The first half of November has been eventful, to put it mildly. A lot has happened, and some of it unfolded during the previous Muse cycle, but I couldn’t really talk about it then. Now that I can, you can bet that I have a lot to say.
‘Nature’s Way of Dealing with People’
If people continue to vote Tory after the recent revelations about what Tory MPs think of the elderly, then they will get what they deserve. The inquiry into the government’s handling of the covid-19 pandemic has revealed a picture of chaos, and a lack of planning, and now a chilling image of how little Tories regard life. I quote from this BBC story:
Boris Johnson agreed with some Conservative MPs who thought Covid was “nature’s way of dealing with old people”, the Covid inquiry was told.
The allegation comes from diary entries from former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
Ex-adviser Dominic Cummings told the inquiry the government had no plan and was in “complete chaos”.
The inquiry was also shown offensive messages sent by Mr Cummings about cabinet ministers and top officials.
Lee Cain, No 10’s former communications director, said the pandemic was the “wrong crisis” for Mr Johnson and he was a “challenging character to work with” because he kept changing his mind.
The government’s handling of the Covid crisis was laid bare in a day of candid testimony by the prime minister’s former advisers.
At one point, the inquiry was shown notes by Sir Patrick, who wrote of his frustrations in dealing with Mr Johnson in his diaries.
In August 2020, Sir Patrick wrote that Mr Johnson was “obsessed with older people accepting their fate and letting the young get on with life and the economy going”.
“Quite bonkers set of exchanges,” he said, referring to messages exchanged between Mr Johnson and others in a WhatsApp group.
In later notes from December 2020, Sir Patrick wrote that Mr Johnson said his party “thinks the whole thing is pathetic and Covid is just nature’s way of dealing with old people – and I am not entirely sure I disagree with them”.
Another note from December says Mr Johnson agreed with the Conservative Party’s chief whip when he said “we should let the old people get it and protect others”.
I would say I am surprised, but I am not. The poisonous, awful manner in which the Tories handled this whole situation speaks to a lack of leadership, and a lack of empathy. This is not merely a case of Johnson himself having little issue with letting old people die, it would appear this is the mood of several of his charges as well. Johnson’s interest in the economy is code for ‘let’s value money ahead of life’, and this is of no great shock from a man who has always placed his interests ahead of anyone and everyone else’s.
Lest the current Tory leadership seek to distance themselves from their predecessors, it is worth noting that many Tory MPs from the Johnson era are still Tory MPs now, leading us to wonder as to how many supported this view of ‘nature’s way’.
The Post-Halloween Indulgence
As of writing this, there are now a great many sweets in my house. Between what we bought for trick-or-treaters, and my daughter’s haul, we won’t be without sugar for a while! This is the time of year where I wind up bringing a sweet treat to work, every day, for the next few weeks, and that’s to say nothing of what I might indulge in at home. I’ve not yet had any crazy sugar-influenced dreams, but I’d wager they aren’t far away!
At the start of November, I had a customer ask to use our loo at work. Being the kind-hearted meerkat that I am, I said yes. They proceeded to do two things that were pretty disgusting. Firstly, they left the toilet door opened whilst they peed (who does that?!), and so I heard their loud exclamation of relief. To be fair, I’ve made weird sounds of pleasure when I’ve finally gotten to ‘go’, but usually within the confines of my own home! Secondly (and this is the more icky part), they managed to pee on the toilet seat. Bearing in mind this was a bloke, he didn’t lift the seat, and thus, um, sprinkled it (yuck!). Thus, I had to carefully wipe down the affected areas.
Talk about taking liberties. Would this fella do something like that in the home of a friend? What state do they leave a public toilet?! Is it really so hard to avoid splashing everywhere, and so difficult to clean up after yourself if you do?!
Wet and Wild
November has certainly delivered a sharp reminder that the warmth of summer is well and truly over. It seems that the end of October and start of November could be characterised as stormy, with Storm Ciarán being the one to sweep across the UK at the start of the month. Some parts of the country have been absolutely battered, with tremendous rainfall and howling winds causing chaos. I feel for people further up north, where the disruption from the bad weather has left thousands of people without power, and has created a lot of hardship.
For my own personal part, I have gotten rather wet in the walks to and from work, and additionally in a trip to assist a customer with moving some tiles. The trip was the result of an unfortunate error with tile calculations, resulting in considerably more tiles arriving on site than required. The error was made by a colleague, but as another and colleague and I were the only ones available to help move the tiles, I deemed it our responsibility to put the issue right. I’ve made mistakes of my own in the past that my colleagues have dealt with, so it would mightily unfair if I did not return the favour. The wait for the Uber back to the showroom led my colleague and I to become thoroughly soaked.
I am, for the most part, a pretty chilled meerkat, however, some things really grind my gears. I have a simple expectation that the technology I have paid for and own co-operates with my instructions. If it decides to flak out on me, without any sort of reason, nor any clear method of fixing it, I start to get annoyed.
Getting annoyed with a machine is futile, yet I still do so, and I think a lot of us get frustrated with intransigent technology. I certainly felt like this with my printer, which decided to not even be detectable on any device, via any means, despite working fine for years.
My current printer is a HP. My next printer might end up still being a HP, due to cost, though if I can kick them to the kerb, I will. We’ll have to wait and see.
Wrestling with Bad Guys
This sounds like a bad film title, but it relates to a strange dream I had. I know right, me, having strange dreams?! Unheard of!
Ahem! So, I don’t recall the details, but towards the end of the dream, I followed someone into a house, where they ended up being taken prisoner by the occupants. I got away, and ran outside to call the police. One of the abductors ran after me, caught me, and tried to take my phone, but we were contorted in such a way that whilst I couldn’t break free, he couldn’t take my phone. He kept demanding to know if I was calling the police, and I kept demanding that he let me go. At one point, I think I licked his face, in a bid to unnerve him! What’s perhaps more concerning for me is how this didn’t work!
Under the Weather
I’ve been a fortunate meerkat in 2023, in that aside from the bout of covid early on, I have avoided colds. Alas, my run came to an end recently, thanks to various sources. My colleagues at work came down with colds, and my daughter also came down with a cold, and I was thus trapped. No matter where I turned, there were snotty noses and sniffly people. I had no chance, and sure enough, began to feel quite run-down myself.
I am not too surprised. We are entering into the time of year where colds and coughs experience a resurgence. Covid is also still out there, and it’s been doing the rounds at my daughter’s school. It’s unpleasant to be bunged up (though I dare say it makes my phone voice very sexy), and I’ll medicate not only with the usual suspects (paracetamol and ibuprofen), but also with vitamin supplements (in particular, vitamin C) in a bid to have my immune system working at full power. I have too much to do, and cannot afford to be side-lined by a bug.
Too Many People
One of the side-effects of feeling under the weather is that I end up very much not in the mood for people. What then typically transpires is that people do nothing but bother me.
This is unavoidable in a retail environment, all I can do is plaster a smile on my face and get on with it, as much as I really want to be left alone. I wasn’t in a particularly good mood, but that’s irrelevant when working. I have to grin and bear it.
This leads me to swing back to something I wrote about in one of my Prompts. My free time is limited and valuable to me. I do not like being pulled six ways from Sunday. I appreciate that there things to do, and sometimes those responsibilities fall upon me, but equally, I do a lot of running around, in various circumstances. I work hard, I often go on diversionary trips after work for the benefit of others, and I often do at least one of the school runs on my days off. I do all of that, and I do it whether I feel healthy or not. At times, it all feels a bit overwhelming, and it can leave me feeling quite exhausted. Sometimes I feel that my wants and needs are secondary to everyone else’s, and then I feel selfish for questioning that.
Meh, maybe I won’t feel quite so disgruntled once this cold has passed. It would be helpful if customers could keep awkward queries to a minimum!
The 5th of November is the date the UK marks Fireworks Night, more accurately known as Guy Fawke’s Night. I’ve written about the history of the Gunpowder Plot here, and I won’t rehash that post for this Muse. Instead, I have a few thoughts on the night itself.
Whilst fireworks are undoubtedly beautiful, as a pet owner I cannot but feel the occasion is getting out of hand. When I was a cub, fireworks usually went off only on the 5th, or occasionally at the nearest Saturday night. Now, they seem to be going off non-stop for days on end, and anyone who is a pet owner will tell you that it can be very distressing on our furry friends. My cat cowers behind the sofa or under the dining table, and there’s nothing I can do for him.
There’s a growing trend of quiet fireworks, with all of the dazzling light shows, and none of the loud bangs. I hope this trend gathers pace. It would be a lot better for pets, and their owners.
I woke up on the 8th to news I had not anticipated, and now my anticipation is already building. What might this news be? Well, the costume I’m wearing will be a clue to some, but let’s stop playing coy…
Nintendo are developing a live-action Legend of Zelda movie!!!!!!!!!!! Also, it seems development of this idea has been going on for years! There are no hints as to cast or plot just yet, nor any idea as to when we’ll see this film. The producer, Avi Arad, has been involved with dozens of commercially successful projects (including Tom Holland’s MCU Spider-Man films), and the creator of the games, Shigeru Miyamoto, will be involved on Nintendo’s end. Sony will help finance the film, and will handle the distribution.
The alliance with Sony is interesting, because the two companies are rivals when it comes to producing consoles and games. Might this signal the start of a different relationship between the two powerhouses?
A Legend of Zelda game on a console as powerful as the PS5 would definitely be drool-worthy!
A General Malaise
As my cold gradually gets worse, my tolerance for pretty much everything gets weaker. I’m not setting out to be in a bad mood, but the stresses and strains of the past few weeks are combining with feeling rough, and tipping me over the edge. Some of it is stuff that I shouldn’t really feel annoyed about, but it grinds my gears. For example, when I am on a lunch break, I like a quiet lunch break. I don’t like to be pestered. Unfortunately, for various reasons, I keep getting pestered. Some of this is through no one’s fault, as it were, but sometimes it’s a matter of initiative and common sense. Sometimes I’ve had a sixth sense that I’m going to be disturbed, at the exact moment I’m ready to take a bite out of something, and sure enough there’s a knock on the kitchen door.
It doesn’t help that I am by default the most experienced member of staff in the showroom when the manager is away. Thus, query after query gets thrown my way. All I can do is grin and bear it, but all I want – all I need – is a breather. I’ll be honest, I am struggling a bit, and sometimes, I don’t feel seen with all of that.
Maybe part of that is on me. I don’t always know how to give a proper voice to my internal monologue. If I don’t express my feelings, how can I expect anyone to understand them? I’ll not feel in such a funk once this cold breaks. Hurry up and break!
I am acutely aware that there are far worse things going on in the world (in some cases things that are affecting people I know), than my own self-centred grumblings. That said, I feel like I’m absorbing other people’s stresses and worries, and this all has to go somewhere. Sooner or later, this meerkat container is going to be filled up, and what happens then?
A lot of this relates to uncertainty. There’s a on-going situation that is getting dragged out, and it is clouding much of the future. It affects others more than me, but it needs resolving, and quickly, for the benefit of many.
Remember the Fallen
The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month holds a permanent poignancy in UK (and indeed, global) society. Armistice Day, as it is known in the UK, is followed by Remembrance Sunday, and on both occasions, memorials and services are held to honour those who fell in war and conflict.
There is a tension to this occasion in 2023. Countless millions made the ultimate sacrifice in war to preserve our freedoms. One of those freedoms is the freedom to protest, and this is something that the Tories seem to believe should be conditional.
Whether or not you believe the actions of the Israeli government are justified, the right to protest those actions, the right to a voice in UK society, is something that should be sacrosanct. There is a famous saying (with confusing origins), I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Whilst protests on the streets of London on Armistice Day, or Remembrance Sunday, may feel distasteful, if we deny people the right to a voice, on a day when we honour the sacrifices made in order for us to have that voice, what does that say to us as a society?
November has become a month of raising awareness of men’s health. I’m not exactly sure when this happened, but that’s by-and-by. Various companies and agencies jump on board the Movember train (the moustache is a big part of this), and talk about men’s health.
When it comes to physical health, men face a few unique problems. Testicular cancer and prostate cancer are among the biggest killers of men, and a big part of that is a stubborn refusal to acknowledge something is wrong until it’s too late. I won’t go into detail, but I’ve had a couple of examinations as I’ve gotten older, and it’s prudent to do so. It’s not pleasant, and there’s an element of fear (we ignore the problem because we hope it will go away), but it’s better to know, and to therefore have the opportunity to deal with the problem.
Mental health is a big problem among men. We’ve long been conditioned to not talk. We’re expected to bottle everything up, to be brave, to be strong, and we’re taught that displays of emotion are displays of weakness. We soldier on, maybe filled with anger, or sadness, or misery, without sharing any of it with anyone, because that’s what good men do, right?
I have no doubt that some will say ‘rar, this is all the fault of feminism, rar!’ Well, it’s not. Feminism doesn’t prevent men from speaking up about our own health concerns, or our feelings or emotions. In some respects, feminism has nothing to do with this sort of thing at all. It’s not the remit of feminism to coddle men and our feelings, we have some say in that ourselves, and we frequently don’t do so. We don’t do so because of antiquated ideas about what it means to be masculine. We don’t do so out of fear of ridicule from a society that historically and traditionally looks upon expression of emotion as weakness.
I would wager most feminists would actually welcome men being more emotionally open.
Now, what happens when November is over? Will the Movember interest in men’s health fade away? Will we hear self-styled ‘men’s rights activists’ moan that no one is interested, whilst they themselves do nothing but moan? Is this all about the bandwagon, as so many things are these days?
In the meantime, I present to you how I imagine my moustache to look….
…. and how it actually looks, after several days of growth:
I had what could only be described as a ‘fitful’ night the other night. Twice I woke up, feeling sort of… bloated? Queasy? I think the cold medication messes with me in some ways, but sleep doesn’t come easily to me if I don’t take it. I also wonder if my dreams are a result of the meds; a dream of flying to the USA, only for the plane to crash upon landing, was strange and unpleasant, even if by some strange happenstance, everyone was alright.
I feel bad for my wife when I have a cold, because I end up snoring. It’s obviously not voluntary, but it happens, and I know it disturbs her. It even disturbs me, because I become conscious of it as I start to drift off, and thus force myself to stop, which also means staying awake. This leaves me feeling exhausted, on top of feeling rough.
Despite feeling unwell, I’ve managed to put pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard), and reach just shy of 50,000 words on my other writing project. I ought not to be getting distracted from The Awakening sequel, but sometimes, when I am in my ‘zone’, so to speak, the words just spill out of me, and I have to let the Muse flow. There’s something about this story that feels more… emotional? That’s not to say that The Awakening’s sequel won’t have powerful moments, but this project is, for lack of a better term, more intimate. It’s not a sweeping space opera, it’s a coming-of-age quest. The whole thing has a completely different style to it.
Do you want a sneak peak? Yeah ya do, I can tell you do, you want it so bad…. ahem!
Let’s take stock shall we? I was stranded, via means of a magic, dimension-hopping mirror, in a world called Fontanilor, specifically in the Kingdom of Fontana. To be even more precise, I was in an old, well-worn study, surrounded by ancient texts that belonged to the Royal Family of Fontana. I had just read a letter from my grandad, informing me he too had accidentally travelled to this world, and in the course of getting home, he had become something of a hero. Trust my dearly-departed grandfather to stumble into an epic quest like that.
Ending as Beginning
Yeah yeah, I know, the title doesn’t make much sense, but it comes from a place I have referenced already: uncertainty. I am tired, I feel ill, and the situation that needs resolving still needs resolving. I appreciate I’m being very cryptic, but as we approach the end of this particular Muse cycle, I have no idea what else I can be. I’d hoped for this on-going matter to have reached a conclusion by now, but it hasn’t, and it’s driving me nuts. There are other people being affected by it, and I dare say they’re actually affected by it more, but that doesn’t alter my own personal stress levels. Hopefully this saga will draw to a close, and soon.
I had a dream the other night, a dream that took me back to a place and time I’d really rather not go back to! That occasion was none other than school, and PE lessons!
I was late to the lesson, but unlike me in real life (I would have been fretting quite a lot at this point), I was quite relaxed about it. As far as the lesson itself went, it involved a bunch of different activities, and we were outside in the pouring rain, at some sort of car park/junkyard, near railway tracks (because naturally, that makes for a safe lesson!). I wasn’t particularly interested in the activities.
Somewhere along the line (maybe before the PE part), I also dreamt of school dinners, though not in detail that I can recall. School dinners – in my senior school at least – were not especially healthy affairs (this predates the drive for better meals by a number of years!), and I think the dream reflected that, but as I say, I don’t recall.
With that, I’ll leave you to consider which of the following images best represents me at PE:
I feel like I’ve reached the end of this particular Muse, so I will draw this post to a conclusion, wish you all the very best, and catch up with you at the end of November!