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TWO HUNDRED DAYS OF NEAR SOLITUDE. BLOG 40

Blog Number 40 [Friday, 24th July 2020]. Words. Words. Words.

I lay awake last night and thought of all the words that have been let loose into the world since a new virus escaped from a Chinese wet food market and hitched a ride on another species. That was officially in December 2019 but almost certainly much earlier. It was fortuitously a good place for a virus bent on conquering the world. A totalitarian state where any warnings of a new disease were seen as a betrayal. A major festival, the Chinese New Year, an excellent breeding ground for transmission. A world that had grown complacent as other viruses had come and gone or been seen here in the West as a localised problem, “the Chinese virus” or “kung flu” as some idiot had said. Gradually, inexorably, the virus spread, sneakily too, for, as we learned rather late in the day, it could be transmitted asymptomatically and pre-symptomatically. And then there were the so-called “superspreaders,” an unfortunate term with implications of agency and extra-human powers like the Joker or Batman or other comic supervillain. Nothing comic about this virus. And with it has come a deluge of words flooding all the myriad of communication channels we have at our fingertips. People doing what I am doing now, hitting the keys on their personal computers or their phones or other devices and spreading an aerosol of verbal droplets everywhere, viral transmission as it is too appropriately called. To what end, I wondered, late into the night. What’s the point? Why bother?

M was sleeping quietly. I gently nudged her. No response. I sighed loudly and pulled the duvet. A slight stirring, no more. A more insistent nudge and she woke.

‘Are you awake?’ I asked.

‘I am now.’

‘I have been wondering about my blog.’

‘Okay.’ To give M credit she never complains when I wake her. 

‘What about it?’

‘I’m thinking of stopping it. What do you think?’

A pause. I had imagined she would say something like, ‘But you know it’s very good and people like it’. Instead, she said,

‘It’s up to you really. After all, it’s just a blog.’

This is undoubtedly true but then everything is ‘just’ something. Van Gogh’s Sunflowers is just a painting or Beethoven’s Fifth is just a piece of music. I don’t say this though as it might seem a trifle grandiose.

‘But you know it’s very good and people like it,’ said M.

A fraction earlier that might have been a comfort. 

‘They seem to like yours better. You got more emails. You could write the blog from now on if you like.’

A sigh. ‘Rest assured. I have absolutely no intention of writing another blog. In fact, I can scarcely remember writing that one.’

‘You know M,’ I continued now in full flow, ‘I was lying awake thinking of all the words being let loose on this globalised world and also thinking that I have nothing special to add and what I had written was really so much silly nonsense and I have bashed Boris and mauled Mattie and clocked Cummings and mocked Rishi and still they are all there doing terrible things, and then I…’

I went on in this vein for quite a while, drawing myself deeper into the familiar well of negative thinking until I ran out of steam. I looked over to M. No response. She’d slipped back into sleep, which just confirmed me in my belief that everything I had to say had been utterly of no consequence. That’s it, I decided. Enough of this blogging lark. It keeps me awake and sends everyone else [M] to sleep. But then, as M is wont to say, things will look different in the morning. Will they?

After 4 months of lockdown, 40 blogs and another 6 mini-blogs that were not all that mini, it’s time for a break, a pause in proceedings. I know, I know, you will be bereft. Or maybe the word is relieved. I will sign off with the words of the young, beautiful [but twitchy] Mick Jagger, “This could be the last time, this could be the last time, baby, I don’t know.

Antidote 40

1965. The Ed Sullivan Show. The Stones, singing The Last Time. How young they look!

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