"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Sunday, 7 June 2020


Now that the Golf has had its service I install a barrier in the back of the car so that the lad can now ride in the boot and he doesn’t look terribly happy about it.

MD won’t be happy either when he finds out that’ll probably be how he’s travelling as well. His day doesn’t get any better when he falls in the pond at my folks’ house. L is gutted, that she didn’t get a picture of it.

Somehow I manage to run 7k.

We finally catch up with the film Parasite which was the first ever non-English language film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Not only did it win Best Picture but it also won Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best International Film.

The film is about two very different families from opposite ends of the spectrum as regards class and wealth etc. Without trying to sound too ‘Family Fortunes’, there is the Kim family who live in a small basement apartment, have jobs as pizza box folders and freeload on other people's wifi and there is the Park family who live in a mansion and have servants.

The paths of these two families cross when the Kim’s son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) is offered the chance to take over a friend’s job as tutor to the wealthy Park’s daughter Da-hye (Jung Ziso). He has no qualifications for this but his artist sister Ki-jung (Park So-dam) is adept at forgery and supplies him with a fake certificate to bluff his way into the job.

Mrs Park is so impressive with him, now known as ‘Kevin’ and not knowing he’s already seduced her daughter, that she asks him if he could recommend an art tutor for their son (Jung Hyun-jun).

Enter Ki-jung, or rather ‘Jessica’, allegedly the cousin of a friend and she is quickly hired too. Together they contrive to frame the family chauffeur, getting him fired for having sex in the family car where ‘Jessica’ has left her underwear. They already have a replacement in mind, their father (Song Kang-ho).

They then remove the family’s housekeeper after they exploit her allergic reaction to peaches but passing it off as tuberculosis. When she is dismissed they install their mum (Chang Hyae-jin) instead.

Although still living mostly in their dank basement apartment, they all seem to scrub up surprisingly well when they need to. However the Park’s Son notices that for a bunch of strangers that claim to not know each other they all smell remarkably alike, and like they have come from a dank basement apartment.

When the Parks leave on a camping trip, the Kim’s all move in and revel in the luxuries of their borrowed abode but the old housekeeper appears at the door saying she has left something in the cellar. This something turns out to be her husband, who has been secretly living there for years, hiding from his debts.

Parasite is a clever black comedy that is set up brilliantly in the first half and which descends into farce and violence in the second half as rain curtails the Park’s camping trip forcing them to return home as a violent battle erupts between the Kims and housekeeper's family for parasitic rites to the mansion.

The violence continues the next day at the Park’s son's birthday party leading to several deaths and eventually a new family moving into the mansion while a new resident hides out in the cellar.

It’s wonderful stuff and best seen before the inevitable Hollywood remake.

(Sunday 7th June)

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Maybe Not An Essential Journey

On Friday I take the Golf in for its first service. The car itself has been nagging me electronically for months but it was hardly an essential journey. I take it to VW Parkway near work in Derby then get the bus back.

The VW Garage is impressively set up as Covid-secure (or whatever the correct phrase is) with screens, a one-way system and tape everywhere. Afterwards they send me a video of the actual car service, which I’ve never had before, then send me code to retrieve by key from a locker when I collect it. I’m impressed but, then again, it wasn’t cheap.

The Red Arrow bus was less impressive with no obvious measures apart from the front seats not being in use and the bus being very clean but that may be just have been through lack of use. There were only five of us on it and everyone was very spaced out but there was an absence of masks. They’re not compulsory until a week on Monday but I thought the drivers would be setting an example but they weren’t.

The Derby Book Festival has put a quiz online. We get the questions on Friday and then the answers on Saturday. I’m not expecting to be much help to L. This week’s beer keg which is Atlas Stout from the Lenton Lane Brewery will see me through it.

Over the weekend we watch a new two part documentary about Lance Armstrong that is on ESPN, which I sign up to for a free week. There is some new information but he’s still keeping a lot of things close to his chest.

The Black Lives Matter protests move to the UK despite a ban against mass gatherings due to the coronavirus. Again there was a shortage of face masks and you suspect that those who were wearing them were wearing them more to stop the cameras identifying them than anything else.

(Saturday 6th June)

Thursday, 4 June 2020

The New Normal

L emails me from work, yes actual work and not the next room. She is back in her real office this week. Oh the novelty. They have taped off various things and put a one way system in, all for the few of them who came in. 

Once there she has to face her new computer which she didn’t have chance to finishing setting up before we were locked down. That may well be a stressful experience but luckily for her the chocolate machine has been taken out of use. All part of the new normal I guess.

At least she didn’t have to queue to get in like those poor folks who went to the newly reopened Ikea did. I’m not sure what they were selling that was so essential, and there were queues three hours before they opened, because going to Ikea at any time is my worst nightmare.

While Britain queues American burns in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd with their President looking more and more unhinged with every passing day.

After work I do my first bike ride since mid-March. My knee isn’t up to running at the moment and I need to do something. I bike out to Sandiacre then come back home through Long Eaton. It’s only 24km but it’s something.

As the UK declares more coronavirus deaths in one day than all 27 EU states combined, the Government suspiciously scraps the weekend virus press conferences amid rumours that they're fast running out of scientists prepared to stand beside them.

(Thursday 4th June)

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Two Beaches And A Shaggy Dog Story

The weekend brings a lie in with an earlyish smattering of the Hay Festival which L brings back to bed with her but this isn’t anywhere near as early as the Lad’s breakfast which he still expects at around 5:30am.

Our cultured weekend continues with the film ‘Dunkirk’ on Saturday. Personally, I failed to see why it got such critical acclaim. The film focusses on one boat, skippered by Mark Rylance, which experienced every bit of drama you could possibly have imagined in just one trip. They rescued a shipwrecked solider, a downed Spitfire pilot, the survivors of a Minesweeper and the soldiers who tried to escape the beach in a trawler. All while a lad on deck who’d come with them is dying from a head wound.

It's just the way everything happens to the one boat as if it were the only boat there meanwhile, elsewhere there doesn’t seem to be much of a war going on. There’s a lack of planes from either side and a lack of boats, either British Navy ships or civilian rescue boats. It was more like a disaster film than a war film but perhaps that was deliberate.

Then on Sunday we watch the new live-action remake of Disney’s Lady and the Tramp on Disney+ for which I sign up for a free one week trial purely for this film. I have always had a soft spot for Lady and the Tramp because it’s one of the very first Disneys I saw as a child and also because it’s about dogs. 

It’s been remade because, well, because they remake everything whether they ought to or not. It isn’t great but it’s not totally terrible either. To be honest the original wasn’t Disney’s finest moment either.

In between we go for a drive to test my eyesight. We go to visit my folks and then to see Daughter. L then runs with her while the boys and I head home. The roads are quiet presumably because everyone else has flocked to the South coast to throw themselves off Durdle Door.

(Sunday 31st May)

Friday, 29 May 2020

Time For An Eye Test

Dominic Cummings plays a Bank Holiday Monday gig in the garden at Downing Street to attempt to explain himself. He is heckled by the assembled press and although they are probably tempted to bottle him off sadly they don’t.

It sort of makes you feel sorry for the Neil Ferguson, the epidemiologist who was forced to resign from the Sage committee for not leaving the house but for having his lover round. Perhaps it was because Ferguson was testing more than just his eyesight.

Meanwhile, never one to miss a marketing opportunity, Brewdog launch a new beer 'Barnard Castle Eye Test' a 6% Hazy IPA.

I have a bit of a dodgy knee, so I do tonight’s run without the Lad. I run over the new bridge that connects University Boulevard to the Boots site. It’s quite an interesting route but my knee doesn’t seem to like it and I limp home. A rather disgusted Lad sits on the stairs the whole time waiting for me to return.

As I think I’ve said before, L and I may come out of all this more intelligent. We have now watched the entire first three series of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ along with countless later repeats on the Challenge Channel.

Thursday brings the 10th and last Clap for Carers. While L's sister is now working as a contract tracer or rather not working because the system doesn't appear to be ready yet.

On the night when I may well have been off to watch Gene Loves Jezebel on their 40th Anniversary Tour instead I am sat at home watching one of those annoying Meerkats introduce a virtual gig involving four fifths of Take That. I suppose beggars can’t be choosers in Lockdown.

Mercifully they keep it short, to just six songs, with Robbie Williams turning up late and only joining from the third song onwards. Mark Owen, for some reason, sings with a ladder which may or may not have been the replacement for the permanently retired Jason Orange.

(Friday 29th May)

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Some People Think It’s All Over

The weather gets even more impressive, if you like it hot. I run with the Lad on Monday but it’s far too hot for him (and me) on Wednesday so I take both dogs for a walk instead.

Our great leader tells us we are now into ‘phase two’ of easing the Lockdown. Some people think it’s all over... and if you look at how many people were on the beaches this week... it is now.

There’s been couples entwined on the park for a few weeks now who I’m sure would tell you that they live together if you’d asked them. While some folk have been driving over 200 miles from London to Durham.

Although it turns out that that particular excursion was before even ‘phase one’ of easing the Lockdown never mind ‘phase two’ at a time when the rest of us were feeling like a criminal for nipping the 200 metres to the local Co-Op for a loaf of bread.

On Thursday, things seem a little better at Asda but I think that’s probably because everyone’s still at the beach.

Soon you’ll be able to put an app on your phone that will tell you which one of your fellow beach bums has given you the virus as we hurtle into the second wave on our surfboards.

Some people are worried about the privacy of the new app. Clearly not realising that you are already being tracked simply by carrying a mobile phone and forgetting about all those loyalty cards they have that allow the shops to track them while publicly documenting everything else on their Facebook accounts.

L has always wanted me to take her to the Hay Festival, so this year I spoil her and take her without even leaving the house. The Festival goes online and she can attend as many book events as she likes. I even attend a few myself.

On Sunday we are treated to a film quiz from Broadway. Which you instinctively know is going to be almost impossible and we’re not wrong. 

(Sunday 24th May)

Sunday, 17 May 2020

A Campaign For Freedom

There were demonstrations planned on Saturday from an Anarchist group who are complaining about the Lockdown. There are two planned in Nottingham, one on Wollaton Park and one on Forest Rec. We split up, like a good pair of reporters. L and Daughter stake out Forest Rec while the boys and I cover Wollaton Park.

Apparently no one turns up at Forest Rec but we strike gold at Wollaton Park where about 25 protesters have congregated and ironically they all seem to be social distancing each other. There’s nothing like hedging your bets.

While they are protesting about having their freedom taken away from them, there are hundreds of other folk on Wollaton park embracing the freedom they’ve been granted to work from home or not to work at all.

On Sunday we have a socially distanced meet-up with my parents in their garden where we down a few tinnies and chuck the obligatory balls for the dogs. The unscheduled beer stop means I don’t get to do my run but it’s a good excuse not to.

(Sunday 17th May)

Friday, 15 May 2020

Having Your Chips

From this week you are allowed out to exercise as much as you like and to travel as far as from home as you like but you’re still not allowed to socialise. So if you meet someone you know you have to hide in a hedge or something like that.

At today’s Covid-19 Press Conference someone called Pooja from Solihull, which is the best name ever, asked our great leader why the rules are so vague and why he is do vague?

His answer... ‘Ah, Umm, Ah, Um...

Personally, I think we are in big trouble and I think the Government knows it because suddenly they have stopped showing the daily graph which compares the deaths in each country. The fact that we are now riding so high on it may be the reason and not that it’s ‘not possible to make like-for-like comparisons’. The same like-for-like comparisons they have been making every day up until now.

Next April’s Brighton Marathon opens for entries but with no explanation about whether those of us who are down to run this year’s rearranged race in September will automatically get a place when September’s race is inevitably cancelled.

I am still in light training, just in case. On Monday I go out running with the Lad while L takes MD for an amble on the park, which greatly disrupts our run when our paths cross on the park. So when we do the same thing again a few days later and our paths cross again, I hook MD up to my waist belt alongside the Lad and run them both home for the last kilometre. MD seems to enjoy it and the Lad seems to tolerate the intrusion.

On Friday run, the Lad and I have to run on the road to bypass the dozens of people who are queuing down the street for our local chippy when it opens at 5pm. They are all social distancing so the queue is mega long but... really?

This begs several questions. Are chips really so essential, although I suppose they are at least supporting a local business but then why queue, why not come back later...

As the roads are now a lot busier than they were, I have to wait for a gap in the traffic before running in the road to social distance it.

With it being Friday, our curry is essential obviously. It’s Anoki’s turn this week but they take close on two hours to deliver. So that may be their last order but I assume this means that they now have enough trade to survive without ours.   

(Friday 15th May)

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Social Distancing Protocol

This year they have moved the May Day Bank Holiday to the Friday to celebrate L’s birthday, which was very nice of them and it wasn’t even a milestone one. It’s also the 75th Anniversary of VE Day which is convenient, not that there are going to be many celebrations this year due to Covid-19.

To be honest VE Day always makes me feel a touch queasy. I'm all for remembering the war effort, both those who died for the cause and those who survived, but I find all this Union Flag waving unsettling.

After all the war was won by a collaboration between over two dozen nations in which, of course, Britain played a major role but alongside huge roles by the United States and the Soviet Union. It may also not be popular to mention the very significant part played by China.

There may not be many celebrations around but, while out on our run, the Lad and I still manage to disrupt a street party. There was a social distanced gap for us to run through.

Daughter comes over with a cake and waves from the end of the drive. That’s for L’s birthday not VE Day, well I assume that’s what it’s for. The Lad rushes out and breaks social distancing protocol to greet her. MD though is still strictly following Government guidelines and refuses to go beyond the front door.

On Saturday L and I watch ‘Kinky Boots’ the film which was made in 2005 starring Joel Edgerton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sarah-Jane Potts. I am delighted, and L disappointed, to discover that it isn’t a musical unlike the 2013 Broadway production with music by Cyndi Lauper.

Then on Sunday we watch a film off our unwatched DVD pile. Seven weeks or so into Lockdown and it’s the first one we’ve watched. L produces a short list from which I pick ‘The Clan of the Cave Bear’ from 1986, the fact it stars Daryl Hannah does not influence my decision. She plays the role of a girl raised by a group of Neanderthals. It was considered a box office flop at the time, at least in the US but considering the dialogue is all grunts and sign language which is translated with subtitles perhaps it’s not surprising. It might have gone down better now the Americans are used to trying to understand Trump.

While no one can quite understand most of what comes out of Trump’s mouth, our beloved Boris isn’t a whole lot better. He waffles out a statement telling us we can go to work tomorrow, sort of, apparently, if you can, if you want.

He also unveils a Covid-19 threat level system which is on a scale from one to five. He says the number, illustrated by an accompanying graphic, is derived by adding R, the rate of infection, to the number of infections. R is now, apparently, between 0.5 and 0.9 while the number of infections is around the 220,000 mark. So on a scale of one to five we're at 220,000.5 at best). So it's not looking good them.

(Sunday 10th May)

Thursday, 7 May 2020

We Are So Cultured

So Saturday was streaming an Art House movie while Sunday was streaming from the National Theatre. We are so cultured. The National Theatre's ‘At Home’ series brings us our second home theatre night in Lockdown with Frankenstein starring Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Then in the week, to add yet another cultural dimension, we have a book quiz thanks to ‘Lauren and the Books’ who does a book thing regularly on YouTube along with her bloke Beardy David. Obviously I’m not a lot of use but L gets quite a few right.

Something else I’m not much use with is L’s assorted workouts. This is because I’ve not been participating but the Lad has. Whether it’s PT, yoga or Pilates he’s been there for her. I’m not sure which is his favourite.
One thing I have participated in is one of those Facebook '10 Best’ lists, it’s as if people have time on their hands. I was finally snared when a friend dropped me in it and asked me to list ten albums which have greatly influenced my taste in music.

The brief is one album per day for ten consecutive days but as that would be about as many Facebook posts as I've ever done in my life, I do my ten in one go.

Eight come from the eighties - Dare (Human League 1981), Pornography (The Cure 1982), The Hurting (Tears For Fears 1983), Power, Corruption & Lies (New Order 1983), First & Last & Always (Sisters Of Mercy 1985), Dawnrazor (Fields of the Nephilim 1987), Babble (That Petrol Emotion 1987) and Surfer Rosa (The Pixies 1988).

Then there’s one which is a later influence in Yesterday Went Too Soon (Feeder 1999) who have become the band I have most seen live. Oh and one from my childhood, Keep on Wombling (Wombles 1974).

After originally being told that a ‘good outcome’ would be keeping the death toll below 20,000 we now have 30,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the UK. That’s 12 per cent of the worldwide total and rising. We are second only to the United States, never a good look. 

Thursday is my fortnightly sortie into the war zone that is Asda. The lack of social distancing seems to be getting worse and when I get home I email a complaint. Although first I have to ring up to get an email address to complain to as their customer service one just rejects it. They give me the CEO’s and to their credit they do answer the next day.

On the way to take my parents' shopping over to them the Astra breaks down in Borrowash. I suspect a snapped timing belt. L has to head over to rescue the dogs, my Dad has to come to fetch his own shopping while I eventually come home on the back of a lorry.
(Thursday 7th May)