June has been a slow blur. The days are getting longer, and a dense heat is settling into my valley, more muggy than hot. The month started with the four-day Jubilee weekend, which seemed like a lot of fuss over nothing. I had my friends Sophie and Katharine both visiting and, with Katharine, walked a section of the Pennine Way, south from Ponden reservoir to Hebden Bridge. On the Saturday, I drove all the way to Brighton for one evening so that I could attend Rosy’s birthday party. It’s a long journey, and not one I’m likely to make often, but it was good to see everyone. The journey was made easier by stopping off at my sister’s both ways, where I got to see my parents, and of course, my niece’s pigs.
The following weekend was another celebration of Rosy’s birthday, with a boat journey on the river Thames. It’s been a long time since I went on a boating holiday. I loved it – the slow pace, red kites gliding above us, and finding good places to moor. The following week, I had my own birthday which was a little muted, before doing the Yorkshire Three Peaks with work (I’ve blogged about this in detail). June’s final weekend was spent in Blackpool. It’s been good to get out and about but I do wonder if I should have spent more time locally. Maybe soon. At the end of the month I had a visit from my old housemate Sooxanne, who came up for a little co-working.
My Yorkshire Three Peaks walk was the longest day’s hiking I’ve done, with a total of 66,178 steps. I managed a total of 367,125 steps for the month, which is an average of 12,237 a day. My weight was exactly the same at the end of the month as it was at the start, despite trying to eat a little better. I guess I need to put more effort in.
I’ve somehow managed to read 50 books so far this year, and most of them have been pretty good. I started June with Tender is the Flesh by Argentinian writer Agustina Bazterrica, one of the darkest things I’ve read. The book describes a world where, due to a virus, animals can no longer be eaten. Instead, humans are farmed and slaughtered for meat. The book was pitiless and uncomfortable. Leaving Mundania by Lizzie Stark described the author’s experiences with larping. This was entertaining, particularly when she described the world of Nordic larp.
I’d expected Andrew Allen’s Dictionary of Sussex Folk Medicene to be dry and obscure. Instead it’s one of the most vivid local histories that I’ve read. After finishing it I had a much clearer idea of life in mediaeval Sussex, and learned about oddities such as toad-eaters, leech catchers, and the use of walnut leaves to induce dwarfism – a historical precendent for the characters in Geek Love. I enjoyed Ben Myers’ new novel The Perfect Golden Circle, a strange and vivid book about crop circles. I also read Lucy Easthope’s When the Dust Settles, an account of her career in disaster preparation. It is terrifying in places, and scathing about how the Tory austerity has hollowed out disaster planning. A deeply worrying and unsettling book.
I’ve not watched a lot of TV this month. While Katharine was visiting we watched The Pennine Journey, an 80s documentary following a group of teenagers walking the trail. It was fascinating to see how different documentaries were back then. I also finished watching Dispatches from Elsewhere. The show was uneven, going from a stunning opening episode to a slightly flabby middle section, but the series was open-hearted and daring. Dispatches from Elsewhere was based on a documentary called The Institute and it was interesting to watch the source material for that. I tried watching Happy Valley, a police drama set around this area, but it was too grim for me. Is watching people being sexually assaulted really mainstream TV? I started a few new series at the end of the month that will take me into July: Atlanta Season 3, Westworld Season 4 and Sky’s The Lazarus Project.
I watched some movies this month (as well as The Institute). The Batman was yet another grimdark Batman story, making me long for the fun Adam West version. Sunshine felt like a bland cover version of Event Horizon, and I’m not sure why they made it. Being Frank; The Chris Sievey Story was a fascinating documentary about the man behind Frank Sidebottom.
After clearing my backlog in last month’s deluge of submissions, my pace this month was slower with only 3 things going out. My piece Holiday Wardrobe was read at Liars League by Jennifer Aries. I also wrote two new stories, a flash fiction called Glitch and a micro fiction about a bath haunted by John Lennon’s ghost. The next South Downs Way zine went off to the printers, and will be out next month. In July I’m going to focus on writing a batch of flash fictions about technology. And maybe work on the long-delayed book of clown stories.
I’ve also been doing a little blogging. Mostly things I didn’t want to let pass without mentioning, such as the return of Buck 65 and a ritual I was involved with back in March. I’ve finally got my programming blog running again, and had a piece on Test-Driven Development published on the Mindera blog. I also started a new website, which I’m adding content to but not announcing just yet. The only visitor so far was a bot in the early part of the month, but I’m enjoying working on it, slowly building to the point where it’s found or it’s detailed enough to announce.
It’s been another dramatic and chaotic month in politics, and it’s hard to keep up with everything. Covid is still in the background, despite the government actively ignoring in the hope it goes away. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been dreading my parents catching coronavirus. Finally, after two years, my Dad caught covid – at the Download festival, no less. It was soon passed on to my Mum. We’ve been fortunate that the NHS has provided excellent treatment, reducing the virus to little more than an irritation, but it’s a reminder that the pandemic has not gone away. After growing lax about mask-wearing for a time, I am not back to wearing one more regularly, particularly in trains and shops. I’ve still not caught a symptomatic infection, and I’m not enthusiastic about the idea of coming down with it.