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La peste

  Mon 6th April 2020

I work at the hospital thirty hours a week over five days, so there's nothing particularly leisured about my week; yet the virus has quietened the din of consumerism. The showy jobs which most of us do are now admitted to be useless.

On the ward, I went to pick a hair off my trousers the other day, and winced as I discovered that it was connected to my groin. It was a pube that had somehow managed to protrude through the fabric.

Emptying the bins reveals the popularity of cakes, biscuits and crisps amongst the administrative classes, and goes some way to explain why many hospital staff are huge.

On Thursday's mapless walk I wandered around a near-silent suburbia, detouring into the road when elderly people approached. I acquired a print, left outside someone's house. Stamped on the back in red ink "The French Picture Shop, Pimlico, SW1," it's an engraving by one Adolphe Martial Potémont (1827 - 1883). I laid it down on the cricket pitch of a private girls' school that I found myself in and contemplated it over a pint of cider.

I've also been spending time with a couple of seagulls and the ceaselessly wandering homeless in Castle Park. The radiant sun, the feeling of mental emptiness and vivid intensity at the same time. The silhouettes of the trees against the wide sky; the bullshit consultancies and accountancy firms on the riverbank all turned off.

I repeated a persistent beggar's spiel back to him before he could start it. "Yes, I know mate, your name's Charlie and you don't mean to disturb me but you need your train fare." Try varying the story a bit at least.

They're converting a university conference centre into a temporary hosital for plague victims and offering £14 an hour for cleaners, with enhancements for Sundays and Bank Holidays. The small disadvantage is spending eight hours a day surrounded by people coughing corona all day long, but I've applied anyway, because I'm hard.

I am displeased with our Rector. Contrary to information on the church's website, he was not in fact there at 10am on Saturday to open the church. Me and two elderly ladies talked briefly, at a distance, before I decided at least to make an inspection of the exterior with the notes from English Heritage. As I turned the corner, the couple broke out in loud exclamations. "Well I don't know Edith. You could die, I could die. I only wanted to come out for a walk!"

I found John Frost's grave though. Even now, it's tucked away in the most inaccessible, overgrown part of the graveyard. "The outward mark of respect paid to men merely because they are rich and powerful...hath no communication with the heart."


Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

Oh Looby - I did raise a smile when I read: because I’m hard!
Take care, m’dear.

P.S I reckon my closest overflow hospital is Bristol.

Mon 6th April 2020 @ 12:21 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

I am quite hard actually. I’m from Lancashire. We’re used to respiratory diseases up here.

I hope your flow isn’t so gushing that it requires attention in Bristol, but if our first meeting is on a Covid ward I’d give your faucet a specially attentive rub.

Mon 6th April 2020 @ 13:20 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

Ha Ha!!! Something to look forward to then!!

Mon 6th April 2020 @ 13:42 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Some London Lass [Visitor]

Oi Oi Looby, good to read that you’re alive and kickin in proper walking boots; methinks them birds are after nicking your booze. Post more photos, please, espesh of grass stretched vistas; your readers need ‘em.

As you know, my late dad was from Lancashire so I’m harder than you (said the…..) :-P

Have you started doing group dance your tits and bits off on zoom yet?

g’wan - you know you wanna….

Tue 7th April 2020 @ 07:34 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

Morning Some Lass From Lancashire Going Back Slightly! Always nice to see you popping in.

Couple of DJ pals have been doing the live mixing a bit, but my bedroom’s a home disco most nights so there’s not much difference there.

I found an old camera which I thought I’d lost, so there’ll be a resumption of the illustrations. Hope you’re OK and still pleasing your customers online and down the webcam :)

Tue 7th April 2020 @ 09:45 Reply to this comment
Comment from: daisyfae [Visitor]

Hard indeed… i appreciate those willing to do the heavy lifting through this. Mostly, i feel like an observer - safe in my suburban coccoon, dropping baked goods and shared supplies on the porches of my similarly cocooned friends. i feel like a puny little bitch, to be honest. there will be no tales of my pandemic heroics for the grandspawn…

Thu 9th April 2020 @ 02:31 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Hang on DF, I think you’re misprizing your good works there – not just the ones mentioned but the Days for Girls. Don’t be too harsh on yourself! And enjoy the suburban cocoon while it lasts!

Thu 9th April 2020 @ 09:45 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Book club Dave [Visitor]

Your old book club thinking of you Cliff. Not the same without you (and your glamorous co-tenants). Hang in there mate

Sat 11th April 2020 @ 15:46 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

Dave, what a welcome surprise! It’s great to hear from you. Every month I miss that meeting, I really do, and your stories of gangsters and forensic accountancy. Please send my good wishes to M, B, G and everyone. We’ve had some great nights there. One of my glam co-tenants is now a Research Associate at the uni on Bailout Lane. And to think – she came to my house intending to stay two weeks.

Miss you all, really do! Thanks for dropping me a note here.

Sat 11th April 2020 @ 16:51 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Furtheron [Visitor]

You’re doing your bit and deserve getting the clap once a week.

As you say finally the country realises who should be valued. I’m glad this has happened after I’ve earnt my life’s salary and retired from overpaid unessential jobs.

Sat 11th April 2020 @ 17:11 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yes Furtheron, it’s about time all the people on the minimum wage and just above got some recognition. And you got out just in time!

Tue 14th April 2020 @ 09:25 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

As usual i’m late to the game, story of my life really, i once told a panhandler he needed to change his story or remember who he told it to as he asked for a fiver to get gas for his car, told him he told me the same shit the week prior, i smiled then shuffled off.

Take care of yourself in the plague ward mate, the shit can get serious, just ask Boris lol! Adding to my duties as cook, cleaner, yard maintenance and gopher, i’ve now added teacher to the list as the boyos are now schooled at home until years end by order of the guv’nor (of my state not the house). Good thing i’m still sorted on the gear.

Tue 14th April 2020 @ 15:06 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Bet you’ll be an ace teacher kono. They won’t want to go back.

It’s becoming a bit of a grind here now. I feel for the peple with children in little tower block flats. Anyway, hope you’re coing with your long job description!

Wed 15th April 2020 @ 08:55 Reply to this comment

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looby, n.; pl. loobies. A lout; an awkward, stupid, clownish person

M / 57 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

"Looby is a left-wing intellectual who is obsessed with a) women's clothes and b) tits." -- Joy of Bex.

WLTM literate woman, 40-65. Must have nice tits, a PhD, and an mdma factory in the shed, although the first on its own will do in the short term.

There are plenty of bastards who drink moderately. Of course, I don't consider them to be people. They are not our comrades.
Sergei Korovin, quoted in Pavel Krusanov, The Blue Book of the Alcoholic

I am here to change my life. I am here to force myself to change my life.
Chinese man I met during Freshers Week at Lancaster University, 2008

The more democratised art becomes, the more we recognise in it our own mediocrity.
James Meek

Tell me, why is it that even when we are enjoying music, for instance, or a beautiful evening, or a conversation in agreeable company, it all seems no more than a hint of some infinite felicity existing apart somewhere, rather than actual happiness – such, I mean, as we ourselves can really possess?
Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

I hate the iPod; I hate the idea that music is such a personal thing that you can just stick some earplugs in your ears and have an experience with music. Music is a social phenomenon.
Jeremy Wagner

La vie poetique has its pleasures, and readings--ideally a long way from home--are one of them. I can pretend to be George Szirtes.
George Szirtes

Using words well is a social virtue. Use 'fortuitous' once more to mean 'fortunate' and you move an English word another step towards the dustbin. If your mistake took hold, no-one who valued clarity would be able to use the word again.
John Whale

One good thing about being a Marxist is that you don't have to pretend to like work.
Terry Eagleton, What Is A Novel?, Lancaster University, 1 Feb 2010

The working man is a fucking loser.
Mick, The Golden Lion, Lancaster, 21 Mar 2011

The Comfort of Strangers

23.1.16: Big clearout of the defunct and dormant and dull
16.1.19: Further pruning

If your comment box looks like this, I'm afraid I sometimes can't be bothered with all that palarver just to leave a comment.

63 mago
Another Angry Voice
the asshat lounge
Clutter From The Gutter
Eryl Shields Ink
Exile on Pain Street
Fat Man On A Keyboard
gairnet provides: press of blll defunct, but retained for its quality
George Szirtes ditto
Guitars and Life
Infomaniac [NSFW]
The Joy of Bex
Laudator Temporis Acti
London's Singing Organ-Grinder
The Most Difficult Thing Ever
Strange Flowers
Trailer Park Refugee
Wonky Words

"Just sit still and listen" - woman to teenage girl at Elliott Carter weekend, London 2006

Bristol New Music
Desiring Progress Collection of links only
Golden Pages for Musicologists
Lauren Redhead
The Rambler
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Sequenza 21
Sound and Music
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