Coronavirus – Day #142

Worldcon is gradually fading into the distance, though I do have at least one more piece I need to write. In the meantime I have been asked to be on programme for two more online conventions. It is nice to be wanted.

Because people are commenting on last week, I have found myself having to read File 770. When did Mike Glyer become so sad and bitchy? I was shocked.

The number of reported new cases of COVID-19 in the UK continues to rise day-on-day. The death numbers haven’t started to follow yet, but it is inevitable that they will.

Meanwhile the papers continue to be full of stories of incompetence and corruption on the part of the government. And the opinion polls show that 40% of people would vote them back in if there was an election next week. Which is enough to give them a majority again, given the stupid electoral system we have.

Thankfully there is cricket. And Formula E is back (as crazy as ever).

Coronavirus – Day #141

We interrupt your Worldcon programming to bring you this scheduled reminder from the global pandemic.

Yes, Worldcon is over, and I am back at work. Part of that did involve doing the Wizard’s Tower accounts, but I’ve also had a couple of work-related Zoom meetings and have lots of other work stuff to do this week.

I have also caught up with goings on in the outside world. The rate of new COVID-19 infections in the UK is now showing a clear upward trend. It hasn’t gone into full outbreak mode yet, but it could very easily. I understand that this is very patchy, and concentrated in major urban centres, so I’m not too worried, but equally I don’t think we’ll be getting out of lockdown any time soon.

Matter of Record

One of the great social disasters of recent years is that service industries have discovered that providing a good service is not profitable, but tricking customers is. Always within the law, of course, but.

Today for complicated reasons I had to stop automatic renewal of a car insurance policy that I didn’t realise was on auto-renewal. There was no way to do this through the insurance company’s website. After much time in a phone queue I finally got to talk to someone, who promised me that the renewal would be cancelled. However, she also told me that it was their policy not to send out confirmations of renewal cancellations. That means that I have no proof that I cancelled the renewal (only proof that a phone call was made). My apologies for being suspicious, but I am writing this public blog post to explain what took place.

Endsleigh, this is for you. I’m sure that what you are doing is strictly within the law, but that means we need better regulation of your industry.

Coronavirus – Day #135

Worldcon is underway. So far so good.

The new Salon Futura is almost ready to go.

Today was also my weekly shop day, the first one since masks became obligatory in England. Much to my surprise, all of the customers were wearing them, and no one was making a huge fuss about it. Quite a few of the Tesco staff did not have masks, but I’m assuming that they are all getting regular testing so the only people they are putting at risk is themselves. It isn’t ideal, but it is so much better than I’m hearing about from the USA, and ever elsewhere in the UK.

Coronavirus – Day #134

I am now definitely into Worldcon mode. I might be still in the UK, but most of what I am doing is either online with New Zealand or doing prep of some sort.

That does incude the new Salon Futura, which I hope to get online tomorrow or Wednesday. It will probably ruffle a few feathers.

Combine that with the fact that there’s a silence protest on Twitter today and tomorrow, as a result of which I haven’t been checking it much, and I have no idea what is going on in the outside world. I can’t even comment on the cricket as today’s play was washed out.

But hey, Worldcon! Have at it.

Coronavirus – Day #132

Cricket, accounts, Worldcon prep.

Oh, and I binge-watched the final four episodes of Doom Patrol season 1. Wow was that good.

I’m trying to avoid the news because all of the hand-wringing over poor, oppressed people being forced to wear masks and dying as a result is getting a bit much. Before we know it, masks will have killed more people than the virus. You heard it first in the Daily Malice.

Talking of the virus, the official government stats has had the number of new cases per day at under a thousand since early June. Whereas this medical study group has the current number at almost 2,000 per day. I have no idea who or what to believe any more. The only thing that is hard to fudge is the actual number of people who die (of all causes) and that data runs at several weeks in arrears for obvious reasons.

Coronavirus – Day #131

Doing your accounts is boring. Thankfully I had plenty of distractions in the form of email and social media stuff needing addressing. Worldcon stuff is taking shape nicely.

Talking of Worldcon, there has been a lot of discussion of late regarding the unsuitability of the sites for current bids. Lots of people no longer want to travel to the USA, and the likes of Saudi Arabia and China are not warm and friendly alternatives. It is all moot to me. I couldn’t even go to New Zealand. But this is a serious problem, and not one that can be solved by insisting that Worldcon only be held in nice countries. Anyone with a Muslim-sounding name can tell you how silly that is. There has to be another solution, though I suspect that people won’t like it.

Also there is cricket. No rain in Manchester today. I can’t see that lasting for 5 days, but you never know.

Doom Patrol continues to be excellent.

Coronavirus – Day #128

We got a first peek at the Worldcon schedule today. Most of it is on New Zealand time, which is entirely understandble, but a bit of a pain if you are on the opposite side of the planet. I’m hoping I can get to catch up with the likes of Glenda Larke and Catherine McMullen anyway.

What I can say is that I will be providing some entertainment in the evening UK time on the 30th. Wizard’s Tower is holding a party. There will be things happening. I’ll let you know more when I have a firm schedule.

Also I have finished my Hugo voting, which is a good job to have out of the way. Tomorrow is the last day, if you haven’t done yours yet.

I did my weekly shop at Tesco today, and also went into town as I had a couple of things to do at the Post Office. There are a few more people wearing masks these days, but still a minority and social distancing has pretty much disappeared, especially in coffee shops. This is a fairly low risk area of the country in which to live, but if someone infectious were to visit then the virus would rip through the town pretty quickly.

Lots of politics news in the UK today. Yesterday evening the House of Commons was voting on a trade bill. They voting for selling the NHS off to foreign corportations, for allowing foreign companies to import food that doesn’t meet UK environmental standards, and against the devolved assemblies, or even themselves, having any say in approving trade agreements. So much for “taking back control”.

Also the much hyped Russia Report was finally published. This was supposedly the in depth investigation into Russian influence on UK politics. Except it wasn’t. Basically what it said was that our glorious intelligence services are well aware that the Russians are targeting the UK, but they decided not to check on what they were doing because that might upset our government.

Which of course it would. The entire point of the current government is to sell off bits of the UK to the highest bidder and earn ministers enough money so that they can go and live elsewhere when the economy collapses.

Coronavirus – Day #127

There was no need to do any Day Job work today, so I have been able to get on with other things, including doing some planning for Wizard’s Tower’s presence at Worldcon and the cover reveal for The Green Man’s Silence.

Also the cricket was quite exciting.

Elsewhere Bozo has apparently announced that no announcement will be made on trans rights issues until the start of the next Parliamentary session in September. This does not surpise me. Announcing a hugely controversial new policy at the start of the summer recess and giving those affected the whole summer to campaign against it is so monumentally stupid that only this shambles of a government would ever have thought of it.

Of course this does mean that trans people in the UK have at least another 6 weeks to wait before we find out if we all have to start seeking political asylum elsewhere, which is not great for the mental health, but I will try to use the time constructively.

One of the other things I have done today is add a new section to this site about booking me for various types of speaking engagements. You can find it here. Let me know if there’s anything you think I should add.

Coronavirus – Day #123

Having spent all day yesterday on the Day Job, I was able to spend a bit of time today on other things, including Wizard’s Tower, a history article, and a couple of book reviews for the next Salon Futura. Variety is good.

There has been a whole lot of nonsense going on in social media about Bristol. I do wish that concerned left wing people would try to find out a little bit about the city before launching into denounciations. It is hard enough for Black people to get into positions of political power in this country, without them being denounced as Evil White Folks by people who haven’t got a clue what they are talking about.

Also, of course, one thing guaranteed to get people’s backs up in Bristol is people from London telling them how to run their city.

Coronavirus – Day #122

Today has been all Day Job, because sometimes I get an urgent request for help and need to respond.

Meanwhile the farce that is British politics keeps on giving. Remember what I said yesterday about face masks becoming mandatory next week? Well apparently Wormtongue was spotted in a sandwich shop without one today, and the government hastily issued a clarification that take-away food establishments were exempt. Apparently all it takes for a change of policy these days is for someone in the Cabinet with more power than Bozo to disobey him.

Meanwhile Bozo had annointed the serial failure, Chris Grayling, to be head of the important Intelligence & Security Committee (with oversight of MI5, etc.) Grayling, of course, has no experience of this sort of thing, and a track record of incompetence longer than the River Nile. So one of the far-right Tories, Julian Lewis (who does at least have a lot of Defence experience) cooked up a plan with Labour to have himself put forward as an alternate candidate and he got the job. That’s yet another embarrassing failure to add to Grayling’s record.

A furious Bozo has expelled Mr. Lewis from the Tory party. It would be nice to say that this reduces the Tory majority to 78, but given that Lewis is very far right I don’t think that his explusion will make any difference in most cases.

What is does mean is that the Intelligence & Security Committee might actually be able to release the long-delayed report into Russian meddling in UK politics, which is expected to be deeply embarrassing for a certain person in the White House, and quite possibly for the chap in 10 Downing Street as well.

Coronavirus – Day #121

Masks. Some have them, some don’t. They have been mandatory in shops in Scotland for some time. Over the weekend Michael ‘Wormtongue’ Gove said on TV that he didn’t think that masks were necessary. So obviously yesterday the government he is one of the leaders of decided to make them mandatory. That’s how government works here.

Oh, and it won’t be mandatory until the 24th, so there is plenty of time for a u-turn yet.

The assembled snowflakes of the right wing media are all having fits of the vapours and whining about how they won’t be able to breathe and will look ugly and their right to bodily autonomy has been compromised. This is, of course, nonsense. What they mean by this is that fewer poor, non-white, disabled, aged and queer people will die if we wear masks, and what point is a pandemic if it doesn’t kill off undesirables?

I made my weekly trip to Tesco today. There was a slight uptick in the number of mask wearers, but we were still a tiny minority. Also they have stopped queuing for entry and the one-way system. They had yeast, for the first time since the pandemic started.

According to the informed leaks from Westminister, today was to be the day that Liz Truss announced her rollback of trans rights. It had been planned for International Non-Binary People’s Day for maximum trolling effect. It did not happen. The announcement is now scheduled for probably next week and no later than the morning of the 22nd. Someone, it seems, got cold feet.

So what has been happening. I mean, apart from a supermajority of the GRA consultantion respondents supporting reform, and an opinion poll last week confirming this, and the Welsh and Scottish governments backing reform, and the massive letter-writing campaign that crashed the Downing Street servers, and LGBT+ MPs from all parties getting together the complain to Bozo. Maybe it was because the LibDems introduced two bills addressing non-binary rights issues today (one on passports, the other on school uniforms). And maybe it was because Bozo got a letter from a group of media companies, including Disney, the Financial Times, Warner Media, Discovery and, of course, Diva Media Group (who publish the UK’s leading lesbian magazine) urging him to support trans rights.

You are all doing incredibly well. Thank you! Please keep up the pressure.

Coronavirus – Day #120

It is Monday. Work happened. I’m very much settled in to a routine now. As the phrase goes, this is the new normal. Personally I’m OK with that.

Today I had the last of my possible in-person events for 2020 cancelled. It was something that had been due to happen in late March, and got postponed to October. Now it is planned for April next year. Goodness only knows if it will happen then.

If you missed Virtual Finncon, the panel that Mike Carey and I did will be available in due course, but July is holiday season in Finland and they are mostly out of Lockdown so I don’t expect anything to happen for a few weeks.

Coronavirus – Day #119

It is nice to have a weekend again. I know I shouldn’t. I have way too much to catch up on. But every so often it is good to just collapse in front of the TV and be entertained. The F1 was entertaining, and Lewis won. The cricket was also entertaining, and West Indies won. As far as I can tell, the Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol went well. And I got some laundry done.

Next week the shit hits the fan as the government is due to announce its plans for rolling back trans rights.

Coronavirus – Day #118

Today, in addition to watching rugby from New Zealand, motor racing from Austria, and cricket from Southampton, I have participated in events in Finland and California. Yeah, none of it was in person, but isn’t that amazing? When I was a kid the only one of those that would have been possible was watching the UK cricket match on TV. And that would have been in black and white. Sometimes I forget that I am living in the future.

Coronavirus – Day #116

Well, today was exciting. I actually went into town!

The main reason was that I had an appointment with my hairdresser, for the first time in 5 months. I feel so much better now. (And look much better too.)

But, as I had to go in, I did some shopping. I bought a new kettle as my existing one has sprung a leak. I picked up a few things in Sainsbury’s that I can’t get in Tesco. And I wandered around a bit. Quite a few places are still shut, but a lot of places are open. It almost felt normal.

Hardly anyone was wearing a mask.

When I got home I discovered that England had suffered a batting collapse in the cricket, which is the most normal thing that has happened in months

Coronavirus – Day #115

Today I have done some cleaning, written an article, and done some day job work. Productive, I think.

Also there has been cricket. Or, rather more typically for an English summer, there has been a lot of waiting around for the rain to stop and the occasional few minutes of actual cricket. Verily, we are back to normal.

Elsewhere the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced a raft of incentive schemes designed to get the economy back on its feet. None of them apply to me.