Retreat, Days 27-30: The Longest Bank Holiday Ever

The four day bank holiday weekend seemed to go on for a very long time. I felt run down on Saturday, so took things easy. I made sure to eat properly, and also settled down to read a novel for fun (Real Tigers, the third of Mick Herron’s excellent spy novel series about Slough House). I’m finally feeling back to normal today.

I also finished reading EM Forster’s 1909 science fiction story, The Machine Stops, which describes a future where people live in tiny but luxurious cells, rarely interacting physically with others. Elements like the airships have dated badly, but the vision of networked people sharing strange obsessions is very apt. “The clumsy system of public gatherings had been long since abandoned; neither Vashti nor her audience stirred from their rooms.” There are machines for everything, and one of the signs of the system succumbing to entropy is “the defective rhymes that the poetry machine had taken to emit.”

Last night brought a poetry performance by Rosy, reading Vladimir Mayakovsky’s A Cloud in Trousers, as part of her new translation project. Watching a livestream is not the same as being in a venue, the audience around you, but it’s better than nothing.

I also loved Kate St Shields and DJ Killer Jules new mix Is that all there is to a (solo) disco. The editing is perfect, and makes it sound like they’re recording together. Kate & Jules’ upcoming events are cancelled, but I can’t wait to be able to dance at their night again.

As I settle into my second month of lockdown, certain questions arise. Like, should I buy more deodorant? It’s not like I’ll be building up a sweat anytime soon, and a very faint body odour will be undetectable at two meters. I also have a hefty and ungroomed quarantine beard, which may not see a barber for some time. The fastidious part of me wants to shave off my hair and beard; but another part of me thinks this is the perfect time to grow out my buzzcut and see what I look like with a monstrous beard.

One good thing about the long bank holiday is that I’ve finally moved this blog from the slightly dodgy hosting company it was previously with. Lots of much-delayed tasks are being finished, while others are being abandoned on the basis that, if I can’t do them on lockdown, they are never getting done.

I’ve also finished a draft for a new story zine about the South Downs Way. All being well, that should be ready to go out next week.

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