DAY 36: Sat 18 April

A rainy day means only one thing – clean the upstairs

It’s raining, so today I must exercise. I make a start – avoiding the stretches as I find them boring. I have not been at it long on my ‘home gym’ when my phone pings. “Must be urgent,” I tell myself and leap off to find “Good morning!” wishes from one of my sisters. Soon there are other messages to answer and I know I won’t be finishing what I had started.

“But housework is a form of exercise,” I remind myself, and determine to start in the bedroom which hasn’t seen a duster or a vacuum cleaner for at least a month. Then I think “But you were going to sort out the clothes cupboard, and that will create more dust, so you better start there.”

Pleased with myself for bringing structure to what could be a tedious day, I make it to the kitchen to prepare a pot of tea for sustenance. I feel a bit like Dick Emery (for those old enough to know who I mean), saying to the prevaricator in me “Ooooh, you are awful, but I like you.”

Minutes later the hypochondriac in me is saying “You’d better check your blood pressure before you start”. So I do, and at first it seems more normal than it has been for sometime. On the second test the machine goes ape, tightening its grip so hard my hand begins to go cold. Not content with reaching a pressure I’ve never seen before, it tightens even more reaching 304! And holds it there. It’s quite scary but for some reason I don’t switch it off. It has me in its grip, quite literally. Maybe it’s fed up with me. But when it does let me go the dial assures me my blood pressure is very normal. I try one more time, thinking the last one was an aberration. This time my blood pressure is slightly heightened, unsurprisingly as I had thought the little green machine was trying to kill me. 

There are pings from the phone upstairs, so I grab my tea and get as far away from the malevolent constrictor as I can. “I will be back,” is my departing hiss (I was born on exactly the same day as Arnold Scharzenegger), but the machine is now wrapped up snugly and ignores me. 

Quickly distracted by a colourful mangle of ties, I begin to hang them up on an unused tie rack someone gave me for Christmas years ago. I discover I have 21 shirts and as many ties, one of them dating back to my school days when I was presented with a ‘Colours’ tie for running a marathon at 17.

I don’t wear ties often so heaven knows where they all came from. I can only recall buying a couple – which usually came with a shirt on offer – the rest must also have come as Christmas or birthday gifts. There are almost as many as my T-shirts, some of which are so old and thin they would not pass muster as a face mask.

I have rather more clothes than I’d like to admit, including plenty that I shall never be able to wear again. Pity the charity shops aren’t open, although I do tend to wear clothes out, so there are few people who would want to put them.

On in the background is Kate Adie hosting From Our Own Correspondent. As ever some good stories, including the bizarre story from one of my favourite countries – Georgia – where the Russian Orthodox church is ignoring social distancing and even using the same spoon to deliver wine to communicants in the belief that that faith would prevent the coronavirus from infecting the faithful.

But on the anniversary of Lyra McKee’s murder I was surprised that Adie made no attempt to include a segment from Northern Ireland, I am sure there are plenty of our colleagues who could have supplied a piece about the tensions that still exist in the Six Counties over coverage of Brexit, the border, COVID19, the restoration of power-sharing in Stormont, or even the resurgence of old style republicanism. Disappointing. 

When Any Questions comes on there is even more evidence that the government needs to find better spokespeople, or better still competent Cabinet members, Work and Pensions Minister Therese Coffey is hopeless and succeeds only in further destroying public confidence in democracy.

The suggestion by a number of companies that the government has ignored offers of many thousands of PPE equipment gave rise to my suggestion on Twitter that if that were true there need to be criminal prosecutions rather than a public inquiry. It seemed to hit a chord among the twitterati and soon it was being liked and retweeted by more than 100 people, and even more backed linked tweets about what would happen to the millions raised by Capt Tom Moore. 

There are so many questions about what is going on and what’s gone on that go unanswered by the team at the top, who seem unwilling make firm decisions until the cad they call the boss is back in action.

Later we are to learn that the playboy leader the of government managed to opt out of the Cobra meetings that were supposed to organise Britain’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Now no doubt he will milk his own brush with death for all its worth. All we can hope is that the media don’t slavishly play along with his act. Now they have a ’safer’ pair of hands in Kier Starmer steering the Labour Party the mainstream media may feel more confident in sharing the role of Opposition. It is not to their credit that they have spent years not so much eulogising Johnson as destroying Jeremy Corbyn, a man of principle whom they say as their enemy. What do they make of Johnson now, a man without principles.

My effects to clean upstairs took pretty much the whole day. So much dust, so many books to move around. My daughter came over at one point to deliver some flour and pick some up some delicious Buxton Pies. She told me about the Marie Kondo folding method which she claimed had changed people’s lives. Apparently it gets you to ‘feel’ for your clothes, and helps you to get rid of those that don’t make you feel good. My problem is that there is a good memory with every tatty shirt and threadbare t-shirt.

I found that the bathroom always takes longest to get right. I realise that I use it at night and early in the morning, often without natural daylight and frequently without my specs. Comes a bit of a shock to see thinks in the cold light of day. 

Another intriguing feature of bedroom and bathroom are the moving mats. Somehow, without the help of human hands, the mats magically shift across the floor in the course of each day – and require adjustment every evening. Some sort of friction, no doubt, and nothing to do with the ghosts – but that is a story for another day.

I have the 5pm pandemic presser a miss, and had fun reading to the grandsons. The casual racism and sexism of White’s book requires some instant editing as I read, and makes me wonder what I made of it when I read it first as a youngster. Would I have even noticed back then in the 1950s? 

Next it was time for a comfort supper (pie and mash) and a nice red wine. Then the penultimate pair of episodes of Twin, where the twists are getting as deep and dark as the fjords.

And so to bed in my pristine boudoir, with a film from MUBI.

2 Comments

  1. Several paragraphs of today’s post have been lifted wholesale from a number of obscure books. With just a few changes to make them appear relevant to Jempson’s daily routine. God knows why!

    The first is clearly stolen from Chip Zdarsky’s 2019 book Spider-man: Life Story.
    Jempson has simply replaced the words spider senses with the words blood pressure in what is either a lazy attempt to up his word count or a clumsy incoherent attempt at satire of super hero culture. Either way its plagiarism of the worst kind.

    Zdarsky’s original reads as follows.

    ‘Minutes later the hypochondriac in me is saying “You’d better check your spider senses before you start”. So I do, and at first it seems more normal than it has been for some time. On the second test the machine goes ape, tightening its grip so hard my hand begins to go cold. Not content with reaching a pressure I’ve never seen before, it tightens even more reaching 304! And holds it there. It’s quite scary but for some reason I don’t switch it off. It has me in its grip, quite literally. Maybe it’s fed up with me. But when it does let me go the dial assures me my spider senses are very normal. I try one more time, thinking the last one was an aberration. This time my spider senses are slightly heightened, unsurprisingly as I had thought the little green machine was trying to kill me’

    The second is from a particularly smutty paperback called A Man With A Maid by Anonymous (Surprise surprise). Here Jempson has again stolen several paragraphs to bolster his blog. Changing just a few words to fool his ‘readers’.

    Jempson has replaced the word dungeon with bathroom and the word unmentionables with the word mats for some reason.

    The original reads:
    ‘I found that the Dungeon always takes longest to get right. I realise that I use it at night and early in the morning, often without natural daylight and frequently without my specs. Comes a bit of a shock to see thinks in the cold light of day. 
    Another intriguing feature of the dungeon are the moving unmentionables. Somehow, without the help of human hands, the unmentionables magically shift across the floor in the course of each day – and require adjustment every evening. Some sort of friction, no doubt, and nothing to do with the ghosts – but that is a story for another day’

    Good grief Mike have you no shame?
    Plagiarism of the worst kind!

    Ron

    1. Accusing people of plagiarism is a serious matter, Ron, to which I do not take kindly. If, as I doubt, such extended passages have appeared in other publications (I have never heard of and certainly not read the ones you mention) that is bizarre.It is especially worrying that the passage about my blood pressure was as accurate as I could make it, about a matter of personal health concern. My carefully crafted prose comes straight out of my bonce onto the page. I would hate to think this lockdown has allowed me to enter the consciousness of other writers and steal their bon mots. However I trust that you are joshing. If not I want chapter and verse if not copies of said volumes.

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