Saturday, 30 May 2020

Lockdown Creativity #5

So here we still are in Lockdown - sort of.  Being stuck in something of a perpetual Groundhog Day can get a bit wearing, so here are a few links to lift your spirits.

First off, Sam Neill has kept busy making a series of shorts from home.  Covering everything from learning the ukulele to feeling inadequate, this gentle humour is a great antidote to what can sometimes seem like the all-pervading grimness surrounding us.  Here he is with Helena Bonham Carter in Das Fone Hell:

Then, for something completely different, take a look at this.  An archeologist (Dr Jean-Loup Ringot) demonstrates a prehistoric lithophone.  Our ancestors would have listened to this music - astonishing.

And finally, in case you missed it, here's a link to the trailer for Taika Waititi's reading of James & The Giant Peach - with friends - to raise money for Partners in Health.  Friends, in this case, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Nick Kroll and Chris & Liam Hemsworth (I thought that might get your attention).

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Lockdown Admin

'Are you going to return that?'

Husband gestures at the cardboard sleeve on the table.  It contains a mobile phone case that was too large and which needs to go back to the vendor.

I nod, irked that he's reminding me.  I'll get round to it - sometime.  'Yes.  Of course.'

'Because if you don't do it soon, you won't be able to.'

'I know.  I've got until July to send it back - it'll be fine.'

'Well, just so you know....'

We stand in silence for a moment, then Husband grins.  'You hate me sometimes, don't you?'

After a pregnant pause I say 'Of course I don't.'

'But you paused.'

'No, I didn't.  I was just thinking.'  (Specifically, I was thinking; 'Oh it has to be returned?  No shit, Sherlock... ' but that doesn't seem a helpful thing to say out loud.  Particularly because I've already had it a week and haven't yet got around to it.)

'Thinking what?'

I turn away so he can't see me smirk.  'I was just wondering if you can read my mind.'

Husband considers this, perhaps trying out his - thankfully - non-existent telepathic skills.  'No.  No, I have to say I can't.'

'Huh.  Well, that's probably for the best.'

We snort companionably at the horrific thought of being able to read each others' minds, and the cardboard sleeve remains on the kitchen table.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Lockdown Life Skills

I'm trying to take advantage of this prolonged period of Lockdown Togetherness with my kids (yay!) to teach them life-skills.  Nothing extraordinary, just how to make a bolognese sauce, pick things up from where they dropped them, putting the breakfast bowl inside the dishwasher instead of on the worktop above it.  So yesterday, after one of the boys had (on request) put a load of clothes in the wash...

Me: Can you empty the washing machine, please?

Boy: Me?

Me:  Yes, you.

Five minutes later...

Me:  You know you emptied the washing machine...

Boy:  Yes?

Me:  And now the damp clothes are sitting in the laundry basket on the floor in front of the machine?

Boy: Yes?

Me: Now, you need to actually hang the clothes up to dry.

Boy:  Me?

Me:  Yes, you.

Boy:  But I put them in the machine.

I look at him blankly.

Boy:  And I took them out.

Me: And...?

Boy:  And now they need to be hung up?

Me:  Who'd have thought it?

Boy:  But why?

Me: Well, because, if laundry isn't hung up, it won't dry properly.  So the clothes will smell.

Boy:  No, I meant, why me?

I look at Boy.  He looks at me.  Luckily - for him - I don't need to say out loud what I'm thinking.  (Although, if you're interested, it involves the total number of washes I have put on, taken out of the machine, hung up to dry, and then put away since he was born.  Yes, I have done that maths.  That's what Lockdown does to a person.)

He takes the clothes basket and and goes to hang up the laundry.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Lockdown Eating

Is it just me who's default reaction to the stress of the constant onslaught of bad news is to reach for the snacks?  For example;

The UK runs of out PPE : Oh, a second helping?  Don't mind if I do

Struggling to help my kids stay on top of their schoolwork :  That last piece of cake looks a bit lonely, doesn't it?

Infection rate climbs:   Yes, I'll have one of those biscuits please.  Oh, go on - make it two.  Dammit, pass me the packet.

Death rate continues to rise:   Pass the crisps.  And the dips.  Don't bother to put it into a bowl - we all know there's going to be nothing left in that pack in five minutes time.

US president decides to take unproven (and possibly fatal) medicine to guard against Covid19d, and to publicise that fact widely:  What the hell happened to that chocolate stash?  It was meant to be MINE.

UK's key government adviser blatantly flouts lockdown rules and appears to think he's not subject to the same restrictions as everyone else:  FFS.  No, those are not my teeth marks in that block of cheddar.

Like I said before folks; I'm only trying to fatten the curve...

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Lockdown house-elves

This is Dobby.  He is a house-elf.  (You may recognise him.)

This morning, Mum looked up from the sink where she was using her good shampoo to scrub the results of a nosebleed out of Boy #2's sheets, to ask Boy #1 to clear away his cereal bowl.  The house-elf was not working today, she said.

Boy #1 complied, muttering, before handing her a sweatshirt.

Since it was not Mum's sweatshirt, she handed it back.

Ha-ha!  said Boy #1.  I'm free!  You gave me clothing.

Mum and Dobby were confused, until they realised: Boy #1 thought she meant HE was the house-elf!

Oh, how Mum and Dobby laughed.  Dobby, perhaps, laughed harder than Mum.  He was not the house-elf, either.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Having it all in Lockdown

There are a lot of mixed messages regarding Lockdown floating around in the UK right now.  Lockdown is over, but it's not.  You're allowed to see people, but only one at a time.  If you want to see both your parents you can, but only outside and one at a time; if you want to see both you should leave a ten minute gap in between.  We should wear masks - but only in confined spaces, not necessarily in all inside spaces, and they may not help much anyway - but they might, so you should.

Most people seem to be navigating their way through this host of confusion quite sensibly.  But if you look online - and take it seriously - there's a whole other mess of Lockdown advice, most of which seems expressly designed to make us feel bad about ourselves.

Lockdown, it seems, is a chance for us not to power-down and get through it, but rather the opposite.  Leave aside working from home and holding onto a job, we're supposed to be getting more sleep, more exercise, eating better, learning new skills (masterclasses, anyone?), and generally re-organising our lives for the better.  Our homes are supposed to be cleaner than they've ever been, the shelves tidier, the freezers organised, the annoying little rats' nests of change, clutter, keys and receipts tidied up, once and for all.  Our wardrobes are supposed to rationalised, though quite where we're supposed to take those clothes that have been outgrown etc, I'm not sure.  Oh - wait - they can be repurposed into NEW clothes, that you make on the sewing machine you've unearthed at the back of one of those cupboards you just organised.  Oh, and sourdough!  (Fabulous; sourdough starter - something else to kill.  I can't even keep a house plant alive...)

Well.  Bollocks to that lot, frankly.

If I can stay on top of my children's home learning schedules (their school is still running to time-table.  So that's fun), put a wash on and remember to take it out again, go through the surreal experience that is visiting the supermarket once a week or so, and occasionally remember to run a hoover around the place to avoid our needing to wade through drifts of spring-time moult from the dog, and still be talking to my family in complete sentences by bedtime, then the rest can go to hell.

That's my version of Lockdown having it all, anyway...

Friday, 15 May 2020

Lockdown Ageing; Facebook, how very DARE you?

This morning Facebook decided to offer me the option to see their screen differently via a beta layout they are providing.   It was going to be easier for me to navigate, they said.  Things would be easier to find, they said.  The text would be BIGGER, they said.

I became instantly suspicious; were they making this offer because of my age?  At 53 am I now considered to be so old that I need the interweb to be made more accessible to me?  Has Lockdown impacted on me even more visibly than I previously thought?

It wouldn't be so bad if there was no merit in their suggestion, but I'm aware that the last couple of months have not been kind to me, physically.  There is the unavoidable fact of my jeans becoming noticeably tighter on the one day of the week I force myself into them - the result of too little exercise and too many fxck-it glasses of wine - and let's face it, I need a haircut.  Not tomorrow, not yesterday, but about a month ago.  Has fb been snooping and drawing it's own conclusions? 

If they have, there is the remote possibility that they may have heard me muttering about on-screen images getting harder to see.  They may have noticed I have increased the size of the font I use here, or that the best time of day for me to look at images on my phone is in the evening, just before I go to bed, when - crucially - I have taken my contact lenses out.   They may even - gasp - have seen the photo I sent to a WhatsApp group of girlfriends yesterday, showing my in-dire-need-of-attention too-long and increasingly-grey hair...

Obviously, I took a look at the new layout, and it does what it says on the tin.  Bigger text.  A simpler layout.  Easier to navigate.  You know, accessible.

But none of the above is of any interest to me because I am not old.  I have no need of this new dashboard.  I have, therefore, declined their offer and reverted to Facebook Classic (the one that has smaller text and a more complicated layout.  No, of course it isn't only because of the principle of the thing). 

Even though, deep down, I suspect I have cut off my nose to spite my own face.

'Rage, rage, against the dying of the light' and all that...