Xmas on Andromeda, Thurs 24 Dec 2020
It’s Christmas Eve, and I’m watching the Horror Channel, where they are showing a dreadful sci-fi movie called ‘Krull’, a sort of cross between Blade Runner and Robin Hood. One-eyed aliens and polystyrene boulders; ‘This can only mean we have arrived on the plant Krull!’
Meanwhile, in the real world, a new variant of the Coronavirus has been identified which appears to be more highly contagious than the standard version. The French authorities have responded to this by imposing a ban on cross-channel freight, leading to a queue of angry lorry drivers at Dover. Senior cabinet figures (including Boris) declared that the number of stranded wagons was about 170, but it turned out to be over 900 – and has steadily increased over the past couple of days to reach 6,000.
After much discussion, the French have announced that they will allow drivers to enter the country only when they have been issued with a negative Covid-19 test result, so the army, NHS workers and French firemen have been touring the vast lorry park at Marston airfield collecting swab test samples.
Fortunately, the UK government arranged back in April to purchase millions of portable Covid-19 test kits from the DNA-nudge firm at Imperial College, so we should be able to clear this backlog in a matter of days…
Latest Covid statistics:
US: 18.9 million cases, 334 thousand dead
UK: 2.15 million cases, 69 thousand dead
We have one blond American in the White House, and another in 10 Downing Street; it is widely expected that each of these will soon be heading out of office to spend more time with their families. And in preparation for their departure, both Donald and Boris have been handing out the pardons.
Trump has issued pardons to fifty of his loyal followers who were convicted of lying to the FBI, committing fraud, and (in one case) grotesque blackmail. And Boris has elevated several Tory backers to the house of Lords, including Peter Cruddas – despite being advised by the Appointments Committee that this individual should not receive a peerage.
Boxing Day 2020:
The Horror Channel is showing some glossy sci-fi nonsense called ‘Andromeda’ where a bunch of English-speaking Caucasians (and a couple of mixed-race aliens) inhabit an absurdly spacious spacecraft and engage in laser-gun battles.
Outside in the garden, I can see tits, blackbirds and a single magpie. Sometimes we observe a pheasant in the field, but today there is no sign of him. The nearby farmhouse is normally hidden by the trees, but occasionally its windows catch the morning sun and create a golden blaze.
Two days ago Boris emerged from the tense discussions with the EU commission, giving the thumbs up gesture, and announced that he had secured a trade deal on behalf of the UK, adding:
“Everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal’. The statement added: ‘We have taken back control of our money, borders, laws, trade and our fishing waters. ‘The deal is fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK.”
Keen scholars of the classics (such as Boris) will be aware that the thumbs up indicates approval for the fatal strike to be delivered against a fallen adversary. Johnson has built a glittering career out of promising all things to all men, so it will be interesting to see how this trade deal pans out…
And having left the EU, we will no longer be able to access the European Solidarity Fund, a financial support network which provides help for member states suffering the effect of natural disasters, such as the extreme flooding due to hit the UK during the next 24 hours.
On Christmas day HM delivered her traditional speech offering hope and assurance to the nation, while Channel 4 broadcast their customary ‘alternative speech’ – which this year took the form of a sarcastic ‘deepfake’ parody in which the queen was showed dancing and making irreverent comments. It was obviously false and was intended to prompt viewers to question the veracity of what they might observe in social media; but since the Queen is an elderly lady and her husband has recently had health issues, it might have been wise to adopt a more respectful approach.
For a change, I didn’t start the day by drinking pink champagne or watching videos from CERN; I don’t have a record player, so I can’t enjoy my vinyl disc of In The Mist (although I did look out across the fields and see the misty morning taking shape).
For dinner we didn’t start with Cup-a-Soup, the twisted hors d’oeuvre that only the most refined of diners will deserve. Instead we launched ourselves directly into a pie that lurked inside a tin, Fray Bentos was his name. And then, a treacle, mustard and paprika glaze began to galvanise the blanket-pigs upon the plate, raising our dinner from good to great.
Latest Covid statistics:
US: 19.2 million cases, 338 thousand dead
UK: 2.22 million cases, 70 thousand dead
Monday 28 Dec 2020:
Since Boxing Day fell on Saturday this year, we have today off as a bank holiday in lieu; the Horror Channel is showing ‘Riddles of the Sphinx’, a dreadful, derivative mystery thriller involving astronomy and cryptography.
There may be dozens of aspiring scriptwriters at this very moment, carefully putting together screenplay treatments based around a conspiracy thriller plot where we see an Egyptian tomb being opened in 2015, and efforts by an unscrupulous collector to acquire newly-unearthed artefacts.
A particularly beautiful perfume bottle ends up being smuggled out of the dig and offered for sale on the black market.
Three years later a Chinese billionaire manages to secure the item, and has it delivered to his private gallery in Wuhan, where his housekeeping staff are busy planning to steal some of his watches and jewellery. During the raid, one of them picks up the bottle, opens it, and decides not to bother keeping it since it appears to be empty.
Alas, the flask was not empty at all; it carried a deadly virus, used as a curse to protect the tomb from would-be grave robbers. Within a fortnight we see the fugitive housekeepers holed up in a secure warehouse, suffering from extreme nausea and fatigue. Gradually they all die from respiratory organ failure, and a race begins to find out why so many people are starting to fall ill in the region around Wuhan.
In 1975 I started school; it was a huge, ugly building with random coloured panels between the big, square windows. At one end of the playground was a small patch of muddy grass hemmed in by a shallow concrete ledge, beyond which was an electric pylon whose cables soared above us when we played football during lunch break.
In 1980 I left school; everything about the building was exactly as it had been five years previously. There was a cylindrical chunk of concrete lying on the floor with three sturdy metal strips sticking out of one end, all badly bent; this lump had been there when I started, and it had not moved by the time I walked away for the last time.
Only many years later did I realise that this concrete lump would have been the base for a litter-bin, and the steel bands were designed to hold the basket, which we could see lying on the flat roof of the Portakabin which served as a classroom.