Catching Up

It’s been a few days since the last post, and all remains well in our household. I have been up and down – second guessing anything that doesn’t feel quite right with my body, always expecting the worst. Otherwise, it’s been a case of writing out a To Do list every day and trying to keep busy by doing as much of it as possible.

I started writing out my To Do list just after I wrote my last blog post and it has been great at enabling me to see very clearly what I am doing right (the things I need to do) and what, day after day, I am not doing at all (my more creative work). Of course, I knew where I was succeeding and failing before but there is nothing like seeing it on the page to really bring the truth home. Now all I need to do is BE CREATIVE (still easier said than done).

I am still exercising. My sales tell me I am losing weight, too, which is great, although I am always suspicious that the scales are not so accurate. I am still watching films. Here are the ones that have carried me across the hour,

In my last post I said I was going to watch Frozen; I did, but only after two other films. The first was Genius (2006). I have wanted to watch this picture for the last three years – it stars Colin Firth as the famous book editor Max Perkins and covers the years of his relationship with an author named Thomas Wolfe. Perkins edited F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway’s books so it was for them as well as Firth that I watched the film. They show up in neat cameos by Guy Pearce and Dominic West respectively. Jude Law absolutely chews the furniture up as the brilliant but selfish man-child Wolfe. By contrast, Firth’s Perkins is about as exciting as the furniture. Despite that, I still rate Firth 11/10. Why wouldn’t, I; he’s Colin Firth. The film, though, while I enjoyed it, was a bit flat so I rate that 7/10.

After Genius, I turned to another literary film – Vita & Virginia (2018). V squared is about the love affair between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. Sackville-West is happily married to diplomat Harold Nicolson (who I spent the whole film confusing with Harold Acton) but her bisexuality and strong sex drive lead her to pursue Virginia Woolf. At first, she has no success: Woolf is distant in her psychological fragility and not interested in Vita’s advances, but eventually, there is a breakthrough. The story of Max Perkin’s relationship (all professional, by the way) with Thomas Wolfe is told with a very straight bat. Vita and Virginia’s, however, with much more energy both in the plot and – especially – in the music. I rate the film 8/10.

After V & V I finally got round to watching Frozen. At first it felt like there were too many songs but I soon got used to them and more into the story. The king and queen of Arendelle are lost at sea. Their eldest daughter Elsa, rules in their stead. On the day of her coronation, a magical condition that she suffers from – the ability to turn things to ice – runs out of control. She flees from the capital city and hides in the mountains where she creates a fabulous ice palace to live in. Realising that the whole of Arendelle is now stuck in a permanent winter, Elsa’s sister, Anna, pleads with her to reverse what she has done. But Elsa can’t. A wise troll tells Anna that only an act of love (not that kind! This is Disney, remember) can heal Elsa and reverse the winter. The story is simple and well told. With its princesses and dashing men it is a very typical Disney tale but there is more to it than that:- Elsa does not see her ice powers as a curse but simply part of who she is (see the lyrics to the song Let It Go). It’s easy to see why she has become an important figure within the LGBT community. And while the men may be dashing, it is Elsa’s sister Anna who searches for her. I rate the film 8/10.

Finally, I watched Spiderman: Far From Home (2019). There were points during this film that I had my doubts about it – it combines super heroics with teen drama and comedy and I felt that the comedy was getting a bit too far ahead but the director (Jon Watts) managed to reign it all in in good time and make a good, fun picture. I think Far From Home came out not long after Avengers: End Game. If so, Marvel did well giving their fans a film to laugh as well as gasp at after the terrible events of the earlier picture. I rate it 8/10.

My current film is The Sting (1973). I first saw this film in the 90s and have been wanting to watch it ever since. When I saw it was on the Sky app, I couldn’t start it quickly enough!

Well, here in the U.K., we will be in lockdown for at least three more weeks. And then, who knows. I haven’t been paid for two months now and my bank account is creeping towards the overdraft limit. I might get away with it for this months bills, but I won’t for May’s, so that is a concern.

I started writing notes again for my Camino story this week, which was a great boon. As I said above, though, I need to be more creative. Not just one day here and there, but every day. I also had a good idea for the twitter stories I want to write. It was a combination of two separate ideas that have come to me previously so the way in which they merged effortlessly into one was very appreciated.

I am still reading Antony Beevor’s account of the Second World War. My goodness, it is a sad read: all the violence, violence, violence of the eastern front. After I finish this post, I will be picking it up again and reading about Pearl Harbour.

Outside – shopping trips have gone alright. Most people are respecting the stay-at-home instruction although I have seen a very few people standing around chatting.

A Living Metaphor

I have just finished saying Compline and a Rosary for Boris Johnson who has been moved to intensive care this evening after the symptoms of his illness got worse. Although his condition has deteriorated, the reports are that he is not on a ventilator so we can only hope and pray that he will get better.

When I prayed, I included in my intention all who are ill with the coronavirus at the moment, those who had died, and their loved ones. Boris Johnson is one name among many but because he is the Prime Minister he is more than just himself; he is a representative of this country – second only in importance to the Queen – a living metaphor for its health. To hear about him going into intensive care, therefore, even though his situation could be a lot worse, feels like a blow to the stability of the country, and by extension, to oneself. Whether one likes Johnson or not, we need that stability because it breeds hope.

Right now, I feel mostly okay. Thanks to the Novena I’ve been saying, the last week hasn’t been too bad. I can’t fool myself, though. Hearing about Boris Johnson makes me feel anxious. Every time I cough I wonder is this the start of a persistent cough. Every time my room gets a bit too hot (because the radiator has come on) I wonder if this is the start of a fever. The Novena is helping, but I am in the foothills.

I finished watching Divergent this morning. I rate the film 8/10. A pretty entertaining watch. It’s set in a dystopian future where, following a war, the citizens of Chicago have been divided into factions according to their dominant personality – Erudite, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Candor. The film follows the adventures of Tris who joins the Dauntless faction but who is actually divergent – she holds all the above mentioned personality traits within herself. This is a problem as the divergent are outcasts because they can’t be controlled. We watch as Tris goes through her Dauntless training before she discovers a plot to usurp supreme power by the leaders of Erudite and Dauntless. The film is by no means a classic but it has a good heart, decent story and acting; well worth a night in to watch. There are three films in the series and subject to their availability I will definitely try and watch the next two to see how the story resolves itself. The new film is Frozen.

The Post is Here

Corona Chronicles IX

Yesterday and today have been pretty okay days. However, Work – Exercise – Relax and not much else so still no creativity. On that point, I downloaded Google Sheets onto my iPad last night. My hope was that I would be able to copy and paste my Excel Camino Story plan onto a G. S. file. If I could do this, I would be able to examine and amend the plan, and think a little more clearly about the story, while relaxing away from my desk.

I was keen to do this because even though I work part time, I am at my desk for a large portion of the day so it would mean a lot to be able to work a little away from it. Happily, the copy and pasting was successful. I need to change the column lengths but once that is done, I’ll be able to get going again with the story.

Over the last two days, I watched The Post while exercising. I rate this film 8/10. In 1971, The New York Times published a secret government report which showed that successive American presidents had lied about their country’s involvement in the Vietnam war. President Nixon successfully applied in court to stop the paper publishing any more documents. The Washington Post, then a failing newspaper, took the case up and published more of the report. The American government took it to court but was defeated. The film is well written and acted – especially by Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham, the owner of the Post and Tom Hanks as its editor, Ben Bradlee – and directed by Steven Spielberg. I have to say, though, for a while, I wasn’t sure what genre the film was supposed to be. It should have been a thriller but didn’t feel quite suspenseful enough. In a strange way, it felt more like a biopic of the paper at a critical moment in America’s history. The last scene of the film, when a security guard discovers the break-in at the Watergate hotel was a great way to end the film. Tomorrow, I am going to start watching Divergence.

I read another chapter of C. S. Lewis’ Reflections on the Psalms today. In this chapter, he looks at the Old Testament attitude towards death. According to Lewis, the Jewish view was not unlike that of, say, the ancient Greeks: there was nothing after death. As he points out, if you know your New Testament, you will know that by the time of Jesus, Jewish views had diverged. Some did believe there was life after death while others still maintained the opposite.

My father did the house shopping today. Tomorrow afternoon I will pop out for mine. I hope it goes as well as last week with everyone observing the two metre rule. I hope I remember to buy everything that I need.

What will happen after the coronavirus fades away? Is globalisation finished? I don’t think it will – we are all just too connected now – be but we surely have lessons to learn about how we respond to medical emergencies like this. Will we do so? I imagine there will be enquiries but I fear lessons will not be learned. I say this because I don’t think we changed anything after the banking crisis just over a decade ago. Democracy just doesn’t encourage long term thinking. Not that I am advocating authoritarian rule: this pandemic spread in part due to the Chinese government covering up what was happening. All in all it is not very encouraging. We just have to hope.

A Marvel

Corona Chronicles VIII

Home
Last weekend was all about me trying to get on with things in the face of low level anxiety about the coronavirus. There was a moment on Saturday when I lay down on my bed because that was all I could do but I soon got up again and, while the day perhaps wasn’t the most productive one ever, I still got a few things done – Duolingo, physio exercise and one or two other bits and pieces.

Sunday was a much better day in terms of activity. I gave myself a day off physio and exercising (I had gone light on Saturday because my leg was aching a bit) but managed to keep myself busy all day. I watched the live-stream of Mass from my parish church at 8am, wrote two posts for my Alexander the Great blog (this and this one), met my Duolingo target, and did a big load of washing up in the late afternoon. The Alexander blog posts were my big achievement. They take time and patience to write. Because of this, I usually only write one on any given day. On Sunday, however, I was inspired to write both Saturday’s and Sunday’s.

Monday went well. I still felt anxious but I managed make good use of the hours. In the late afternoon, I left a message for my friend C. (she is the saintly person I mentioned in last Thursday’s post. Because she is busy, I try to leave a voice mail message for her every weekend to let her know how the family and I are getting on). She called back and we talked and prayed together. We talked about how I am feeling and she gave me a Novena to say. It’s this one.

Today has been the best day I have had for the last week or so. I haven’t felt anxious at all. For once I have felt physically okay. Who knows how tomorrow will go but right now, I am grateful.

Saturday: I finished watching Hook. I rate it 7.8/10. Robin Williams plays Peter Banning who cares more for his work than he does his family. When Captain Hook kidnaps his children, Peter meets Tinkerbell who tells him that he is Peter Pan. She takes him back to Neverland where she and the Lost Boys successfully make him remember who he used to be. Pan defeats Hook in the showdown and wins the day. I might have rated Hook 8. but I would have preferred it to be set in its original time (Edwardian) time period. I love period dramas. With that said, there is nothing objectionable about its modernisation so don’t take this ‘criticism’ too seriously. Any film with Robin Williams in it is always going to be worth watching.

Saturday/Monday: After finishing Hook, I moved onto Captain Marvel. I did a bit of extra exercise yesterday and so finished the film in two days. I rate it 8/10. I really enjoyed this film. The story was okay to good. Brie Larson plays Vers, a woman from the planet Kree, who comes to earth to stop the Kree’s mortal enemy, the Skrull, from stealing an advanced piece of technology here. Nothing is as it seems, however (SPOILERS AHOY); Vers turns out to be a human woman named Carol Danvers, and it is the Kree who are the enemy not the Skrull. The plot twists were well done but what really made the film for me were the characters. It was great seeing a younger Agent Coulson and Nick Fury as (the film is set in the mid 90s). Most of all, though, I really like how they wrote Carol Danvers. She is very cool, determined and measured. No screaming, no deferring to the male characters (there’s a neat scene where she is talking to an old friend and sends Fury out of the room with the child, a complete reversal of goodness knows how many films when the woman is sent out), no nonsense. I hope Captain Marvel made enough to ensure a direct sequel. I finished the film today just before finishing my exercise so I haven’t decided what film to watch next.

Abroad
Shopping went well on Friday afternoon. The Sainsbury’s that I go to now only admits people a few at a time so we had to queue up but not for so very long. Most people seemed to be respecting the two metre rule. Soon, I was inside and running around so that I could get my shopping done as quickly as possible so that those after me didn’t have to wait to long. On Saturday, I went to the chemist for my parents’ prescriptions. Another queue but this time only two or three people. After the chemist, I popped over to my favourite corner shop, but forgot to buy the one thing I actually went there for. So, as soon as the live stream of mass finished on Sunday, I dashed over again to pick it up.

A.O.B.
I watched Pope Francis’ extraordinary Urbi et Orbi address on Friday afternoon. I didn’t mention it in my last post so I must have finished writing it before he started. The address took place in an empty St. Peter’s Square. Watching this small figure in white advance slowly, with a pronounced limp due to Sciatica, up the long ramp to the lectern amidst the vast expanse of grey stone and under the rain was very striking. This image, of the Pope lifting the Blessed Sacrament up, was also very powerful.

I downloaded this photo yesterday, I think from the Opus Dei website, here. Apologies if it came from somewhere else.

I watched a video today in which our own Cardinal Nichols confirmed that due to the lockdown the obligation of Catholics to go to Mass/Confession at Easter is removed. As you saw in my last post, I have my arguments with (members of) the Catholic Church sometimes, but I really do miss going to Mass, and confession.

I read a little over the weekend but I need to read more. There is also something else I am not doing: being creative. The problem is I am busy all day so that by the time I get to evening, I just want to relax. I need to try harder.

Jacks

Corona Chronicles VII

Home – Thursday
Yesterday, I had to take a medicine that I had been putting off using for two weeks. Why? Because I read the instructions and saw that one of the possible side effects is anaphylactic shock. That pretty much scared the life out of me so I put the medicine away and said I will Only Take It If I Have To. Yesterday, I did. Afterwards, my day came to a halt: I was waiting to see if I would suffer an anaphylactoid reaction.

It’s stupid, really. Did I really think my doctor is in the business of prescribing me medicines that he thinks will be harmful? Yes, an adverse reaction was possible but surely unlikely as the medicine would hardly be on sale if it was common.

This, though, is logic, and when you are anxious, you do not think logically.

So, there I was, stewing in my fear, when I received an unexpected call from a very dear friend. Actually, she’s more than a friend – she is the person who instructed me when I joined the Catholic Church so is also a kind of spiritual mentor. I think she’s a saint, as well. Talking to her took away the anxiety and afterwards I was, in a manner of speaking, a new man. Deo Gratias.

As for the medicine, it did its job and although I could have continued taking it, I have decided not to unless the problem reoccurs.

Home – Today
Yesterday and today I did my exercise straight after my physiotherapy exercises. I think I might carry on like this as it feels quite good and doesn’t make me particularly tired. During today’s exercise, I finished Bad Boys. Oh my. It’s loud, brash, and silly; but also witty and funny. I rate it 6.5/10. I might have rated it .5 higher but the stupidness of the film is just a tad too strong. With that said, Bad Boys II is on Netflix, sooooo. Actually, I better wait for the brain cells that I destroyed watching this one to repair, though. The new film is Hook (1991): Robin Williams plays Peter Banning who is actually Peter Pan. In this film, Peter has grown up and forgotten who he is (or was). In order to rescue his children from Captain Hook, he has to try and remember.

I’m watching this film for the same reason that I hope to read J. M. Barrie’s book in the days or weeks to come: as I get older and see my parents age, a part of me wishes that I could be young again. I don’t like them getting old. I don’t like the thought of them not being there. Of course, I better get used to it because ageing is inevitable: in me. In them. Watching Hook is a stupid attempt to pretend that it doesn’t have to happen.

Abroad
This afternoon, I went to Sainsbury’s. They were only letting a limited number of people in at a time so we had to queue for a little while outside. Everyone was very good at observing the two or so metre gap. The shop was pretty well stocked, though again, some shelves were empty. Tomorrow, I have to go back to the chemist for my parents.

On the way to Sainsbury’s, I passed some firemen who were trying to break into a pub. They weren’t thirsty – its fire alarm was ringing. I thought to myself that if they have to break in, the landlord will find it hard to replace the glass or door lock afterwards. Fortunately, though, by the time I walked by on my way home, the firemen were gone and the door appeared to be in one piece.

A.O.B.
I subscribe to the New Ways Ministry blog. I don’t like everything that they do because I don’t like the idea of being a dissenter, but I am glad they are there. This week, they quoted the traditionalist Cardinal Burke as implying that LGBT people are to blame for the coronavirus. You can read the article here. This kind of scapegoating makes me intensely angry, and I would very much like to tell him to get fucked but if I said it and meant it I would in my own way make myself no better than him. How should one respond to such an attack? Well, with love, of course. And forgiveness. 7×70. God bless, Cardinal Burke; I disagree with him and will pray for him; I get things wrong, too, so I hope he would pray for me if he read this.

What about the coronavirus? This is my view: it happened because for whatever reason the disease jumped from an animal to a human. God allowed it to do so; not because He is angry with anyone or any group but because He is not in the business of controlling our lives like that. It is part of the free will deal. If God intervened to stop the coronavirus’ ‘jump’ we might ask Him why he did not intervene to stop the movement of any other disease or ailment, and as a matter of fact, why doesn’t He intervene to stop [your issue of choice here]. Very soon, we would hand to God our free will. We may want to do that but He does not. He knows we would find it the most painful thing of all.

That’s my view. I can’t say I have thought deeply about it so if you disagree you will have to forgive me.

Yesterday’s New Ways Ministry blog (here) was about a queer Catholic singer named Gina Chavez. I’ve been waiting to read about someone like her for a long time. I’m glad to say her music is pretty good, too (This is her You Tube channel).

I started reading from my C. S. Lewis shelf yesterday. I read the first chapter of his Reflections on the Psalms, and then an essay based on a talk about him by a lady named Joan Murphy, who was – or is – his grandnephew. I looked her up after reading the talk and found that she was still alive in 2015. If she is alive today she’ll be 94. It was a lovely essay. Unfortunately, C. S. Lewis’ father, Albert, does not come off well in it but Lewis very much does. Murphy writes,

When I began to think about this talk and wrote down things that I wanted to say, I noticed that there were two words that became dominant in my memory, and they kept coming up and coming up again: the first was encouragement and the second was laughter. Those are two things that I remember about Jacks.

(Jacks: Lewis’ given Christian name was Clive but he hated it. While still a boy he announced to his family one day that from now on he would only answer to the name Jacks. In time, that became Jack, and the name stuck).

Encouragement and laughter. What lovely ways to be remembered.

Boris Johnson and the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock were both diagnosed as having the coronavirus yesterday. We must pray for them, and indeed, for anyone in a position of authority who falls ill. I have thus far managed to resist the temptation to read comments about Johnson’s and Hancock’s diagnoses on Social Media (beyond the people that I follow) as I know they would be malevolent.

BVM, CSL, and more

Corona Chronicles VI

Home
So, yesterday I wondered if I might be able to sleep through the night as I didn’t nap during the day. Nope. And in fact, I woke up twice. And had another disagreeable dream. On the plus side, though, I did get back to sleep again pretty quickly.

This morning, I changed my routine a little and did my exercise straight after my morning physio session. I just wanted to see what effect, if any, it had on me. The answer to that is not much. I had a couple of short naps this afternoon but I might have done that, anyway. I might try it again tomorrow as I felt pretty good afterwards.

While exercising, I watched Tomb Raider to its end. I rate this film 5/10. It was a very average action film. As with so many films, the script let it down. It wasted a more than half an hour with Lara Croft’s backstory before getting her to the action. As a result, there was not enough time to do anything more than bounce her from danger to danger to showdown to end. If I had written the script, I would have obeyed the rule of In Medias Res by starting the story ‘in the middle of things’ and explained Lara’s background during the course of the main narrative (her search for the ancient queen Himiko). After all, who really cares about Lara’s background? I mean, it’s important, of course, but the really important thing about Lara Croft – the reason we care about her – is her puzzle solving and combat, not first and foremost her family history. This film, though, but it front and centre.

One thing about the film made me laugh, if grimly: Himiko was said to have been imprisoned on the deserted island of Yamatai by her generals to stop her killing people. It turned out, though, that she wasn’t evil, just carrying a fatal disease in the manner of Typhoid Mary. It all reminded me of the coronavirus a bit too much. After finishing, Tomb Raider I started watching Big Boys – an action film starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. It’s directed by Michael Bay so my brain is already mush, and I have still two days of the film to go.

This afternoon, I did a bit of book re-arranging. The desire to read C. S. Lewis has been growing on me again, recently, so I have put the books that were on my chest of drawers on the book shelf and the C. S. Lewis books that were on the shelf, on the drawers. I’m hoping that by having the books physically closer to me, I will be more likely to read them.

From whence comes this desire to read C.S.L.? Goodness knows – God, I hope, but it started when I watched a clip of Shadowlands the other day.

Speaking of C. S. Lewis, as I am sure you are aware, he was for many years good friends with J. R. R. Tolkien. Speaking of whom, 25th March is the day on which the One Ring was destroyed when Gollum fell into the lava of Mount Doom. Today is also Lady Day for Christians. Tolkien was a committed Catholic so the destruction of the Ring on the day that Gabriel announced the good news to Mary is not a coincidence. Here is one of my favourite paintings of the great event.

I love baroque art and architecture but sometimes it is good to have simplicity, and here Dante Gabriel Rossetti gives a very simple interpretation of the Annunciation. I am not much of an art critic, but things to look out for in the painting are,

The flames at Gabriel’s feet indicating his angelic status
Gabriel and Mary’s halos indicating their saintly rank
The lily that Gabriel is handing Mary; this is one of her symbols (I think it is a symbol of purity). There appears to be a lily on the red stand but I’m not sure if its placement there gives it a different meaning
The colour blue, which you can see behind Mary, is also a Marian symbol. I think it is a ‘royal’ colour, hence its association with her (Mary as Queen of Heaven)
Mary appears to have red hair. I’m not sure how to interpret that as I’m sure red is a colour more to be associated with Mary Magdalen (being the colour of licentiousness)

This evening, I am writing this post and just muddling along. I read earlier that one of the early signs of having contracted the coronavirus is a loss of smell and taste, so naturally I am now sniffing things wondering if its lack of smell is my fault. Every time I get a twinge of a headache I wonder if this is the start of a persistent one. It’s pathetic, really.

Abroad
This morning, I visited the local chemist to pick up prescriptions for my parents. They were only letting two people in at a time. The rest of us had to queue up outside – six feet apart. I used to the time to do some more Duolingo lessons. Afterwards, I came straight back. My dodgy right leg was a bit stiff, and got stiffer later. This is a repeating thing now – it feels wonderful(ish) and loose after I have done my physio but then stiffens later. I still have a way to go in sorting those muscles out.

Heroes and Villains

Corona Chronicles V

I had an unpleasant dream last night. It wasn’t a nightmare, just disagreeable. I won’t record what happened in it because I don’t want to remember it. What I will say is that it was one of those dreams that is based on a normal part of one’s life – a normal part that, unfortunately, my subconscious corrupted. Thanks, mate. I stand in solidarity with Cobb.

(Full marks to you if you get the film reference there)

Today went better – work in the morning, Tomb Raider during exercise this afternoon, work in the afternoon, then finish. I rarely sleep straight through the night these days – for reasons I don’t know, I am very prone to waking up around three in the morning – but I wonder if I might manage it tonight as I didn’t nap this afternoon.

At the weekend and today, I joined the Discord servers of two live streamers whose streams I enjoy watching. Doing so wasn’t easy – you don’t just give them your email address and a password but have to verify your e-mail. Discord seemed very fussy about that. Maybe I was just being a bit simple. Anyway, the two live streamers were MB Hammer and Nova of the Sea who has just finished playing The Last of Us and its DLC Left Behind. Why am I watching so much entertainment where people die due to infections at the moment?? That aside, The Last of Us was the first game I ever saw livestreamed on Twitch so quite aside from its excellence as a game, TLoU is very dear to me.

A.O.B.
Last night, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced a much stricter ‘lock down’ in Britain. It was a lovely sunny day, today, but very few people outside (we have a good view from our kitchen windows!)
There were two corona villains on social media today. The first was a recalcitrant 75 year old woman who couldn’t understand why the young presenter on Radio Solent was so worried about the coronavirus as he would obviously survive it. Neither did she care about the risk to herself on account of her age. The lady was completely blind to the fact that the reason we have a lock down is not for ourselves who might be healthy enough to beat the virus but to protect those who aren’t (for example, her husband, who, she said, had suffered a stroke). Her blindness was so complete that I wondered if she was mentally ill or ill in some other way that made her not care about anything, anymore. The only alternative seemed to be malice but she didn’t sound a malevolent person. It was a very sad interview to listen to. The second villain was Mike Ashley, owner of the Sports Direct sports store who wanted to keep his shops open on the grounds that (as I read on Twitter) they were providing an essential service. As important as exercise is while we are cooped up, no one on Twitter was having that.
Earlier today, there was one corona hero: a hospitalised priest in Italy who gave up his ventilator for another person, and subsequently died. Unfortunately, this story appears to be false. Happily, though, the same reports said that the priest was a holy man. Requiescat in Pace.
Going back to the corona villains, I wonder how people who behave irresponsibly during the pandemic will write the narrative of their lives in a few years time. I don’t mean the lady on Radio Solent or Mike Ashley but those who flout the social distancing requirement. I strongly suspect that in five or ten years time, you will find very few people who will admit to having visited the park or pub when they were being asked to stay at home.
This is a note to myself to mention C. S. Lewis in tomorrow’s post.

By The Book

Corona Chronicles IV

Home
The parents and I remain well. In the early hours of Saturday morning, around two or three AM, I woke up and although I felt alright, I could feel worry about the coronavirus at the back of my head. Fortunately, I was still able to get back to sleep again.

On Sunday morning, my parish church live-streamed two Masses, the 8am (which I usually serve at) and one at 10am. Being able to watch it was very comforting.

Today, I got on with my work, and this afternoon, did my exercise and finished The Terminal. I rate this film 8/10. Tom Hanks plays Victor Navorski who is forbidden to enter the USA after a coup in his home country renders his passport invalid. Unable to return home, he is forced to live in the airport’s international transit lounge. The airport authorities do their best to get rid of him but without success. In the meantime, Viktor makes some friends, plays Cupid, and enjoys the friendship of the lovelorn Amelia Warren (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The film is sweet and kind hearted. It’s the type of picture where even the baddie, in this case, airport director Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), is actually alright. I was going to give this film 7.8 out of 10 but rounded it up because it is so sweet. Once The Terminal finished, I started Tomb Raider – not the Angelina Jolie version but Alicia Vikander’s from 2018. Review to come on Wednesday.

Abroad
On Friday I did my shopping. As I thought might be the case, the Sainsbury’s store I went to was better stocked than the one my father visited on Thursday. Of course, there were still empty shelves, but overall it was in better shape. This week, I will be helping my father with the shopping again, though probably not until Wednesday.

Over the weekend, I saw photos and video of people out and about in parks and at markets in London. On the one hand, it of course made me very frustrated; on the other, who knows how the camera was being used. By that I mean, even if cameras don’t lie, they can still be used to present a manipulated image. This is the case even when they present the truth – in publishing it, the intention of the photographer or cameraman could be to use it to arouse our emotions positively or, unfortunately, negatively. I felt mine rising in the latter way so moved on.

A.O.B.
I continued Duolingo this weekend. As of today I am on a 289 day streak! If I get there and remember, I will record Day 300.
Today, I read a book for the first time in probably about two weeks (excluding Lent spiritual reading). I started with Anthony Beevor’s The Second World War and Clare Lydon’s lesbian romance Nothing to Lose. Now, can I read some more tomorrow, and the day after that, and…
I bought two little bottles of wine at the weekend and am now enjoying them. I shall end this post here so that I might continue to do so!

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.

From 1208 to Dunkirk to the Present

Corona Chronicles II

Home
All remains well in my house. My brother, who stays here during the week for his work, has returned to his home in Suffolk to be with his wife, and help look after his mother-in-law who is very unwell (not with the coronavirus). We won’t see him again until the pandemic is over.

For my part, I have managed to keep my home exercise going this week: just simple on-the-spot walking while watching a film on Netflix. I exercise like this for one hour. I would do more but with all the other things I want to do there isn’t the time. Today was the day of my follow-up appointment with the physiotherapist. Unfortunately, after writing my last post, I received a text message to say it had been cancelled. I shall take a day off tomorrow and then continue the exercises until such time as I see him again.

On Monday and Tuesday I watched Dunkirk again. It is a great film. I love how Christopher Nolan not only doesn’t name but barely ever shows the enemy. In doing so, he forces you to pay that much more attention to the British soldiers and their suffering. I was once more very stirred by Admiral Bolton’s, Mr Dawson’s and George’s heroism. For the last couple of days I have been watching Kursk: The Final Mission. I’ll say more about it when I have finished it, today or tomorrow.

I continue to work. I wonder how long for? Will the company I work for decide that since their work is impeded it isn’t worth keeping me on? As that decision is out of my hands, there is no point worrying about it. All I can do is just the best job in the time given to me.

I have discovered a really good new livestream to watch during my downtown. Check out Nova of the Sea on Twitch. She is currently playing the brilliant The Last of Us. This game is all of a sudden a bit on the nose, being set in a post apocalyptic world where Mankind has been decimated by an, er, incurable infection. Oh dear.

Abroad
On Tuesday, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York said that Church of England services should stop. I’m not sure how things work in the C of E, if ABC & ABY have the power to stop services or if they can only advise it, but either way, I doubt that there will be a church that defies them. At least, I hope not.

On the day that this announcement was made, an Anglican priest who I follow on Twitter said that it was the first time since 1208 that ‘all public worship has been banned in the Church of England.’ which was a bit cheeky as the C of E didn’t exist then. His argument was that the Reformation led to a ‘change of management’ (I’m sure that was the phrase he used but I haven’t been able to find the tweet) but that the church remained the one that existed before. That is, shall we say, not quite the Catholic understanding but let’s leave that for the theologians and historians to argue about. Back in 2020, the Catholic bishops of England and Wales followed the ABC’s and ABY’s lead (as well as the Scottish Catholic bishops) by calling a halt to Masses as of Friday. So, on Sunday I’ll get to lie in. We take the positives where we can! I must say more about the Church of England as I think about her more these days than I ever did before.

This morning, I will start work earlier as later on I am accompanying my father on his weekly shopping trip. He usually does it by himself but because people over 70 may soon be told to stay indoors I might have to take over. He’s taking me along so that I can see what he does. I wonder what we will find – if anything – and what state we will find out fellow shoppers? Anything less than panicky will please me.