La Dolce Vita, 2020 Version

I was meaning to access my email but instead I found myself on the Daily Mail's website. I scrolled down- scanning headlines- and could feel my blood pressure rising. The Mail was trying it's best to get me all worked up. I forget now what it was trying to get me all worked up about- and I don't suppose the Mail itself cares very much about the causes it espouses; it just wants to hook us and make us scared and angry so we'll stay on the site and become vulnerable to its advertisers.

When I realized what was happening I clicked out quickly.

I May Destroy You has been much praised so I watched the first episode. Arabella- our heroine- was rushing about like a mad thing- getting laid, taking drugs, hooking up with her mates who are all of them mad things, drinking, smoking, doing karaoke- and all to avoid having to finish the sequel to the best-selling memoir that has made her a minor celeb. Every generation needs it's La Dolce Vita- and this must be ours.

We're all just kids- still amazed to find we have bodies. Whee- just look what I can do with mine!

Race you to the swings!

Gimme a push! Go on!



Whoah, too much!  Stop! You tryin' to kill me?

Ponds, Politics, Humour

I said I wouldn't do any more work on the pond but it had almost run dry and the the dam was leaking so I did. I think I fixed it. There's now a depth of water in it and lots of little wiggly things are swimming about. I suppose they must be insect larvae. Sometime later this year I'm going to get someone younger and fitter (ie Julia) to have a real go at it.

The PM says we must all go back to work and wear masks in shops- and he won't quarantine us if we fly in from most places abroad (I guess the airlines must have been lobbying hard.)  It all feels a bit random, a bit whack-a-mole- and I find myself wondering what the point of the lockdown ever was if we're abandoning it while the virus is still scything us down. Actually I know what the point was; it was to give us a quiet time in which to think and take stock- but that's the sort of esoteric thinking that is currently off limits to politicians and policy-makers.

I've been watching The Luminaries- the TV miniseries based on the Booker winning novel. It is beautifully shot in a beautiful place- by a cinematographer who must have been looking hard at the post-impressionists-  but also confused and melodramatic and humourless- with an overlay of esotericism that doesn't mesh with the action- or make a great deal of sense. You can be serious- deeply serious- without eschewing jokes. Oh, for pity's sake, let your actors smile and laugh once in a while. People in desperate straits are always smiling and laughing- they do it every chance they get. It's how they survive...

...As Dickens knew.  It happens that I'm reading Oliver Twist- which is one of the most scarifying novels in the canon- and also furiously, frenetically, irrepressibly comic.

Revolting Romans

My daughter asked me if I'd do some face time on Skype- helping my granddaughter with her homework. I had a look at one of her school books in preparation- a kind of "Horrible Histories" knock-off about how brutal and smelly the Romans were.

(I don't doubt the brutality but I'm pretty sure they weren't physically repulsive. I mean Baths, drains, perfumes, all that sort of thing...)

In the event the Romans got pretty short shrift. Ivy largely ran the show- as I thought she might- tutoring me in the use of Skype.

Who cares about Septimus Severus? Look, I now know how to send emojis and photographs winging through the ether...

Cowardy Custard

I dream that I'm about to conduct the wedding of two very young children- and it has dawned on me that this might be rather an inappropriate thing to do. Perhaps I should stand up and say so- only I'm afraid of what their parents might do to me if I back out at the last moment.

Cats And Crows

Cats are such wasteful creatures.

And it really narks me how much of the food we give them I have to throw away because-

1. They happen not to be feeling very peckish even though they've been going "feed me, feed me".

2. They don't like the flavour

3. They've licked off all the jelly/gravy and what remains is too dry.

4. It's been sitting out too long and is no longer as fresh as it might be.

I give them a bit of a talking to sometimes and ask them how they managed when they were sourcing their own food on the wide and tawny savannah/in the dark and dappled forest- and they go "Shut up, that's ancient history; we've got you now (sucker)!"

But Ailz has been doing some research and says we don't have to throw it away; instead we can put it out for the corvids- and they'll be more than grateful.

Indeed she says they'll be so grateful that (according to the site she's been studying) they'll come tapping at the doors and windows with their hard little beaks (not so little actually) going "Please sir/ma'am can I have some more Felix in Jelly!"

I do like corvids. And it won't pain me to feed them.

They're smarter than cats (I think)

Cats can do that "look-into-my-eyes-and-witness-the-exquisite-suffering-of-the-world-soul"-thing (which is kind of entrancing)- but it's the only thing they do, whereas corvids....

A Breezy Day At The Birling Gap

A Spitfire made a couple of passes overhead, tipped a wing, did a complete roll. I imagine it was the same Spitfire that regularly flies over the farm- because how many can there be that are still flying?

Spitfires and the white cliffs- such an icon of Englishness, such a cliche- gets me every time.

Still Far From "Normal"

We went into Paddock Wood with a couple of bags of stuff to donate to charity shops. The first I called at was closed. The second was open but had been so overwhelmed with donations it wasn't accepting any more until Thursday. The third was open but not accepting donations on the premises; instead I was directed round the back- where a couple of helpers were sorting through donations and stowing them away in a lock-up garage;  "Put them at the end of the line" said the  one in charge when I offered her my bags. It was a very long line.

A Slow Process

While Ghislaine Maxwell was lying low I was impatient for the FBI to move in and pick her up.

It does seem- however- that they never lost track of her. It's not easy to disappear in the present age- unless, of course, the people at the top actually want you to disappear.

I suppose they were building their case before they made their move. No point in collaring a suspect before you've  got the goods on them.

Now she's in custody I begin to feel for sorry for her. It can't be easy to be universally hated. All that bad energy coming your way; you'd have to be really hardened to hold up against it.

And who is in greater need of mercy than the unmerciful? 

And I doubt she'll be getting much support from her erstwhile "friends".

We know who they are. If Prince Andrew is the one the media is putting in the headlines it's because he's the least scary of them.  A British prince may be immensely privileged but he doesn't have the kind of power for crushing and making disappear that other people possess.

I don't want her punished- or, at least, I don't want her to suffer any more than she must be suffering now, but I do want her to talk.

We need to know exactly what was going on with Epstein- if only to make it less likely that it happens again.

And the powerful need to know that just as they are watching us so we are watching them.

Sorry, But Not For Me

You can no longer just go to the pub.

It's now something you have to plan in advance. Local rules may vary but the pub they were showing us on the news last night expects you to ring ahead and book a table and a time slot. No-one is allowed to stay for more than three hours.

If you make it through the door you'll be obliged to give the management your name and contact details.

You'll then be shown to a table- and expected to stay put. It's unlikely you'll be allowed to go up to the bar. You certainly won't be permitted to stand at it.

Am I so desperate for beer that I'm prepared to deal with all these restrictions?

'Fraid not.

You Be Mom And I'll Be Dad

Generally in dreams I'm identifiably myself- a roving consciousness with characteristics I recognize as my own. What made last night's dream so interesting- apart from it being the most tremendous fun- was that the roving consciousness had taken on characteristics that were so very different from my own. I am not flamboyant, extrovert, shameless or gay. And yet the consciousness never paused to think, "Hey, this isn't really me;" it just launched into its adventures with a gusto which is also (perhaps) somewhat alien to me.

We are all actors. Shakespeare said it so it must be true. Some of us are method actors- so deeply embedded in the characters we've assumed that we don't think of it as acting. And some of us wake up in the morning and put on our daily faces in full or at least partial consciousness that we're playing a part. Could we wake up and choose to be someone else? Theoretically, yes. And practically too. Confidence tricksters do it consciously, people with multiple personalities flit from persona to persona without conscious control.

For the sake of the game it's important most of us stick to the roles we've chosen and developed. A few wild cards add spice to the mix but the game would become unplayable if- like Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets- we were all of us flitting between roles- a playboy one day, a suffragette the next and a pedantic clergyman after that...

Last night's dream blew the whistle on me. You've chosen your role, it said, and you'll play it through- but, look, you could have played this other  character if you'd wanted to.

Maybe next time.