Sunday: Slight stiff neck this morning, after a strenuous rowing machine session on Saturday, so I went for a walk instead of getting on the machine again. I’ve got several little walking loops I do, ranging from 3km around the block to 7km across some fields. It’s all a bit repetitive, but none of the walks involve busy main roads, and I generally dislike the idea of driving somewhere just to walk (or ride). I fucking hate farmers, of course, so I was not exactly surprised to find that the local farmer had ploughed up two footpaths, without even leaving space at the edge to walk around instead of across. The resulting aerated soil is difficult to walk on, ridged, soft, clumpy, and you find yourself yomping and stumbling. Like golf: a good walk, ruined. Also, you find yourself in the middle of a muddy field wearing the wrong shoes. But in another way, this was a bit of a surprise, because this particular land owner has been pretty decent, heretofore, about leaving a diagonal path unploughed and unsown. Easier all around. And yet, here we are, and you get a strong feeling, post-Brexit, post-pandemic, post-Johnson, that the class war has taken a turn towards the dark side.
All of which means that I seriously doubt any of these people are at all bothered by the Truss government’s billionaire giveaways. As some wag on Twitter suggested, expect to see the Tories (+8%) in the next YouGov poll.
Elodie, over in Albuquerque, shocked some of her fellow students with negative comments about farmers (the apple didn’t even fall off the tree in her case). And you remember that the narrative around farmers in the States is pure mythology, pure sentiment. The image Americans have of farmers is all Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, and nobody seems to notice that they’re all Republican arseholes.
Monday: How quickly we transition from enjoying the long summer days to getting up in the dark. Trying to work out if two socks of a similar colour are, in fact, a pair.
As part of Operation Cut Fuel Bills, I bought a slow cooker and a BBC Food book of healthy recipes. Really enjoying what I’ve made so far: melt-in-the-mouth food with warming, comforting flavours. I’ve even roasted a whole chicken and a pork joint in the thing. But this is autumn/winter food, and you wouldn’t use the slow cooker in the spring and summer.
The opposite effect applies to my wood-fired pizza oven. Even though I was away from it most of the summer, it was the one thing I was happy to be back to when we got back to the UK. I’ve more or less cracked the method, and my pizzas are coming out really well when I use it. Such a shame that there are only two of us at home to enjoy them! Chloé is in Copenhagen, Elodie in Albuquerque. Meanwhile, I’ve worked out that the trick to a really hot oven floor is to use artificial logs: either those coffee logs, or those beechwood things that look like compressed sawdust. They burn hotter than regular wood, so the air and floor temperature of the oven gets really high really quickly. And you only need one or two per session. I pointed my infra red thermometer at the oven floor after just half an hour at the weekend, and it was already over 400°C.
Meanwhile, Elodie sends news from Albuquerque, where she has found the food to be not too bad so far. But some people here, she reports, leave the skins on when they make mashed potato. I told her to call the police.
Tuesday: The government are melting the economy and destroying the country. Last week’s don’t-call-it-a-budget was a deliberate act of vandalism by a cabal of disaster capitalists who are hoping to profit from the collapse in the currency and the subsequent increase in interest rates. They’re also creating a pretext to ‘shrink the state’, cut services, cut benefits, create profits for the private sector. Meanwhile, at the Labour conference, it’s reported that the atmosphere has changed from recent years. Less weird fringe groups and more corporate. Signs and portents: when the corporations cozy up to the Labour party, the writing is on the wall for the Tories. But what will they leave behind? And more importantly, how much is a bottle of bourbon or rye whiskey going to be on Saturday when I go shopping?
Wednesday: A brutal day, 14 hours, mostly on my feet. A full day of teaching followed by an evening event. And of course I wore exactly the wrong shoes. Did have a sit down in Costa, though, in the inbetween time after the end of the school day and before the event. And found it hard to count back and remember the last time I went. Pre-pandemic, a different era. While I’m very much not buying the death of the Queen as a seismic event (it’ll be years before we can look back and detect a change), there is very much a before and after when it comes to the pandemic. And, you know, if the coffee shop had been crowded? I might have turned away from the door. Meanwhile, more news from Albuquerque: Elodie despairs at ever finding a decent cup of coffee at a reasonable price.
Today was also significant because it was Jumper Day. I actually started the day by putting on a shirt, and then checked with Siri and saw that the high would be 12°. Well. On came the jumper instead. It was mostly fine, but when the sun came around and shined through the windows, it was a tad warm.
Thursday: Another brutal day, a full day of teaching, so tired I genuinely can barely think straight. I can teach stuff because I’ve taught it before, but if anyone asks me to make a decision or ask a question out of the ordinary run, I’m lost. Someone came to see me to get my agreement on something and I wanted to shout at them, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Please stop now.
The economy continues to melt. The new Prime Minister has a ‘mare on local radio, offering nought but dead air in response to difficult questions. The last one wasn’t fit for office, and this one isn’t prepared. High-minded think tank ideas cooked up in cozy London offices where the consequences are zero and people’s lives are just numbers on a spreadsheet. You could almost believe the master plan here was to screw up so comprehensively and so quickly that Boris Johnson is called back from his wilderness
years month to save the nation in its hour of need. Like a Lidl Churchill. You know the Tories are in the business of waging class war, and you realise they know their days are numbered and they need to break things while they can. Urgently. And it’s all very remote until you hear that the Bank of England is stepping in to protect pension fund savings. And I thought, like the Fast Show’s Unlucky Alf, it would be just my luck if my entire pension was wiped out by this cavalcade of nasty cunts just before I officially hit retirement age. And I pictured myself working long into the future because Truss and Co decided to Year 0 the British Economy and put the final nails in the coffin of the post-war consensus.
And then you remember: the red-trousered white hairs of the Conservative Party voted for this. The 0.17% or whoever they were. I don’t think there’s a group of people I hate more.
Friday: Something occurs to me, during this conference season, about political parties and their membership. I think it’s generally true to say that the Labour party’s members are more left-wing and radical than the Parliamentary party. And I used to think of the same of the Conservatives: that the members were more left wing than the Parliamentary party, which is made up of useful idiots and rapacious hedge fund adjacent speculators. Whereas the members, the red trousered white hairs, are probably all in favour of their pensions and their free prescriptions. But then they voted in Truss as leader for some reason, and that analysis would seem to suggest that the members are more right wing than the MPs. Or simply even more stupid than the useful idiots who dutifully fill the lobbies on behalf of the hedge funds and think tanks. Wilfully blind to the realities they have always been. The moneyed classes might invest in the stock market hoping to make money on economic growth and business success (the traditional way), but the people they’re voting for are the kind that make money whether the economy grows or not. Big bets on the falling pound, on crashing shares: disaster capitalism. They vote for people who will actually benefit from destroying the very pension funds that support the lifestyles of their members and voters. It’s absolutely fucking insane.
As I’ve often said, with people this stupid being allowed to vote, things really do have to get a lot worse before they’ll even notice. They’re like that big blond guy in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the one with no nerve endings who cannot feel pain. You will literally have to go in, crash their pension fund and insurance policies, leave them penniless and homeless, before they realise that the Tories aren’t on their side.
In happier news, The Beatles have dropped another track from the forthcoming Revolver re-release, boxed set, exploitation set. It’s Take 1 of “Tomorrow Never Knows”, a track I’ve always hated, and do not like better in this embryonic form. The new stereo mix of “Taxman”, however, was very good, with a seamless shifting of the drums from hard left to all over the stereo field. Looking forward to it, although I will as usual be avoiding the physical media in favour of streaming. And I’m unlikely to listen to the outtakes more than once.