What one day resembles Utopia, the next looks like Uttoxeter. Turns out if you let people do whatever they want at home all day every day, their favourite new hobby is to moan they’re bored.
Certainly the things people are doing to try to fill time feel a lot like barrel-scraping. Take gardening, when it’s not cold as a snowman’s carrot outside, because a week and a half of quarantine has completely reversed global warming and we’re now a fortnight away from woolly mammoths setting up market stalls in Aberystwyth.
There’s some fucking great plant I want rid of in a flower bed here because a family of rats have decided to build a fort in it, and when I say here I mean here, because I’m always fucking here and I’m not sure there is anywhere but here any more. But I need a fork for this plant, haha no no silly not that kind of fork, a big garden fork so now I wait, interminably, for Homebase to send one to me because I’m told outside my front door murderous little balls with red pins sticking out of them make Hellraiser look like Happy Valley.
DIY too. There’s always plenty of turds to be polished in the crumbling hovels of 21st-century Britain; putting up shelves for all our worthless tat, painting over cracks in walls because paint is well known for its structural integrity, and grouting, whatever the fuck that involves. I put up some shelves a little while ago myself. Couldn’t drill into the wall far enough so in the end I used some glue I found somewhere. The anticipation of exactly when there’ll be a massive crash at the back of the flat gives me the kind of tingle that makes DIY so fulfilling.
Thankfully there’s always the internet to keep us entertained, and seemingly corona-immune drivers to deliver even more shit we don’t need than usual, and garden forks. I’ve shopped online plenty over the years but I never realised just what succulent truffles can be uncovered. This morning I received an email with, and I’m almost breathless thinking about this, well I am actually breathless but we’ll get to that, with big red letters proclaiming:
Paracetamol back in stock!
I repeated the ‘with’ in that previous sentence on purpose you know, because I have a certain style of writing that has come to be known as ‘author approved’. This means I think it’s decent but I never know for sure because nobody but me reads it, just as nobody will read that novel or screenplay you’re currently thinking about writing. Yeah now’s the time to embark on that writing project we just know will be a hit because we’re all so fucking funny and clever. Unfortunately you’ll soon find that free time and motivation are inversely proportional and the world may just have to mope on unawed by the way you make the sunlight dance through the heroine’s hair as she injects her father with pentobarbital for the inheritance.
Of course, for some lucky souls there’s home schooling to occupy the whole family’s time. Now, I understand this is a divisive issue. When your unholy copulation resulted in that wonderful surprise, oh I’m so happy darling I love you I can still go to the football right?, you signed up on the proviso that for at least seven hours a day, five days a week, 10 months of the year, for 13 years or so, the fucking thing would be somebody else’s problem. Now they’re home all the time and it turns out they’re a disgrace, wailing and running all about, acting like life’s meant to be fun and not a grim slog to the cemetery.
So you make them do school, but at home. I’m sure it’s all working out really well. Obviously the unaskable question remains that if civilisation is crumbling all around us then what the fuck use is the sine rule, but without school everyone would be thick, and much happier and less likely to need to fill it with worthless consumerism, so education education education. Drown them in oxbow lakes; centripetal force it down their throats. I’d try and say something funny about making them interpret Shakespeare but that really is child abuse you fucking monster.
There are quite a few things to occupy your time in the age of the virus. But even with that wide array of time sinks, people are starting to moan that they’re bored. Liberty’s being unnecessarily curtailed and there’s work to be done, oh but the economy, that type of fucking thing. People will, in the next week or two, start to say “fuck it, I’m bored and I’m going out”.
The message is ‘stay in save lives’, but whose lives are we really saving anyway? Brexit voters and people who are dying already. Yeah but the economy, and also I’m bored. Collateral damage.
Sensible thinking in many ways.
As an aside, I didn’t properly say it out loud here, kind of skirted around it, but in 2018 I got lymphoma, and in 2019 they cured it. Cool eh? Oh what a time we had.
And in the never-ending Zoom party that is 2020, it’s back and I’m fucked all over again. Just when you lot are all giving each other a virus that might be mild for a BBC newsreader with a riddled arse, but probably won’t be for someone with a tumour the size of a grapefruit in his chest, that’s when my body decides six long, dreary months of remission is quite enough thank you very much.
And, if I might just underline precisely the predicament I find myself in here, the pubs are shut. Pubs. Shut. All of them. Maybe the cancer figures I’m better off dead, and to be honest the jury’s out.
I don’t want sympathy and I’m not dead yet, though I’m angrier than I’ve ever been and that’s a pretty high fucking bar. I’ve punched so many inanimate objects in my life all this damn washing is actually making the back of my hands look like Jennifer Lawrence’s by comparison. I must find out what cream she uses.
When I breathe I can actually feel the shake, rattle and roll as air fights through the ever-expanding obstacle course in my trachea. But I get that people do need to get on with their lives, so when you’re clamouring for Cafe Boheme to unshutter and Kenilworth Road to reopen its proud gates, I’ll understand. If the virus hasn’t gone and you all start giving it to each other again that’s OK – I only need to go to the hospital once a week and I’m sure the Tube will stay nice and clean and not crowded at all.
Have a non-virtual house party. Go fly a kite. Breathe in the air I probably can’t. What’s a life worth when you can’t live it? Hell, I might even go exploring myself.
I’ve always wanted to go to the ExCel centre.