A View from Crazy Town
Chris Dell, Washington, D.C.
Perhaps it is fitting that as the Journal winds down, so too does the Crazy in Crazy Town.
Saturday saw a turning point. Dear Leader blinked and the streets of Crazy Town were handed back to the People. Your Intrepid Reporter, joined as always by Mrs. Intrepid, went down to the demo to get their fair share of abuse, but instead found one ginormous block party. As the Dear Leader seethed and rage tweeted, caged behind his wall - built at last! Promises kept! - Crazy Town celebrated.
In the wake of the Battle of Bunker Baby, senior U.S. military leaders, past and present, publicly rebuked Dear Leader for threatening to turn the streets of America into the scene of yet another endless war. Without the military at their backs, Dear Leader and Billy "The Brutalizer" Barr were forced to withdraw their riot squads of Little Green Men. The only police presence to be seen, and then only at the literal fringes, were the D.C. Metropolitan Police, sans riot gear. In fact, the only cops we saw anywhere near the protest were two elderly auxiliary traffic police, helping the occasional emergency vehicle cross through the crowd. Your I.R. spotted one lone National Guard unit: three soldiers at a roadblock diverting traffic away from the downtown; no body armor, no weapons, and fatigue caps instead of helmets. Right then and there it was clear that the game was up for Dear Leader.
The Forces of Crazy, of course, still lurk and have suddenly discovered a new passion for social distancing and concern about all those young people (whom they'd previously insisted are at little risk) gathering in close quarters and creating a super spreader event. 'Tis indeed troubling when folks decide for themselves that there are some causes for which it is worth taking risks, not only when their employers order them to do so for the latter's benefit. But, face masks were near universal and there was surprisingly little chanting and yelling to spray the virus, so we may yet survive to see more Crazy in the coming days and weeks.
P.S. the attached photo shows 16th Street in Washington, looking south towards the White House 1.5 miles in the distance. Dear Leader can't be best pleased that the crowd looks larger than at His inauguration.
Paul Lowden, Malaysia
Mr Japanese man two doors down
Looks to the rising sun as he nail
Scissors immaculate potted trees
Into unlikely shapes, pleasing to his eye.
Bare branches terminate in mushroom
Shaped clumps. Lawn levelled satisfaction
Underscores silent concentration.
Opposite, the Korean couple pluck
Leaves from the frangipani trees
With a specialist tool; a dawn ritual
Slow motioned exercise of infinite
Care. Crease perfect cotton tops
Unblemished shorts, golf clubs
Glitter in the Merc’s automated
Boot; trim visored faces anticipate
Playing off scratch.
Boundaried to them the Irish lady
Hair erupting from misaligned bunchie
Desperately concertinas in and out
Her exuberant elasticated dog
On their daily necessary walkies
Tracing her progress round the estate
By outbursts of deep throated barking.
The German lady lets you know
What should be done and when and why
They [unspecified] have go it wrong.
Triathlon topped torso, lycra tighted
Smile suggests no compromises
Will be made. Her spouse nods.
The Spanish family free wheel their
Kids on bikes, skateboards, blades
At all hours of the day. Street based
Games all ages blend with the cooking
Wafting on the breeze.
The Professor of Virology on loan
From Newcastle University [Malaya] lives alone
Five doors on; evening light catches
Up with his perambulation post
Hospital. The basketball hoop is down
His de-tox from warding off Armageddon
The satisfying repetition of the thunk,
Rattle of successful shooting. “It’s a marathon
Not a sprint, I tell my staff.” Precision guidance.
A snapshot UN-all-in-this-togetherness cliché
Of what this local community looks like today.
James Oglethorpe, Virginia, USA
When the creek runs dry
I’ll take a run at this.
Not sure where it will land,
but worth a punt. It’s about
forgetting how to speak
my most fundamental
language. How to find a thought
and express it into coherence.
The aura around an idea vanishes,
animation stills, colorless,
low pressure, stream silent
the productivity cycle in stasis.
Then, dim lit, distant on the page,
the ghost of confidence reappears,
whispering: if you can’t write
about anything, then write about
not being able to write about anything.
So I drag those desiccated, reluctant,
words to here where they transmute
into a full blood torrent
cascading from the hills,
sound and water speaking
the diction of creation,
soft syllables touching you
as do the drops of rain
falling fresh from the sky
onto my upturned face.
Hilary Q, North Norfolk
Last night I finished reading Penelope Fitzgerald’s portrait of her father and his remarkable siblings ‘The Knox Brothers’. Their lives were breathtaking and meaningful; full of energy and commitment to one another as well as to others. Intellectual all, their quest for religious understanding underlies the whole account. Ronnie, the youngest, ends all his letters to correspondents of whatever faith with the words ‘oremus invicem’ which I understand means ‘let us pray for one another’. As we try to understand what is going on in our stricken world right now, I find this appealing.
As the initial 12 week goal of our journal is met, I am keen to support the idea of reunions. It would be fascinating to revisit the project quarterly, half yearly or annually for at least the next three years. This may take the form of a single one off summary or be captured in a sequence of say five daily reports over a single named week. Apart from being pleasurable and interesting to participants, this may also be a useful way of adding value to the project as an archive.
The Runaway Diaries
Black Lives Matter
After I put you to bed for your lunch time nap yesterday, I packed my mask, water and placard in my bag, said goodbye to your dad and got on my bike. I cycled through Peckham to Camberwell then on to Oval and as I rode I saw groups of people all walking in the same direction, with purposeful strides, wet weather gear, sloganed t.shirts, banners, whistles. When I got to Vauxhall, the streets were teaming, people coming from North, South, East and West, we all converged on the road to the US Embassy. I found somewhere to lock up my bike and with the rest, donned my mask and raised my banner high.
Thousands stood together as the road filled with voices. The American flag billowed and whipped whilst cardboard signs remembering the dead waved with the wind. The grey clouds congregated overhead perhaps drawn by our calls and, as we all bent down and took a knee for George Floyd, for Breonna Taylor, for Belly Mujinga for… the list goes on, the rain mingled with tears, cooled the rage but ignited the chants.
I’ve not attended a protest on my own before, and with everyone wearing masks and trying to keep some sort of space between us, it made it difficult to connect with people on an individual level. But it was enough for me to be there and look about in admiration at the young Black teenagers leading the call, the older Rasta encouraging them on, and the rest of us, as diverse as London is, responding in unison: Black lives matter.
The sun shone and the protest began to move. Soon we were marching across Vauxhall bridge, I missed you then, wished I had brought you with me. I walked side by side with another mum and her two year old; sat atop her shoulders gleefully enjoying the peaceful mass movement of people for a shared cause. Why didn’t I bring you? It was easy to forget that whilst marching, we were in the midst of another pandemic, but which one poses the most risk - the continuing plague of racism or this airborne virus? I promise to bring you next time.
Annabel, A village in North Norfolk
Must do some proper work, have a couple of interior jobs so must get on with it.
Did a drawing with my new oil pastels. Getting into it a little bit at last. I always have to go through the pain threshold first. Usually takes a month or so.
A statue of Edward Colston, a 17th Century slave trader in Bristol ended up in the drink. Hauled down and carried through the streets to the harbour.
Two programmes to watch tonight. Panorama at 7.30 BBC 1 about the Post Office Scandal followed at 8.30 by Sitting in Limbo a play about the Windrush Scandal. Two different tales of shame in the UK.
Anthony Bryan was deported after 50 years as a British citizen since his arrival aged 8 when the climate changed to a "hostile environment" and he was suddenly accused of being here illegally.
The play is written by his brother and tells his shocking story.
Got to go and come out of retirement, might take a while.
Desperately excited about tomorrow when Roger is coming back. Like a kid waiting for your birthday party.
Love Annabel xxx