Friday, September 18, 2020

Mo Moseff omd Isolosion: dojs 13 omd 14

 With the UK now conceding another lockdown seems inevitable, we end our period self-isolation. I can admit after the rules changed and we would have been able to go out if we’d been away for longer, we stopped taking it that seriously. We weren’t bad, but it’s hard to adhere to rules that are not fully logical. We might have bent them. “Hypothetically,” our lawyers have asked us to add.

I’ve been jokingly let the title deteriorate as a kind of joke about a deteriorating state of mind. And like a lot of jokes there is something serious behind it. Mental health is a big issue that has been being marginalised during the measures against the current pandemic. That’s on top of the marginalisation it was already receiving, particularly in the UK, whose approach to mental health has its roots in the “just buck your ideas up” approach.

I have it pretty easy being locked in. In fact it’s almost my ideal state. But, even I miss meeting people. I know there are people really suffering out there. It’s harder to get the help you need in these times and more people are needing it than before. Support networks are less reachable or not available. Be aware. Be mindful and look out for people who you know are or think might be suffering. If you are suffering, be aware there are people who want to help.

What have I become?

I know some of you have been coping by getting answers and a sense of control by really delving into the “truths behind the reality” or conspiracy theories. Which is a fine but you don’t need to tell everyone about it. Otherwise, you’ll have some serious reputation management to do when this is all over. The thing to have in mind is that when people say you have to “wake up” it means they want you to dream the same dream as them.

My simple advice: Don’t only get your news from twitter. Don’t read YouTube comments. Realise that there is a corner of the internet that will agree with you no matter how far-fetched an idea it is. Remember there are 8 billion of us. Every far-fetched idea has several people know also believe it. And at least one of them knows how to make a website.

Having said that, I have a 5G phone being delivered this Monday, and it is clearly going to inject an upgraded covid-20 directly into my brain so that Bill Gates and Mos Def can kill me remotely from their organ harvesting factory in Jerusalem.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Mi Myseff amd Isolasion: daj 12

 Still a little of what Earth people call sick. It’s more mere exhaustion now. Probably all triggered by some bad nights of sleep. Or rather bad nights of lack of sleep.

The last few days I’ve been enthusing about what I’ve been watching, which I find very easy. I am a bit of nerd when it comes to movies. Sorry if that startled you.

It’s been so for a long time and started with a fascination for old and obscure horror and sci fi movies when I was a teen. If you press me for a favourite movie, I’ll say Fiend Without A Face, which is a British-produced 1950s sci-fi horror with invisible aliens. It is a great movie and as unintentionally silly as it sounds. But it is genuinely scary and has some surprisingly good special effects of the aliens when they finally become visible as brains propelled by their own spinal cords.

It’s not to be confused with The Brain From Planet Arous (1957), whose antagonist is a giant brain dangled from a thread. Don’t get me wrong, the latter is worth a watch, but more for how silly it is.

Fiend Without A Face. 

Meanwhile in the real, present-day world, things are still terrifying and a bit silly. Politically, the British government is fighting itself because, spoiler alert, there seems to be no way rush out of the EU cleanly. It was always going to take time, but the government has felt it has to rush it because people were told it would be quick, easy and instantly going to make the country wealthier. Once you’ve conned people, it’s very hard to uncon them.

The latest big fight is about the withdrawal agreement, which has had a comical history. The previous Prime Minister, Theresa May, spent a long time trying to get the government to vote for it. She tried several times and they kept saying no. Then with a few capitulations on both side, the next Prime Minister got it through, and scoffed at anyone who dare read the small print or vote against it. Now the same Prime Minister is saying it’s not very good. And instead of resigning for pushing through something that is no good, he wants to change an already signed agreement, which from a government would seem a thoroughly dishonest thing to do. But it’s dishonesty which has gotten us where we are, so why change now.

The toddler has taken to putting the tablet on the back of her scooter and pushing it around like some kind of mobile cinema. Which makes up for everything bad going on in the world.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Me Myseff amd Isolasion: daj 11

 I’ve gotten a little sick. It just seems like a cold, but these days even the slightest sickness fells one with dread that it is the feared lurgy that is currently stalking the land. It most likely isn’t, but you can’t think it.

From my last entry you might be thinking I have been doing nothing but watching old TV, but that’s not true. I’ve been watching new TV too. Plus movies.

At the start of lockdown, I began watching things somehow inspired by the pandemic. These have been mostly disaster and apocalyptic disease movies. Here have been some highlights...

  • The Last Man on Earth (1964) Engaging (but slow) post-apocalyptic plague/zombie movie with Vincent Price.
  • The Omega Man (1971) Remake of The Last Man on Earth but with Charlton Heston. Less claustrophobic because of the big cityscapes, but the focus is more on the deteriorating mental state of the central character. The death cult are much more culty and cartoony; and there are no zombies. Tenser , darker, very 1970s. It was remade again as I Am Legend, which I have yet to see.
  • The Swarm (1978) Enjoyably terrible killer bee disaster movie. If you ever find yourself writing dialogue like "I appreciate that, Doctor, but, let me ask you. In all your fail-safe techniques, is there a provision for an attack by killer bees?" delete everything, walk away, save the studio millions.
  • Outbreak (1995) Biochemist (with relationship problems) investigates seemingly new virus. With added layer of US military top-brass interference/cover up). Semi nonsense, but enjoyable, big-name, well-directed nonsense. One of the last movies where a virus didn't turn people into zombies.
  • 28 Days Later (2002) British post-virus zombie movie. Tense and claustrophobic as you’d expect it to be.  Starts the same way as The Walking Dead and Day of the Triffids.
  • 2012 (2009 (2006 (2003 (2000)))) Huge budget, over the top, big name end of the world nonsense. It’s proof that even with big names, and no doubt plenty of people paid as consultants, there can still be major plot holes and the core science can still be ludicrous “Neutrinos coming from the sun have mutated into a new kind of nuclear particle. They're heating up the earth's core and suddenly act like microwaves.”
  • Pandemic (2016) Flu-like infection causes smart, fast, super-angry zombies. Pretty well done. Suitably downbeat and atmospheric. Some video game references for the modern audience.
What have I missed that I really should see?

Monday, September 14, 2020

Me Myseff amd Isolasion: day 10

A couple of days ago, we (as a collective culture) lost Diana Rigg. There is always a steady stream of people who are or were in the public eye or ear or mind who pass on. Some hit you where it hurts and others have less impact on you. Some make you think back to your childhood; some make you think about your own mortality; some make you think about beans.

Diana Rigg is someone even younger readers would know due to her doing an excellent job as the matriarch of the Tyrell family in Game of Thrones. Many others will remember her as the only “Bond girl” that managed to get him to settle down (for about the length of a wedding) and, of course, she was Emma Peel.

If “Emma Peel” means nothing to you, then it will take too long to explain. I’d have to go into The Avengers, and then explain that it’s not The Avengers you are thinking of. The one I’m talking about was the archetypal paranormal / science-fiction -influenced spy show (Psy-Spy-fi).

It’s made me intrigued to find and watch a couple. Been a long time since I saw one.  It has never been as easy as it is now to find old TV shows. Not that The Avengers would have been a hard one to find, as it was the ultimate in mainstream cult classic and a box set would have been available from shortly after the box set was invented and packaged up In a huge bundle of VHS cassette tapes. Now some of the older, more obscure series can be found for free, while others can often be streamed for a few shekels. And Box sets still exist.

I like the idea of boxsets, but I also like the idea of space in my apartment. Charlie Brooker (I believe it was) described boxsets as tombstones for old TV shows. The final clincher is that my partner hates music or movies on physical media. 

Totally self-indulgent list of old shows I have seen (some or all of) in the last year or so…

  • Hammer House of Horror – TV show by Britain’s best-known horror studio. I never saw any of these as a kid, despite my love of (Hammer) horror. Some are great. Some are terrible.
  • The Day Today / Brass eye – the greatest spoofs of the TV news business you could ever see. Still holds up today. Seriously, watch them. 
  • Blakes 7 – 70s/80s British sci fi series which even back then you knew the FX were wobbly. I must say I appreciate the dystopian view of the future much more as an adult. And the cast was first rate. This was one I thought rewatching would be ruining part of my childhood, but it didn’t.
  • Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace – something I missed when it came out. An amazing spoof of bad sci-fi/horror TV.
  • The Sweeney – tough British cop series from the seventies. Was inspired to hunt some down after watching the excellent Life On Mars. They were well made, and generally not as outdated as you’d expect.
  • Look Around You – I hadn’t even knows this existed. A joyful spoof of TV education / science shows. (Not everything I like is a spoof, honest.)
  • Nighty Night – I didn’t get to see this when it first came out. Very dark comedy (not really a sitcom although it has the feel). Great cast of exaggerated and monstrous characters and some very funny moments. Central character is a true monster with a mission.
  • Ripping Yarns – I saw one when they first came out and then never managed to see one again. Great, um, spoof, of boys own adventure stories by Michael Palin and Terry Jones.

So you can see, I’ve been busy. What else should I watch? Agree or disagree with my opinions? Let me know.

Also, we are not allowed to meet up in groups of six or more in England. A friend from Wales taunted us, but pointing out he could meet 6 or more people. In Wales 6 people is called a town.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Me Myseff and Isolasion: day 9

Self-captive’s Log. Starweek 2, Starday 2.

The people of this planet are strange.

The more false the ideas of the inhabitants the stronger the belief in them when confronted by contrary information. They have the power to have information shared by everyone, so that the people could be united by facts, but the devices that share this information shares everything and has very little to no distinction between truth and non truth.

They consider themselves rational people, but they are far from it. What they call their rationality ,is an afterthought. The think things based on emotion and then use their “rational side” to justify their thoughts.

They cordon themselves off into separate areas often marked by unnatural boundaries and worship the ground they happen to be on as somehow sacred and more worthy of similar dirt elsewhere. They consider the pieces o dirt around theirs the most evil and the most worthy of ridicule despite them and their inhabitants being the most like themselves.

They want to be loved but seem to value those who do not love as people worthy of exulting.

They scoff at the notion of worshiping money, but it is the thing they protect the most. It is generally considered to be mark of someone who is worthy. Perhaps that’s why the word is “worthy.”

Sometimes things are written that are so holy to them, that despite the ambiguity and anachronism of the words, anything that seems to contradict these words upsets them to a dangerous extreme. They words can be simple line in a national declarative text or a whole book to dictate an origin story and set of rites.

Often the less they know the more certain they are they are right.

In summary these are a strange people who see themselves above everything but fail to lose the shackles of scared, squabbling animals.

Self-captive log end.

Me Myseff and Isolation: day 8

 Week 2. The week that should not be.

Toddlers emulate us adults. It’s how they learn by copying us and trying to be like us. The downside is we realise, because we are always telling her what to do and being firm when she doesn’t do things, she has started doing the same with us. She has become very, very bossy. She orders us about and if we say no, she puts her finger to her lips and goes “Shhhh! The baby’s asleep.” This last part is not what we do, but it’s her own interpretation.

It isn’t helped that she watches a lot of Peppa Pig. Peppa is a very entitled, middle-class child that bosses everyone around and acts like the queen of knowledge. She’s a terrible role model, but she’s probably a very typical child.

Our toddler is also very quick to unleash her thermonuclear option, which is a kind of sonic bomb rendering all around her with momentary hearing loss. It’s a high-pitched scream channelled direct from Hades, but instead of an Earth-shattering growl, it’s an ear-piercing scream. A crystal clear ear-piercing scream thanks to her soprano genes. I’m worried it’ll form the basis of some superpower. I’ll be taking your ideas as to what her superhero/supervillain name will be. My thoughts are: Sopra-Noh! Ear Piercer. Siren. 

I have no drawing skills so I will not be making a graphic novel of any of these ideas, so feel free to steal.

If you do, after a while, she can team up with other similar super{hero/villain}s. Bari Tony, Alto Native, Bass Lynn, Ten Awe and of course Castrato, who has the most harrowing origin story of any supercharacter.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Me Myself and Isolation: day 7

Day 7. End of the first week. After today we are half-way through. 

We are greeted with the news that Sweden is now on the exemption list. I’d have expected to be more annoyed, but arbitrary rule changes are very much the norm these days. The rule is if you arrive from Saturday, no isolation. If you arrive before, you isolate for 2 weeks. I pity the chumps who land Friday night rather than Saturday morning, cos they gotta isolate while their slightly later friends are free. It does seem a little ridiculous.

What this means is that if we had stayed an extra week, we wouldn’t have to isolate next week. But as it stands we do. 

It’s a bit like we went on a 2 year thieving spree, and when we turned ourselves in, we got a 2 year sentence. But if we’d gone on a 3 year thieving spree, we wouldn’t have to give ourselves in because thieving suddenly wasn’t a crime anymore.

The news comes just as some of the surrounding countries seem poised for a second wave. However, Sweden might have achieved that fabled goal of herd immunity. Only time will tell. 

I think that phrase herd immunity might sound more attractive with a different collective noun. Very few humans want to be in a herd. No one wants to be cattle. Pack immunity, sounds better. As do Collective protection, Community immunity and local resistance.

Sad news, our robot vacuum cleaner – the one the toddler refers to as “the robot” – has reached that point in its life where the battery starts giving up. We hope it hasn’t got the electronic corona. Sometimes it goes for a few centimetres and then starts slowing down like it’s wheezing. It was just as the toddler started getting braver. A couple of times she even approached it as it slept and switched it on. She immediately ran away with that overjoyed / terrified scream, you almost never hear from adults.

Anyway, enough for now. It’s date night, and we’re watching Joker. Yeah, we do romance!

Me Myself and Isolation: day 6

Day 6. “Dag sex” in Swedish. Which is a whole other thing in Australian.

Toddler is putting face “highlighter” all over her hands and face. She now looks a bit like a friendly alien from a 1980s TV show. As I recall, the friendly ones were attractive and shiny and the bad ones scaly and warty. I’m warty.

"I have a specific set of skulls."

So in the UK, groups over six are to be banned from Monday. Unless they take place at work or in a pub or on public transport. Or, no doubt, at Dominic Cummins house. Dominic Cummins, who we referenced before, is the neurotic, self-important man behind the curtain of Boris Johnson’s Blizzard of Boz. Not to be confused with Tony Abbott, Britain’s new trade ambassador and former Australian PM, who is the Weasel of Oz. Or with Dominic Raab, the Gizzard of Owls. Or… I’ll stop.

I was a little unfair yesterday, presenting a very one-sided view of Brexit. Brexit is multifaceted and there are multiple opinions that lead to votes on either side. I’m happy to set the record straight with an analogy from other side. Brexit is like quitting your golf club membership because that is the thing stopping you from playing golf on every other golf club in the country. And the club you just quit will, of course, let you play for free still because you’re the coolest and they just want to hang out with you and they know you’ve still got it. In fact everyone will start paying you to play in their clubs because you are, like, really important and very soon you’ll be the most popular person in the world because the only thing holding you back was that stupid golf club membership!

Actually the toddler has been very contrary today. Resisting almost everything, but also insisting someone be involved in everything she wants to do. Although some of that was fun. But toddlers don’t seem to understand logic such as “you want to spin round and round, so why do I have to do it as well?” They have no concept that you don’t want to do what they want to do. And any suggestion that you might not want to can lead to screams. As I have said before, our child is half soprano and can scream at the top of anyone’s hearing. I sometimes wish I’d been to a few more death metal gigs when I was younger. I might not be able to hear those screams at all now.

On the plus side, I have a new phone. So it also means I can take pictures of me on my old phone. It also has an insane zoom, so you can take pictures of tiny things all the way across the room. I’m not sure why I’d want to, but it’s nice to have the option.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Me Myself and Isolation: day 5

 Day 5. “Undirt wah cat sank,” as they say in France.

The toddler is eating jelly and watching one of the many sleep-deprivation-conceived shows for kids. Honestly, young kids shows should mostly be categorised under “psychedelia.”

Baby Jake has LSD induced dreams interpreted by his older brother.

The other end of kids shows are more educational rather than make something like the way their brains work. The better ones can also be enjoyed by parents. There are a lot that cannot be. Peppa Pig is a better one. Every now and again, they’ll slip in a hint of something more adult or a reference to classic movies only us older parents would even get. They know a lot of parents are also stuck in the room when it’s playing.

See 3 mins in for some top refs.

But best of all is Hey Duggee. Hey Duggee sometimes seems like it’s aimed more at adults than kids. But kids still love it. I know people without kids who watch it. It is jam packed with references, parodies and well-crafted humour. It’s also one of the most inclusive kids shows ever.

News here is the usual confusion and buffoonery. The government has had to step back a bit on it’s attempts to reopen the country by banning gatherings of over 6 people in the face of an increase in cases. It’s also going back on an agreement it pushed very hard for and admitted that might mean breaking a little bit of the law. The latter is about Brexit. The easiest test for something being about Brexit is asking, “does this sound like something a 3rd world dictatorship would do?” Cos if yes, it’s most likely a Brexit thing.

For any non-Brits, Brexit is best explained as being like deciding to leaving a (lets say) golf club because you were persuaded that it would save money on fees only to realise you can’t then use the course now without paying each time which will be much more expensive in the long run. Plus, a little bit of you also wanted to leave because you had somehow thought if you left, the Muslim family at the end of the street would somehow move away if you did. There are no good analogies because it’s a complicated web of misinformation, ineptitude, duplicity and complacency. 

We’re still quarantined, but work is keeping us occupied. As is a toddler who is half soprano, so thus the loudest screams on anything remotely her size.

As you’ve been good, I’ll leave you with one of the greatest moments of children’s television in recent years: Hey Duggee – Stick Song. A treat for all those 90s kids who now have kids of their own.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Me Myself and Isolation: day 4

 Day #4.  (Day number four / day hash four / day pound four / day sharp four.)

The toddler is rolling her scooter over bubble wrap because just pressing it by hand won’t cut it anymore.

Yesterday got into some pretty murky theological areas. I realise I compared my child to Satan. Satan is the bringer of chaos, the sender of noise, the destroyer of all that is weak and fragile. So, that stands.

News comes in that the toddlers nanny on his mother’s side (mormor as the Swedish call it) has got some horrendous stomach bug. It’s not the corona, but it is not good. It doesn’t involve hospitalisation, but it does involve a lot of bathroomalisation. It explains why we all have slightly dodgy tummies. The fear is for us it’ll also go full Somme. [You might need to adjust this reference for your own region, by referring to the muddiest, messiest battle you know.]

Don’t worry. We’ll keep you informed of how this goes.

For general cleaning and the fun of it, we have a robot vacuum cleaner. It’s not one of the fancy ones and it’s not that smart. It has about 5 different programs, that it cycles through until a random point in time OR it has hit enough obstacles to give up on that one.

Somehow its programming means it spends most of it’s time under the chair, like a timid pet. Every now and again it emerges, usually with a ball. Under the sofa is a graveyard for balls, Lego pieces and anything else a child might want to throw or kick around. For that read “everything.”

 The toddler has a fascination / horror relationship with it. She wants it on and loves to see it move semi-randomly around the room. But, she is terrified of it. She will not stand on the floor when it’s moving. She’ll sit on a chair or stand on a step where it can’t get her. She might still scream with a mixture of fear and joy when it comes close. I hope she doesn’t pursue human relationships like that.

She’s very excited when the robot emerges with one of her toys. Sometimes she’ll be brave enough to run and get it, screaming the whole time. Others, she won’t dare. With three robots, I could probably keep the child herded in the other part of the house. Until she overcame her fear and hopped from robot to robot filled with revenge.

"Take me to your leader."

As for our self-isolation, no one has checked on us yet. Which brings us to Priti Patel, who sounds like a character in a satirical novel, is in fact a frequently inept, pandering, reactionary politician, like a character in a satirical novel. She’s the Secretary of State for the Home Department, meaning she’s in part responsible for things of State and indeed partly responsible for the state of things.

She has said, they monitor 1 in 5 people, which they do by calling them. Not sure this is the best thing to admit. Better keep us being good by not knowing the system rather than allowing people to think, “I ain’t getting calls, so I ain’t being tracked.”

Apparently I was right about one thing – they are mostly interested in the background noise. So never go anywhere where you can’t drown out the ambient noise with a recording of cats mewing, or a serial killer documentary or sounds of porn. But beware of having too many cats in the recording so that you sound like you are at a sanctuary, or that the documentary is at the point of an re-enactment so it sounds like you are killing someone, or that the porn sounds are too real and it sounds like you are actually having an orgy.

Anyway, so no call and apart from a lot of screams over the top of a droning robot, we’ve all still got it together.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Me Myself and Isolation: day 3

 Day, the 3. Already I’m reverting to old English (or ye olde Englishe as it’s known).

Back in the day, customs officials were keen to know did you have any illegal drugs or banned fruit. Now they want to know where you’ve been in the last 14 days. Which countries, in particular. If a country you have visited is not on the exemption list then you have to self-isolate. “Not on the exemption list” is effectively a double negative and, so, confusing. Much less confusing to say, “it’s on the inemption list.”

The UK government has a website, GOV.UK. And it certainly can govuk itself. 

Fair enough, a country like the UK, which loves itself some bureaucracy, is going to have a lot of forms and documents, but just a little thought could make things easier to navigate. It’s basically just a directory but organised how a civil servant would think. Something most people would describe as labyrinthine, a civil servant would call an in tray.

So even things I found yesterday, I can’t find today. There is a place to log in, but it’s not prominent on every page, you have to dig down and find the right page. The writing style is as dry and verbosely factual as you would expect.

Anyway, on one of these pages is a form to let the good people at Edge Case, Side Liners or Border Force (or whatever the customs people are calling themselves this year) know where you’ve been.

Sweden is on the inemption list. Countries come and go from the exemption list the same way that lockdown rules are relaxed and tightened. It’s the ebb and flow a country / world at sea.

Apparently, they do follow up on this. From some people I’ve heard that there was no checking. Emma is in some Swedish groups and people there have gotten automatic phone calls asking if they are at home. You answer “yes” and they’re happy, supposedly. Maybe they listen to the noise behind you. If it’s a lot of chatter and thumping bass, you might not be at home OR you are breaking the bo contact rules. If it’s the last 30 minutes of Netflix, you’re probably at home. They also do come visit, Emma heard. Some people have had several checks. So it seems that the checks are random or maybe based on some other factor such as age or how foreign your surname is. There’s no data on this.

MILK (Internet slang) - Man I'd Like to Know.

A hundred years ago, there was a similar pandemic, known popularly as The Spanish Flu. How much harder things were then. No internet. No YouTube. No Netflix. No way of remotely arranging food to be delivered unless you were wealthy enough to have a telephone or expendable servants. And even a few years ago, there were no affordable services delivering food or groceries unless you were house-ridden through age or sickness.

But now, it’s very easy to order groceries to be delivered. The biggest problem is that, in these times, the better ones will not have a delivery slot for quite a few days. Am*zon can deliver pretty quickly, but who likes giving money to an actual Bond villain. Of course, it means these delivery drivers are basically visiting all of the people deemed more likely to be sick and are now the potential spreaders. But, they seem to know this, and keep their distance. Leaving the boxes for you to empty at your door and only approaching to get the next one to you.

Self-isolation sounds like it’s a great excuse to not work. “I can’t work from home today, I’m self-isolating.” But, alas it actually means you have less things pulling you away from work. So, Monday morning is Monday morning. At home. Where it has been for months. And where it was for nearly two years before that (for me). 

There was the usual meeting in the people-panelled zoom room. And then getting back into doing whatever it is I do, after half a week of good old fashioned rest. I’m lucky in that what I can do can be done from home. I haven’t been laid off or been left without clients. Also, as an introvert, lockdowning and self-isolating are not as hard on me as they are others. I do count myself lucky. 

The toddler, however is an extrovert. She’s gregarious and so 2 weeks without daycare or other contact with fellow wee’uns is going to be the toughest part of this. But if Jesus can suffer 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness with Satan, we can suffer 14 days and 14 nights in our living room with a toddler. Not that I comparing myself to Jesus. 

Ugh, day 3 and I’m already comparing myself to the messiah.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Me Myself and Isolation: day 2

 Day 2. Toddler is scooting across the lounge with a liberated coin next to her on the footrest.

On the behest of a more scientific friend, I have looked up some of the coronadata.

When it comes to this pandemic, there seem are more opinions flying around than actual data. Maybe that’s true of nearly everything nowadays. You’d think the internet would make it easier. After all, everything that ever happened is recorded somewhere on the internet. On the other hand, every lie ever told is also on the internet. Every opinion you have, no matter how ludicrous has a website, group or channel backing it up. It has never been so easy to be wrong.

In terms of Deaths, Sweden is doing better than the UK (meaning there are fewer of them, to clear up any confusion), but that is not saying much. However, it’s still up there in the top part. Their hope is that now it’s all done and dusted and a second wave won’t bother it. We’ll have to see. Its neighbours are much lower down the chart, but in Denmark, according to TV, you are much more likely to die of a serial killer than anything.

It’s odd that despite its high death rate, I have some trust Sweden’s science-led approach. Even though a lot of the science is up in the air and all we have is predictions, and when the dust has settled, we can see what went down. Definitely, I have more trust than in the UK’s response which seems to have been “try all the methods” and is much more spin-doctor-led.

I’ll have to look into what Denmark, Norway and Finland’s methodologies have been for dealing with the crisis, but that’s enough geomedical statistics for one day.

Day 2 and everything is A-OK

The rules for self isolation in England are that you absolutely must stay indoors (or your own garden) except for when you or your pet needs medical attention, if you have to go to court(!), or “to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.” So, if the house is falling down or you are a character witness for your best friend accused of serial killing, then you can leave it.

You can also leave if you absolutely need some food you can’t arrange to be delivered in time, which we had to do on the first day due to a milk emergency that meant one of us had to go out under cover of mask to make sure we survived. Believe me. Somethings you can do without as an adult, but there are things without which children become unbearable monsters. Some of these can be bought from shops (such as milk or what ever the little things drink of choice is), others are unique items such as that one special soft toy (out of all the others that are somehow vastly inferior) or that one special blanket without which sleep is impossible except after an hour of tears and wailing.

There are some other specific exceptions / quirks. The people you are staying with do not need to self-isolate. Which is convenient but seems counter to how transmittable diseases work. Also if you are a child, and you have to change houses because it’s the turn of the other separated parent, then you can do that and continue your quarantine there. It doesn’t say whether you should hug your other parent or not when you arrive. It doesn’t say what you can do if you are leading a double life with two separate households.

Finally, you cannot change houses unless “there are exceptional circumstances in which it becomes impracticable [impossible] to remain at the original address.” This is very open and I guess includes your best friend / flat mate turning out to be a serial killer, crocodiles start living in the bathroom or demonic possession of the bedside tables. Feel free to share your own, and we’ll see which is the most likely. (Note: actual most likely are flooding and spousal abuse, but let’s not sully the mood.)

The big question I’m sure is on everybody’s mind is: do the authorities check up on you and your self isolation? Short answer: Apparently, yes. More on this in a later episode.

Did you know episode is an online version of a pisode? This is the state of comedy on day 2. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Me Myself and Isolation: day 1

 So, this is the first day of self-isolation after a trip to Sweden. We knew we’d have to do this, and so prepared. We decided it was worth it to have a break AND bury Emma’s grandma. We’re now stuck indoors for a fortnight. 

We planned for it by signing up for one of those services that delivers ingredients and instructions on how to cook a week’s worth of meals. I might mention their name if it works out.

So far it’s fine. But the two of us are ‘lucky’ in that being locked indoors for two weeks does not fill us with dread. The toddler, however, is gregarious and gets antsy if she can’t jump in a puddle every other day.

I’m not completely sure of the exact rules of self-isolation in the UK right now so we have to find out if nipping to the shops is allowed. The rules here change very frequently. I think the government assumes we’ll think they are on top if it if they keep issuing new guidelines. We are in the process of opening things up here, but it seems for every two new things opening up, something (or somewhere) has new restrictions. 

It’s a far cry from Sweden. Sweden didn’t do the lockdown thing. They kept things more or less normal, but said, “you must social distance.” Swedes, on being told they had to be two metres apart, had a brief initial panic worried that this meant they could be no more than two metres from other people. Social distancing is what Swedes call socialising. They were the odd man out of Europe, despite the fact they were apparently the only ones who did what they EU scientists recommended and didn’t panic into going full lockdown for everyone except the Prime Minister’s special adviser.

(If you are not from the UK, then I’ll explain that behind the prime minister here is a Rasputin-like figure called Dominic Cummins. At the height of the lockdown, he drove himself and his family on several long trips against all guidelines and, just to show his contempt of everyone with a soul, explained one of the trips was to “test his eyesight.” Driving to test your eyesight is like operative heavy machinery to see if you are drunk. He was quite rightly ridiculed for this, but these days in politics, shame only makes you stronger.)

In the UK, you have to wear one on public transport, shops and anywhere where people congregate. Except restaurants and bars or anywhere where you need your mouth for eating. Which makes sense, kinda. At the airport in the UK, you needed a mask everywhere. But the moment you wandered into a restaurant, and you didn’t need a mask, even though you weren’t any further from people, really. 

It was weird, after 3 -12 months (however long it’s been), to go somewhere where practically no one is wearing a mask. I was so used to a certain level of fear, it took a little bit to adjust that to caution. But that’s maybe a difference between Sweden and the UK. In Sweden they hope people see the reasons for rules and in the UK, rules and laws are often fear-based. I mean most of our headlines are fear-based. It makes Britain look like a bunch of scared people all trying to scare us into thinking they should be in charge.

But the fear creeping into Britain is not new. As I said, somewhat jestingly, fear is the main way that some of our most popular newspapers sell their product. Readers of these get at least one big fear for their way of life every day. The rise of UKIP and the further right (racism is always rooted in fear) and tactics used to secure a majority for leaving the EU attest to the power of fear.

Anyway it’s already day one and I’ve gone into the dank corners of politics. This is meant to be a journal of a family in self-isolation (albeit with a family unit), a chance to document some thoughts on this bizarre situation we find ourselves in and a way to force myself to write regularly. Expect 13 more.