I’ve had a busy day in Virtual Australia. I have no idea what is happening in the UK.
Well that’s not quite true. The BSFA Award winners are being announced tonight, we hope, internet connections willing. More on that tomorrow. I’m going to watch from bed as I have a busy day tomorrow in Finland.
It has been another busy day at the fundraising coalface. So far so good, I think. I hope people are enjoying it.
There was also WiFi SciFi #3, for which I was a panelist. We had a great time. Thanks to Anne, Kevlin and all of the team.
As with yesterday, it has also been a busy day on social media. We’ve had the brilliant Guy Gavriel Kay’s #CocktailHour, where we all dress up and post selfies with a drink of our choice. And we’ve had #StayAtHomeDisco run by my lovely pal Laura Rawlings from BBC Radio Bristol. Conviently they were on at the same time so I was able to make one outfit do for both.
Out in the “real” world today there have been “anti-lockdown” protests in major British cities. No automatic weapons here, but doubtless the same far-right funders behind it all. Today was also the first day in around 3 weeks that the 7-day rolling average of deaths in the UK ticked significantly upwards. Cummings and his pals will doubtless be pleased with a job well done.
My final video for California is with one of the Caribbean’s finest writers. I was worried that I was very much giving a white person’s view of the countries I was visiting, so I asked Nalo if she’d be willing to be interviewed. She’ll be back on Tuesday to talk about Toronto, but right now she’s living near LA. Here she is:
Today started well. The weather was fine, the pollen count was low, and there were no urgent emails from clients. So I decided to go in search of hormones.
The car was a bit reluctant to start today, so I took a very circuitous route into town to get some charge into the battery. That’s probably contrary to one of the ever-changing Lockdown regulations, so if any of the “Gender Critical” mob are reading this, there’s your smoking gun. You can report me to the Authorities and have me taken away for re-education.
Boots was very quiet and the staff were very helpful. However, as all I had was an email copy of the prescription, they couldn’t fulfill it immediately. They need to phone my doctor and confirm that they are the only people I have approached. When they get that confirmation, they can order the hormones. But in order to find out if they have had confirmation I need to be able to get through to them on the phone, which is easier said than done. If I can’t get through after a few days I will have to go back and see them.
For some unexplained reason there was a massive queue at Tesco when I got there. It took forever to get in. They still didn’t have any flour, but I got a few things I needed for the Canada and France food list. There were a few more people wearing masks this time, including me, but we were still very much in the minority.
When I got back home there was a cement mixer blocking the road. I now have one neighbour and two people immediately across the road all having building work done. Being a builder is clearly a key occupation.
Well, that was another day of doing day job stuff and not getting out to hunt for hormones. Still, earning money is good.
On which subject, the government has launched its scheme for helping self-employed people through the period of Lockdown. They told the BBC that most people eligible for help have been contacted and invited to apply. But my tax account wrote to me this morning to say that no one is being contacted and we should get on and apply. So I thought I would give it a try and see what happened. Needless to say, I was found to be ineligible, and the reasons that they gave for turning me down were very obviously incorrect. Anyone who has had dealings with the Department of Work & Pensions over the last few years will not be in the least surpised. These days trying to get money that you are entitled to out of the government bears a striking ressemblance to trying to get an insurance company to pay out on a claim. I suspect that a lot of middle class people will get a terrible shock.
Anyway, as I said, I am getting some income. So no panic just yet.
Meanwhile I am pleased to say that I have met my initial target for the One25 fundraiser. I’ll be announcing a new target for the 6 days of the campaign tomorrow. In the meantime I should get back to developing things to entertain you good people.
Well, that plan didn’t last long. I got an urgent request from a client this morning, so I spent the day earning money rather than going out to search for hormones. Tomorrow, maybe.
Given that there is no football, the most popular sport in the UK at the moment seems to be competing to find how many times you can catch government ministers contradicting each other in one day. The official government strategy appears to be that if you give as many different pieces of advice as possible then one of them will turn out to be right and you can claim that was what you meant all along.
Another radio show has gone off to Ujima and should be with you at Noon on Wednesday. Enjoy!
I’ve also done some hours on the day job and more work on the One25 fundraiser, which I am pleased to see is now at 34% so we are one third of the way to the target. Keep it going, folks!
I got a paper acceptance for an online academic conference on queer history, which is also good.
And finally I have done an important piece of self-care. I have got a new prescription for hormones. I have a little while before I run out, but given the difficulty I had getting hold of them last time I’m taking no chances. Of course this means that I have to go to a pharmacy. Tesco do have one, but unless the woman pharmacist is on duty (and she seems to only do Mondays) I’ll probably get told that there’s nothing available. That means that I have to go to town tomorrow, for the first time in 60 days. I wonder if it will still be there?
I also wonder what the rules are. As someone sagely noted on Twitter this afternoon, the UK has gone from “masks are a waste of time” to “masks are compulsory” without the intervening step of “here are some masks you can buy”. I have scarves. It will be interesting to see what people’s attitudes are out there. Or, for that matter, whether any pharmacies are open.
In my defence, it has been a very busy day. I’ve had a radio show to produce, and I have been doing a lot of preparation for the One25 fundraiser. Both are going to be fabulous, even if I do say so myself.
I gather from the fury on Twitter this evening that Bozo the Clown has made some sort of announcement about getting the UK out of Lockdown, and that it is nonsensical PR spin rather than anything approaching a plan. No one should be surprised. The only way that Bozo could organise a piss up in a brewery is if he had a bunch of servants he could get to do the work for him. Which, of course, is often the case. Unfrotunately in this particular case all of the (civil) servants likely to do the work are telling him things that he doesn’t want to hear, so he’s having to sort things himself, with predictable consequences.
Thankfully I do not have to go back to work while maintaining social distance and avoiding public transport. I have plenty of work I can be doing at home. Those of you who are being sent out to die for the sake of Bozo’s stock portfolio have my deepest sympathy.
What I had forgotten since last time this happened is that the water main, although it is in my driveway, doesn’t just affect me. It affects the landlord’s house too. So he had a vested interest in getting things fixed. The deal was that he by-passed the letting agency, who are not answering their phone, and I managed the leak until an emergency plumber could get here. I ended up having to switch bowls every 15 minutes to avoid a flood, for four hours. But once the plumber got here it was simply a matter of experience and the right tools and he was done in 10 minutes. Phew!
Anyway, I have been doing some preparation for the One25 fundraiser, including recording a few things in advance and sorting through my photo library. I do hope you enjoy it (and please pledge). I’m certainly enjoying the food (by which I mean that I have TimTams).
First up I had to deal with a support question on one of the websites that I manage. It turned out to be much more complicated than I’d anticipated, and I’m currently waiting to hear back from the hosting service. Thankfully they are in the USA where it is not a bank holiday.
While I was in the middle of that I took a break to wash up after lunch and found a large puddle on the kitchen floor. It turned out that the cold tap on the kitchen sink was leaking. This is a known problem. It has done it before and the only way to fix it 100% would be to replace the entire sink unit, but the landlord is unlikely to want to pay to do that, so every so often I need to get a plumber to fix it.
The last time it happened was over Christmas in 2018. This time it happened on a bank holiday. This is a clear sign that Eris loves me.
It is relatively esay to deal with. I fill up some jugs with water, and turn off the water at the mains. The leak isn’t so bad that I can’t turn it back for an hour or so a couple of times a day when needed. The only issue is that the stopcock is outside, but at least the weather is decent. Doubtless a plumber will be round in a few days. Hopefully Monday.
It is unlikely to be earlier because of the aforementioned bank holiday. The country is apparently celebrating something called VE Day, which used to be about the end of WWII in Europe but is now something entirely different. These days we are supposed to celebrate something called Victory Over Europe Day. As I understand it, this is to commemorate the glorious victory in which the British, led by Winston “Boris” Churchill, single-handedly defeated the Evil forces of the European Union lead by Hitler, Mussolini, De Gaulle and a bunch of faceless bureaucrats from Brussels.
With the government planning on loosening the Lockdown restrictions and me needing a few bits and pieces for cooking for the One25 Fundraiser, I decided to go to Tesco today while it is still comparatively safe to do so. I was quite late getting there as I had to wait in for an Amazon delivery, but I only had to queue for around 20 minutes to get in. Everyone was well behaved, and this time I saw four people wearing masks (out of 100+).
There’s still no flour. Not even rye flour. I’ll cope.
This is beginning to feel entirely like normal. I attended a meeting (albeit by Zoom) for a couple of hours in the morning. I listened to my radio show. I did some Day Job work. And I attended a feminist book club in the evening (I have persuaded them to read The Calculating Stars. Result!)
Of course I am entirely unhappy about all this work because all I wanted to do today was sit and read Network Effect, the new Murderbot novel. Fortunately there have been meal breaks. I’m about half way through and absolutely loving it.
Apparently the government is talking about relaxing the lockdown constraints. I’m considering going to Tesco tomorrow so I can get some shopping done before the stores are full of sick people.
Another productive day! One radio interview recorded (for next week) and a few hours of Day Job done.
Also the fundraiser is now past 20% of my goal, which is very pleasing. I’m starting to think of all sorts of things I could be doing. Several of them involve food prep of various sorts. It is very annoying not being able to buy flour, and having other things on a long lead time. However, I did order a few products today, including some very famous Australian food. I suspect that some of you can guess what that is.
Our government proudly announced today that the death toll from C-19 is now over 30,000, and we have the highest number of deaths of any country in Europe. Winning! Friday is VE Day, which the Daily Malice has re-named Victory Over Europe Day, presumably in honour of this momentous achievement. The Financial Times, which continues to be the only useful opposition newspaper in the country, puts the death toll at well over 50,000.
I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about too many Zoom meetings, and this morning a friend posted a link to this National Geographic article on “Zoom Fatigue”. Although the headline gives the impression that’s all it talks about, the article goes on to note that Zoom is much less tiring than face-to-face meetings for people on the autism spectrum. I certainly wouldn’t class myself as autistic, but equally I don’t recognise any of the causes or symptoms of fatigue that the article describes. I guess I must be a lucky, in-the-middle sort of person.
That was another fairly productive day. I did several hours worth of Day Job. I did a batch of laundry and cooked food for a few more days. Most importantly I got the One25 fundraiser launched (see below).
I keep recording having done stuff because I still feel very lethargic much of the time. I’m trying not to push myself because I worry about relapses and post-viral fatigue syndrome. There’s very little that is screamingly urgent, but it would be nice to get more done, even if it was only reading.
In the outside world people are starting to talk more and more about things like track-and-trace apps and health passports. Most countries are looking to implement an app of some sort. Most also understand that track-and-trace is useless without a proper testing regime. The UK shows no sign of having the latter. It is also going with a highly non-standard app, the point of which seems either to put a few million quid in the pockets of friends of Cummings, or for some nefarious spy-on-people purpose, or more likely both. Our best hope is that it will turn out to be about as effective as hiring shipping services from a company that didn’t own any ships was.
I expect that most of the people frothing noisily on social media about how they won’t install the app will buckle and do so once they realise that they won’t be allowed to do anything outside their home without it. Personally I’m looking at removing just about every app from my phone so that there’s less for the government to spy on.
I seem to have been productive today. I finished reading a book. I finished editing next week’s radio show. And I finished doing the Wizard’s Tower accounts for April.
Regarding the latter, as a small press, any month in which you sell over 3,000 books has to be a good month. Admitedly more than half of those were copies of The Green Man’s Heir when it was on sale for 99p at Amazon, but even so it is a lot of readers.
Also we were treated to a fantastic F1 race this evening. OK, it is only sim racing, but Charles LeClerc and Alex Albon put on a brilliant show. There are two major benefits of the sim races over the real thing. Firstly overtaking is much easier because the game doesn’t model the slipstream effects that make it so difficult in real life. And although the cars might appear to be in different liveries, they are actually identical in performance so the race is down to driver skill, not who has the best aero package and engine.
By the way, I have discovered that as a community radio presenter I do actually qualify as a key worker and can apply for a C-19 test. However, my nearest testing station is, I think, at Bristol Airport, which is over an hour’s drive away. I’m very comfortable just staying at home, thank you.
Wow, 50 days. Admittedly I have been to Tesco for food on three of those days, and I have occasionally had delivery men knock on the door, so it hasn’t been total isolation, but that’s quite a stretch of time to have mostly not left the house. I’m starting to feel guilty that I’m OK with this, because so many of my friends are getting more and more wound up about it.
Today is apparently a weekend day. I have a radio show to produce for next week so I have been busy. We are going to be talking about sex and books. Sounds good to me.
Oh, and the Formula E continues to be entertaining.
The first of the month is always an admin day for me, though sometimes other stuff happens too. Today I had an online meeting, and I recorded an interview for next week’s radio show.
The latter was good timing because today is #RadioFromHome day, a day intended to raise the profile of community radio and the work we are doing during the crisis. I’d like to say that it will help encourage the government to offer some money to help community radio stations to stay afloat, but given that our current government is about as loving and friendly as a squad of hungry Humboldt squid that doesn’t seem likely.
Talking of the radio show, this week I’ve had a number of people turn me down for interviews because they are too busy or otherwise unavailable. I can put a show together with what I have, but if anyone has something they’d like to talk about that might be of interest to the women of Bristol and is available to record an interview over the weekend do let me know.
Something interesting has been happening to the official government statistics on C-19-related deaths. They continue to report daily totals that are mostly in the 600-800 range, and which are always less than the total for the same day in the previous week. But that’s because prior days’ totals are being raised. I can’t remember how many deaths were originally reported for April 24th, but I know that it wasn’t 1005 because the daily totals never got over 1000 on any day. Now that isn’t even the highest. We’ve now got 9 days with over 1000 reported deaths, and a peak of 1172. Possibly they are being more honest about the numbers in the past, but what does that say about the numbers we are getting today? Or about the claims that we are past the peak?
Well that was great. Museum from Home was hugely successful. I’m really happy for Dan and Sacha, who have put a lot of effort into this. Who knows, maybe they’ll get their own TV show one day.
In among all the museum and free ebook excitement I found time to sling some chicken curry into the slow cooker, so that’s food sorted for a few more days.
Bozo has apparently announced that the UK is past the peak as far as virus cases goes, and the data is still supporting that. On the other hand, we are still running at well over 500 deaths a day, so if we lift restrictions now things could get a lot worse very quickly. And the government has still not made any significant steps towards managing the exit process.
Today I did the shopping thing. It all went very smoothly and I now have enough food to last me another two or three weeks. Interestingly the food selection in Tesco seems to have reduced somewhat since last time I was there. The cheese selection in particular was very disappointing. This suggests that Lockdown is having an effect on the food economy.
One thing that is plentiful is toilet paper. There was loads of it on the shelves. Some of it was even on sale.
On the other hand, there is still not a spoonful of flour to be had. Why that should be I do not know.
I saw only three people wearing masks. Two of those were Japanese. But everyone was well behaved.
Life continues to be busy. In addtion to the new Salon Futura, I have been working on this year’s fundraiser for One25, the Bristol charity that supports local sex workers. You may remember that last year I walked 125 miles for them. This year I will be giving up something for 125 hours. And no, it won’t be chocolate. There will be more about that next week.
Tomorrow is #MuseumFromHome Day on the BBC. I will be on social media much of the day to support my pals Dan and Sacha. I also have a contribution of my own to launch tomorrow.
And of course tomorrow there will be a new piece of Lockdown Reading.