Friday, April 10, 2020

Two Strings To Your Bow


What is the point of complaining? There is the fear of becoming ill, but we all share that.
There is the bereavement, circling closer all the time.
I have cried for people already. We all have that, too: or we will.
I could not clap for Boris Johnson, a man who deliberately shook hands with people who had a deadly virus, and passed it on to the mother of his unborn child. No.
To the virus, we are insignificant hosts. It has already won 'the battle'.
All we can do is get used to it and adapt, which is what living creatures do.

The music creatures write songs, and we are doing that, and it lifts my spirits.
A couple of days ago, Jude, Kath and me had an online chat and it was heartwarming. Jude's beloved dog had had to be put down in the middle of all this: what a last straw. Wisps of normality, the life experiences that hurt so badly in another lifetime, pass by our windows like feathery clouds in the distant sky.
It's so hard.

In January I wrote a song that sort of predicted all this, and I can't sing it at the moment because we don't know where we are going until we have been there, and can look back. I have written another for a compilation that Jude is making for Richard Sanderson's label, and will try to record it this weekend (it involves recording the Spanish guitar acoustically, and being able to do that depends on my neighbour not using the angle grinder all day in the tiny back yard that abuts mine).
I am co-writing remotely with Robert, sporadically. He has the keys to the magic chord cupboard, as Kevin Hewick once put it. Working with him is like Christmas morning as a child: you don't know what's going to be in that Christmas stocking! I'm writing a song with Michel Wallace, slowly, because we haven't worked together before. And I have a plan to write with Vinnie Wainwright.
I'm saying these things so that they happen.
For two weeks, doing anything has been really difficult.

How do you make people you are responsible for feel OK when you're not feeling OK yourself? People who should be able to lead us out of chaos, from our political leaders downwards, are exposed as weak people who can only function when things are going well. The people that these 'strong' people despised turn out to be stronger by far; those who have had a hard lot in life, like cleaners and carers, have survival skills that would shame Scott of the Antarctic and Major Whatsisname and all those derring-do heroes that our politicians learned about at public school, and that they feel they have a direct timeline connection to.
History will not be kind to them.
I think some people thought it was silly to go on those NHS marches. It really bloody wasn't.

Today, I'm thinking about Margot's family.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

The Egyptian Geese

The Egyptian Geese have become a feature of the Lockdown Walk.
They started off with nine goslings, and currently have seven. They are wonderful parents; they bark frantically whenever a dog appears on the horizon, and became apoplectic when a woman with a dog on a leash walked up to take shots of them (as you can see, they are remarkably photogenic).
They rushed splashing straight into the pond with their brood, and swam away as fast as possible.
On a night walk under the glow of an enormous moon, Father Goose stood on guard, his neck erect and alert and his eyes beady in the moonshine.
Mother Goose crouched nearby as she sheltered the goslings under her flattened feather breast; they have now grown quite big.
'Bark bark bark BARK BARK!', honked Father Goose.
'Bark BARK', honked Mother Goose back to him.
What was going on?
There were no dogs about, only lone people drifting around in the half darkness, keeping their distance like magnets repelling opposite poles.
Suddenly, a young rusty fox made a mad dash from patch of spent daffodils, horse chestnut seedlings and torn grass. Across the road he pelted, narrowly avoiding an oncoming Range Rover that was bossing its way down the road at maximum speed, even though there were no other motorists around to bully.

So still seven goslings... there's enough food for the young foxes in our rubbish bags.
Eat that instead, Reynard!

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Plumber's Grip

This is a photo of the plumber's bag I bought to carry Offsprog One around in, when I was expecting her and was trying to imagine what it might be like to be a mother. I was such a tomboy. I remember wanting to take my Doctor Marten's boots off and throw them at the looped video of the breastfeeding mother on a floral couch cooing with her baby that was being shown at Guy's Hospital when I went for my appointments.
Everyone expected a pregnant woman to be so gooey and motherly and I didn't feel like that at all. I felt like me, but with a heavy thing in my stomach.
I just kept throwing up, feeling sick all the time (which is worse) and eventually felt like a gigantic elephant, even though I can't have been that big because a myopic chap chatted me up at a cartoon event about a week before I gave birth!
So I bought this to carry the baby around in- seemed ideal- and had an idea of wrapping it in paper towels because babies grow so quickly and I couldn't see how we could afford the clothes (kind relatives passed things on to us in the end). McMum thought this was a terrible idea, but I just thought I was much more practical than anyone else had ever been.
I though I'd lost this, but I found it today dug deep in a cupboard. I'm going to give it to Offsprog One for her birthday.
It does look a bit like a Moses basket though, doesn't it? Especially through half-closed eyes.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Stanley Unwin Gives Advice To Bill Wyman


Funny how the voluntary solitude of an introvert turns into passive fury at fate when that solitude is imposed on you. And of course it turns inwards instead of outwards.
However, this afternoon I got hold of the guitar and did a bit of writing; not the forced kind, but a nice gentle flow of ideas that aren't set in stone, but that were really therapeutic as they materialised.
Adapting to working from home has been very difficult; we had to change things quickly, and make sure that they were appropriate for everybody.
The most difficult bit has been not checking work emails constantly, and reminding myself that I work part time, and not 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
On social media, people are making up rules for each other, amplifying untruths, and generally stirring panic and paranoia. Meanwhile in Bookface HQ, Twitter Towers and Instagram Megaplex, economic psychologists and populist sociologists are working hard to monetise reactions to the pandemic as quickly as they possibly can. Oh blah to the lot of them!
I got annoyed by the 'solidarity-r-us' poster in Boots the Chemists window today, given that they have been avoiding tax for years. If they had paid up like everyone else, we might have a better funded NHS; it's as simple as that. How can you pat yourself on the back for being supportive of the community when you are secretly salting away money that should be paid in tax?
I wasn't going to write all that but I did. Humph.

The songs I'm writing are not the most joyful pieces of music. Lockdown has concentrated my memory somewhat. I'm usually too busy to think about the past, but this strange state of suspension has crystallised out a a lot of things in great detail. It's cathartic to do this, I suppose.

Meanwhile, the detective novels are still on a conveyor belt as reading material. I've read some good ones recently, but they are upstairs and I'm downstairs, and that's miles away innit.

Oh yes- me and my house guest thoroughly enjoyed Asbo Derek's online high jinks last night. Unco-ordinated, colourful, chaotic and occasionally rather musical. Very funny! I miss them , and my other pals, musical, arty and everything else under the sun.
Roll on freedom!


Thursday, April 02, 2020


From Pea Soup, from here:

Throwing Myself Into The Skip

That's what I call the morning clumsy skip that I do in the back yard between the plant pots each day.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020




I dreamt that I was writing a book called Exploreen With Maureen, about walking around the very thrilling High Barnet during lockdown.
On awakening, I realised it should really be called Boring Exploring with Mauring, under the circumstances.