Thursday 23 April 2020


So what have I been doing during this long sojourn, an angry reader asks, implying that my absence from my blog is some kind of insult to my readers.  It isn't of course.  I appreciate my readers, because when you are a struggling writer it is very difficult to get anyone to read your work, let alone provide feedback!  That people return again and again is a wonderful compliment.  As long is someone is reading me, I will carry on writing.

Most of my time and attention has been focussed on the craziness of Donald Trump.  I listen to and watch news all my waking hours, even when exercising and making jam, which I have now taken up - I only make small amounts as I need it, sooo much nicer than preserves.  But tis true I should be focussed on the craziness of Boris Johnson, and in the past I would have been, but Trump has taken lunacy to a whole new level.  I have been watching his nightly press conferences in fascination, actually in shock and awe. I despise him, but I can't look away.  There is nothing he will not do to grab attention and headlines, he is, in his head, smashing his oppoponents for the entertainment of his base.  Like Jerry Springer, he is just 2 seasons away from removing the chairs so they will have more room to fight.  He is empowered because he has got away with not revealing his tax returns, Russian interference in the 2016 election and impeachment.  He feels free to do whatever he wants.

Right now the USA is in the midst of the pandemic and all the science shows it is not going away.  The infection rate is slowly going down as a result of the shut down.  Re-opening would start it up again.  The same thing happened during the 1918 Spanish flu - when people started to go out again there was another wave, much bigger and far more deadly, and it wasn't the last.  The scientists, those not watched over by Trump, are very clear, the pandemic is far from over.   

Trump has said that other people, not himself, would advise 'get back up on the horse', 'take it on the chin', 'let the virus do it's worst', after all most people get over it.   It is obvious those 'other people' are indeed himself, and he is just using it as a ruse to get those ideas out there.  And it's working, some of his supporters protesting the shut down carried banners that said 'Sacrifice the week' (sic).  The weak are a sacrifice Trump is willing to make in order to re-open his hotels.  Unfortunately he was told that 2 million lives lost was a worse case scenario, ergo, anything below that he will consider a success.  

I am hoping that before Trump fully launches his genocide, that the doctors, generals, scientists et al, who waste 2+ hours each day standing behind him, or sitting on the sidelines during these critical times, will face the fact that the President is stark raving mad.  That his promotion of untested drugs is wrong (and dangerous), that encouraging civil unrest is wrong, that claiming the coronavirus is going away is wrong.  I always wonder what Trump has that demands such grovelling and subservience from his underlings.  All I can think of is, he's got something on them.  That's a tough one with Dr. Birx, but he may be holding her family hostage.  

Boris Johnson is convalescing in Checkers, a stately home for the relaxation and enjoyment of Prime Ministers, a place where they can take a break from public and media scrutiny.  Lucky him, I am sure our reporters have quite a few probing questions, my first would be 'so how do you feel about taking it on the chin now?'.

My kindest wishes to all who still look in, and I hope that you are keeping healthy, mentally and physically.  I am trying to stick to healthy foods, 7 fruit and veg a day!  Not easy given the bare shelves and all, but achievable if you put your mind to it and like lentils!  And yes, I am counting my homemade jam as one of my 7 a day!  So too the piece of dried up old lemon I added to my G&T. Where previously I would have turned up my hooter, I am eating bread hovering on the eat by date and a weird variety of soups/stews, chillies and curries, all a mystery until I defrost them because I didn't bother to fill in the convenient labels when I froze them.  I really want to throw them out but my conscience nags me, they were in fact put in the freezer 'in case of an apocalypse', and deh, here we are.  

The shortages are actually making me creative on the cooking front.  I can get potatoes, I can get cooking oil, I have a heavy bottomed saucepan - I can make homemade chips!  Egg and chips has always been in my top ten of meals to have should I find myself on death row with multiple menus.  And we kids of the 60s know that homemade chips can turn anything into a scrumptious meal.  My dear old dad mastered the art, and declared that forever more, chips should be cooked 'his way'.  That is, they should be cut into chip shapes, raw, dried off a bit with kitchen roll, then plunged into oil so hot that it bubbles when the chips are added.  They should be fried for approx. 5 minutes, until just before they begin to turn brown, then removed from the oil from a couple of moments. allowing the oil to get back to maximum heat, then the chips should be plunged back in, for approx. 2/3 minutes.  They will brown immediately at this point.  Take out, drain on kitchen paper, then keep warm in oven while you cook the next batch!  

I had hoped to end this blog with something poignant and meaningful, instead I give a recipe for chips!  Should you attempt them, that is making chips without a bespoke chip fryer, as we did in the old days, ha ha, make safety your top priority.  That is put the pan with oil on a back burner and never leave it alone untended, even for one moment.  Dry the chips off with kitchen towel before lowering them into the oil, water makes hot oil splash.  And make sure you turn the gas off when done.  Making chips takes 15/20 minutes, give it your full attention and the result will be delicious.

If you are looking in Bjorn, I was heartened to see Princess Sofia volunteering to help health professionals in a local hospital with coronavirus patients.  Not the glamorous stuff, but the cleaning, cooking and care, what a wonderful example she is!

Tuesday 14 April 2020


I am struggling just now to find the kind of news I want about Covid-19.  I want to know, with examples, how the virus spread, the beginnings of each cluster and how the virus was passed on.  Was it through the schools, the shops, the physical contact or simply sharing the same air?  Did the UK do contact tracting?  Is there a crack team investigating how the virus works, where are the most likely places to come into contact with it?  Is it on trains, buses, in taxi cabs, shops, on the paper and plastic bags we collect our food in?  Is it on our food, should we disinfect our salad and tins?  I want to know the nitty gritty.  I want to know the hot spots in my area, I want to know where the contagion originated, where it came from, how it will spread.  I want to know how all those people who are staying in are doing?  Have any of them caught the virus, even though they have stuck to all the rules?

I looked at carehomes for the elderly as an example.  I wanted to know how the virus spreads so rapidly between patients who are, presumably confined within their own rooms.  Is it brought in by visitors?  Or is it being spread by doctors, nurses and carers who are not being tested and who are not being supplied with PPE?   Sadly, it is more likely to be the latter.  Those countries that have flattened the curve, have been meticulous in making sure their key workers on the front line have the protection they need.  

To be fair, I have not researched these questions too intently, I'm not absolutely sure I want to know the answers.  Silly of course, because once you have all the information you can calm your own fears.  Information gives you the power to make your own choices, to assess the risks 

If I were younger, I would probably be eager for life to return as it was.  During my twenties and thirties, I would literally weep when I could not go out.  I guess I even enjoyed going to work every day, I mostly worked in the City of London as a temporary secretary for decades, spent nearly two of them in one firm alone!  I didn't understand the philosophy behind 'Greed is Good'*, but I was fully onboard with the partying.  I worked in an area where the lunchtime pubs were filled with derrivatives traders on manic highs, it was hard to tell their ages as most were burned out by their thirties.  Always up for a good party though!  Young people must be going demented, at the prime of their life they are stuck indoors.  Thank heavens they have social media.  They must be suffering far more from the social isolation than their elders.  For we elders I think, the staying in will be months rather than weeks.

As my regular readers know, I am obsessed at the moment with US news and the antics of Donald Trump especially.  In a world that is becoming increasingly unreal, his being President of the USA is perhaps the most bizarre.  I watched his press conference last night, his worst to date, astonished that his wall of enablers didn't bat an eyelid, as he claimed to have absolute power and raged at journalists.  I only caught the tail end so didn't see the campaign ad, as fascinating as Trump the Insane is, his rambling off of statistics and tributes to himself are repetitive and boring.  I usually just opt for the highlights on twitter.  Will Trump ever reach the point where he should clearly be taken away in a straight jacket? And will the people lined up on the Praise Trump wall acknowledge it?  Will Ivanka and Jared hold onto an elbow each and prop him up 'Weekend At Bernies' style, when he starts dribbling and talking about the old MAGA days?  Has anyone checked to see if he is actually alive?  He keeps repeating himself over and over, the tape may be stuck?

But I wandered.  My kindest wishes to all who keep popping in, even the grumpy ones.  These are strange and surreal times, and it is hard to stay strong when there is so much to fear.  But, as every disaster film will tell you, staying strong is the key to survival.  Healthy food, daily exercise, reading facts from reliable sources will keep the fears in perspective.  Take care.  

*Gordon Gecko, Wall Street

Saturday 11 April 2020


Unfortunately, my blog attracts more than it's fair share of raving lunatics and conspiracy theorists.  It always has, for obvious reasons, but even after I had dropped the favourite topic, the weirdos, as I call them, have hung on.

Now they believe the coronavirus is a big hoax, a way in which to rush in draconian new laws that will infringe our personal liberties and lead us into a totalitarian Communist state.  The 'our' in this case is the United States and the United Kingdom, two countries presently ruled by fat cat billionaires who don't even pretend to want equality, the, err, binary opposite of communism  Whilst I agree we will probably lose many freedoms along the way, now is not the time to stir up rebellion, stopping the pandemic must take priority.  They assume that the majority of us are stupid and brainwashed because we are taking government guidelines seriously.  They mock that we applaud all the front line NHS workers, suggesting our next trick should be to roll over as if we were compliant dogs.

To be fair, I don't have any actual English blood in me, but as a child of the 60's I was raised to be proud of my British home.  Proud that we alone stood up to Hitler, proud that our predecessors stood side by side with their neighbours and fellow countrymen to fight the enemy on the beaches and the landing grounds, in the streets, fields and hills.  That's what we need right now.  The will, and clever organising people, to get the world back on track.

They are this century's equivalent of Lord Haw Haw, not Germany calling, but predatory sharks looking for a financial killing on the deaths of society's most vulnerable.  Both the sharks and the vultures are hovering.  The Western world looked on the coronavirus as a challenging new way to make billions.  Race you to the patents office, say the Kushners to the Trumps.  And in the UK, herd immunity - what a great new way to reduce the benefits bill?

Comparing the statistics for coronavirus in China, the Far East and Russia, it would appear that the communist countries have contained the Covid-19 far more effectively than the capitalist countries.  Meanwhile, Trump and all those minions propping him up, couldn't care less about the lives of American Citizens and here in the UK, our PM has just awoken from an up close and personal experience with the virus.  Hopefully this awakening will force him to do the right thing.

History has shown us that major catastrophes bring about major changes, WWI for example had a huge impact on class divisions - the aristocracy were dying alongside the coalminers in the trenches.  The aftermath of WWII saw the launch of the Welfare State and Homes for Heroes, a huge surge in care for the working classes.

At the moment we are in the middle of the pandemic and we don't know how bad it is going to get.   We need the spirit of Wartime, another Churchill (Jeremy would have achieved that), that feeling of all pulling together to fight a common enemy.  I despair of these malcontents and ingrates, who are so eaten up inside by whatever evil possesses them, that they will gripe and whine about those who are doing their best to help us.  Wtf is wrong them?  I cannot thank enough all those people who are ready to take care of us and those who are making sure we get food and medicines.  The doctors, the nurses, the paramedics, the delivery drivers, the shelf stackers, they are the heroes this time round.  If Churchill were alive, they would be the 'few'* we would be thanking.

These are miserable times and we are all scared, but what I find more scary is the way in which all our demeanours have changed.  Everyone is tense and grumpy.  Even I am supressing my inner urge to spread sweetness and light. I don't want to smile, I don't want to get into conversation, I'm suffocating from my black ninja mask because I tied knots in the ear elastic to shorten it, and now I can't get them out.  If I go blue and keel over, it will probably be the mask.

I am now getting bored.  I have watched The Tudors and Versailles hundreds of times over and have almost finished every episode of Project Runway.  If I had a genie in a bottle I would ask him to take me back to age 15 and get me into couture.  Having said that, I will now feel a bit of a phoney asking for 'No Regrets' in my funeral songs.  

Much as I don't want to go to the dark side, it's hard not to think of your own mortality at this time.  I've never feared death, because I, like William Blake, believe it is a door to another paradise, I also draw in a bit of Buddhism, because I believe if it was shit this time round, you come back as something better.  I'm torn between wanting to be an Egyptian Queen or a pampered cat, the couture loving me, would pick Cleopatra, but look how that ended?  Totally worth it for a night with Richard Burton (it was the voice!) btw, but a lifetime of tummy tickling and finest smoked salmon.....hmm.   In any event, I am very much in the plus side with the karma, it is my nature to be kind, it's why I sleep well.  

I suppose at a time like this it would be a good idea to have a proper God, a proper religion.  Perhaps I should just sum it up by saying 'faith', faith in something, anything.  I had a very unstable mother, so to be fair I have never really had faith in anything.  But I kind of envy people who do have faith, they are able to switch all their cares and woes to an unseen entity that is more powerful than them.  Sticking with power as the optimum word, I have never in my life been able to hand my power to anyone, certainly not to a mythological being that no-one has ever seen.  My stubbornness, as I may have mentioned, led to a very unhappy time in the convent.  To be honest, as a kid, having to attend church every fecking day, I would stare at the priests and nuns in all their medieval garb with gormless looks on their faces and their hands clasped.  Did they really believe I would ask myself, or were they were putting it on like great big phonies?  I always opted for the latter and the inevitable battering.

Now, I am more philosophical.  I understand that people have different needs, for some they live more contented lives by belonging to a community or congregation.  Some people like to hand over responsibility for their lives to a God or higher power, that is more bearable than taking responsibility for themselves.  I once read, many years ago, that the two biggest evils in the world were capitalism and religion.  I had not at that time gone into higher education, and thought it a bit harsh on religion.  I was a lapsed Catholic, but Catholicism one of the two greatest evils?  It puzzled me, I needed to know more.  I want to compress all I learned into one or two sentences, suffice to say, my God's bigger than your God.  Now the word 'herd' is politically correct, how about herd mentality?

But religion for many provides family values, community spirit, a sense of belonging, I can't knock it.  We have gone 2000 plus years and still haven't replaced the life and family guidelines set out in the Old Testament, except now we sacrifice immigrants rather than goats and livestock.  The biggest argument religious Christian zealots have is that we wouldn't know how to behave without the rules set down by their God.  That is, we would all be killing, stealing, disrespecting our parents and coveting our neighbours wives/partners, if the good Lord hadn't told us not to.  I can't say I have ever had inclination to murder, steal or covet, even without guidelines, and frankly find it a bit odd that people need to be told not to do that.

Now I have described myself as a lot of things.  First of all a Roman Catholic (no choice), then atheist - be gone you god botherers, anti-theist - anti God worshippers, agnostic - hmm, there might be something....  back to RC, there is something very comforting in lighting a candle and accompanying it with a prayer.  Besides, I've always thought of confessing all I can think of as I draw my last breath, just to hedge my bets.  

But mostly, I am agnostic.  That is I believe there is an afterlife of sorts.  During life we have people with whom we have connected, our souls have entwined, we love them more life itself.  And I think they are watching over us and I think we will meet again.  I should hasten to add, I do not believe in spiritualists, mediums or any other con artist who sets out to deceive people.  I think they are very cruel.

We don't need spiritualist and mediums, we can see our loved ones, in the faces of all their descendants, in one way or another.  They may have the same facial features, gestures, crooked smiles, sparkly eyes, those lost, live on.  Be it nature, or nurture, the genes are there and they carry on from generation to generation. 

Well that ended up very deep, but I have annoying habit of speaking out loud when I really shouldn't.  Regardless, my kindest wishes to all who still look in.  I vowed to carry on writing even if I had only one reader left, and maybe now I should step up to the plate for those who have kindly hung on.  Right now, I pray to all the Gods there may be (especially fond of the Greek ones) to take care of all us.  Please, please, be kind and thoughtful, and if you can, give a smile to the person who crosses the street to avoid you. For the narcissistic sociopaths out there, it's not personal.

*Never has so much been owed by so many to so few.