[Image above is this morning’s early-morning clouds over Cardinal Wolsey.]
It’s an apocalypse.
They promised me that I would get to dress – occasionally – like Aunty Entity.
I ought to be driving the wild cars of my youth once again. Drive it like it’s stolen, Sidney. Oh, it is. In my day if Her Maj’s Constabulary wanted to do you they had to physically catch you first, and the “Stinger” had yet to be invented.
Instead I am trying to persuade supermarkets to deliver toilet roll to me, and I am walking up and down the same damned half-mile of canal towpath each bloody day at dawn, spraying water-point taps with DDT-level Dettol and being careful to breathe through my nose and not my mouth. I am wiping down surfaces – such as the cratch-cover & catches – before and after I use them, and I am trying to avoid touching my face. I can’t even fuss up strange dogs (nor yet even familiar dogs). Dog = surface (and folk take exception, as do the dogs, if you spray them with DDT or Dettol).
Like everything else in life, this apocalypse is shite.
We’ve got the tragic deaths, we’ve got the sickness, we’ve got the massive changes to and restrictions on the way that we live – but it’s all more of the same, nothing’s different except the intensity. There’s still a government telling us all what to do, they’re just telling us now in detail right down to how often we may see the sky. Money’s more of a problem than ever for all of the usual suspects, and still no problem at all for the robber barons. Big businesses are doing a roaring trade, coining in not only profit but tax-payers hard-earned bail-outs as well, while real small businesses go, as ever, to the wall without more than lip-service to rescue.
This apocalypse is all of the bad and none of the good.
I am still supposed to treat joggers and cyclists as though they are human. In a fun apocalypse I’d be able to …well, the less said about the better, but it would be a lot more fun, believe me. For me, that is, not for them. Squeeeeeeeeeze that trigger, don’t jerk at it.
Rule of Law, although its application is even more political during this apocalypse, and it is only being actively applied to the usual groups and – as usual – not applied to the usual outwith and above-the-law groups, is still in force, and there’s still a certain something preventing me from raising so much as a well-oiled cricket bat in self-defence (see my gripe about what I can’t do to disease-spreading wheezing cyclists and joggers). That something being “five years to life on a whole-of-life tariff”.
I was promised that when the apocalypse came I could drive Austin Cambridge GTi saloons through closed supermarket doors and leave tyre tracks around to the tinned foods aisle and then on to the aisle where they keep the Vesta boil-in-the-bag Curries. I was promised that when the apocalypse came I would be able to take my choice between Chatsworth or Highclere or Windsor or Sandringham, dispose of the incumbents and begin using the greenhouses to grow next year’s crop of potatoes and pineapples. The not-even-contactless little plastic card that was grudgingly issued to me by Yorkshire Bank PLC to provide access to Baby’s First Little Plastic Bank Account ought to have only been useful now for forcing certain types of door-lock. Instead it is sitting in my wallet, gibbering about rising prices and post-apocalyptic inflation, the disconnection over past decades of pension rates from real inflation figures and the precarious nature of works pension funds.
We have been sold a lemon.
It’s no wonder we’re all fed up with it.
Fed up to the back teeth with it. Couldn’t even get to see a dentist now if our back teeth were giving gyp at being fed up.
So, instead of a high-octane report from the Stuart Highway (which I have driven from one end to t’other) here is the same old same old from the Middlewich Branch.
The weather’s turned.
Cool, cloud, rain, wind. Dullth.
It’s still dark in the mornings, if you’re up early enough.
The well deck is looking far scruffier than is usual, but this is because Apocalypse, yeah? I wouldn’t ordinarily have coal of this quantity by this time of year, but who knows if coal is going to go the way of Buttock-Soft Soothy-Soothy De-Luxe Quilted?
The trains are still running.
Am I not supposed to be discovering how to drive one of the local rattlers, and trying it out as a means of transport and/or temporary accommodation now that the roads are full of bandits?
Work has begun on the brickwork of the railway bridge – and oh boy, does it need it.
The sun comes out between rain-clouds when it feels like doing so.
I can tell you every detail of every plant, every duck poop, every stumble-opportunity on this stretch of towpath. But only at dawn and soon after. During the daytime it is the province of the joggers, cyclists, walkers and dog-emptiers, none of whom I may introduce to Monsieur Pocket-Trebuchet or Madame Folding Lightweight Guillotine, since rule of law still – they tell me – proscribes such.
I prepared to fight Martian tripods, I made plans for Triffids.
I did not in my wildest day-dreams address the scenario of sitting in one place, still under the gobsmacking mis-management thumb of p*ss-weak faux-charity limited company canal “executives” (all still collecting their full salary) and waiting for some twayte (so it’s pronounced, they tell me) of a cyclist to cough in the wrong direction as he pedals past my boat at 25mph while staring at the Yellow Vest App or whatever it is that will record his “personal best ever in a rural setting after a heavy breakfast of two avocados and a small black tea”.
It is my proposal that we send this “apocalypse” back immediately under guarantee, as being sub-standard and not at all what we were led to expect.
For one thing, the agreement was that I would, when the execrable matter hit the blades of the air-circulation device, look like a young Mr M Max. I do not. Nothing like. I am more like a 6′ 1″ version of that little chap who kept being kidnapped “because he’s got the knowin’ of a lot of things” – except that I know nothin’.
For one thing – for another thing – I did not expect that “the authorites” and “the powers that be” would have absolutely not a clue how to approach the problem. Will history record this as The Great Floundering Apocalypse of 2020? The Apocalypse when Nobody Had a Chuffing Clue? The Snot Death? The Hurry Up and Wait Because Unless There’s a Vaccine We’ll All Have to Catch This Virus There’s No Other Way Out, Hide Though We Might Plague? Half of those with any power to do good are arguing over whether it’s “racist” to call it “The Chinese Virus” and the other half patently couldn’t manage a wine tasting in a vineyard even if everyone brought their own corkscrew.
Apocalypses, with all due respect and with every sense of in memoriam requiesce in pace to those we’ve lost, were much more approachable in my day. If there were zeppelins in the sky one might at least shoot at them. When the waters rose over the chimney-pots we could learn to swim. Indeed, even had Corbyn ever been elected we might have at least walked to the Kent coast and tried to board the last boat out of England (HMS Thunderchild).
Her Majesty’s public would be able to see the problem and there would have been a higher percentage of sane and pragmatic reactions. This though? This invisible bug? No-one’s got a notion. Can’t see it, la la la la la – what? No, I did not wash my fingers before I stuck them in my ears. Why would I? Mention aerosols to half of the arosols walking the earth and all that they can relate to is a tin of deodorant. Fluid dynamics is just a cold pint – which we can also no longer obtain.
I had also hoped that Her Majesty’s media might have done rather a better job than they have (any job), and reported factually, such as “Martian spotted on Horsell Common”, that sort of thing, instead of the embarrassingly adolescent crap they’ve so far spewed in the name of “news”.
Oh well, back it is then to cowering indoors like a rabbit, listening to a succession of “government ministers” blether on and thoroughly wear out words and phrases such as “unprecedented” and “we are putting plans in place” (so, to clarify – you haven’t even got the plans in place yet then…) and “new methods of reporting deaths” (huh? you mean that you’re introducing a tad more honesty into the figures?). I shall, once the rule of law breaks down, encourage one and all to “flatten the curve” of the forehead of the first person who mentions “saving the NHS” (that institution that “we” (-they-) just sold to North America et al for thirty wooden shekels and a peck on the forehead from Mr Trump).
Remember the days when our biggest gripe was BREXIT, the occasional storm and politicians and public figures using trans-Atlantic invention fake words such as “uptick”?
“Uptick”, I ask you. Something to do with fleas? Perhaps they mean increase?
On a commercial note, I was penning books in re apocalypses long before we were treated to this foul nonsense.
Buy it here, buy it everywhere, leave me a good – or bad – review, and I may – I say just may – go easy on you with the old “uptick” cricket bat.
Wherever you may be, whatever rabbit-hole you may have fled down, like me, do please keep safe, keep healthy and keep on keeping on.
If nothing else, we need to see how the helly-hell this one is going to be brought under some semblance of control. Not clue one apparent anywhere, so far.
Bring on the Triffids instead, please.
Ian H., Miserable Bugger by Appointment to H.M. &etc.