Fern Britton’s Happy Place

Thanks for all the kind messages yesterday. I’m feeling better than I have in days. A solid nine-hour sleep helped. It was my first proper night’s sleep in too long and if there’s one defining truth about me it’s that I need my sleep.

Yet, yesterday, sleep wouldn’t come. Nothing I could do could stop my mind from running away with itself. At one point I was lying on my bed and I was a little desperate.

“Alexa,” I said to the Amazon Echo I have next to my bed. “Help me mediate.”

Some gentle acoustic guitar starts to play… Promising, I thought, and settled down into my duvet.

“Hiya it’s Fern Britton,” says Fern Briton. “I’m here with Happy Place Meditation helping you to meditate in your happy place. Would you like to take part in our free premium session?”

“Yes,” I reply.

“Hiya it’s Fern Britton,” says Fern Briton. “I’m here with Happy Place Meditation helping you to meditate in your happy place. Would you like to take part in our free premium session?”

“Yes,” I replied, a little more anxious this time.

“Hiya it’s Fern Britton,” says Fern Briton. “I’m here with Happy Place Meditation helping you to meditate in your happy place. Would you like to take part in our free premium session?”

“YES!” I shout.

“Hiya it’s Fern Britton,” says Fern Briton. “I’m here with Happy Place Meditation helping you to meditate in your happy place. Would you like to take part in our free premium session?”

“NO!”

“Hiya it’s Fern Britton,” says Fern Briton. “I’m here with Happy Place Meditation helping you to meditate in your happy place. Would you like to take part in our free premium session?”

“FUCK OFF!!” I scream, leaping out of my bed and unplugging the Echo from the wall.

I suppose, in a way, it had worked. Fern Britton had helped me find my happy place. My happy place had been where I’d been lying almost relaxed before Fern bleeding Britton got involved.

Anyway, this morning, despit Fern Britton’s efforts otherwise, I am feeling less anxious, the invisible load weighing on my head yesterday has now gone, and I almost feel like doing a little work, though I probably won’t. I still feel a little fragile around noise and activity. I’m really enjoying peace. Perhaps some drawing this afternoon but I’m making the most of Game Pass to play Outer Worlds.

I also want to clear my head for the week ahead. The first thing I read this morning was a piece arguing that Trump could yet win the election. I could feel myself tensing up as I read it. It’s always good to be sceptical, especially around elections where so much can spin on a dime. Yet there comes a point where the data becomes overwhelming and it’s pointless noting the outliers. I’ve always said that Trump is capable of surprising everybody by hitting into the stands at the bottom of the ninth inning, but we’re well beyond that point. Even with the bases loaded – to continue this tired metaphor – he’s not got enough runners to make up his deficit. I watched Trump’s brief address from the White House balcony yesterday and noticed the crowd, largely dressed in the same Trump t-shirt, and significantly smaller than the 2000 people he’d supposedly invited. Looked like a few hundred turned up. I’m no crowd-size expert but I’d be hugely surprised if there were more than 500. I also wondered how many were paid.

Polls look dire for him but it’s not just the polls that say that Trump is in trouble. You can sense it in the mood of the candidates. I think this is why it was easy to spot the 2016 upset. Enthusiasm around Trump wasn’t matched by an equal enthusiasm for Hillary. Then Jim Comey came in and stuck a huge blundering thumb on the scales. Where I was fooled – and I think nearly every other pundit was fooled with the exception of people like Bill Maher – is that I thought he would moderate to a more traditional Republican position during his presidency. It was the reasonable call to make because logic suggested that the fight for 2020 began the moment Trump hit the White House. He could win an election running as an outsider but once inside Washington he needed to become the re-electable president. Or, at least, that’s what I thought, especially after his very first victory speech when he spoke of uniting the nation. “Pivot” feels such a 2016 word these days. I can’t use it without feeling a little shame.

As for now, the Trump campaign stinks of desperation, and not simply in the way they’ve been trying to make a sick man look hale and hearty, applying a thick coat of the Does-What-It-Says-On-The-Tin for these brief appearances. A campaign to supress the votes and claim election fraud before the polls have significantly open isn’t a campaign that expects to win. I’m also unsure about his mental state. He went on the Rush Limbaugh show and told Iran not to “fuck around with us”. I’m not exactly a saint when it comes to my language and it’s no surprise that Trump is potty mouthed but I can’t fathom the sense of doing it on a radio show that boasts of a significant evangelical listenership.

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Why Dunciad.com?

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

Really?

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.