As a Tolkien fan, I’m not at all sure the Professor would approve of the languages he spent a lifetime creating being used like this, but even so it’s rather fun.
Now that it has been announced that lockdown restrictions have started to be lifted, and that we’ll be able to go to pubs, cafes and cinemas after the fourth of July, I could do an entry discussing the various implications of the social distancing rules being reduced from two metres to one. About how, one one hand people tend not to come that close to me in places like pubs anyway, possibly for fear of getting slobbered on; but on the other, I often need people like shop assistants and pub staff to come within a metre of me to do things like take my money out of my wallet.
Yet I won’t. I won’t write that entry because it isn’t the biggest question today’s announcement raises. For me, the biggest question I now want the answer to is, when will we at last be able to watch No Time To Die?
I still try to avoid using busses. Although lockdown is slowly being relaxed, I still think it’s wiser to use a bus only when I have to. The problem is, wearing a facemask is now mandatory on a bus, and that’s something I struggle with. A few days ago, I sent a message to TFL to find out where I stood on the issue, and apparently I’m in the exempt group. While that makes life a bit easier, I still think I should err on the side of caution. Therefore, whenever I do need to take a bus, I make an effort to control my dribble, swallowing it regularly and wiping my chin. I cover my face whenever I cough, of course. While I am marginally more likely to take the bus or tube these days, we’re still all in this mess together after all, so even guys like me have to play our part too.
Has anyone noticed that photography seems to be in fashion these days? I just got off the weekly family Skype meeting, and my brothers were talking about which (fairly expensive) cameras they were thinking about buying and what they had been taking pictures of. Also, online I see people posting pictures they have taken of things like plants, wildlife or clouds, and talking about them as though they were semi-professional. Everyone seems to think they are a photographer these days.
I suppose that’s fair enough: due to things like cameraphones, photography is now more accessible than ever. Yet what these guys don’t seem to realise is that there is more to photography as an art form than just snapping pictures. There is an entire body of theory about how the greatest photographs ‘speak’ to the viewer; they can reveal a form of hidden truth through details which leap out of the image. Roland Barthes called this the Punctum. True photographers familiar with this background discourse know how to achieve this profound effect; otherwise you’re just an amateur with a camera. Photography isn’t as simple as just taking photos. Not only does it require extensive knowledge of things like lighting and framing, but deep, profound knowledge about how a picture can say something about the reality it depicts, which takes years to acquire.
I got back from stratford about half an hour ago. It was the first time I’ve been outside the borough or used the tube since February, but my Ipad had become so worse for wear that I really needed to get it sorted. To be honest it was a very weird trip: I think of Westfield Stratford as a bubbling, energetic place – a high temple of consumerism, full of people, music, food and light – but today it felt more like a hospital. It was only half full, everyone was wearing masks and had to follow strictly regulated paths. I used to go up there quite often just to feel the buzz of the place. It was always so new and exciting, built especially to show London off to the world. Twenty years ago that was just a neglected corner of the east end, but was turned into a thriving urban pleasure centre next door to a world-class olympic park. Yet today, with half the shops and all the restaurants closed, not to mention the cinema, bowling and casino, it felt like a shadow of it’s past self. I can’t wait for things to start to feel like normal again.
I have had a random idea which I just want to put out there: is there any reason why credit cards etc can’t contain a built in microchip with it’s owner’s details and photo on it? That way, when a cashier puts the card into the reader, the owner’s details could automatically pop up on their screen and they can instantly be verified. It seems to me that this would be a good way of guarding against credit card fraud, particularly if it’s owner is a ”vulnerable person” who can’t input a pin number.
It seems that the second attempt to reboot the Ghostbusters franchise might indeed be becoming a reality. I just watched this Reunited Apart episode, where it was mentioned that a new film, Ghostbusters 3: Afterlife is in production. I Googled it, and encouragingly found that most of the original cast are involved, as well as this decent-looking trailer. Hopefully it will return the franchise to it’s 1980’s form. Something to look forward to next spring anyway.
I just finished watching the third episode of The Salisbury Poisonings, the Beeb’s new miniseries about the Novichoc emergency two years ago. Given the hype, I thought it looked interesting, but a drama which at first glance promises to be about global espionage and post Cold War politics quite quickly turns into a bit of a soap opera, focussing on the emotional effects of the poisonings on characters rather than attempting to explain why these crimes happened. While that may have a good deal of resonance now, with everyone having to quarantine for fear of a lethal virus, I found the focus of the drama misplaced: there was a lot of emotion, tragedy and death which I felt was just superfluous to the story being told. We learn next to nothing about why the Skripals were assassinated, apart from some vague detail that Sergei Skripal was some kind of double agent who had somehow angered Vladimir Putin.
With that said, there are a few questions to be asked about this drama: the big one must be, why is the BBC broadcasting it at all, and now in particular? It was obviously produced well before lockdown, so why are we being told this particular story at this particular moment? A lot is being said about the role Russia played in both the EU Referendum and the election of Trump; others have also written about how the social division and animosity currently tearing the UK and America apart is being deliberately, if covertly, stirred up by Russia. And suddenly we see a drama in which Russia is once again cast as the secretive, ominous bully it was fifty years ago. Could the two be related? I really don’t know, but for this drama to appear on our screens right now seems to beg such questions.
This is just to wish Mum a very happy birthday. The truth is, it has been a tough few months, and it feels like such a long time since I saw her in person. While we’ve been talking online every morning, I miss her cuddles and her cooking, and I’m looking forward to going to visit her and Dad as soon as we get the all clear. As fantastic as independence is, nothing quite beats the unconditional love of a parent – these last few months have made that staggeringly clear.
This afternoon I had my first coffee of the year at the cafe in Charlton Park. As I said a few days ago, it was reopening, albeit only at weekends and with properly distanced, outside tables. It was good to see those guys up and running again: of course, they remember me and what I usually like to drink. I love the sense of community at that little cafe, where everyone knows everyone else; the only difference now is Lyn won’t be there to enjoy it too.