I write this on an overcast day of dreich and drizzle; the weather sets my mood – makes me feel insubstantial – without resistance. Some of us are simply born too ‘porous’ – missing a protective membrane against the outside world; it rains not on us but in us. We are disproportionately affected by the emotions of others – anger, conflict, sadness etc. Porous people are particularly susceptible to prevailing levels of Covid anxiety.
At one of my favourite fish and chip restaurants, I have two waitress friends, Alice and Maria; despite all the Covid protocols, Alice appears unaffected – but Maria, whom I’m closer to, has been signed-off with anxiety and depression; I sensed she was struggling. Just as it exposes the true mettle of our elected leaders – the virus probes in every one of us, our capacity to survive.
I’d like to report that my Covid survival strategy includes selfless volunteering on behalf of others – but I can’t get it together. I potter in the garden and, on rainy days, read books in bed. I’m even watching again the five seasons of the Wire (Omar, my hero, blows people away with a special shotgun – but all within his strict moral code: ‘a man gotta have a code’). This, of course, is mindless escapism – but there are times when ‘mindless’ can save your sanity. My wee trips for fish and chips are important to me – my ‘weekly allowance’ of ‘normal’. I hope the restaurant stays open – that Maria soon gets through this.
I’m a genuine fan of George Kerevan’s journalism – but I don’t like Monday’s piece in the National; Kerevan makes the case for the sweeping return of Alex Salmond to Scottish politics – as the only possible figurehead to unite the Indy movement’s different factions; a change from the present cautious, legalistic approach to a Salmond full-frontal offensive. I’m very reluctant to play the role of the public moralist – don’t like them; but although the court found Salmond not guilty of any criminality – it was clear that at times his conduct towards female staff was predatory. In 2020, such lack of self-control from a national leader is simply not acceptable. Kerevan is wrong to deliberately ignore this.
Marvellous four-minute rant from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the US Congress: “Sick and tired of Republicans who co-opt faith as an excuse to advance bigotry and barbarism”. What the US knows as the ‘religious right’ is part of Donald Trump’s base.
Amazon has 876,000 employees; if Jeff Bezos gave each of them a one-off bonus of 105,000 dollars, it would cost him $92 billion – which is the amount his wealth has increased since the pandemic. Good piece by Anand Giridharadas looking at how the billionaires have fared from Covid – from a new Oxfam Report.
Way back on 15th July, George Monbiot wrote this Guardian piece about the stink of secret coronavirus contracts being awarded without competition – blatant cronyism and corruption. We learn this week that a crowd-funded legal action has been launched against the Govt’s failure to account for £3bn’s worth of private contracts. I’m a Caroline Lucas fan.
In June, Boris Johnston asked one of his team, Danny Kruger MP, to consult with civil society in England and make recommendations on how the voluntary community spirit, in evidence during lockdown, could be reinforced. Kruger’s report – ‘Levelling up our communities; proposals for a new social covenant’ is probably more radical than Downing St wanted – but well done that guy.
This is a quote by Richard Curtis – one of the UK’s most successful comedy screenwriters:
“If you make a film about a man kidnapping a woman and chaining her to a radiator for five years – something that has happened probably once in history – it’s called searingly realistic analysis of society. If I make a film like Love Actually, which is about people falling in love, and there are about a million people falling in love in Britain today, it’s called a sentimental presentation of an unrealistic world.”