Blue or White

I under-blogged yesterday, if there’s such a thing and I’m not sure there is, but only because I was too busy writing two pieces for Reaction, one on the new kind of political convention (spoiler: I like them) and then a piece on the arrest of Steve Bannon (spoiler: only the best people…)

Today I broke my self-imposed-for-the-sake-of-others quarantine for the first time. It was a just a quick hop to the local hospital, which for me means a slightly knackering trip pushing my mum’s wheelchair over a steep bridge. I think the better diet I’ve been following for the past few months (cut out sugar and white bread) has helped. It felt easier, though, in truth, it’s never been that difficult.

Everything went (I hope) okay in that I managed to avoid people, didn’t touch anything, and generally maintained a high level of paranoia. People seemed genuinely careful about going near each other except for the occasional idiot who seemed oblivious to all the signs/one-way-system.

One thing that did surprise me, though, was that I didn’t have any idea how to wear a mask.

What I mean is: I didn’t know which side goes on the outside.

I’d bought some disposable masks from Amazon, which come with a blue side and a white side. There were no instructions on the box and I’ve never had to use one before. So, I made an intuitive guess.

And I was wrong.

That annoys me. I think my intuitive guesses are generally good. I have many failings but I’m usually good at judging a situation and reaching a logical conclusion.

So: blue or white on the outside? To me, I thought it had to be white. White is the most neutral of the two colours and surely, I thought, if the blue side is different, it has something on it that catches the stuff you exhale…

So white side on the outside.

And, of course, everybody I saw from that point on was wearing the blue side on the outside.


Well, it doesn’t make intuitive sense or doesn’t make intuitive sense to me. Once you know that the white side is absorbent and the blue side is waterproof, it makes sense. But I’m not sure it’s obvious sense.

Which brings me to the government. I use my Amazon Echo to listen to the news. I use TunedIn which means I have access to CNN and MSNBC, which I use on a daily basis. Whenever they cut to ads, the system replaces the American ads (usually about drugs for weird diseases and then hastily speed-read symptoms including “might cause death”) with British ads. Chief among these British ads are ads by the government. And they are constant…

Usually they’re of slightly thick sounding northerners (don’t get me started on why they seem to think every northerner sounds like they live in a tanning salon) telling us to get off our arse and get out to the shops spending money. Every ad seems to start with “If you’ve missed goin’ th’ pub….”

Anyway, there are loads of these ads and so many over the past year have been about Brexit. I know more about the paperwork involved in Brexit than I do any other subject thanks to these ads.

Which is really my point. Why do I know more about the movement of goods than how to put on a mask? Why is there no ad explaining that the white bit – against intuitive logic – goes on the inside? What kind of people are in charge of messaging?

I have very little to say about this government that’s good. Their whole destroy the civil service schtick seems to be right out of the Steve Bannon playbook. Having said that, I read somewhere that each government department has 10n press officers. In which case: why didn’t a single person involved in government messaging think that perhaps the people would want to know something more important than the availability of cheap grub during the summer (Monday to Wednesdays only, limited to £10 a meal) or telling us that Brexit is going to be a great opportunity to work even harder?

Oh, yes. Because that’s all we can expect from this government. Work harder. Drink harder. Don’t worry about anything else. There’ll always be another poor bugger to slip into your shoes when you’re gone.

Right, I’m going to watch Joe Biden’s speech. I missed it last night since I had to be up early. I hear it was pretty good.

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It’s a cool domain name and it was available. Yes, I know. Available. Crazy, isn’t it?


Yes. It also helps that it’s also my favourite satire written by Alexander Pope, one of the most metrically pure English poets who also knew his way around a crude insult or two. If you’ve not read it, you should give it a try.

So this is satire, right?

Can’t deny it. There will be some. But it’s also an experiment in writing and drawing, giving work away for free in order to see how many people are willing to support a writer doing his thing. It’s the weird stuff that I wouldn’t get published elsewhere in this word of diminishing demands and cookie-cutter tastes.