More Covid Considerations

 

I sense that there’s going to be some major civil unrest ahead. A perfect storm – climate change, racism, nationalism, economic and social poverty, significant distrust and anger at politicians, police and ‘authorities’ in general – and FEAR.

I was a bit stressed and perplexed over what to write for this intro. I feel that this is my last Covid article for the present. Unless we get a big second wave.

Overall, I am more than a bit confused and conflicted over what to write, what comments to ‘string’ together. Here in the separate dominions of the UK, there seems to be a sudden rush into ending lockdown, whilst other rules and regulations like quarantine and face coverings are more restrictive than before at the height of the pandemic lockdown. Talking to locals around Eyemouth and Berwick (either side of the Scottish/English border) yesterday (my first trip shopping into Berwick on the bus in 15 days), some folk have not been keeping up to date with the changes in rules at all! One regular bus passenger, with little else to do than travel on the local bus over the border every day, told me: “I’ve not heard about face coverings becoming compulsory in England. They’ll have to buy one for me, if they want me to wear one on the bus.”

The aftermath of Black Lives Matters (BLM) is raising some interesting issues – especially over re-interpreting ‘history’. That’s something I’ve always found fascinating and has informed much of my own writing and research. Historic events are written by people, historians, journalists, commentators. They frequently tell the reader more about the writer, than accurately detailing or explaining actual events. My area of Scotland – especially the port of Eyemouth is steeped in colonial, merchant trading history. Overlooking the harbour is Gunsgreen House, probably designed by John and James Adam, and built for smuggler, John Nisbet, but later the home of Robert Robertson (Glasgow). His wife Anne and himself inherited the estates in 1828 of her slave-owner father, Dr Robert Glasgow on St Vincent, at the Mount Greenan (or Montgreenan) and Sans Souci estates.

It’s a bit like the Pandemic – will BLM lead to changes in real lives into the future? And even local protests in Eyemouth, perhaps? Will our recent past prove to be ‘transformative’? Or, will it be a return to our individual and collective ‘Old Ways’? A return to what, artist, Grayson Perry described as: “What Britain does best – Hypocrisy!”  I guess that’s my personal response on hearing that the film, ‘Gone with the Wind’ and the TV series, ‘Little Britain’ are now banned viewing. In this context, I’ve been ruminating on what a close friend of mine wrote to me from North London (I’ll keep her anonymous):

“However, turning to the Black Lives Matter stuff – fascinating but I have to say really rather scary as well – I’m supportive of much but am more of a Starmer-ist re  rule of law and am very concerned about the knee-jerk ness of much of what is going on – so politicians kneeling because of a death of someone who clearly utterly shouldn’t have died who he did but who was not exactly  a model citizen in other ways – or calls to reopen the Mark Duggan case etc  are concerning…. I just hope things don’t kick off again locally as we are very near the epi-centre of the 2011 riots and it wouldn’t take much. I also don’t like the idea of ripping down statues or re-naming things because of guilt by association – so, yes, we need to get rid of the statue in Bristol, but I’d rather have seen judicial review if needed to bring about changes that are overdue – but Gladstone as guilty by association because of his father? 

All this – given the febrile atmosphere in strict confidence…. not sure what it’s like in Scotland??  I sense that the debate on race, ethnicity and BLM could also become a catalyst for nationalist rhetoric in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland etc re colonial past of Britain? As with the CV19 response in the UK, I gather everything is far more muted in Europe – most places and speaking to people today in the first meeting I’ve attended – for an hour – with EU partners this afternoon, they seem a bit bemused at how wholeheartedly the UK has embraced demands for change and renaming of roads, review of statues etc.”

Meanwhile, Big Green Gathering, Kozfest and many of the other more alternative festies for 2020 are cancelled. Virtual events are taking place in their stead. Live Zoom streams, videos of performers – all sorts of creativity.

INvirolution: http://www.invirolution.org/

Virtual Stonehenge: https://www.stonehenge2020.com/?fbclid=IwAR2rGjsw4kr8oJUt33MVUQh9dU2CbgcfS7nOJRmVgP0YzmCUdc1JxWsWg-U

Here’s my video made during lockdown for inclusion in some Virtual festies. It’s all about my musical participation events and happenings, Virtual MSFN workshop: https://vimeo.com/427030966     

 

I open the proceedings as Gonzo the rather scary clown!

At a personal level, my daytime lockdown days in Scotland currently continue to be a mix of research, writing, photography, arts and crafts, contacts with people on social media and my daily walk inside the Scottish ‘5 mile zone’.

 

Evenings, mostly watching TV and videos, plus acrylic painting my dotty stone creations! In pre-lockdown, I rarely watched more than an hour on the box – usually Channel 4 News and bits from the BBC and Aljazeera. Now, I’ve been experimenting with catch-up programmes and channels like Film 4, Horror and the Sony movies. It’s taken me into some odd nooks and crannies. The internet is getting overloaded by people ‘streaming’ – but some of the time it works seamlessly.  Have you ever watched a surreal comedy series called, ‘Inside Number 9’? I think it’s interestingly odd. Dark. Apparently it started airing in 2014 and totally passed me by. But I’ve just watched the first two episodes, which are complete stand-alones. The first, ‘Sardines’ is very Viv Stanshall!  Both are extremely odd. It is written by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton of ‘League of Gentlemen’ and ‘Psychoville’ fame. Addictive and a bit reminiscent of a surreal ‘Tales of the Unexpected’.  I’ve also discovered some interesting old B&W films like Bogart and Lizabeth Scott in the rather wonderful, and tongue firmly in cheek, mobster melodrama from 1947, ‘Dead Reckoning’. Complex, muddled and almost totally bonkers, but great viewing.

I’ve also been able to watch films from other cultures like the South Korean, ‘Age of Shadows’ from BBC 4. Filled with violently atmospheric, powerful action and epic historic detail from the cultural and political whirlpool of resistance fighting in Japanese occupied Korean, Seoul in the 1920s.

 

 

The Joys of Lockdown!

Alan Dearling

 


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