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?

 

Supernice came true!

train sign saying wear a face covering

So I wrote this book Supernice about an alien invasion. The aliens create a dystopia of oppressive new rules and terrible consequences for breaking them. In response, the government replace advertising hoardings with posters that politely (and then not so politely) tell the public how to behave to avoid trouble. Following are some quotes from the book. (And the book can be acquired for a dollar, to your right, if you fancy)

Advert hoarding for a charity. Says Be more us. Let's talk more.
There aren’t many adverts for products left in London stations. Instead there are adverts for charities.

At first the messages seemed friendly:

Advertising hoardings stretched along the seafront. Usually they were filled with adverts for phones or cars, but now the adverts were in pastel shades of purple and pink, with butterflies and smiling faces. In large letters the messages were simple:

SHOW LOVE, NOT HATE

PSST, YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL, PASS IT ON

But even then, Natasha was suspicious and happy to see signs of rebellion:

As she headed back home, Natasha passed a hundred more pink posters in bus stops and stuck to lampposts. Some had already been defaced.

KINDNESS SPREADS was graffitied with DESTROY!

And LOVE UNITES US in purple, with FUK DA ALIENS in angular black writing over the top. Natasha had never liked graffiti – she always thought it made a place look messy – but this was righteous.

And finally as the oppression became more extreme and the pretense ended:

The main road had changed again. Instead of advertising hoardings with hippy messages, now there were screens, each showing an order.

POLITENESS IS NECESSITY and SHOW RESPECT and DON’T BECOME ONE OF THE TAKEN.

I wanted to create an atmosphere of tension and uncertainty, but one in which people needed to find a way to not only survive, but to still laugh, still connect, still keep going. And of course they wanted to dupe the aliens and escape too.

Well now I’m back at work, I’ve discovered that is exactly what London has become. Lots of instructions with cute pictures, saying Cover your face, Keep your distance, Don’t travel unless you have to. It’s all considerate messages for our own safety, but the atmosphere is still intense. With half our faces covered, people are more suspicious of each other, and anyone could be a virus carrier. But we still need to laugh, connect and keep going. Luckily we don’t need to worry about the alien bit. Yet.

Sign in London station says Please keep your distance

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

Let’s watch the world burn together…

silk paint 2

So I’m in London, land of blitz spirit and denial, greed and disaster. Hunkered down in England’s plague-pit, I promise you all, everything is going to be absolutely fine.

Mood: Sort of itchy and news-obsessed. Waiting for doom to knock on the door.

Weather: Sunny, blue sky, little fluffy clouds. Distinctly inappropriate weather for a global catastrophe. Anyone would think nature was fine about our impending ending.

Word of the day: Impest – to infest with plague or pestilence.

“Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.”

The Year Of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion

It’s been a while since I posted. I just finished writing my book yesterday (woohoo!) I’ve got my head to a somewhat settled place, and a huge disaster is sweeping through everywhere except Botswana and Yemen. The UK government is doing a great job of making a plan up as they go along, London may soon go into lockdown, but I’m still working. Working is actually pretty nice, it feels like we’re a lifetime away from danger when we’re out with the flowers and the robins.

How about all of you? (going to have a look in a minute) Are you isolated? Healthy? Scared or complacent?

Note: for anyone isolating and bored, the above picture was made using the website http://weavesilk.com/ If, like me, you like making beautiful and impressive pictures, but don’t really have any talent or skills, then this is the website for you. Click and drag ineptly as you like and the results will be delightful. The controls in the left hand top corner give you enough variety to keep it interesting. A seriously soothing site.

 

But what are you talking about ?

IMG_20190507_065440

I look at this advert every morning while waiting for the train, but it’s nonsense, isn’t it? Can anyone give me a hand? Does it have a subliminal message? Or had they run out of ideas so decided to blurt out any old bollocks?

It’s for the bank HSBC. Maybe it’s like adverts for alcohol – they aren’t allowed to say a highly toxic product is nice, so they go all surreal instead. Or maybe they feel such contempt for the public that they believe we’ll be humbled by whatever they say.

The text:

Keep an open mind because being open minded has opened doors to talking bears from darkest Peru Kiwis who can coach lions and Portuguese chicken that’s cheeky. Now is not the time to batten down the hatches, it’s time to stay open. Except on bank holidays. Because we are not an island we are part of something far far bigger.

Thoughts that have occurred to my morning addled brain as I stare across the tracks…

  • Is Peru dark?
  • I like to think I’m open minded, when am I going to open a door to a talking bear?
  • Is this about a circus?
  • If that’s a Brexit reference, it’s only going to annoy people.
  • Most things open on bank holidays now. Are they thinking of decades ago?
  • Is this supposed to make me want to open a bank account? It doesn’t.

So anyone got any ideas as to what this might be on about? Does it make you want to switch to HSBC?

The Alley of Sinister Children

IMG_20190714_073216

I stumbled down a back street today and found myself in a tiny road with many flowers and statues of children hanging from the balconies. Each one was dangling from a different house, so this is a small of community who got together and all agreed to decorate their homes with strung up children. At first I found it interesting, but I didn’t like the one with no hands, bit too much like a Saw movie to me. I didn’t hang around very long after that, the vibes were not reassuring.

IMG_20190714_073243

IMG_20190714_073334

IMG_20190714_073200

IMG_20190714_073349

 

I’ve dissolved!

IMG_20190721_091736.jpg

Hello lovely people! I haven’t been around for a few days, which wasn’t planned, but sort of essential. Doing a physical job in heat way above what I’m used to (nudging 37°C yesterday) reduced me to a sweaty, clumsy wreckage incapable of thought. If I’d tried blogging I’d have written only letter sludge.

The good thing is that all us gardeners were in it together, propping each other up, finding reasons to hide under trees or floundering as one.

Interesting fact (that I’m fairly sure I’ve got right): temperature is measured in the shade, otherwise the direct sun would distort the readings. This means that being in the sun feels 10-15° hotter. Which means it was really 50° last week.

Anyway, the heat, the trains shutting down with requests that commuters ‘avoid travel except where absolutely necessary’, and poking myself in the eye with a twig, meant that I thought I’d best leave it. Now we’re back to rains and thunder, I’d should be posting as normal. Speak soon, Ink x

 

 

 

The Illuminati are torturing Jack!

Illuminati.jpg

So after a night of no sleep, I collapsed in bed about 8.30pm. Slept fabulous and woke up feeling zingy and refreshed, thinking What a fantastic long sleep, now I’m ready for a new day, insomnia’s fixed! Then I looked at my phone and it was 9.30pm. Bugger.

Did the same thing at 10pm, and midnight. And which point I felt so zingy I couldn’t even try to sleep, so I got up and played Patience.  Finally slept until 5.30am and woke up feeling like I’d been crushed under a boulder.

Anyway, all this is irrelevant, you want to know about the letter..

Blanked letter top
Part 1

2nd blanked
Part 2

 

Blanked letter person
Part 3

Blanked final
Part 4

There is one other record (I could find) of someone getting this letter in London, this year, which is pushing me towards the idea that this is an art project or game.

Above Top Secret

Tomorrow I will start investigating the different names (will they be untraceable? Is that what he means by ‘their computers cannot be searched for’?) If I can’t get anywhere with that, I’ll contact the email address on there, there’s also a phone number, is it wise to call it?

Right now I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open, so it will all have to wait. Does any of it look familiar? Any theories? (I love your theories…)

Note: If it’s difficult to read, I can scan it in tomorrow, the photos were taken on the grass in the wind, which isn’t ideal.

 

Bigger than you might think

 

IMG_20190205_154202

People are strange when you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly when you’re alone

People are Strange  – The Doors

Phrase of the day: el semaforo de medianoche (Venezuelan Spanish) a pushover, literally ‘a traffic light at midnight’

Today a set of traffic lights was found lying in the road on the estate at my work. Weirdly there was no obvious place in the street missing a traffic light and it didn’t look like sabotage. We tried to work out where it came from using the No right turn and Park closed features, but there were too many options and we’re too easily distracted. The current theory is that some workmen replaced this one with a new set, but then forgot to take this away. I was surprised at how huge it was.

On the train this morning, fabulous woman had dyed a streak in her hair orange and had rings shaped like claws. I think she’s turning into a tiger. I tried to catch her eye, see if I could start a conversation, but she was in the world of her phone screen and didn’t notice me.

Here’s another one of the traffic lights. My muddy foot bottom left for scale.

IMG_20190205_132014