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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.


Tropical thoughts

Paul Lowden, Malaysia

Touché Cliché

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.


Gratefully Sheltering

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

connections atrophied,

thoughts unheard,

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.


Home Thoughts

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

Sophie Austin

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. 


Corona Diary

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.


Protests everywhere.

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

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