Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Lockdown fallout.

As the lockdown begins to ease in England, it won’t be too long before we can think about eating inside a restaurant, or meeting up with family and friends in their houses. It has been a difficult year for everyone, some much more so than others. I have been lucky, and I am aware of that.

Next Wednesday, I am having the second dose of A-Z vaccine, so even if the ‘Vaccination Passports’ do come in, I will be ‘free to roam’, as it were. We have booked a holiday in England for September, a week away that now seems to be more desirable than at any time in my life.

But with all this progress comes some reflection on the fallout of over a year in lockdowns. The effects, both tangible and unseen, of fear, worry, concern, and being stuck in and around the same place whether from choice or complusion.

For me, the main effects are obvious.

I stopped reading books. I tried, but couldn’t concentrate.

I stopped using any of my cameras. I already had so many photos of the same things and places.

I stopped watching so many films. Again, lack of concentration was the reason.

I ate too many ‘bad’ things, and drunk more wine than before. ‘Treating’ myself was an easy excuse, but not a good reason.

I stopped watching so much television. With a few notable exceptions, it no longer seemed important or interesting.

I stopped ringing friends and family. What do you talk about? The fact that you haven’t been anywhere, or done anything?

My life, such as it was over the past year, moved almost completely online. Although I still went to the supermarket, I spent more time in front of the computer. I wrote more blog posts, kept in touch with people by email, and bought everything I didn’t actually eat or drink by using online sellers.

Now with life forecast to ‘open up’, albeit with sensible safety measures still in place, I feel the need to ‘claw back’ some of the me that was lost over this past year. I want to charge up my camera batteries, try again with some of those books on my Kindle, and wander aimlessly around reopened shops, not intending to buy anything. I don’t know if there will be a ‘new normal’, and there will definitely never be a return to that ‘old normal’.

But I will take whatever comes, and do my best to enjoy it.

10 Items Or Less

I had to pop out to the supermarket earlier. I only needed fresh bread, some of Ollie’s treats, and a packet of bacon. So I went to the nearest supermarket, not the one I regularly use.

It’s always busy on a Saturday afternoon of course, but that doesn’t bother me. I haven’t been out of Beetley since Monday, so a short afternoon drive is a welcome change.

The queue to get in was unusually long. Even with the pandemic restrictions, there have rarely been more than a few people in front of me. But today it stretched the entire width of the large car park.

Luckily, it moved quite briskly, and when I got to the front, I mentioned ot the security guard that it was unusually busy. He nodded. “Mother’s Day tomorrow, always packed out the day before Mother’s Day. Flowers, chocolates, presents and cards. You know they leave it until the last minute”.

Inside, the store was much busier than I had expected. But as I only had four items in a basket, the long queues at the checkout didn’t concern me, as they have a ’10 Items Or Less’ counter right at the front. As I approached that checkout position, a woman aged about thirty suddenly swept in from the side, pushing a trolley full of groceries. She sneaked in front of me, and began to quickly unload her items onto the belt.

Ignoring her rudeness, I did however become quite annoyed when I saw just how many items she was unloading. I started to count them as she placed them down, and stopped at 27. Then she added some more, including a huge box of bottled beer. Catching her eye, I said “Did you leave school very young?” She looked puzzled, and mumbled “Sorry, what did you say?” “You must have left school before they taught you how to count”, I continued, pointing at the huge sign above the checkout. ’10 Items Or Less Only’.

Blushing red under her small face-mask, she ignored me, and loaded her things into bags. When she had paid and left, I asked the checkout lady why she hadn’t challenged someone who had more than three times the number of items. “Not allowed to, sir. Besides, for what I get paid, it’s not worth my while getting stressed out arguing with customers”.

You had to see her point.

Lockdown Gown

Since the first lockdown in March 2020, I haven’t done a great deal. A couple of meals out, and a few days away at the coast when restrictions were lifted briefly.

This has meant that I don’t have to bother too much about what I wear every day. Other than taking Ollie out, and a once a week trip to the supermarket, I am usually to be found in a dressing gown. (American Translation: Bath Robe)

Not unusual for me, as I have written previously about my fondness for gown-wearing.

However, lockdowns also mean no casual visitors, nobody just ‘dropping in’, or ‘popping over’. That has allowed my gown-wearing to become the norm, unless out on the Ollie walks and shopping trips mentioned above. As soon as I get up, the gown goes on. Once back from dog-walking, I change back into a gown immediately, and spend the evening feeling relaxed and cosy. Delivery drivers and post office staff have become accustomed to me answering the door in one of the two gowns that I constantly recycle through the wash.

One is made from blue towelling, the other is a plush material in a dark red ‘Claret’ colour. Both are exceedingly comfortable to sit around in, and with the sleeves rolled up, everyday jobs like cooking and washing up can be done wearing a gown.

But all this excessive gown-wearing has had an unexpected effect.

Clothes now feel strange. Although they fit the same as before, they feel restrictive compared to the freedom of a gown. I feel bundled up in normal clothes, even very loose casual ones. I am suffering from a condition that nobody predicted might be caused by the lockdowns.

Lockdown Gown.

I am going to need more gowns!

Lyrically Evocative (32)

I complain a lot, I know. The weather mostly, but other stuff too.

However, I wouldn’t want anyone to ever think that I am not thankful for what I have. A decent home, mortgage-free. A wife to share my life with, and a wonderful dog to be my companion. Enough money to get by, and even save a (little) bit. Relatively good health, even in the midst of a pandemic crisis.

I am better off than so many other people, and I am thankful for that fact.

With that in mind, I was thinking about this song today. I bought the record a long time ago now, (1974) but it often sneaks into my mind.

And never was it more relevant, than in 2021.

Here are the lyrics. I may know nothing about a ‘Gangsta lean’, but I get William’s intention.

Be Thankful for What You Got
William DeVaughn

Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac
Gangsta whitewalls
TV antennas in the back
You may not have a car at all
But remember brothers and sisters
You can still stand tall
Just be thankful for what you got
Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac
Diamond in the back, sunroof top
Diggin’ the scene
With a gangsta lean
Gangsta whitewalls
TV antennas in the back
You may not have a car at all
But remember brothers and sisters
You can still stand tall
Just be thankful for what you got
Diamond in the back, sunroof top
Diggin the scene
With a gangsta lean, wooh
Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac
Gangsta whitewalls
TV antennas in the back
You may not have a car at all
But remember brothers and sisters
You can still stand tall
Diamond in the back, sunroof top
Diggin the scene
With a gangsta lean, wooh
Diamond in the back, sunroof top
Diggin the scene
With a gangsta lean, wooh
Diamond in the back, sunroof top
Diggin the scene
With a gangsta lean, wooh
Diamond in the back, sunroof top
Diggin the scene
With a gangsta lean, wooh
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: William Devaughn
Be Thankful for What You Got lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management

And here he is, singing his own song. (Not live, the original 7-inch single)

Let’s all remember to be thankful what what we have.

A Blogging Year

Only a couple of days to go before the end of 2020, a year that most of us will be pleased to see the back of. Let’s hope that vaccination programmes will lead to some major improvements in 2021, and life might start to feel normal again for many of us. Those who have lost loved ones will still find it hard to cope of course, and the businesses forced to close, and those who have lost careers or jobs, will face a complete readjustment of their lives.

In the world of blogging, lockdowns and lack of movement saw an explosion of new bloggers like never before. Many hoped to increase their income, or just start an online business. Whether by offering SEO and other blogging services, online courses, or just selling cosmetics. Thousands of entrepreneurial people took to blogging as a route to make some money. Most found out that it doesn’t work like that. Bloggers do not rush to buy such services, especially blog promotion services, fake reviews, and social media accounts that are built up to 5,000 followers before being offered for sale.

Do people actually buy Twitter Accounts, Instagram Accounts, or someone else’s blog? That was a new one for me, in a strange year.

Like some other bloggers, a little more time on my hands meant that I posted more. As well as fiction serials, I explored some more random stuff, and the popularity of those posts took me by surprise. I hardly posted photos during the past year. I lost the ‘muse’ for photography, along with any desire to read fiction. That surpised me, as I had been doing well with reading up to that point. But lack of concentration seemed to be one side effect of tthe pandemic that tended to overwhelm me at times.

2020 also saw an increase in followers, as new bloggers looked around for blogs to follow, and blogging communities to become part of. The other side of that coin was losing some regular followers that had been around for years. Maybe they stopped blogging, got fed up with following my particular blog, or just found a new hobby to pursue.

Some died during the past year, which was sad to hear. Others took extended breaks from blogging; whether through illness, lack of continued interest, or the pressures associated with dealing with familiy and work during a very difficult time. I hope some of them come back, I really do.

Once again, I would like to thank everyone who has stuck by my blog, during this unprecedented year in our lifetimes. All the followers and friends who have been around since the start, and those new followers who have thrown themselves into blogging, and become great members of our small community.

I thank each and every one of you for your comments, your likes, and your emails. Thanks for reading my very long serials, and my everyday stuff about walking a dog in all weathers.

In your own ways, you have got me through 2020. I doubt I could have done it without you.

Thinking Aloud On A Sunday

Conspiracy Theorist.

I have been reading about the thoughts of those who oppose all lockdowns and restrictions introduced because of Covid-19. I have also had some conversations with good friends and family members who do not think any of the ‘Pandemic’ is real. Most of these writers and those I have spoken to are educated, intelligent people who have come to their conclusions after much reading, thought, and debate.

And anti-lockdown protests are increasing in England, with a large demonstration in central London just yesterday.

Much of the ‘anti’ argument seems to hinge on not knowing anyone who has either contracted Covid-19, or died from it. Given the high infection rates stated by governments all over the world, you might imagine that death rates would be astronomically higher than they have been. I have a friend who works in an environment with around 100 other people. They are in close contact, with no screens or masks, and the place is air-conditioned.

Yet since the start of the pandemic, not one has tested positive for Covid-19, and nobody has been hospitalised or died from it. Add to that the fact that none of the families and friends of those people have tested positive or been ill, and you are looking at a rough figure of around 3,000 people, with not a single one having any trace of Covid-19.

The theory seems to be that it is all about government control of the population, and a major ‘re-adjustment’ of the workforce and wealth distribution. This is overseen by ‘The Elite’, and ‘The New World Order’. Everything from closing entertainment venues to making mask wearing compulsory is designed to limit social interaction, and force family units into isolation.

I don’t buy into this, for a couple of reasons. For one, I lost one of my best friends to the virus in May. But in the bigger picture, I seriously doubt that ‘world leaders’ like Trump, Johnson, Merkel, and Macron (among others) are capable of pulling off such a stunt, and keeping it secret.

I woke up this morning thinking about all this, prompted by the sudden and unexpected increase in restrictions in London and the South-East, which amounts to ‘cancelling Christmas’ for millions of people.

Could those ‘conspiracy theorists’ have something?

At this point, I have to make a confession. I have been a conspiracy theorist in the past. Here are three of the ‘big ones’ that I still believe.

1) Kennedy was not shot by the ‘lone shooter’, Lee Harvey Oswald. I couldn’t care less what the Warren Commission said.
2) The 1969 Moon Landing didn’t happen. I watched it on TV, and never believed it then. Still don’t.
3) The 9/11 attacks in the US were organised by Saudi Arabia in collusion with some ‘Deep State’ people in America. I will always believe that.

There you have three theories of mine that millions of people would argue against. They would show me their scientific proof, the statements of those concerned, and even film footage that proves I am wrong. (I am not, of course)

So who am I to criticise those who dispute the existence of Covid-19?

Just a thought. On a Sunday.

Guest Posts: A Pandemic Christmas

Christmas is going to be very different for most people in 2020. Whatever you do to celebrate it, it will undeniably be an unforgettable year.

So I am offering the chance for people to send me a guest post about their own ‘Pandemic Christmas’. If you do not celebrate the religious aspects of the season, don’t worry. You can send a post about your ‘Pandemic December’ instead.

This offer is open to anyone, with the following conditions attached.
(Your post will not be edited, spell-checked, or altered in any way.)

1) You must already follow this blog, my other blog, or follow me on Twitter.

2) Under 3,000 words please.

3) Images or photos to be fairly small files, and sent separately.

If you would like my 6,992 followers to be able to read your post, and have it shared on Twitter too, then please send your Guest Post to me as an email to petejohnson50@yahoo.com

Send images or photos to the same email address, but on a different email. Please DO NOT send MS Word or PDF documents as attachments.

Best wishes to you all, Pete.

Lockdown Number Two

On the 5th of November, we begin a second national lockdown in England. Once again, bars, pubs, hotels, and restaurants will close. Only essential shops will remain open, and travel will be restricted to work, food shopping, child care, and some emergencies.

So far, it is planned for a period of at least 28 days, but there is no actual time cap if the current high infection rate continues.

To many, this is frustrating. Small business like hairdressers and beauticians have just got going again after the last time. Some entertainment venues were hoping to open in time for Christmas, but now that probably will not happen. Gift shops, toy shops, card shops, and many others reliant on the huge spending boom before Christmas are likely to go bust, with their biggest trading period of the year cancelled.

Some believe it is necessary, to slow the alarming increase in ITU admissions, and subsequent deaths.

But if so, why are schools and colleges remaining open? You tell people that they cannot visit an 80 year old grandmother, or go and have their hair cut on a one to one basis, but it is okay for your child to attend a school with perhaps a thousand other children every day, possibly bringing home the virus to the rest of the family.

To say that Boris Johnson has handled the pandemic badly is an understatement.

Thinking Aloud On A Sunday

Moods.

You know me. I try to always be polite, reply to every comment, read all the blog posts of those I follow, and do my best to be part of our great community. I share stuff on Twitter when I can, host guest bloggers, and feature as many other bloggers as possible. I write fiction serials, photo-prompt stories, film reviews, and tell everyone about Ollie my dog.

At times, (frequently) I let out my frustrations by having a good moan or rant about blogging etiquette, followers who don’t follow, and other such pet peeves.

But most of the time, I am just ‘Me’.

We have all had a bad year in 2020. For some, the stresses and strains of the pandemic have been added to by becoming ill, bereavement, or employment issues.

I don’t have that much to complain about, I really don’t. I have survived eight months of a killer virus that primarily targets people in my age group. I have managed to remain financially stable, overcome a few domestic issues around the house, and even get work done by contractors.

I continued to enjoy blogging and writing, and the company of my online friends in this community. Despite serious medical problems for Ollie, he survived those, and remains my constant companion. He provides me with a sense of responsibility that I might otherwise have lacked. Having him makes me get up and get ready, leave the house on long walks in the countryside, and interact with local people. I doubt I would do a tenth of that, without Ollie.

So why have I suddenly become so moody, irritable, and losing focus?

I have no idea.

A Strange Year Of Blogging

Who could have guessed that 2020 would turn out like this? Six months on, the world of blogging has been increased by the huge number of ‘Virus Bloggers’, those who have started blogging to make their own record of this memorable year. I have read a great deal of blog posts about Covid-19, from heartbreaking personal memoirs, detailed record-keeping of the spread in certain countries or cities, through to those that have a feeling it never really existed.

In the last few weeks, Twitter has started to see many people who have had enough of lockdowns, and want to quickly get back to real life, as they see it. Some of those tweeting are also bloggers, but not all of course. In the main, I am happy to see that most of you in our well-established community are content to still fear the effects of the virus, and the possibility of that second wave. You are keeping safe, and so am I.

But we have all seen images of crowded beaches, parties, and other gatherings on the news media. Predominantly younger people who still regard themselves as being immune, for some inexplicable reason.
But I digress.

As far as blogging is concerned, those ‘Virus Bloggers’ are providing an amazing resouce for future historians. Just imagine if there had been the Internet, or other forms of widespread communication, at the various times the Black Death ravaged Europe, and other parts of the world? We might have even been able to learn something, about surviving a pandemic.

Or maybe not.