I have nothing against manned spaceflight. I’ve always seen the exploration of space as essential for humanity: devout Trekkie that I am, I hold that, if we are ever to grow as a civilisation, we must take those steps into the final frontier. However, I must say, I’m not sure I like the way our american friends are currently going about it. Research and exploration must surely be done for their own sake, not in order to brag to the world about how great you country is, while you completely ignore it’s huge and growing social problems.
Yet that is exactly what the USA is doing. Yesterday it restarted it’s space program to great pomp and ceremony, at the very moment that the biggest wave of civil unrest in years is starting to unfold. Such civil unrest will obviously have many causes, but one of the prime factors is surely the social inequality brought about through the lack of investment in basic state infrastructure we see there. The perverse kind of capitalism we see championed in America will inevitably lead to inequality and unfairness, where those who have exploit and ignore those who have not to the point where they can’t take it any more. That’s what we are now seeing in the states, at the very moment when the egotistical halfwit they currently call their president brags about launching rockets into space. Not only that but, since this was the first privately funded space mission, he uses it as evidence that american capitalism works, as if to tell the world to ignore the starving, suffering, dying people, look at his mate Elon’s rocket instead.
America is not the great nation it thinks it is, and you only need to peek behind the veneer it presents to the world through the endless sitcoms, TV programs and films to look at the way poor people, members of minorities or people who can’t afford health insurance to see that. As I once wrote here, I now very much doubt that I could live as independently there as I do here in the UK. America has lost my respect, and the longer it puts on this arrogant pretence of greatness while leaving those who need help to rot, it will not regain it.
The beeb reported on their breakfast program that Take That got together for an online concert last night. I’m no fan of Take That, and those talentless old prats obviously just wanted to reclaim a bit of the fame they once had, but the story got me thinking: if such online gigs can work for those guys, could other bands or comedy troupes do something similar? Could lockdown inaugurate a wave of such online reunion gigs? How cool would that be? We’ve already seen the bbc do a socially distanced edition of Comic Relief a few weeks ago; could we now see, say, the cast of Blackadder reunite? What if Edina and Patsy from Ab Fab had a Champagne-fuelled Zoom meeting? Could Harry Enfield’s Kevin the (now thirty-something) teenager reappear. In these very uncertain times, everyone seems up for a bit of nostalgia: with everybody stuck at their computer desks more than ever, the conditions may be set for a wave of webcam-based comedy where we see old, familiar characters reappearing on computer screens. Who knows: unlikely though it is, I’m hoping we’ll see a socially distanced reappearance of Monty Python, although I’m not sure how the Parrot Sketch would work over webcams.
Ipads make pretty good communication aids. That is, however, only until you get too much dribble on their screen, causing it to start going crazy, triggering endless strings of buttons you didn’t press, rendering it virtually useless. To make matters worse, you can’t get to an Apple store or anywhere selling screen protectors due to lockdown. Oh well, it’s just as well I hardly speak to anyone when I’m out and about these days.
For me, the biggest question this BBC article raises is, why does it focus on parents rather than people with disabilities theirselves? It details how the lives of two or three fairly severely disabled kids have been effected by the lockdown, yet completely ignores the points of view of disabled people ourselves. If these parents feel ”cut off and ignored”, how do they think their children feel?
I heard back from Paul, Lyn’s brother, yesterday. I had messaged him a few days ago, but it probably just took him a bit to get back to me. Lyn’s funeral took place on May the Sixth, and was a small family event; her ashes are going to be spread at Eltham Cemetery. It relieved me to be told that a bit: of course I’m heartbroken that I couldn’t go to the funeral, but there is going to be a larger commemoration of Lyn’s life later in the year, and Eltham Cemetery is a short, pleasant walk from my new home, so I’ll be able to visit her, so to speak.
However, rolling there yesterday afternoon, I found the cemetery gates shut and locked: you can currently only visit at weekends. Sat there, in front of that notice in my powerchair, I felt like crying: Lyn my best ever friend, the most amazing person I’ll ever meet, was dead, and not only could I not attend her funeral, I couldn’t visit the place where her remains are. It was a bleak, desperate feeling. To be honest for a few moments, I’d have given anything for a cuddle from my Mum or Dad.
But they weren’t there. Due to corronavirus I am prevented from seeing them, just as the virus prevented me from attending Lyn’s funeral or going in to the cemetery. Yet it’s somehow alright, according to this government, for a public official to drive 200 miles for no good reason, even though he was infected. Sorry, but watching this snivelling piece of scum justify himself last night, blatantly lying his head off, just hours after I had felt probably the bleakest emotion I had ever experienced, made my blood boil with rage. Do they not realise what the rest of us are going through, or do these people just not give a fuck?
I can’t bear to write anything about the utter farce UK politics has descended into this evening, but this just about sums it up…
This week’s castaway on Desert Island Disks was Charles Hazlewood. I emailed Charles a few weeks ago to tell him Lyn had passed away. He talks about the Paraorchestra on the show, although he doesn’t mention Lyn, probably quite rightly. It’s an interesting, bittersweet program in which Charles reveals the truth about his horrific childhood, and can be listened to here.
One of the things I most associate with Lyn’s bungalow in Charlton is a large painting which hung in the passage leading to her living room. It was of a man sitting at a table playing a Bouzouki, and hung in the same spot since long before I met Lyn. I’m not sure how she came by it, but it suited her musician’s personality well. Living there for almost ten years, I walked passed it every day; it felt like an innate part of the house. I remember when Mum first visited us in Charlton, she commented on the picture, telling Lyn how I had Greek relatives who used to play Bouzouki.
Lyn’s place in Charlton has now stood empty and quiet for some time. Paulo has been there to look after things and feed Guy, and I’ve been visiting him, but it isn’t the same. Without Lyn there, going there makes me feel down. When I last visited, though, Paulo told me that the council would probably soon get rid of Lyn’s things, so I asked if I could have the painting. It is such a wonderful image, intertwined so fundamentally with my memories of my life with Lyn, that the thought of it just being scrapped was too sad to contemplate.
Paulo said I could have it, so yesterday Serkan went and brought it here. We’ll hang it later today. That has made me very happy indeed: this momento of lyn and her wonderful life is now here. It feels like a fragment of that life has now been brought into my new one.. I’ll now be able to look at it every day, remember the passage where it once hung, and the incredible person who owned it.
Yesterday was quite a sad day: it would have been Lyn’s sixtieth birthday. I didn’t post an entry because I didn’t know how to mark it, or indeed whether I should. Her passing still feels very raw, and I kept thinking about Lyn all day. Of course, she would not have wanted me to get down and gloomy about it, and would probably have preferred us to celebrate by playing lots of music; yet the truth is yesterday didn’t feel like a day for a party. Lyn’s passing feels like it has left a gaping void, not just in my life but in many others’; this wonderful, fascinating, creative personality is suddenly no longer there. It is an absence which I suspect I’ll feel for a long, long time.
Today I’d like to wish my dad a very happy birthday. Complete nonse that I am, though, I totally forgot about it, and it took me a few moments to twig why dad was listing so many things he had received from my brothers in our (currently) daily webcam chat. I hope he has an excellent day all the same. Recent events have made it clear how dear him (and mum) are to me.
That means, though, that tomorrow would have been Lyn’s sixtieth. To be honest I feel rather down about it: These days, I try to keep my spirits up, but thinking about all the excellent Twenty-Firsts of May we had over the last twelve years won’t make that easy. Either way I’ll probably raise a glass to both dad and Lyn this evening.
Happy birthday Dad.