Slowly Opening Out

It’s been very quiet round here of late – mainly because of Lockdown 3.0, and there really hasn’t been much to do, or to report.

Thankfully, things seem to be slowly opening up again, and that’s making things look a lot more positive for the rest of the year.

Last weekend had some fun, in that the “Locked Up” crime writer’s online festival was held – organised by Luca Veste and Steve Cavanaugh (who also do the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast)  It was all done via Zoom, with a range of (roughly) hour-long sessions with various writers.  And it was thoroughly entertaining.

Even better, the entire thing was done to provide funds for The Trussell Trust, and was entirely reasonably priced at £20 for the whole thing.

I can actually see events like that being more common in the future – I think they make a lot of sense, allowing a sort-of-social event without needing to be social, and reducing costs along the way (it’s a lot easier to get people to talk for an hour from their own houses/offices, rather than having to bring them all in to a location, accommodate them etc.) while also opening it up to a larger audience, rather than limiting it just to people who can actually get to the location.


Burning Money

Over the last year, a number of businesses have (unsurprisingly) moved out of the building where I have my office. The move to primarily working from home and so on has made them more aware of the costs of the offices, and in general I can see that it makes sense for them to downsize and so on.

What’s been more of a surprise is that other ones have moved in.  Again, I get it for situations like mine, where it’s better to have the office, and where working from home isn’t practicable.

There are some of those new businesses though, that despite paying the office rental/lease for a year, haven’t actually been using the offices at all, and I really don’t understand that at all.

I suppose it’s a good write-off for tax purposes or whatever, but to me it’s still odd to be basically burning that cash for no benefit at all.

Obviously it’s not my problem, and nothing to do with me. It’s other people’s business decisions and so on. I just find it interesting, and slightly baffling.


Excessive Renewal

This time last year, I was planning on going to a friend’s wedding over in Madeira, and bought some travel insurance along the way.

Obviously it didn’t work out, because of Covid and the like, and the insurance didn’t get used for any other trips, for similar reasons. Thankfully, I’d had a good deal on it, so wasn’t too upset. Them’s the breaks, and all that.

This week, I got the renewal letter from the company, telling me what I’d pay this year.

Now OK, there’s been a lot going on in the world this year, and I assume insurance has taken a kicking (although I wouldn’t have thought it was a huge one, in comparison to travel companies, credit cards and the like) but still, the increase from last year to this is a 50% rise.  And bear in mind, there’s no way I’d be using it ’til at least May/June, so it would cost me more to able to use it for less time.

Needless to say, they’ve been told to fuck off. I’ll buy travel insurance again as and when I need it – but that’s still not going to be any time soon.


Slouchy

This time last year, I didn’t really have any ‘slobbing out’ stuff at all. The closet closest I really came were some tracksuit bottoms that I used for workouts and the like, but there wasn’t really much else.

Since then, with the Lockdowns and so on, I’ve expanded my collection a bit – after all, there’s not really any point getting “properly” dressed on the days you’re not even venturing out.  So over the summer I had/have some thinner cotton trousers which are really comfortable, and for colder times, I’ve got some warmer ones that aren’t quite tracksuit bottoms, but also aren’t really fit for anything other than staying indoors.

My real concession though, and I’m not at all proud of them, are some slippers. I’d found that my feet were getting achingly cold, so it made sense to get *something*, and these horrors came up at just the right time.  They’re unbelievably ugly, and I’d happily burn them if I ever got a partner, but for now they’re warm and comfortable, and that’ll do me.

But I can be sure that, no matter how warm and comfortable they are, they won’t be seen outside the house…


Clipped

Way back when the first Lockdown was announced, I bought a set of hair-clippers, and it turns out it was probably one of the best things I did.

It’s already more than paid for itself – I think that since then I’ve only had two haircuts at my usual barbers, and all the rest have been done myself.

Of course, it’s also been a learning experience, but once I’d (sort of) figured out the hair length thing, it’s been useful.

I’m not perfect at using them – each use has ended up with a couple of return visits as I’ve discovered bits I’ve missed (or at least that feel like I’ve missed them) – but the results are at least passable, and I’m not worried about being seen out in public once I’ve done it.

Once sanity returns, I’ll still be happy to go back to having a barber do the job properly. For now, though, I’m just happy to be not looking like Cousin It.


December Already

Bah HumbugSomehow we’re already in December. How time flies when you’re having fun locked down for half the sodding year.

It’s been weird this year already, in that I’ve seen a number of people who’ve already put up their Christmas trees and so on, even more prematurely than usual. There seems to be a school of thought that says it’s OK because “we need something to look forward to“, but that rings with the dull plop of bullshit. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m more of the viewpoint that even if I started today, I’d be sick of the bloody event by the time it comes round. Adding another two weeks to that is surely just a way to be even more jaded about it all.

But then, as we know, I’m a grouch.

I’ve also been gobsmacked about the hysteria around “We’ve got to have our Christmas“, and the mindset that people would’ve broken all the rules in order to have “a proper normal family Christmas“. We’ll get past the horrific racism of the government being quite happy to cancel the festivals of other religions (The first Lockdown was announced less than 24 hours before Eid, and the second one blocked Diwali – and I’m fairly sure there’s been at least one more festivity that’s taken a kicking) while Christmas is apparently the be-all and end-all of UK Civilisation.

Honestly, I’ll be glad when this year’s over and done with. I don’t think 2021 is going to be any easier, although there’s some hope on the horizon with Covid vaccines etc. But it’s still looking like it’ll be another ongoing hellscape – just possibly slightly less of one than this year has been.

Again, I can’t deny, I’ve been lucky throughout the whole Covid thing this year, and I’ve been affected far less than a lot of people have. I know that, and I accept it.  But I’ll still be happy to be through this year.

 


Alone vs Lonely

With the current Covid stuff, I’ve found it interesting to see how it has affected a range of people.

One of the big complaints about it is how the lockdowns have made so many people realise how lonely they are, along with the damage it’s done to those social norms and events.

Truly, this isn’t something I can empathise with. I’ve never really lived close to any of my friends – they’re scattered all over the place – so I’m absolutely used to being on my own in any particular area. So I’m alone, but I’m never lonely.

Alongside that, I don’t know, I simply don’t feel those things. I’m happy on my own, and always have been.  Being sociable is my “not normal“, being on my own is the default position.

In all of that, I recognise that I’m “lucky“. I’ve come through this year OK, with far less damage than most people have suffered – whether that’s realising their lives are more lonely than they thought, being ill (or watching others being ill), or just seeing things change so much and feeling insecure because everything “normal” has suddenly tilted beyond recognition.

I sort-of understand that desire for everything to “go back to how it was“, but to me even that still carries a fair degree of self-delusion.  Things have changed, and it’s (to me) far easier and smarter to embrace those changes and make progress with them (I hate the expression “the new normal”, but that’s what this is – even with vaccines and so on, there’ll still be major changes for the forseeable future)

I don’t know what 2021’s going to bring – although I don’t think it’s going to be a positive year – but I’m pretty sure I’ll get through it, same as I have this year. And all I can do is hope that the same is true for those I give a sod about.