Reflecting I find That life has lived me More often than I have lived It The years have sped too quickly by For my uncertain feet To find good purchase Rendered mute when words were needed Numbed by feelings Hurt by kindness Life can be cruel But it’s what we have to work with I suppose.
For most of us, when all this started, everything about COVID-19 and the resultant restrictions seemed strange and unsettling, they still do really.
Like, I suspect, most of the experts, many of us had no way of knowing exactly what this was or how to deal with it. Uncertainty was the norm and so we took the directives from our authorities at face value and, though it felt alien and, to some extent, counter-intuitive, we shut down business and we isolated.
There was one group, however, that had a completely different reaction to the situation. In the blink of an eye, they decided with absolute certainty that they knew exactly what was going on. This was no pandemic, they remonstrated, this was a plot, a carefully orchestrated, highly organized plan to take over the world by the very people who… already run it. Umm, okay.
This was the beginning of the new 1984, a global police state where apparently we were all going to spend the rest of our lives locked in our homes and the economy was going to be deliberately trashed so that… well, it all gets a bit hazy at that point.
Bill Gates was going to microchip us and simultaneously kill us with a COVID vaccine to reduce the population. The dastardly plotters needed to be able to keep track of all the dead corpses that never leave their houses, apparently. Brilliantly, they didn’t need to bring in the army for this martial law scenario because we’re all sheep who have agreed to go along with it like, well, sheep.
It does beg two questions, though, if we’re all so compliant and weak-minded, why do they have to do any of this in the first place? And, how exactly will destroying the global economy help any of them?
This level of certainty in unlikely scenarios has only grown, even as the bodies have been piling up in cities like New York and London. We’ve only been living with the awfulness of this virus for around two months but, almost from day one, the ‘certain ones’ have pointed out how few have died compared to six months’ worth of regular flu (what?).
Not for them the caution of the cowardly. No one’s going to tell them what to do. Like the lock-down protestor who cried loudly and widely that the pandemic was fake, taking to the streets unmasked and unafraid and dying of COVID-19 a couple of weeks later. They are going to show us all how to stick it to the man.
I had thought they’d settle down a bit as things got worse but they’ve just become more strident and high-pitched. They now point to the reduced numbers of deaths (a direct result of the very measures they themselves have so vehemently opposed) with triumph as if it’s proof positive that all this is a hoax and that they were right all along.
They are masters of cherry-picking facts to fit their interpretations (amusingly, they only ever seem to read as far through the articles they post as the first statement that confirms their bias. Often, if they’d only bothered to read to the end, they’d discover how little the writer actually supports their thesis).
I do not share the certainty of zealots, I have no magic eight-ball that can tell me if what we are doing here will help or ultimately harm society. I just don’t know. I have no massive ego to guide me and left most of my paranoia behind a long time ago.
I definitely don’t like some of the measures being employed in some places. And I find this level of uncertainty quite threatening and uncomfortable. However, perhaps it’s not always necessary to create a convoluted narrative that attributes moral superiority to some and absolute evil to others in order to explain that which we don’t yet fully understand; that, to me, is letting your fear carry you away.
Those who know me personally are more than aware of my generally sympathetic leanings towards contrarian thinking and what some people choose to call conspiracy theorizing. However, creating conspiracy from whole cloth in real-time is a dangerous game. It will be months, perhaps years before enough facts are known to form an educated opinion about this current crisis. To declare that you know absolutely what is going on right now is just narcissism and ego.
Here’s a conspiracy theory that could equally fit the facts on the ground:
What if the virus is actually not much weaker than we’re being told? What if it is actually some kind of bio-weapon that starts out looking like a bad flu but mutates rapidly? The latest estimate out of China is that it has already mutated 33 times. What if it just builds and builds changing its pathognomonic signature so quickly that doctors can’t keep up with it? What if that’s the real reason for the lock-downs; the government knows exactly how bad it is and doesn’t want to admit it for fear of widespread panic?
Theorizing is fun but if you only have a tiny number of actual facts to work with, it’s ultimately pointless.
You don’t have to trust your government, I sure as hell don’t. You do have to ask, does this conspiracy make sense? What practical power over us do They stand to gain from all this supposed skullduggery that they don’t, to all intents and purpose, already have?
Almost every government response to an emergency throughout history has looked like tyranny.
Dear “it’s all being faked to steal our freedom” people,
So, you believe they’re all exaggerating. Every government in the World. All the Doctors who are seeing it first-hand. All the grieving families.
COVID-19 was so bad in Wuhan they were welding up entire apartment buildings full of people to contain it and lying about the huge numbers who were dying. People there were jumping out of windows to die faster. We only got a hint of how bad it really was much later, when the cremated remains of the victims were being returned to families in their tens of thousands (where surviving family members remained). And, now the funeral homes are mysteriously burning down.
It was so bad in Iran, they too downplayed the numbers (so as not to appear weak) but the virus cut a swathe through their political elites anyway.
But we’re supposed to believe that here the numbers are being exaggerated upwards, that this is no worse than regular flu? We’re supposed to ignore all the medics tweeting their desperation and despair from the front lines in New York and other hot-spots because the emergency rooms in podunk, Alabama are quiet? Tiktok dance routines are proof that all the doctors are lying about the seriousness of the situation? Are you twelve?
I’m sure all this conspiracy theorizing is fun but if you really believe that every country on the planet (including enemies like Iran) are all coordinating with us to create the ‘lie’ that this virus is much worse than it actually is (even the countries who have consistently under-reported the numbers of dead), sorry friend but you’re a loon.
Y’all stay safe, ya hear?
Now, for the rest of us who are taking this seriously, should the lock-downs end? Probably at this point, as the facts on the ground suggest that this virus isn’t going away anytime soon. COVID-19 is likely going to be a fact of life from now on.
If the past month served to cushion our hospitals from the worst of the onslaught then that’s a good thing but it can’t have stopped the virus, only slowed it down. Our hospitals are now going to have to make themselves COVID proof on some level because I don’t think we can afford to buy them much more time if we don’t want to completely wreck our economy.
People may need to reconsider if they want to live in built-up areas in future. All the hot-spots, not surprisingly, seem to be happening where people live in close proximity to each other.
We’ll also need to pay special care to our most vulnerable. These care home tragedies have highlighted the weakness of a system that bundles the old and frail together in environments where contagion can easily spread from person to person.
Let’s be frank here, America is a profoundly unhealthy society. Many have underlying health issues that make them extremely vulnerable to easily-spread diseases. “Most of the people who die of COVID have a co-morbidity,” the cynical like to remind us. I’d like to remind them that they are describing a huge proportion of the American populace.
I believe COVID-19 is bad, very bad. It’s still early days and I doubt it has shown us its worst face yet. We should all remember that the first wave of the 1918 flu seemed mild, only killing the very old, the very frail, and the very young. It was the second wave that decimated everyone else.
While I gather my thoughts on current events, I figured I’d reblog this early post, a reminder of what this blog was originally about. Nice to see how certain I was – sitting there on the other side of the world – that this Jersey girl was my future wife.
For the ones who had a notion
A notion deep inside
That it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive
I wanna find one face that ain’t looking through me
I wanna find one place
I wanna spit in the face of these Badlands.
So why her, what does she have that’s so special? What makes it all worth the long separations, the heartache, and the not inconsiderable expense?
These are questions I’ve honestly never bothered to ask myself, not – as you may think – for fear of what might lay coiled within the answers, but because those answers have always been self-evident. No one else has ever made me feel this way and no one else has ever taken the time to really know me.
I’ve experienced loving relationships, but no other love has come as close to me – the real…
For me, the past year or so has been a very strange rollercoaster ride. My green card situation finally resolved to a point where I could look for work but having been effectively out of the job market for several years by that point and being the age I am, I found there was little work to be had.
Eventually, Jersey girl left her job with a major craft store for greener pastures and, as a special favour, her boss agreed to take me on (it wasn’t permitted for me to work at that store while my wife was still a manager there). I was not keen on the idea of standing all day at a register so I took a job in night replenishment.
Even part-time, night work can be brutal, especially if you don’t sleep well in the day, (I’m reminded of the line in Fight Club, “when you’re an insomniac, nothing’s real, everything feels like it’s behind glass, a copy of a copy”) and I quickly lost all desire to write or do anything creative. Still, it was work and that was the most important thing.
Several months went by and the greener pastures of Jersey girl’s new job dried up and blew away and so she took another one with a Photography studio as their in-house framer. This was a great position but it was, unfortunately, not in New Jersey. For several months, she commuted the hour and a half to Reading PA every morning and the hour and a half home to High Bridge every night but that simply wasn’t tenable.
And so, we upped stakes and moved to Lancaster. Reading just wasn’t our kind of city but Lancaster, just a 30 minute drive away, was perfect. Longtime readers of this blog know that if there are two things I love, it’s history and architecture and this city has both in droves.
I was able to get a transfer with the company and we found a really charming apartment right in the heart of town. Life was looking up. Lancaster city only has a population of 50,000 but it has an amazingly high number of fantastic restaurants, pubs, craft breweries, tap houses, galleries, museums, and really good coffee houses. We set about exploring our new home, trying as many places as we could and quickly fell in love with the place.
Enter COVID-19. My wife and I had been watching this little beastie since early January, recognizing the potential threat it posed almost immediately. This was a new kind of virus, that was obvious. People kept falling for the relatively low death count* and not seeing that it was fast-moving, highly infectious and worst of all, in the 15% of cases that required hospitalization, one patient could tie up a hospital bed for weeks – and then still die at the end of it. We knew that if it got here it could very easily overwhelm our medical services.
And then, in a flash, it was here and the speed at which it moved was beyond belief. Before it really even looked that bad, we started to become nervous about going in to work. My job involved touching things constantly that others had touched and working up close with colleagues and customers. Meanwhile, Jersey girl dealt with a lot of rich clients that travelled often (quite a few of them in the medical profession). Going in to work a shift was becoming increasingly stressful.
We’d already started to prepare for the worst. For weeks, whenever we’d shopped, we’d bought a few extra items to lay aside, nonperishables, essentials, even water, and yes, a little extra toilet paper. We only did a little each week but by the time the Governor of PA had started making noises about lock-downs, we had enough to get us through a month or so.
Inevitably, like so many others, we were soon both out of work but at least we knew that we would not have to go hungry, at least for a while. Many people we knew refused to believe this was as bad as we knew it was. It seems a lot of people simply can’t grasp exponential growth but we have been seeing it over the past ten days here in Lancaster.
Here’s how it has gone:
1st confirmed case of COVID-19 in Lancaster was March 18th.
21st case was March 26th.
33rd and 45th cases were March 28th.
67th case was reported as of noon on March 29th which is today.
11 days’ worth of spread during a lock-down.
To date, we’ve had just 2 fatalities. That looks like a low mortality rate but bear in mind that once a patient is infected, it can take up to a month for them to actually die. We really won’t know what the final cost will be for quite some time to come.
The biggest impact for us so far has been the closures, all those amazing businesses that make this city the vibrant, incredible place it is are now shuttered. We were all given a two-week time frame for reopening but it was obvious that no one was going to ‘flatten the curve’ in such a short period of time. No, it’s going to be months before it will be safe to open places up to the public and by then, a lot of these small businesses will be broke; many will simply never reopen.
This has been a tragedy on so many levels and we’re only just getting started.
I have been taking long walks around the city armed with a mask, gloves and my cellphone camera trying to capture the strange contrasts that I see and which we all feel.
Signs of Spring.
*Of course, the numbers out of China are rubbish. The death toll was actually in the 10s of 1000s.
I was thinking about bass players the other day. It seems to me, they don’t get anywhere near the recognition they deserve. It’s not surprising I suppose, they lack the flash of lead guitarists or the charisma of vocalists. Even the drummer is more front and center as a rule. Sure, some bassists also front; Sting, Suzi Quatro, Phil Lynott, but they are celebrated more for their fronting personas than their playing.
No, I’m thinking of a different breed; the ones who stand solidly to the side and just do their damned job; the rhythmic, throbbing engine room of any band. And a thankless job it is too sometimes. I’ve actually known people who can’t distinguish a bass line in the music they’re listening to – just can’t pick it out – and to those people, I generally say You’d certainly notice it if it wasn’t there.
Is he back? Who knows? It’s been a long (and eventful) absence. I may be speaking to dead air by now. Every now and then I’ve dropped in to see how you are all getting on but the urge to write anything creative has been.. absent. And so the blog has languished and probably been forgotten, it might be for the best. Do I have anything left to say? Did I ever have anything to say?
That’s not for me to judge.
Frankly, I’m working too damned hard these days in truly menial labour to care all that much.
One piece of news may be of interest to some of you, we’re leaving Jersey. Yes, our time here has come to an end. As of the very near future, we’ll be calling Lancaster PA home. I’m excited by the prospect. Lancaster UK is actually where my family originates on my grandmother’s side and there are many symbolic connections to be found in this very pretty city in the heart of Amish country.
Perhaps the move will inspire some posts.
In the meantime, here’s a piece I wrote standing on a train platform after a night spent unloading a truck full of Christmas crap.
Well, I'm dyslexic so writing about something I love: Music, might help but it's most likely just full of mistakes. That title is also lyrics from The Drones song called I Don't Want To Change. Oh, my name is William and thanks for having a look.