Much rejoicing today as my first negative LFT for nearly a fortnight finally arrives. After two years of dodging the Covid bullet, it finally got me. My first feeling was one of relief. The other shoe had dropped. It was like lockdown all over again. For natural pessimists, the pandemic was like the snapping of a too-tight elastic band. At last, the nameless thing we had somehow known all our lives was coming for us was here. It did have a name, and a shape and a form, and we had spent our lives inwardly preparing at some level for this. It did not disturb our worldview but confirmed it. There was great comfort in this, and I felt genuinely sorry for optimists who underwent much more of a psychic shock.
Seeing the two red lines come up on the test was a replay in a minor key. Yes, of course I got fed up with the curtailment of my liberty (even though, given the amount I go out in a normal fortnight, it was no more than a notional circumscription) and feeling ropey. But au fond I was glad no longer to be living in a perilously lucky state. To all those who advised me over the years to therapise this attitude into something “healthier”, I say: my mental LFT should be the envy of you all.
It’s … too hot. I don’t know what else to say. Primarily because … it’s too hot. I mean. It’s so hot. Can you feel how hot it is? It’s so hot. Heat is the only thing that exists. Heat and stupid advice on how to cope in the heat. Wear linen! Keep the curtains drawn till evening! Have a siesta.
Sod off, do. I don’t have any linen clothes, for the same reason I don’t have any hats or a kitchen garden. I do not lead that kind of life. I keep the curtains drawn but it doesn’t stop my brain melting out of my ears. I’m on deadline, always, so I’m afraid that siesta’s going to have to wait until I’m Spanish and in Spain and have an entire society and history arranged around coping with disgusting heat.
And the first person to mention wild swimming to me is getting drowned. Let that cool you off.
It’s taken a few days – blame Covid and the heat, obviously – but I’ve realised what’s wrong with the current crop of prime ministerial candidates. It’s that they’re all Tories. I wondered what was bothering me.
I’m going to look into this further because I feel that in the chaos of 2022, in a world where words have no meaning any more, deeds that once would have disqualified you from any post, office or institution in the land are routinely overlooked, if not actively applauded, and the intangible concepts, beliefs and unspoken commonalities that once made up the warp and weft of democracy are lying in a frayed and tangled heap on civilisation’s toilet floor, there should be a way around it.
Maybe we just take a leaf out of our current PM’s playbook and just, like, refuse? Just deny this “reality” thing and say – nah? Drop the Penny, say we’re not Ready for Rishi, not prepared to be Trussed like a turkey, and just blithely ignore whoever gets installed by a load of other people we also don’t acknowledge. Something both more and less than a revolution. I think there’s something not here.
If we can’t pull that off, perhaps we can manage something similar on a smaller scale? It is being bruited that Boris Johnson’s memoirs could make him a million quid. I reject this as an outcome too. I suggest we embrace the “What if we gave a war and nobody came?” principle. Nobody expresses any interest in the book. Or the man. If it does get published, nobody goes to the launch and, of course, nobody buys it. Nobody pays any attention to him whatsoever. Once he’s gone from the role he should never have been allowed within a million miles of anyway, he’s gone. Don’t hanker for remorse, enlightenment or apology from him – that’s not the way he’s made. The only thing that gets under the skin of an egomaniac or narcissist is to be ignored. Write him out of the history he should never have been part of.
I told a friend today that I was trying to stop buying so many books. “Why?” he asked. “Are you harming anyone?”
He does this to me a lot. Makes me stop and think, recalibrate my worldview slightly and realise that I may be a bit of a twunt. Sometimes he goes a bit far and ends up a bit “live, laugh, love” and I have to hit him to get him back on track, but generally he’s a useful man to have around.
Now, actually, I can answer his question with – the environment. I’m harming the environment with every new book I buy. But a) most of the books I buy are secondhand, b) I’m trying to read as much as I can on Kindle even though I hate Kindle (and yes, even though it too has some environmental impact. But I have to have something, you know?), and c) the deeper issue is that I move through life constantly thinking I’m harming people whenever I have fun or do something I like. That there must be a cost, being paid somewhere by someone who doesn’t deserve to.
This … this may not be true. It follows, then, that I needn’t feel guilty when I find myself feeling happy. Going a bit mad for a moment, it may even follow that I needn’t feel guilty, full stop. Until and unless I do something actively bad, obviously. But if I’m not? Then maybe, just maybe – not?
Useful man. Useful man.
July 15, 2022 at 03:54PM Lucy Mangan