The Tube in Covid Times

I wanted to share a few photos showing what the tube looks like right now, because it is WEIRD. There have been a few cries from Transport for London saying that they are hugely in debt and need money from the government to carry on. However, I don’t think this is just due to the lack of passengers, but also the lack of advertising, because there is very little.

Instead there are posters telling us to be kind or mind the gap. I think they’re just putting up whatever they can find.

Maybe this is what a post-capitalist world would look like. Instead of every step we take being filled with BUY THIS! maybe we could get rid of these posters all together and have murals, or large photos of the sky.

With this and the talk about changing statues, it feels like London is getting a whole makeover this Covid season. I get why people find it frightening, but I think it’s exciting, like moving to a new city.

This is a video that keeps playing, basically saying ‘Chill out! Have a walk and a think! Or go for a cycle!’

Note: sorry I’ve been kind of absent recently. I don’t have a good reason, I just don’t have anything to say 🙂

Magical Death Weed Seeds: new evidence?

Photo from this great article about the plant prop from Day of the Triffids

I’ve been a bit shoddy posting recently, and I’m sure that many of you have been wondering: What about those mysterious Chinese seeds? Did they turn out to be Triffids?

Well there have been a few new revelations about the seeds, so I’m going to put an article up for any of you who’ve been wondering. There have actually been a few articles posted, mostly saying OH MY GOD, WHAT ARE THESE! WHERE HAVE THEY COME FROM? WHAT DO THEY WANT? DON’T PLANT THEM, WHATEVER YOU DO! A few countries have received them now: Canada, US, Australia, Ireland and UK – all English speaking countries, no idea if that’s significant.

https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/government-identifies-some-of-the-mysterious-seeds-posted-from-china-1014055.html

One detail in the article is that the seeds come from Vanuatu as well as China, which aren’t two countries I think of as being connected. The article suggests we ‘avoid planting the seeds’ which is pleasantly mild, so I won’t set fire to the pot on my windowsill yet. It seems there are a few different species in the packets. Bamboo would have been nice and I like a Petunia, but I don’t think mine are either, so they may still be Triffids. It’s still unknown as to why the seeds have been sent – although the ‘brushing’ scam is mostly likely. Apparently the US are having an investigation and China are helping.

I will post more details, should any appear.

London of the Plague

Last week the heat turned my brain to porridge and shriveled all the plants to dust. I didn’t post because I was too grumpy.

London looked sinister this morning

But now it’s cooler, greyer and my brain got impatient because I haven’t been on a proper adventure into London since lockdown began. So off I went.

I’ve been studying tunnels and catacombs under London recently and came across a place called Leake Street. This is a tunnel going under the platforms of Waterloo station, where graffiti is legal. It sounded like the kind of place I should know about, so I assumed I must have been there and forgotten. I was wrong.

I went today, I’ve never been before and it was ace, but a tiny bit creepy early in the morning.

You could see history in the walls. Layers of images piled up expressing rage, sadness, disgust and joy with life. Lots of current events (of course plenty of covid comment) and delight in colour and shapes.

Bit of anti-vac rage

I found this great blog showing the graffiti on the walls each day as they change – 100 Days of Leake Street.

Next week, more tunnels under London (albeit less colourful ones).

Mysterious Magical Death-Weed Seeds

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Mysterious seeds

CNN –

States are warning people about suspicious packages of seeds that appear to be from China

I was reading the above story – how lots of gardeners across the US (and also UK) are randomly being sent unlabeled seeds from China and this is causing panic. The recipients are warned DON’T SOW THEM, WHATEVER YOU DO! CALL THE POLICE! STEP AWAY FROM THE SEEDS!

I was thinking that sounded interesting. And then I thought, Wait a minute! I’ve got some of those. So I went to my fridge and pulled out the little baggy of seeds in the photo.

How did I get them? Well during the lockdown I bought a load of seeds online – Coleus, Thunbergia, a few Cosmos for work. Partly to have something to put in my garden, partly for something to do. I thought they’d all arrived, but then an unmarked box arrived with this bag inside. No note or receipt, no email telling me I was getting a parcel, and no indication of what the seeds were. I assumed it was some I’d forgotten, and put them in the fridge since it was too late to plant them for this year.

I’m fairly sure that they are the seeds in the article, since they have the exact same label as the ones in this article. So I think I’ve been sent seeds from China as part of some, what? Attempt at an invasion? Are they triffids? I showed them too a friend and he said, ‘They don’t look like seeds, more like electronic circuits.’ Fabulous.

There’s talk that they are part of a scam called ‘brushing’, which is a way of getting reviews by sending people things and then stealing their details. To be honest it doesn’t make much sense to me – if they’ve already got access to my Amazon account, then surely they can post a review without giving me stuff. And it must cost a fortune to give away so many free seeds. So I am still not sure.

Just to add, I’m joining in with this because I love the mystery, but I’m still wary of these China are Evil stories that are so popular. It’s true that China is something of a superpower now, which means other (failing) superpowers such as the UK and the US feel threatened, and that leads to our media spreading fear. On the other hand, what is reported as happening to the Uighurs in China is horrific, so I’m not sure their government is especially benevolent. But the shittiness of a government definitely doesn’t mean the people of that country are shitty (I really hope or I’m screwed too). And I know plenty of Chinese people who are lovely. So an addendum to this seed mystery is: is this an innocent mistake that UK/US press are distorting to spread ill-feeling about China? Or are these robot-controlled, demon-summoning, mind-controlling, triffid seeds?

I’m going to have to plant the seeds, aren’t I?

 

 

Abandoned London

Londo2

It occurred to me walking to work today, that London may never look this empty again once the virus is over, so I took a couple of photos. Although Dan reckons that London is changed forever now, the people won’t return.

‘So London will become a rotting husk? Just the occasional cyclist and confused tourist wandering about?’ I asked. He nodded.

Okey doke. We know the movies and the TV series, the plague comes and the busy city life never returns. We end up huddled around a camp fire roasting cockroaches on sticks and trying to open a tin of beans with a plastic spork. And yes, I am aware of how melodramatic I am, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

LONDON

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?

 

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

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.

We all must have purpose!

foxy fellas

two foxes

I have tagged this Lifestyle, because this is my covid lifestyle, watching fox cubs. And here are some words for such a lifestyle.

Deponent – having a passive form but active meaning (I feel this sums me up at the moment, because I definitely mean to be active, but my form is passive.)

Stygian – having a gloomy or foreboding aspect; murky (not sure if this is my mood or the mood of the world today)

Medusiform – resembling a jellyfish (self explanatory).

Along with watching foxes, I went out to buy some milk and watched a bit of Seven Psychopaths ( I haven’t the concentration to watch a whole film at once). And I decided to stop trying to write a book that was annoying me, and start writing a new one. It went quite well too. I might start another new one when this one gets annoying. Maybe I can sell them on to people who have trouble starting writing.