… homeboy don’t really rep parole
I’m in the HOUSE…
The streets don’t show me shit
The streets don’t give a shit
I’m hip unto the cool now,
You n yours, me n mine, so who the hell is who now

— “Pause for Cause”, Roots Manuva

I had been self-isolating (ish) long before covid-19 came to instruct everyone on the nuances of complex interconnected systems.

I had been in pseudo-self-iso not because I was sick, or because I’d suddenly become a germophobe. I was in pseudo-self-iso as an act of protest against an environment that I’d become alienated from, and which – crucially – I no longer believed had anything to offer that I could possibly want.

At the same time, I happen to know that the great script-writer in the sky loves them a bit of foreshadowing, and I often wondered what I was inadvertently preparing myself for. “whatever it is,” I thought, “it can’t be good.”

A few months later I found myself back in the UK. I self-iso’d there too. This time, not because I felt alienated from the environment, but because all cities become the same after a while, and I just couldn’t be arsed to go and experience this great city, whose smooth grey perfectly-marked roads I’d once marveled at, from the interior of a Black Cab, refugee-except-in-name. I mean, once the frequency of Starbuckses passes a certain value, is it really a city worth exploring anymore? (Of COURSE IT IS, goofball). I did manage to go to a rather cool weekend-spanning hackathon tho. And wasted some time in a giant mall. And ambled around a park in shitty weather, but yeah… I couldn’t really be arsed to get around. Also TfL I love you but damn those oyster fares add up! Priceaaaayyyy….

Mine is a family well-versed in the downsides of Isolation, Howsoever It Cometh About. As such I went into self-iso with eyelids peeled all the way back, with layers of meta-selves watching layers of meta-selves watching for signs of breakdown in vital feedback loops.

Mind to Motion

In the end, what actually broke down was my body. What the actual eff: My body, which hitherto had been the staunchest and most reliable component of my simple responses to life’s myriad tribulations… my BODY, is what gave out. A cascade of neurological and muscular almost-impairments started tapping me on the shoulder to say “Hey. Remember those sayings about ‘first life gives you a gentle reminder’, then a louder knock, and then eventually knocks you tits over ass for not paying attention to earlier warnings? Well, we’re the earlier warnings, kiddo. We’re the earlier frigging warnings“.

This is probably a good time to mention the art of Wong Wrong Tai Chi… a variant of the art as practised by Madam Wrong herself, in her bedroom slippers, and passed down through the generations to precisely no-one.

I am Her; she is moi. We are Grand Mistress of oft-misdirected Qi. Shifu of cat stan, not stance… and not Parting The Wild Horse’s Mane so much as Two-Strand-Braiding The My Little Pony. Verily: any movement stretched out for long enough turns out to be quite the workout, OK? OK. It’s a kottam workout. Throw in some apartment dancing and displacement-minimising callisthenics and the odd weights and your little muscles start taking an interest in all the protein they’ve been letting float by and your little nerve endings start feeling about in the dark again. Like all good little nerve-endings should.

In the meantime it has become clear that the foreshadowing was about waiting patiently beside my Mum and my Sister. And then shortly after, waiting out this Covid-19 pandemic… till I can finally get the eff out.

Apocalypse Modes

I hear people are starting to crawl up the proverbial walls in despair. On account of, a lot of people aren’t used to having to stay indoors, let alone having to stay indoors with the folks in their household. Right?! Turns out “apart-ness” has been the magical lubricant greasing so many of our intimate social transactions. As a soliton, I want to twitter-scream “I told you so!”, with a liberal sprinkling of hand-clap emojis. But I can’t gloat too much, because I know what it’s like to have faulty apocalypse modes…

Such as the careful art of strategic stockpiling.

There are two kinds of people in the world, and only two: people who relish apocalypse, and who are therefore somewhat prepared, who are also by dint of such preparation perhaps worth cowering behind of, once the proverbial zombies start cresting the high walls. 🙂

Then there are people like me.

A friend (already an annoyingly vast treasure trove of paranoia-tinged survival isms…) has a larder that a family of four could winter on, has memorized a bunch of sanitizer recipes, knows where covid-19 has popped up right down to the locality and is practically on gang-sign terms with the sorts of people who could hook you up with PPE*-goodness, should any actually materialise at a local pharmacy.

And what have I done, in preparation for The End of The World, As We know It? I have 2 cans of beans (The “seriously, how much beans would you actually eat?” algo trounced everything else). And I froze an extra loaf of bread, OK? I also actually had a decent surplus of eggs but boiled half in anticipation of noodle meals while stuck at home… and then something bizarre happened to them when I accidentally over-chilled the refrigerator. It was weird… its like they froze and then thawed and then turned into dimpled layers of egg… like phyllo pastry… but… dimpled. Utter barfitude; had to throw ’em out. See? I am not good at this. In an actual apocalypse y’all would have to run come save me.

Anyhow. It’s time to stand up, and repeatedly Repulse Monkey. The wrong way, natch.

***

ps: Holy shit what if Ron Smith might just be that great script-writer in the sky?

*PPE – Personal Protection Equipment / medical masks etc.

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