What can I summon?

Found this in one of the gardens. It looked like someone had made a bit of a camp in between some trees and this was left in the middle. I’m not sure what it is, but it moves in an out like a pump and makes a whistly sound sometimes. I thought it might be a bird caller, but much of the time it doesn’t make a bird call noise at all, more like a wheezy gasp. Could it be a wheezy-smoker caller? After all, smokers have become pretty unpopular these days. My colleague Jessica has to walk out of sight of her block of flats to have a cigarette or her neighbours complain. Which is ironic because apparently they’ve had a number of dawn drug raids, but they still consider her to be the troublemaker to be kept at a distance.

Anyway, maybe the wheezy-smoker caller is to round up all the smokers and take them to a safe place far from where anyone else might be breathing. Harsh, I know. I’m glad I have it now and the smokers are safe.

And then, I found this too:

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I’m less confused by what this is. I reckon it’s the kind of thing a serious hiker would have. It has a thermometre on one side and a compass on the other. I’m assuming a mountain guide owned it as they led a troop of thrill seekers through the treacherous mountains of London. I only hope our plucky guide still has their machete and crampons. It’s a bleak world out there, but presumably they’ve been trained in the art of finding their way by tube.

Do you think if  I stand in Trafalgar Square tomorrow and blow it I’ll get a group of tourists to guide? And what will come if I blow the whistle and use the wheezy smoker caller at the same time?

Finding weaponry

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Not a wildly exciting day today, but I found this cannon in the office garden. Maybe someone is preparing for that Covid Apocalypse. I will keep a close eye out for tanks and fighter planes, and keep you posted,

In more important news, I had a dream last night that one of our gardens was filled with hundreds of tiny sloths (you could fit a few in your hand). They were definitely sloths and had little sloth faces, but they were also a bit slimy and could run about very fast, so they weren’t your average sloth. I told my boss about the dream and suggested we should work out where you can buy them and she reluctantly agreed. So hopefully I’ll be working with slimy sloths soon.

Now I’m watching Tiger King (a few months late as always) and wondering if you’d have the same fuss over sloths as pets. To be clear, I think keeping tigers OR sloths as pets is wrong, but I still imagine sloth breeders being a bit more chill. I guess it’s difficult to be macho over a sloth.

Statues – thoughts, what d’you think?

tall statue of white man against a blue sky

This morning my colleague was accused by an irate French woman of staging a protest against one of our statues. This lady must have had a very low opinion of London protests, since the event consisted of my colleague attaching a laminated sign to the railings next to the statue. (The sign announced some renovations about to take place.)

At a few of the gardens I work at, there are lots of statues. Some are, like I showed the other day, mythical white women. Others are historically famous white men in blackened  bronze, often on horses. Most of them are generals. One is a president of an allied country from the war. They are just like the statues that have annoyed so many over the last few months, and they’ve always annoyed me too. They are dull and completely removed from what matters to most of the people who walk past and most of the people who have ever walked past.

There are so many interesting and inspiring things we could celebrate: inventions, individual acts of heroism, creativity (I know statues to these things to exist, but they are rare.) Instead we celebrate the men who led others into battle, to their deaths. Men who were already celebrated in their lifetimes. And women who have never existed – these at least have interesting myths behind them, but still don’t mean much to people now.

I’ve seen a few arguments against changing statues. Here are two:

‘Ah, but it’s history! You can’t destroy history!’ people say. And of course I, and almost everyone else, agree. But statues aren’t about history, because nobody learns anything from a statue, except maybe the name and how the person died (it’s all in how the horse is standing, apparently). If you want history, then put the statues in a museum, where people can see them properly and read about them.

‘Ah, but we should keep them because these were often bad people. We should have statues up to remind people of the bad things that happened.’ Ok, so would you put up a statue of Hitler then? Or would that be disturbing? Of course it would be, because a statue is a celebration. These people are so important that they are looking down on us from their pedestals. Which is why it matters that these people did bad things and why it matters that they’re all rich, white men looking down on all of us, who mostly aren’t those things. (And to be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with being rich or white or a man, just a problem if those are the only celebrated characteristics.)

When people get upset about statues being changed, I don’t think it’s about history. In fact, I think the huge BLM protests that happened around the world were historic, and in the UK they led to a statue being thrown into the sea, which will probably go down in history. So if you like history, then you should be excited by these events. I think the upset is partly about change, which tends to freak people out. But without change we wouldn’t have cures and inventions and events. And secondly it’s about dominance, it is Why do THESE people get to take down OUR statues? Which doesn’t make sense either, because why don’t they?

Personally, I would like to see something in Postman’s Park style. Statues of ordinary people being heroic. Or maybe some of the nurses who’ve died during Covid – who gave their lives fighting the virus for us. (here’s a list with info about them, and unsurprisingly, they are a number of different races and lots of women. They look more like the London I know than the statues do. Picture below.)

heroes

Or Aztec statues! How fantastic would they be?

So what do you think? What statues would you like to see?

 

This is who she is!

statue with a weary unimpressed expression

So I posted a picture of this statue a few days ago. She was looking down on me with a withering gaze while I was squirting toxic plant juice in my eye. I was trying to work out what she was holding (it’s a kitten, definitely) and Calmgrove wondered who she actually was and if she was holding an owl (clearly not, because it’s a kitten). And now I know, she’s one of the three Graces (you can see part of the face of another one on the left.)

The number of Graces varied in different legends, but usually there were three: Aglaia (Brightness), Euphrosyne (Joyfulness), and Thalia (Bloom). They are said to be daughters of Zeus and Hera (or Eurynome, daughter of Oceanus) or of Helios and Aegle, a daughter of Zeus.

From www.Britannica.com

To try and work out which particular Grace this is and whether she is, in fact, holding a kitten, (I mean, she is, I’m simply being polite). I’ve had a look at a few other pictures and statues. It’s actually pretty rare for them to wear clothes, although they often have a bit of draped material.

Here’s what the Louvre museum thinks:

Eternally young and lovely, they represented charm, beauty, and human creativity, and were depicted naked, originally holding attributes such as apples, roses, and sprigs of myrtle.

From other statues they only seem interested in draping over each other and gazing into each other eyes – which is all very romantic, but not very productive for people who represent creativity. However, the Grace in my picture has defied all their expectations: she’s got dressed, clearly has bigger and more tragic things on her mind than looking pretty and she’s holding a kitten. I think this statue must represent the three Graces once they’ve grown out their frolicking about naked stage. These days Aglaia (Brightness) works in a food bank and plays the drums, Euphrosyne (Joyfulness) volunteers at Samaritans and does chainsaw sculptures, and Thalia (Bloom) is, of course, a gardener who takes in homeless kittens. Which answers all my questions.

Found someone hiding…

model penguin hiding behind a shrub

My boss asked me to clear out a corner of the garden under some shrubs. Hidden away behind a wall, under a load of Fatsia leaves, I found this penguin. He was about knee height.

I asked my boss and she said that he was out in front of someone’s house a few years ago and she hid him. Apparently penguins are not appropriate for our gardens. I think he’s great, I shall be saying hello next time I’m there.

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Covidworld

So, I’m back at work and it’s great to see everyone again and be outside tackling some plants.

It’s all quite odd though, everything is not quite the same, little details have shifted. I’ll get some pictures tomorrow. It’s as if someone gave all of London a makeover. And then almost all Londoners have changed too. We hide our faces. We aren’t rushing, instead we keep our distance. No more stand on the right, walk on the left on escalators, now everybody stands. And there are police everywhere.

At work, my colleagues are just like they always were – cheery, lovable oddballs. But with longer hair. The guys have either slicked back styles or new wavy locks.

I feel like this is a puny blog, so here is a fella I read about this morning, the monkey slug caterpillar, Phobetron. They aren’t anything to do with monkeys or slugs, but they are caterpillars. Aren’t they incredible?

Click on this to go to the site I nicked it from
Definitely click on this photo to see more photos from the Maryland Biodiversity Project

The world holds its breath

No relevance, just a calming photo

I haven’t written for a few days. With everything going on in the US with BLM protests and then protests in UK, it feels rude to chatter about 3-legged cats.

I’m not gone though. And I hope that any of you bloggers in the US, (I know Darnell Cureton, Boo and Shameful Narcissist are, so I hope they’re all ok) are safe. And I really hope that all this leads to change. The UK definitely has it’s problems with institutional racism in our police force, but the violence is so much less and there is usually some accountability. I’m a long way away and only get to see videos and pictures, but the shameless misuse of power by cops in the US looks terrifying.

Also, I got a call from my boss today. I’m back to work in a week and a half. I can’t pretend I’ve hated being off, laziness and isolation suit me fine, but I can’t wait to see my colleagues and to be outside with the plants all day. And it means I can stop doing proper exercises, like aerobics and all that bastardry. I’ve learned to tolerate it, but I would always rather be digging up something than leaping around to a perky presenter.

Stay safe everyone, love to all of you.

Unsinew  –  to take strength from

Ultrageous   –  violently extreme

And then a cat happened…

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Feeling much more sprightly, I had plans to do stuff today. Do some writing, go to the garden centre and buy pots, but the title should give you a clue as to why I didn’t.

I always say, if you’ve got a cat, then your day is sorted. You don’t even need entertainment.

This cat walked in when I opened the front door and without introduction she had a wander around. She kept acting surprised to see me there. Almost as if I’d invaded her space.

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We got to know each other. She’s a fan of friendly biting, which I’m not. And her tail shakes as if she’s having a fit. Oh and she likes lying on the floor, which I also don’t, but obviously I did for most of today so I could hang out with cat. I tried to tempt her onto the sofa, and she did jump up quite happily and snuggled up against me. Then she got up, moved along a bit and fell over, and then got up and moved further away and fell over, then walked back and bit me. Which was much more active than I was hoping for.

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Cats and Sundays go together well. I hope she comes back tomorrow.

Anyway, TLDR? cat.

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PS: My eye is much better now!

Quick update on my mutant status

set-smile-emoji-coronavirus-infection-face-with-medical-mask-cartoon-virus-emoticons-social-media-chat-comment-illustration_87543-3223After another trip to Urgent Care, more panic that the infection was spreading to my brain and then it turned out it wasn’t, things calmed down. I have new antibiotics that seem to be working, I still look weird, but that may  just be me. I’m now mostly too tired and tetchy to do anything but watch Community and sleep, but I wanted to share a story of a man at the hosiptal.

He was sitting just the other side of a curtain, talking to a nurse. I couldn’t hear everything, I guessed he was a patient because I heard him mention dizzy spells. But there was something un-patient-like about how he spoke. He was too talkative and his voice too strong, most patients are weak and scared. This man did not shut up, just a monologue. I thought he had a mental illness, but his voice was clear and confident and a bit patronising.

So I listened closely. Here is some of what I heard:

‘I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced anxiety or a panic attack, but it’s just the worst’ (goes on to explain a panic attack to a doctor.)

Doctor: And you can’t go back to work, is that right?

‘No! Because every time I go there and I switch the phone on and there’s like this surge of energy. I know some people will say this sounds weird, but this technology has never been tested. 5G isn’t like 4G. And even the wireless is causing changes in our brains.’

‘I’ve done a lot of research on this, they brought this technology in without doing the proper testing…’ (he starts to talk about brain chemistry in fairly technical terms that managed to still not sound convincing at all.)

‘It’s like a tendril that’s going to burst in my head. Sometimes it’s hot and sometimes cold. You can’t possibly imagine what’s that’s like. The most intense and terrifying experience.’

Doctor: Well your ECG and blood tests are normal, but you’ve spoken about anxiety, so I’m going to get you to speak to a psychiatrist.

‘Yes, but anxiety isn’t the problem, it’s caused by the 5G. Now this is what a lot of people don’t understand…’

I’ve seen a lot of rumours about 5G on the Internet. I can’t see well enough to go looking up now, but I know some think it caused the virus. Not sure how this fitted in with this guy’s panic attacks and tendrils. Or why he sounded more like a pub bore than a seriously ill person who goes to the hospital during a plague. Maybe he thinks the plague isn’t real. Maybe you clever readers can figure this one out – I’m always throwing these little mysteries out to you, I know!

Anyway when I saw him finally, he looked totally normal, he was wearing a clean shirt, khaki trousers, smartly cut grey hair. He could have been a bank manager on his day off. He could have been David Icke.

 

Not quite panicking, I’m a pirate without a patch!

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Although it is a bad idea to end up in hospital during a plague, it’s probably a more efficient experience than when not during a plague.

Note: this blog may be more badly spelt and incoherent than usual, but I have a reason this time.

On Monday I got a stye on my eye, you know, one those little painful lumps on your eyelid that go away in a few days? I got one of them. By Tuesday it was really hurting, with stabbing pains shooting into my head. Wednesday I got a weird lump on my cheekbone, like a painful pea. Thursday my eye swelled up so much I couldn’t open it and I kept walking into things. By Friday, another red lump, like someone had punched me, had appeared on my eyebrow. I had an am-I-being-silly?-or-am-I-in-trouble? phase. I went to the pharmacist, managed to lose my wallet on the way and then couldn’t see to find it. Had melt down. Called a friend who lives nearby and he came out and found the wallet perfectly safe in my bag, then kindly waited while I went in the pharmacist.

I said to the pharmacist, ‘It was just a stye,’ and he said something to reply, but he had a mask on and I couldn’t hear him. So I launched into symptoms, then when I finished, I realised he’d said the same thing a few times and I was too panicked to listen.

‘See a doctor. You need to see a doctor.’

I went to the doctors, they were shut and told me no one would come out to see me and they said I had to go to the hospital for Urgency Care.

(Is this Accident and Emergency now? They’ve rebranded?)

I didn’t want to go to the hospital so I called 111. The very calm, helpful doctor I eventually spoke to told me I needed to see a hospital. That I needed someone with me in case I had a siezure on the way and I might need to be put on an IV drip.

Erk!

Anyway, Urgency Care in a crisis, runs very smoothly and was half empty because everyone is too scared to go in (I suspect the ward where the virus patients are is not so calm). We could all sit at a distance from each other and I got seen in about twenty minutes.

I have an infection that has spread over half my face. It could have damaged my eye, but didn’t. I got given the strongest antibiotics they have and told by a very reassuring doctor, the not very reassuring comment ‘You’re strong, these will probably work. If not, you have to come in and be put on a drip.’ He squirted some orange stuff into my eye which dribbled all down my face and meant no beggars bothered me on the way back (scared for how they’re doing right now, but this was not the time).

I seem to have survived the night. My face has swelled up a bit more, but I don’t feel too bad. So if I disappear, I’ve either got nothing to say because I’m boring, or I’m in the hospital.

Note: wearing a face mask when you can’t see out of one eye is like peering out of a small hole in a box.