn’t!”

“Oh yes you did!”

“Oh no I didn’t”

“Oh, all right then”

“Thank you Laura, now for Robert Peston, our man with……… inexplicable…………………..pauses”

Return trip to Catatonia please. No, on second thoughts, make that a single.

I find myself slipping from rage to catatonia and back in a kind of mesmeric rhythmic way.

The rage is so tiring and Catatonia is such a calm place, that I think I might just settle down there for two or three months, contemplating the five Pillars of Hancock and see what develops.

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