Corona Diaries III – 26, 27 March

26

Already not sure what day it is. At Tesco’s I see them getting ready to implement queue restrictions and limits to how many people can be in the store at any one time.

I see a video of Chinese doctors addressing a press conference in Italy. Their message is – I don’t know what you think this is but it’s definitely not a lockdown, you need to do more. And Italy is already doing a lot more than us. I fully expect to see the army marching around Leeds by the end of this. No sign of them so far. Went to the park to walk with a friend. We walk opposite sides of the path, which is 4 metres wide, but still strictly against the guidelines which will soon become law. I try and convince her to walk around the park in opposite directions, greeting each other with secret messages, like it was a police state.

I found out that it’s now really easy to emulate Gameboy games on my phone. I download a fan translation of the Japan only sequel to my favourite Gameboy Color game – the Pokémon Trading Card Game. When I was a kid, nothing beat getting a virtual booster pack of trading cards. I sit for an hour after getting up trying to beat the lightning gym, and don’t start translating until later, which means that I end up still working at half midnight. The price we pay for enjoyment. I’m still in my pajamas at three o’clock and my family lays into me. I’ll get dressed tomorrow. Got to do these things to keep everything smooth.

While I translate, I listen to tropical sea ambience, and cicada ambience, to try and get in the mood. The cicadas just annoy me. An interesting new phenomena online is the live ‘study radios’ on Youtube. There’s lo-fi hip hop, dark industrial ambience. I wonder if people’s choice of radio indicates the sort of netflix series they think they’re in. Lo-fi hip hop listeners obviously feel like they’re starring in a Ghibli film. I’m obviously among them.

After that I move on to Rone, a french electronica artist, since in the book, Sal and Cécile go clubbing. In the original, 1954 book they dance to a meandering clarinet, but since I’m decking out the story in modern garb, they have to go clubbing, 2010s style. I’m not sure if clubs in Saint-Tropez play Rone, or rather some kind of Europop. But I find a track that I can really see them dancing to. Just as I find it, my mum comes through to get me. There’s going to be a ‘mass clap’ for all the NHS workers involved in fighting the virus. Dance music already gets me emotional, so when I go to the door to hear my entire street clapping and cheering, I get a taste of the sublime. By which I mean those massive forces like a thunderstorm, or at Leeds Festival when I was younger, when the waves of cheers would pass over the campsite in a really charged atmosphere before the start of the festival. My mum and dad come back in with tears on their faces, but me and my sister stay in the doorway to clap. I sit and translate with the music playing, and have a little cry. Later I wonder how many of those clapping voted tory in the last election. Hopefully they rethink their lives.

Skipping rope skips: 300, 2 groups of 150

27

Prime Minister has caught the virus.

In the morning I see that dad has decided to fix the cupboard doors, so I help. All the cupboards in the kitchen have been slowly going wonky since they were put in twelve years ago. The bin cupboard would just hang open by about an inch – it’s the cupboard that gets used the most without a doubt. And it’s also the cupboard that gets opened in the weirdest ways, since it’s under the sink – whoever is doing the washing up has to lean out of the way. This can happen five or six times when someone is washing up. I mention this to dad, saying we should move it. “I think I see what you mean” he says. Which means no. We swap the door, which is actually slightly warped, with a door we’ve just taken off so we can keep the vegetables in view, but off the worktop. All the machines that were in that cupboard are on the floor – it’s the fourth day they’ve been on the floor. Mum keeps stubbing her toe on them.

I’m so lucky to be living in a house with a garden at the moment. I can’t imagine being cooped up in a flat or a small house. Mum’s gardening in the sun, and I translate for a bit but then go help. An old dry stone wall in the garden has been falling apart, and she’s halfway through rebuilding it. There are small clusters of woodlice on the bricks, and jumping insects and spiders. I stand feeling slightly creeped out, and it feels like being a kid again, just looking on, half helping while my parents do most of the work. I think that for those bugs it’s like a small apocalypse, as massive stretches of their old world have been decimated. How many households across the world are getting round to doing those things that have been waiting for years? I get quite tired hefting stones, and realise I probably haven’t done any proper exercise in about a year.

I speak to one of my managers, who tells me I’ve been furloughed, which means I will be paid 80% of my wage by my company, but that the money will come from the state. It turns out Bonjour Tristesse is one of his favourite books, but he groans when he hears I intend to ‘modernise’ it. Later, one of my friends texts me saying she’s been furloughed too, and she’s upset about a clause in the contract which says that if the company can’t afford to keep her beyond a certain point, after the end of the furlough period of two months, she might be let go. I wonder whether this applies to me too, but I don’t look it up, because I feel quite disconnected from everything outside the house and garden at the moment.

Today I’m late to finish the skipping, and since the back door is a pain to unlock, with all its five locking elements, I go out the front. It’s dark, and a bit cold, and I do the last hundred skips feeling very odd, looking out at the street. It pleases me a bit, to do something I’ve never done before. I wonder if anyone is watching me.

Just as I’m about to go to sleep my friend texts me saying I haven’t thought through the amount of work it will take to modernise the book. I spend half an hour thinking about this before I go to sleep.

Skipping rope skips: 300 again, 3 groups of 100.

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