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Corona Diaries Redux – Lockdown 2 arrives

November 5, 2020
DNA points to Neanderthal breeding barrier - BBC News

What to do in Lockdown 2?

Well, the first thing I’m going to do is forget about virtual this and online that. Not to say that I’m going to throw away my laptop. But I’m sorry – virtual museum tours don’t do it. Online conferences, except of course, the one in which I’ve just participated, are likely to send me to sleep, and I get enough sleep already, thank you very much. Any more screen time than I’m already exposed to will wreck my eyes. So I’m not going to succumb to internet addiction at my advanced age.

Instead, I’m going to do stuff.

I shall probably make a Christmas cake for the first time in decades. I shall teach myself to make cheese soufflés, something I’m disgracefully late in figuring out.

Since at this time of year we’re normally somewhere in Asia, I shall do what I would have done had we been there, which is read more books. Normally I get through at least ten books while we’re away. So that’s what I’m going to do while we’re locked down.

I’ve just finished William Dalrymple’s The Anarchy. I’m racing through Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers. Next on the list are Salman Rushdie’s Shame, Justin Marozzi’s Islamic Empires, Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light, Vasily Grossman’s Stalingrad, and Michael Palin’s Erebus. More than enough to be getting on with.

Then there’s the matter of getting some fitness back, since I’m still suffering from the after-effects of a back injury incurred in the wake of Lockdown 1. I shall also continue to annoy my wife by being a professional grump. Which reminds me, when did “Poppy Day” become common parlance in the UK, and who in their right mind wishes people “Happy Halloween”? It’s not supposed to be happy, you bloody fools.

One good thing about lockdown is that I need no excuse for being unsociable. This will make me unpopular at home, but I have sneaky hope that lockdown will continue until Christmas Eve, not because I want to see the economy continue to tank, but for the entirely selfish reason that I won’t have to go to any seasonal get-togethers. Also not because I don’t miss our friends, but because I dread the endless conversations about COVID, and the embarrassed little dances we do to avoid potentially dangerous proximity.

Further afield, I expect to be helping Joe Biden to select his cabinet, and also making some suggestions to the powers that be as to Boris Johnson’s replacement. And if my advice is not accepted, I shall focus my efforts on solving climate change and training COVID dogs.

I shall also be training as a COVID warden, so that I can report my neighbours for infringements of lockdown. For that purpose I’ve already downloaded the STASI handbook for public-spirited informers. I have my flak jacket ready, and I’ve borrowed a few AR-14 semi-automatics from stood-down Trump supporters.

And then, as soon as the law is changed to outlaw hate speech within homes, I have a range of devices that will provide evidence of such deviant behaviour. They include a red face detector and a sensor in recycling bins that monitors household consumption of red wine and Stella Artois. And, of course, that fiendish instrument that records conversations picked up by vibrating window panes.

By this means I intend to purge my neighbourhood of teenagers screaming “I hate you” at their parents, and drunken grandparents hurling imprecations at passing foreigners. Not to mention dinner parties at which Brexit is discussed.

And finally, I’m learning Neanderthal, an ancient language that has recently been rediscovered in the mountainous regions of the United States. It appears to be growing rapidly in popularity, and already has a number of speakers here in the UK.

So far, I haven’t got much further than the guttural grunt with which a speaker dispatches their opponent to a better place, but I should soon be fluent. I shall also be teaching the language to my young grandson, since by the time he grows up, people will most likely be expected to be bilingual.

And when all this nonsense is over with, we have much to look forward to. For example, when the snows of the Himalayas have melted, I intend to mount an expedition to discover whether the remains of primates previously preserved in the ice belong only to climbers, or whether the bones of expired yetis can be found. If so, perhaps another ancient language is lurking undiscovered among the surviving population.

So no, I’m not moping at home like a polar bear in captivity. I’m bubbling with optimism, and busy preparing for the next chapter of my life: chef, political adviser, neighbourhood enforcer, multi-linguist and explorer.

Not a bad bunch of projects to look forward to, I think.

From → Books, Postcards, Social, Travel, UK, USA

  1. You can also help me understand what a “Grand Electeur” is – I only know the French! Is it the tallest? Or, in America it’s got to be the fattest!

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