Nightmare beyond the Nightmare…

Here’s my dilemma, which perhaps I’m uniquely qualified to explain because only I would be dumb enough to admit it…

I’m worried that the virus might not come back.

So, okay, I phrased that in the very worst way because I’m being deliberately provocative. Obviously, I don’t want the virus to come back. I want it to go the way of other epidemics before it and disappear into the rear-view mirror of history. I do worry, however, about what would happen if it did…

At the moment, those of us who listen to experts and think that epidemiologists rather than politicians have the best grasp on facts, probably (I’m sure there’s the odd optimist) believe that the coronavirus has not … Read the rest

Quitting Twitter… Part 387

A pandemic lockdown is probably not the best time to consider turning off Twitter for good yet here I am considering just that.

I also admit at the outset that I’ll probably fail…

Even when I try not to read Twitter, my Twitter shortcut is the first thing I reach for whenever I open my browser. I’ve deleted that shortcut countless times, yet it always reappears without my apparent intervention. I’ve tried to give myself Twitter rules, but I always break them. I just love reading about the people I follow. I like reading their tweets about the ordinary stuff of their lives. From my pretty lonely spot behind his keyboard, Twitter gives me a sense of living in a … Read the rest

Cummings’s Goings

A few days ago, I sat down to write my hot take on the Dominic Cummings story and this is as far as I got…

“Meh.”

I know, I know… Hugely disappointing, I’m sure. Don’t @ me. I know this is the bit where I’m meant to mine deep seams of filth to describe the man’s hypocrisy. And I could have done just that except…. well… I’m not finding myself getting that angry.

And, strangely, I feel terrible for admitting this. I look on social media and I just don’t feel my blood pressure rise in the same way as people on there are getting furious. That’s largely the reason I’ve not written about it. I don’t want to diminish … Read the rest

Value

Bit quiet yesterday. I was trying to think up some cartoon ideas (came away with about five or six) plus there was a “major incident” in the town. A recycling depot caught fire and caused a blaze that people could see as far away as Manchester to the east and Formby on the coast to the West. I was distracted all day, popping my head out the window to watch the smoke plume, which resembled something from the Iraq War. Most interesting thing to happen around here in years.

Today, I’ll be drawing more, though my mind is already drifting. The Guardian had an interesting story of a man who wrote his wife a poem every day for 25 years. … Read the rest

Hands

All kinds of things I want to do today, and bottom of that list was to write something for the blog. Lucky if I get two hits a day at the moment but, then, I should appreciate those two hits and I do. Hence my sitting down and writing this instead of drawing cartoons, which is how I’ve been occupied since the long misguided Sumption piece that hardly anybody read.

I love drawing new cartoons (might post some today) but can be a bit of a struggle if my mood isn’t in the right zone. Some days, I can fill a sheet of paper with ideas which might take me a couple of weeks to draw them. Other days, I … Read the rest

Lord Sumption Doesn’t Do Science

Lord Sumption is at it again, writing from his place at the high table as one the UK’s top jurists…

And, yes, it’s important to note that I did write “top jurists”. I didn’t write the country’s top epidemiologist, virologist, data modeller, or mathematician. Nor is he an economist, behaviouralist, or even a scientist of any kind. Not to discredit his formidable achievements but he is a former historian who became a lawyer. These details do matter when a person clambers up onto his soapbox and uses the reach of The Sunday Times to question the advice of medical experts.

I think it’s important to frame it like this because so much of what Lord Sumption has been saying in … Read the rest

Caffeine Paranoia and the Culture War

It’s been an emotional week, but I can’t decide if that’s because of the caffeine or the culture war…

I do know I’ve been feeling a bit fraught; on a slightly paranoid edge that I can’t totally explain. Part of it is certainly down to an excess of caffeine. I normally limit myself to the odd coffee or bottle of the fizzy stuff when I’m outside. It means I never drink too much since I know how it can leave me a blubbering mess, searching for reasons why I feel so skittish. It’s the same reason I don’t imbibe alcohol or drugs. My brain has enough problems dealing with the absurdities of the world as it is. It doesn’t need … Read the rest

Thursday

A brief dalliance with white bread knocked me out of my stride earlier in the week. I can’t eat it. I shouldn’t eat it, yet I do have the occasional craving for it and I also sometimes indulge. When that happens, I usually end up feeling flat for a couple of days. I’m a Byronist in these matters in that my gut is intimately linked to my brain, so if one is off then so is the other. I know white bread is my main food intolerance, though I often want to deny it and blame other things.

I also very rarely eat the stuff. I forget where I heard that cutting white bread out of my diet would make … Read the rest

A World for Literalists

Words can be terribly slippery. William Empson in his seminal work on ambiguity from 1930 described the effect of these semantic slips as being either “witty or deceitful”; you can look on the effect of ambiguity as providing interpretive freedom but also the chance they’ll simply steer you in the wrong direction. Poetic language pivots on these moments balanced by the tension of authorial intent, but political language is a different matter. It can quickly get contentious when the interpretative freedom involves important matters that affect people’s lives: deciding if it’s safe to get on a bus, meet a parent, or kiss a loved one.

Consider, for example, the way the government issued perfectly clear instructions about people going outside … Read the rest

Back

Forcing myself to write today. Having one of those dips in productivity that come with a dip in confidence. Wish I had some elaborate psychological explanation for it but it’s all pretty mundane. The blogging isn’t going great. Terrible numbers, even for work like my Farage piece which I thought was pretty strong. Very little income (though thank you to the couple of people who have contributed because you’ve liked my work). And then there’s been a bit of exhaustion due to trouble sleeping. I have a dodgy muscle in my back that always gets triggered if I sit a certain way on the edge of my chair. I try to stop myself sitting like that but it’s easier to … Read the rest

Conga!

I should probably not blog when I’m angry, but nothing rankles me more than a bully. Punch up not down is my guiding mantra, and I’m always happy to swing a fist to help the underdog.

But onto this blogpost and the fact that the lockdown has eased…

I write this ahead of whatever Johnson will say in the Commons today but the reality is that the lockdown is already falling apart. People have bought the message pedalled by some elements in the press. If you need a measure of how gullible people are, then this is surely it. It’s hard to see how the government reverses this decline. If we see a spike in numbers in a window beginning … Read the rest

Exercising Mr Invective [Explicit]

It’s a warm lazy Saturday so I thought I’d give my brain a bit of a workout and paddle it around that husk of nothingness floating in a sea of irrelevance that is Nigel Farage.

I drew a cartoon yesterday in a fit of… well, “pique” isn’t the right word. It makes it sound too small and hesitant. This was a great bouldering outburst of anger aimed towards a man so filled with self-importance that he is only happy when pleasuring himself over the plight of the most vulnerable or levelling grief towards the police during a national emergency. What follows is my version of a brisk run around the park. Nothing exercises the writing muscles like a quality rant … Read the rest

From Warlord to V.E. Day…

Today is the seventy-fifth anniversary of V.E. Day and another chance to reflect on how I have something wrong with my brain…

I always feel like these around these big commemorations. The fact that World War 2 lasted about six years means that there’s always another landmark divisible by 5 around the corner. If we’re not marking the Battle of Britain, it’s D. Day or Dunkirk or V-J Day or, in the years between, the start or end of World War I. I know part of my problem comes down to low-level autism or Asperger’s. I can’t get excited by things that don’t excite me but, more worryingly, I also lack the capacity to bluff. I say exactly how I … Read the rest

Thoughts About Ending the Lockdown…

17.55. Had an early tea (dinner for those in the south) and I’m back at my desk with the window open, a slight breeze blowing, the birds singing. It would be so very calming except for the sound of the neighbour’s grandkids splashing and screaming in their paddling pool…

I’m not sure why I’m writing this. My last two pieces have had almost no traffic and I don’t see this doing any better. Have I mentioned before how I’m not sure why I’d writing this blog? However, here goes… My wisdom for what it’s worth (which is precisely nothing)…

From where I sit, the pressure from the right-wing appears to be pushing the Prime Minister towards relaxing the lockdown. I … Read the rest

The Amazing Generosity of Rishi Sunak

So I checked…

I checked to see I’d be eligible for any of the help the government have so generously offered the self-employed for the past/ongoing three months of lockdown.

And, I admit, at first, I was blinded by the chancellor’s delivery. I believed Rishi Sunak when he stepped up those many weeks ago and said that “nobody will be left behind”. Ooh, cried this shmuck, so reassuring! A future Prime Minister right there… This is what we need in our darkest days.

So today I logged onto the site the government have just set up so we can check if we’re eligible for help. And it said that I was eligible! I would not be left behind!

Hurrah. Relief. … Read the rest