Time for Tenet

The last post took two months to write; this one has taken just three weeks. I’m getting better…

Tenet
A week last Wednesday I went to see Christopher Nolan’s new film. Like most people, I came out thoroughly bamboozled regarding the plot but still enjoyed the picture. The two leads, John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, were very good in their roles. Washington’s Protagonist is a somewhat distant character; he is all about the plot rather than character so I was grateful for Pattinson’s Neil who is a little more of the reverse, whether it is in his clothing choices or warm smile. Since watching the film, I have learnt that John David Washington is Denzel Washington’s son, which I can hardly believe. And what’s more, JDW is 36, so he has been around for a while. It turns out that that Denzel Washington is 65. How time flies.

What was it like going to the cinema? Tense. Because of the coronavirus risk, I umm’d and ahh’d about going for several days before hand. Had it not been for Christopher Nolan, I probably wouldn’t have. I went to an 11am screening in the hope that it would not be busy. Thankfully, it wan’t – there were just a handful of people in the screen. Why did I feel tense? The cinema was very clean and tidy; if the staff’s PPE was anything to go by, Vue take their health and the cinema-goers very seriously. Of course, the answer is that despite the cinema’s best efforts, the virus may still linger somewhere and I may catch it. This was on my mind beforehand, while watching the film, and afterwards. It won’t start to go away until after next Wednesday – the two week mark when symptoms of the illness usually start to manifest themselves.

While watching the film, I wore my face mask. Doing so will never be enjoyable but at least the temperature in the screen was fairly even. As a result, my glasses only steamed up once or twice.

Why next? I really want to see Bill & Ted 3 (it opens on 16th Sept.) but I have to admit I’m umm’ing and ahh’ing about it even harder than with Tenet. I could easily see myself deciding to wait until it appears on DVD or streaming service. The next film that I will do all I can to go and see in the cinema is No Time To Die. The latest trailer for James Bond 25 looks absolutely stunning. The film is due out on 12th November.

Home Life
Nothing much has changed: in the morning, I work; in the afternoon, I read and write. This week has been different, though. It has gone really well. Every week day for several months now, I have written a list of all the things I would like to do during that day. Rarely have I ever been able to tick everything off before day’s end. This week, I have managed to do so for four days in a row! I can’t tell you how extraordinary that is. As a result, I have managed to :-

read a little more of Rob Johnson’s Lawrence of Arabia on War
develop my plot outline for my as yet unnamed Camino Story
write and schedule tweets for my Hilaire Belloc Twitter account (@SineAuctoritate)

every day. I’m very proud of myself for that. I have no expectation about what I will achieve today, or any day into the future: I don’t want to think about that at all. Every day is a gift so I would prefer to focus on where I am and what I am doing now. If I can tick everything off again, great, if not, not to worry.

Books
A new book about Alexander the Great has been published! It’s called Philip and Alexander: Kings and Conquerors and is by Adrian Goldsworthy. He has written several books, mainly about ancient Rome, so is very solid. I can’t wait to get started on it.

Podcasts
I’ve been enjoying listening to Clare Lydon’s and T. B. Markinson’s Lesbians Who Write podcast. On a practical level, it is full of useful writing tips. Its greatest virtue, however, has to be the warmness of the hosts’ friendship. It is very evident in the presentation and makes for nice, homely podcast. If only Christopher Nolan could make a film that was as friendly! I’d like to start listening to at least a couple more podcasts regularly but I don’t know which ones to choose, yet.

Formula 1
The season continues. As I write this, Free Practice 2 is taking place in Tuscany. Tuscany! The F1 circus is using Ferrari’s test track at Mugello. I have visited Tuscany twice in my life and had a wonderful time both times. Well, almost. My first visit (c. 2002) was my first solo trip abroad. I had a two hour panic attack after I arrived. Once I recovered, though, the rest of the trip was fabulous (except for the time an Italian guy swigged my wine outside a trattoria!).

Twenty-Two and Back

Well, this won’t do. Nearly two months since my last blog post. Time flies. Kind of. In truth, I have spent the last few weeks meaning to write another update but just not got round to it.

For me, not a great deal has changed since my last post. Although we are no longer in lock down (in my last post I said that lock down measures were easing. At which point did they cease? I’m really not sure. I feel like it just happened), I only really go out to go shopping.

Having said that, I have managed to broaden my understanding of what constitutes ‘shopping’; which is to say that a couple of weeks ago I went to Marks and Spencer’s to buy some clothes and have made a couple of trips to Waterstones.

Books!
I decided a while ago that I wanted to have a copy of 1984 and Animal Farm on my shelf for future reading. The way the world is going at the moment these seem to be the most relevant books to have. Earlier this week, I picked up a copy of John Garth’s The Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien.

1984 and Animal Farm surely need no introduction. J. R. R. Tolkien doesn’t, either, but John Garth is not quite as famous so I will quickly say this: he ought to be. Garth wrote the brilliant Tolkien and the Great War back in 2003. In this book, he gave an account of Tolkien’s life during the First World War. It is full of insight and information; a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in Tolkien’s life. I thought I owned a copy of the book until I looked at my shelf earlier today and couldn’t find it. Did I loan it out ages ago and not get it back? Or did I accidentally throw it away during my book clear out a few weeks ago? Either way, I rate the book so highly I’ll certainly purchase another copy of it.

That’s Tolkien and the Great War. The Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien is a coffee table book that looks at all the places that influenced Tolkien in his writings. Over the years, I have seen so many – so, so many – places lay claim to having influenced him; it will be good to finally have an authoritative guide to point me in the right directions.

Spiritual Matters
This was the title of my last blog post. Priests have been celebrating Masses ever since the start of July. I haven’t yet attended one; too nervous of doing so to begin with; happy to keep watching them on-line. However, I can now feel myself approaching the point at which I will head off to my parish church. Will it be next week? I don’t know.

I mentioned before about going to confession. I did that. At the start of July, I undertook the three hour round trip from home and walked to Westminster Cathedral. Confessions were no longer in the confessional. We had to queue up a little distance away from their new locations – the baptistry and the Chapel of St Gregory and St Augustine – and await our turn turn. I was a bit nervous about how close we would be to the priest and penitents but I need not have worried – a cathedral volunteer stood at the head of the queue to make sure people were queueing in the right place and guide them to the priest after each confession.

The priest in the baptistry and chapel were both standing. They didn’t wear face masks but instead a plastic face guard. The penitents stood up as well. It could have felt really awkward but wasn’t. In the last couple of weeks, the Government has said that everyone must wear face masks when shopping. I think this applies to churches but am not sure. I will have to find out no later than the start of October: by then it will be three months since my last confession and I will want to go back.

Two Unexpected Gifts
I have received two of late. The first was a tax rebate from the Government! These are always appreciated. As I think I have mentioned before, I work as a free lance now. I am very overdue being paid but am very rubbish at chasing money matters up. A few weeks ago, I would have had to have done so, though, because I was nearly at the end of my overdraft. The tax rebate came at exactly the right moment. Thanks to it, I have been able to eat, buy the above mentioned books and some clothes.

The unexpected gift was a bottle of red wine, which my brother decided he didn’t want. It is on my desk right now and I can’t wait to sip it!

Formula One
Just after my last post, Formula One went racing again for the first time this year. The season has been an unmitigated success so far – at least in terms of keeping everyone safe from the coronavirus. On the track, it’s been great for Lewis Hamilton but slightly less good for everyone else. Happily (eh?), there has been off-track controversy as well – something to keep our minds off Mercedes on-track dominance. This has chiefly been provided by the Racing Point team, whose 2020 car is a copy of the 2019 Mercedes. The stewards investigated the matter and decided it was worth a small fine and reduction of constructor points but – even if the team continues to use the same car – nothing more. As I write, Ferrari and Renault are appealing this lenient judgement. Ferrari, rather amusingly, want transparency about how far teams can copy each other. This, of course, is the same Ferrari that got busted using a (probably) illegal engine last year but managed to keep details of its settlement with the FIA secret. (I say ‘probably’ because the FIA weren’t able to work out what the team had done to make its engine so good. They reckoned it was illegal, though, and told the team to make some changes. As a result, they are running in the midfield).

As You Write It

I am writing this post at 6:58am. I usually try to do a little creative work early in the morning but thought I would turn to the blog today as I need to catch-up again.

Well, a few things have happened since my last post on 3rd May.

Last week, one of my aunts died. She had been suffering from dementia and latterly had moved to a care home. I don’t know the cause of her death although in the current context one might hazard a guess. I wasn’t close to her – I hadn’t met her since the 90s – but one of her sons is an occasional visitor to our house and I keep up with his and some of his family’s life on Facebook so I feel for them.

A few days ago, my brother’s mother-in-law died – I believe of natural causes; she had been very ill for sometime. I never met her at all but I am sad for my brother’s wife.

A couple of days ago, I was just about to start my daily exercise when an e-mail notification flashed up on my screen: my parish had started livestreaming a Mass. Very unusual as it was 2:22pm. Afternoon Masses are not usually until much later, and then at the top of the hour.

I read the text accompanying the notificaiton: RIP Derek Vitali. This cut me to the quick. Derek and his wife were regular attendees to the 8am Sunday Mass – the one at which I altar serve. Derek himself was a reader. He had an amazing voice – deep, clear, and authoritative. It was always a pleasure listening to him. We often spoke ‘back stage’ before or after the Mass as well. He was a very kind and happy person; full of good humour. As with my aunt, I don’t know the circumstances of his death but I will miss him very much.

Requiescant in Pace.

My parents and I remain well. I continue my social media work, exercise, reading and preparation for creative writing.

Howards End (9/10)
After watching The Martian, I turned to this Merchant Ivory classic. Leonard Bast’s death remains incredibly sad and frustrating. If only the Wilcox family had had an ounce of compassion it need never have happened. It’s worse because I can identify with Bast – I am not as poor as he is but without the help of others I probably would be. I appreciate his love of literature and nature, his day dreaminess as well. I try not to think about how it is not just the Wilcox’s but society itself that brings him down because then I might have to ask questions about my own society – not so much or only in connection with me but in regards all of us.

K-19: The Widowmaker (8/10)
My second Russian submarine disaster film. This one is set in the early 60s. The K-19 is the USSR’s latest super-sub. It has also been badly constructed. It should remain in port but the Soviet Navy chiefs want it at sea to conduct missile tests so off it goes. Predictably, disaster follows: Piping in the nuclear reactor breaks. Water coolant can no longer get through to the reactor itself. As a result, its temperature rises to catastrophic levels. The crew undertake a race against time to repair the piping before the high temperatures cause a nuclear explosion that could in turn lead to nuclear war – rather unhelpfully, the sub’ is close by an American spy station.

K-19 is a solid action-drama. Harrison Ford acts against type as Captain Alexei Vostrikov who seems to care more about the Party than his crew. Liam Neeson’s Mikhail Polenin is the noble submarine commander who does his best to defend his crew’s interests against the captain.

In the end, Vostrikov comes good: he puts the men first. If I have one criticism of the film it is that it didn’t develop Vostrikov’s character enough. We know that despite his party loyalty he has a suspect background but in the film he goes from being cruel to kind in fairly short order.

John Wick 3: Parabellum (8.5/10)
I finished watching this yesterday. John Wick 3 is very stylish, and violent. It has a very interesting internal mythology that raises the film above being just about the violence though I don’t know by how much. I think I need to watch the first two films in the series.

Happy Birthday Formula 1!
Formula 1 turned seventy years old, yesterday (13th May). The first ever F1 Grand Prix took place at Silverstone in the presence of King George VI. There was big news to go with the birthday, of course, with the announcement from Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel that he would be leaving the team at the end of the year. Let’s hope we can go racing and he can get a win (after Hamilton has won his seventh title, preferably) before the year’s end.

Subs and Shopping

Corona Chronicles III

Home
I started work early yesterday so that I could do most of it before going shopping with my father. My job entails doing the social media for a newly set up film production company. The job is fun but challenging in that I always have to be careful about how I speak and what I speak about. This is all the more the case now in light of the corona virus. I want to speak optimistically but not in a way that annoys or grates. How do I do this? It’s a judgement call and, yes, a process of trial and error.

I completed the last of my exercises yesterday. Today, I’m taking a rest from physio before resuming tomorrow. The physiotherapist called me; unfortunately, I was at Sainsbury’s at the time so couldn’t take the call. When I called the NHS line later, I was told to ring back in a couple of weeks. The person to whom I spoke sounded brusque. I imagine they were tired from a busy day of dealing with calls like mine.

I finished watching Kursk: The Last Mission. It is a good, suspenseful drama. If you know the story of the Kursk, you know what will happen but because the characters in the film are so strongly written that didn’t matter. I rate it 8/10.

If Kursk: The Last Mission has any accuracy, the Russian government was criminally negligent in how it (under)funded the Navy, which directly led to the failure of the rescue attempts when the Kursk went down, and in how it refused foreign help when it became clear that the Navy was unable to rescue its sailors. In fact, if you read the Wikipedia article on what happened (here), it is clear that the Russian government and Navy were both negligent. I should add, though, that the film is not a completely accurate portrayal of what happened. For example, it suggests that the sailors who survived the initial explosion that sunk the Kursk lived for much longer than they did in real life. After finishing Kursk: The Last Mission, I moved on to a drama-comedy: The Terminal.

Abroad
Further to yesterday’s post – I accompanied my father on his weekly shopping trip. Sainsbury’s was very calm. There were quite a few people wearing face masks but very few had gloves on, which seemed to rather defeat the purpose of the face mask. Of course, if the corona virus can live on clothing for any amount of time then even wearing gloves is a waste of time. Just wash your hands and try not to touch your face!

As for Sainsbury’s, demand continues to outstrip supply. We saw many empty shelves and came away without many of the items on our list. The Sainsbury’s that we went to is a very large store and, I suspect, the go-to place for a lot of people roundabout. I say this because the Sainsbury’s that I go to on Fridays is a bit smaller and this time last week was much better stocked. Maybe, though, it’s unfair to compare last week with this week. I will find out later today what shape it is in now.

A.O.B.
– In yesterday’s press conference, Boris Johnson said that he thinks the tide can be turned in three months. Let’s hope so.
– The F.A. has suspended all professional football until 30th April and has suggested that the league season can go on ‘indefinitely’. I’ll be reading more about this because I can’t see how it can. Not unless they want to potentially shorten or abandon the 2020/21 season. Otherwise, at some point in the summer they’ll have to say enough’s enough and either call the 2019/20 season null and void or declare the current league positions as the final ones. As a Manchester United fan I have no interest in seeing Liverpool win the league but if the season can’t be finished it would be a huge injustice to the Merseysiders if they were not awarded the title. Especially since they have played quite magnificently this season.
– Formula 1 is hoping to get going again in June. Well, let’s see.