Angst and Anger
But primarily anger.
Anger at the sheer incompetence of this government – the lies, the procrastination, the inability to ensure the most elementary of precautions – testing? tracing? supporting? - until it is too late.
Anger at the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey, based on a malicious conflation of legitimate concerns about the actions of the Israeli government with anti-semitism. It allows Netanyahu free rein to continue with his annexation. It diminishes the cause it claims to espouse.
Anger at the media – not solely for what it is telling us, but what it is not.
Other people’s words. As ever, I have been reading and re-reading a great deal of crime novels and thrillers, notably Don Winslow’s The Force, a morally nuanced policier which I commend to everyone. But I have also managed to force my brain into gear in order to understand Carolyn Steedman’s History and The Law: A Love Story. What I relished in these essays on the minutiae of interactions between the two disciplines is the focus on the lives and works of ordinary people. It is what Carolyn does best, and never better.
I have also been listening to words. Podcasts and audio books are the soundtrack to my daily route marches around the parks of Leamington. Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which I read as a chore as a young man, illuminated a couple of cloudy days along the river. Joyce promised that his life and writing would be based on “exile, silence, and cunning”.
I wish those words had registered with me 50 years ago.
The lethargy-inducing impact of the lockdown has been mitigated significantly by Bob. First, he gave us three pre-releases from the new album, Rough and Rowdy Ways. And then, the new album itself. If we thought the plethora of allusions in Murder Most Foul or the exquisiteness of I Contain Multitudes was sufficient raw material for exegesis, it’s because we hadn’t then heard Key West. I am still playing this album a couple of times a day, still learning and enjoying as it reveals more on each listening.
(By the way, was anyone else confused by Bob’s reference to playing the Moonlight Sonata in F# rather than C# minor? I have since discovered that F# is urban slang for ‘fuck off’! Not many people know that. Or perhaps you did.)
Family, Friends and Other Bubbles
The family are fine – thanks for asking. I have now managed to see my Mum, now in her 94th year, three times face-to-face or mask-to-mask. She lives alone and has no wifi or internet skills. It’s been tough.
Most friends, of course, have the means to communicate virtually. And we have relished the apéros, the conversations, the debates on policy, the projections of the 60 game baseball season, the test-and-trace initiatives, the concerns over diminishing cellars, the celebrations of Coventry City’s return to the Championship, and a million other things.
Only once have I consciously broken the quarantine advice. Black Lives Matter is a cause which cannot wait and Jill and I were proud to be part of the demonstration in our town. It was, most of the time, physically distanced but emotionally and politically close.
The pubs can open on Saturday. Chances are I will call in to one or more during the day, even though my instincts and “the science” say we are re-opening too early.
“Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”