DAY 85: Sat 6 June

A cold Saturday in June with nothing much to do

Today was supposed to be the day we finished making the new chicken run, but I woke late to find the weather most inclement. There has evidently been blustery winds overnight and things are scattered around the garden. It’s cold. And I feel more than just shivery. My mouth is dry my eyes still ache. Oh dear.

Can’t have helped to sit up half the night watching Reaction videos on YouTube. I have no idea how I came across them but it is a peculiar and fascinating genre, watching mostly Black Americans recording their immediate reactions to first time viewing of hearing classic song usually from the 1960s. They all seem to have their own YouTube Channels to which  viewers can subscribe – and send in ‘Blue-eye soul’ tunes for them to taste. 

I spent forever watching their reactions to some great old tunes I found it difficult to believe anyone would not have heard. (But then I am ancient)  You’ve lost that loving feeling and Unchained melody from The Righteous Brothers; House of the Rising Sun by The Animals; Joe Cocker’s version of With a little help from my friends; Dusty Springfield and Son of a preacher man; The Kinks with Lola; and The Everly Brothers singing All I have to do is dream and Cathy’s Clown. It’s quite compelling hearing the familiar generating fresh responses from generations some of whose parents were not even born in the 1960s. One guy was genuinely moved by the Rolling Stones Paint it black, because it spoke to some difficult times he was currently going through. It had been suggested by his grand-dad.

This morning I decided the chickens could stay in their coop today, and I will stay indoors. My neighbour has collected and delivered the timber I need for the new chicken coop, and my house guest actually got up to help as promised at 11. But all he had to do was bring the timber from front to back garden. Then he went back to bed! We are both feeling the cold but I have no intention of switching on the heating in June.

I managed to do some more editing on various documents, and engaged in a few phone calls in between watching news broadcasts and scouring Twitter for nuggets of information. It would appear that the ‘R’ number is rising in the South West, where infection levels have generally been low – although not so in Bristol. Hopefully the Black Lives Matter demonstration today will not exacerbate the situation. I am not sure if my godchild in London is going on the demo, but she sent me video clip of a young black person being arrested where the police apparently gave no indication of why he was being handcuffed, and shoved away those filming the incident who were demanding an explanation. This all too familiar image was in London.

I really do feel impotent when I am not able to join in the protests. The same is true abut an XR action in the early hours of this morning  when they chalked or painted wider cycle lanes on all of the city’s busiest roads.

The sanctimonious comments of Priti Patel at lunchtime urging that people who want to demonstrate should not do so, out my back up. It was ok for Cheltenham Races and football matches to go ahead when the coronavirus was taking hold and the  government was doing nothing, but defending the rights of black people is a no go. She is so full of her own self importance that it is hard to take her ‘concerned’ look seriously. It’s all a performance for the cameras.

A conversation with my daughter’s husband, who suffers so badly from hay fever that he often has to take a month off work during May and June, is reassuring. It would seem that my symptoms marry up closely with those he suffers, so maybe it’s pollen that is making my eyes ache. It’s true that I did react badly while cutting the lawn the other day, something that has never happened before.

Although I have a niece who is a headteacher, and she seems to be coping well with the reopening her school, I am worried for my daughter. She must return to teaching from Monday, even though both her husband and one of her boys are among those considered vulnerable to coronavirus. She tells me that there have been several reports among her friends and colleagues that evident signs of Covid19 identified by their doctors showed up as negative when they were tested. That too reduces trust levels, especially as we know the tests are not error free, and can take too long to come back. And look at the fiasco of the tests sent to America which came back without analysis. At what cost to the well-being of those tested and their families, not to mention the financial cost?

Not having been able to see my grandsons for a few days, I settled down to watch the animation Moara on my TV while they watched on theirs at home. I have vague recollections of watching this before, or perhaps another version the story, but I had forgotten about my favourite character a rather stupid wordless chicken.

Afterwards I unsentimentally chopped up a chicken breast and sauteed it with onions garlic and mushrooms and a dash of cream, and served it on some Thai black rice. It is more purple than black, and more chewy and, I must say, more tasty than Basmati.

As I ate my meal I watched The Lost Girls, a feature by documentary film-maker Liz Garbus about the still unsolved mystery of the Long Island serial killer, whose victims may have included as many as 16 female sex workers. Amy Ryan plays the feisty estranged mum of the latest woman to go missing, with Gabriel Byrne as the lackadaisical police commissioner. A Netflix original released this year it is a far cry from Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri made three years earlier in which Frances McDormand gave a towering performance as the bereaved mother who took on the police after her daughter was raped and murdered. Thankfully neither are grisly slasher movies which I abhor.

Now I need to find something to cheer me up before I hit the sack. Maybe some more Reaction videos?

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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