This is the seventh instalment of LOVE AND WAGE LABOUR IN THE AGE OF CAPITALIST PANDEMIC. These instalments are journal entries entitled with only their date. I wanted to try to document this time, the time of COVID-19. It struck me that I was having conversations with people who were all having unique experiences of this pandemic, and that most of these conversations, like all memories, would fall away. I wanted to document it. These are my experiences only. I hope you find something in them. – Madeleine
The regular writing sort of fell away, didn’t it? We finished our jigsaw, the 1000 piece Klimt nightmare, which began poetic and ended covered in blood, sweat and tears. We’ve begun a new one, apparently not learning from our mistakes – Hokusai’s The Great Wave. It’s going faster than the last one, and I shan’t be writing a poem about it. I go in, sort of faff around and throw a few pieces in where I can, then get bored and abandon it. Sort of like the government with social care. Ha ha. It’s not possible for the Tories’ failings to be less funny, if they tried. Perhaps they should brighten things up a bit, you know, strap Priti Patel to the front of a truck full of PPE and send it up and down the M6 at 80mph.
It’s been a peaceful lockdown for me and mine. Lots of Zoom and lots of ‘Gosh, where did the day go?’ I am awaiting the world to end from the garden, but it hasn’t yet. I’m applying to a great many jobs, to write, well, anything at all, and the sunshine has meant we have taken long, plodding walks by the river near our house. The flies are everywhere, the weather is cheerful, the walkers are many and the sense of dread yet lingers among us. Passing people on the paths is daft and odd: some people overdo it, sort of flail and fling themselves into the hedges to stay away from you; others amble past like the world isn’t caving in. I’m resisting the temptation to violently flip off families of fourteen, all on their bikes, with children flying everywhere, seventeen dogs and four grandparents in tow. OK, I’m being dramatic. Most people are being totally normal, taking walks and keeping their distance. I saw some teenagers sucking face on the football field when I was out with my dog, and I really didn’t have the heart to tell them off. Same with the teenagers who meet up and smoke weed in a VW Polo in the car park near mine. It’s responsible to tell them to go home and be safe. Maybe I’m not all that responsible, after all. We’re all doing “our best”, although that’s a phrase I really hate, because 99.9% of people do the best they can do of what they want to do. Otherwise we’d all be doing a LOT more. “We’re all doing our best” is a phrase we use to stop feeling guilty about not doing enough. Myself included.
The adjacent village, also home to footballers, their wives and their Range Rovers, is apparently bustling. I am not surprised. It’s not often that wealthy people think the rules apply to them. I’m going there on Tuesday for some shopping, and will have my mask firmly on my face, glaring at anyone who decides to reach across me for a bottle of Aperol. Don’t fucking touch me, Janine, or hands will be thrown.
And those daily press conferences. Well. Fuck it. What a car crash. Trump suggests we all inject ourselves with bleach, and I suggest he is taken to a psychiatric facility for some examinations. He is not a well man. As Bryan Cranston aptly wrote on Twitter this afternoon, ‘I’ve stopped worrying about the president’s sanity. He’s not sane. And the realisation of his illness doesn’t fill me with anger, but with profound sadness. What I now worry about is the sanity of anyone who can still support this deeply troubled man to lead our country.’ I’m still angry, mind you. But that’s my nature, to be angry about things I can’t control, and to be angry with men who can’t control themselves. America, like Britain, seems like the world’s most unsolvable Rubik’s cube – no matter which way you look at it, which way you try to fix it, the colours won’t match, not everything will be in the right place, and you’re tempted to just throw it across the room and forget it ever existed.
That’s all, for now. I sent my Dad a birthday present instead of taking it over in person. I’m appreciating food at home much more. I’m realising that I’ll probably never spend this amount of concentrated time with my mum, ever, ever again. Appreciating that. Trying to appreciate everything.