8 Short posts about lockdown

  1. I sat for several minutes looking at the blank space at the end of the title. I don’t know what to call this. It’s not really a lockdown. My wife just went out for a bike ride. I went for a walk in the wind yesterday. Some of my colleagues have been to work. But neither does it feel like a pandemic.
  2. While giving the side-eye all the attention-seeking from the (?) extroverts (?) who like to make a drama out of a crisis, I’m almost completely fine with this. Like about 40% of the population, this is more or less how I’d like to live all the time. The only caveat is that if I’m to spend my days walking, cycling, sitting in the garden, typing, cooking, and reading, I’d rather be in France.
  3. I don’t greet my neighbours when I go for a walk. I know there’s a sickening level of positivity out there in the wider world, but I will remain forever angry at the people round here for being sharp-elbowed, selfish, middle-class fuckers who voted Tory.
  4. I didn’t even know the applaud-the-NHS nonsense was happening, but it’s definitely not something I’d have participated in. The rank hypocrisy of standing on your doorstep applauding socialism after (probably) voting against it at the last election gives me the rage (see 3).
  5. I’ve been surprised at how inept British podcasters seem to be at the whole podcasting-from-home thing. As I remarked on my tumbleweed-strewn Twitter feed, a lot of the US podcasts I listen to have excellent sound quality and have always been made by people recording remotely, in their home office, garage, spare bedroom, whatever. While I appreciate the difficulties involved in live broadcast, I’m fairly amazed at the 1khz buzzsaw sound coming from some of the pods, especially those made by the BBC. As far as I understand the situation, the method is straightforward. First of all, you don’t try to record everybody’s feeds as they come in to some central location. That’s your fallback position. Everybody should instead record themselves as they speak, using Skype Call Recorder or Audio Hijack. Then the resulting audio files are uploaded to a Dropbox or similar, and someone then takes the separate feeds and edits them into one file, using everybody’s pristine original recording rather than one that came down a phone line. On top of this, people need to use the right kind of mic, close to the mouth, in a (small) space without any hard surfaces so as to avoid that ‘boxy’ sound. Throw a duvet over the door, pull the curtains, etc., or surround yourself with clothes racks draped in duvets. And, Jane Garvey of Radio 4, you turn off the video to reserve bandwidth for audio.
  6. I read a thread yesterday about what it’s like to have the virus that did scare me a little. It was the bit about raging high blood pressure that gave me the wobbles, as hypertension is something I already have. Then again, I suppose I’m lucky to already have medication for it in the house. Still, we definitely don’t want to get this virus.
  7. I was listening to The Verb, which is a Radio 3 programme about language, poetry, etc. It veers between being quite enjoyable and a load of old wank. Recommended listening for anyone sceptical about the idea that poets agonise about word choice. This week, they were talking about uncertainty, and words like perhaps and maybe, and the discussion turned, surprisingly, to Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” as a contributor tried to make sense of what Paul meant. Why maybe, etc.? *Ahem* Well, it has always struck me that the force behind this song is someone, let’s call him Macca, being challenged about moody or waspish behaviour, a grumpy demeanour, or otherwise reprehensible conduct. And in response, he, Macca, tries to come up with a reason for said conduct, and spin it so that it seems like a positive rather than a negative. You want to know why I’m so stone-faced and uncommunicative at this moment in time when the band I’ve been in for 15 years has broken up and all my friends hate me? No, it’s not that, it’s not the nastiness at Apple, and Allen Klein, and being denied access to the archives, or falling out with Ringo. It’s definitely not all that. Maybe, it’s that I can’t stop thinking about how amazing it is that you love me all the time. Hmm?
  8. Finally, I was delighted to pay $12, inc tax, for the new live album by Hiss Golden Messenger, proceeds from which are being donated to the Durham, North Carolina, school district to feed children who are without because state schools are closed. If Germany is the best country to be in during a pandemic, then the USA might be the worst.

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