Day fifteen in the Corona house sees a change of emphasis rather than a change of scenery. A number of people have asked for more information on the songs related to each entry in this series. The eagle eyed among you will notice that there is a track play control at the bottom of this post and in due course on the earlier items. That will allow you to hear the track in question and tell you where it’s from if you wish to investigate further.
As I start to compile my update news is starting to detail Boris Johnston’s speech to the nation tonight. This follows a COBRA meeting earlier today without the usual afternoon press conference. What that means is unclear to both Vaughan and I but it’s caused an axiety spike at Gumnut Towers.
We would like to be able to get back to the Acreage, however, it appears the screws may be tightening so that’s by no means certain. We have to be here until Friday so it’s Pexit-day (Peckham Exit) minus four. Perhaps by the time I finish this post, it will be a little more clear as to when or whether that can be possible.
Other than the open question as to whether/if we can get back to the Shire, today has been a day of re-evaluation both on a personal and wider level. My last day of work is this Thursday at which point my role becomes redundant and a twenty three year chapter comes to an end. Perhaps surprisingly, I’m not as downbeat about it as you might expect. I don’t recognise the workplace I joined and its values have changed. So, for those of you old enough to remember Rhoda, in the words of her mother, the wonderful Nancy Walker, it’s time to roll up your tent and move to another village.
I can’t have been too concerned about the state of affairs as I was able to notice the absence of a handful of friends from Facebook. Some tactful enquiries all came back with variations on the same theme. In simple terms, people were saying they were stepping back from the fever-pitch of lunacy, selfishness and doom goblins that social media was presenting to them at present.
I do hope I wasn’t one of the doom goblin in relation to Covid-19 (or as my new bff Randy Rainbow referred to it, causing me to spit tea over the floor, Covfefe 19. But more of that later).
Having taken a break from much of the social media world myself in recent weeks, I can entirely sympathise with their point of view. Spending time in self-isolation can, in the absence of routine, become a series of duvet days. While that sounds enchanting on day one, it really has a short shelf life. It’s very easy to spend excessive time listening to two entirely uninformed ‘experts’ slugging chunks of the bejeezus out of each other on Facebook, Twitter or similar. Whilst I’ve been as tempted as others to pull up a chair and see if Uber eats are doing popcorn, I’ve avoided the temptation. It’s really pretty unhelpful.
Similarly, the news channel has been relegated from our usual background chewing gum for the brain. Apart from the fact that the looping news is hardly filling us with confidence, it also steals the day. You start off with what looks like a normal day and bibbady bobbady boo before you know it the content is running through its ninth loop and it’s half eleven at night and I’ve still not finished my blog post.
One of the up-sides of the isolation is you get to find out surprising new bits of information about each other. Today I added to my list of OMG moment and in so doing identified another film to show Vaughan as part of his musical theatre education. I was discussing a particularly dim reporter at one of the morning news conferences who had a particularly squeaky and deeply irritating voice.
Without thinking anything about it, I turned to Vaughan and said ‘The last time I heard a voice like that was on Lina Lamont … an’ I can’t stand it.’
Vaughan looked at me blankly, I returned it equally non-plussed but for different reasons. ‘Lena Lomont – you know singing in the rain?’ The look I was receiving didn’t change. At this point I found myself wondering if the Ventolin inhaler left at Gumnut by Vaughan’s mum last Christmas was easily to hand. I had a very sudden feeling I might be needing it.
There are certain things as a gay man that you take for granted. The standard things. Things such as being familiar with the singing greats, Lisa, Barbara, Madge etc. Others might include being able to zhuzh up anything from a present wrapping to a boring party and having a natural ability to accessorise. However, even these are based on some basics like having watched and being able to quote from the Wizard of Oz, Priscilla Queen of the dessert and Singing in the Rain.
“You have seen singing in the rain haven’t you?” I ask
“Nope” comes the answer ….
HOW CAN THIS BE??? I picked my jaw up off the floor, silently sang three verses of I will survive and added it to our viewing list. It’s at times of national crisis you find out the important things.
The last piece of re-evaluation may take me into the realms of the dictator in the eyes of some. However, is it just me who is getting increasingly appalled at the standards of journalism we’re being subjected to currently? As I’m stepping into commentry about the free press, I should clarify where I stand and position my complaint within the context of the accepted wisdom surrounding our press. Churchill set the bar pretty high with:
A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right tbat free men prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny…The press will continue to be the vigilant guardian of the rights of the ordinary citizen. – Winston Churchill 1940
I’m fully in support of that position. Nor would I differ with no less a figure than Thomas Jefferson, I always get very wary when I hear people calling for controls on the press. That isn’t what I seek to do, but I am rapidly forming the view that current news reporting is broken and has developed into something I don’t class as responsible journalism.
Today, I heard reporters asking what are technically known as ‘bloody stupid questions’. One asked ‘Do you think the NHS is ready to cope with the coming crisis?’ Where had she been for the past three weeks. It would have been a naive question two weeks ago, but now it’s just bizarre.
I wouldn’t seek to control, limit or censor the free press. I may not like some of what they do either in terms of content or method, but I recognise the truth in Chuchill’s words. We would be far worse off without them. However, I think we deserve better and I wish they’d up their game.
Sometimes, more is most certainly less and there is just not enough news – at least not for 24 hour news. I suspect that we have 4-6 hours of new news on a typical day. However the rolling news cycle means we have to pad the rest with opinion, speculation and dare I say a sprinkling of sensationalism. I for one would be very happy to see the likes of BBC and Sky rolling news channels restructured to provide less but better national coverage and fill the time with important events from elsewhere, truly to educate. However, I suspect that genie is well and truly not being put back in its bottle.
This concludes today’s
rant thought for today so I will close with the title that nearly was. Having seen a short clip that activated my chuckle muscles, we nearly paid homage to Dame Elaine who’s laugh is infectious – there’s something I hope you do catch.
In a story I thought was falcified, but does appear to be substantiated in a couple of interviews, it appears Madonna had infact misheard the lyric as ‘don’t cry for me I’m the cleaner’ until the point she had to learn the song for her role in Evita. I do hope it’s true as it’s so delicious I’ve already put on three pounds just by telling you.
It seems that during the time taken to write this piece, the PM has announced the next measures to be taken. Although things have been tightened up it does look as though we will be able to make a one off return journey to the Acreage in due course. So it will be an exit from Peckham (now known as Pexit) in 4 days and counting. Then isolation at the acreage.
As promised something to leave you with a smile, I hope. It seems we are not the only ones isolating.
The title of this post comes from Into the Woods and for those who have expressed an interest in hearing them can be played on the control below.