And at this point the integral converged; a thousand flames
Had faded out, the darkness sweeping carefully
Towards the cells where we’d been told to hide. Give us
This day our daily bleach, the sun will echo off the rocks
And keep us in the quarry. I don’t believe the virus
Knew how much it hurt, how many lives destroyed
It took away the ones we loved, but left the bodies –
Too many men to burn or bury, with sleeping smiles
And frozen gestures lying on the walls of stone
Beneath the relics of a dying sun.
Pages from the Corona Citadel Gazette
4 April 2020: The official death toll in the UK from Covid-19 is now 4313, 31 days after the first death was reported. However, it is likely that this figure will be revised upwards as further details emerge of infected people who died outside the health system and thus went unrecorded.
Around the UK, a new telecoms system called 5G – which enables higher-quality data transmission – is being rolled out at various sites, but there are rumours circulating on t’internet that these mast antennae are actually causing the symptoms of Covid-19 infection. Accordingly, disgruntled citizens are setting fire to them.
Today was scheduled to be the Grand National at Aintree, the premier event in the UK racing calendar. Like all major sporting events, the race was cancelled; however, a ‘virtual race’ has been created using performance algorithms to predict the speed and endurance of a field of top-flight horses.
The Eurovision Song Contest has also been cancelled, although it might be worth proceeding with a ‘blind’ version of this event. Each country could be invited to submit their song entry anonymously. The judging panel would then be spared the embarrassing ritual of awarding twelve points to their political allies, and instead could rate each performance on its artistic merit.
In autumn 2019, a BBC thriller called The Capture, by Ben Chanan, depicted a corrupt police system where artificial video footage is created to link villains to their actual crimes. This was explained as being a correction – the persons involved did actually commit the crimes, but the evidence was obtained by unlawful means and so not admissible.
Now that the world seems to be reliant on remote technology, we might expect a host of fictitious encounters to be concocted and broadcast. We have already seen the Prime Minister at the Cenotaph, his clumsy behaviour replaced by archive footage showing him being distinguished and statesmanlike.
Emily. Sometimes at work I have a customer who declares her name to be ‘Emily’. I am always tempted to ask ‘Floyd or Zombies?’ but most people under the age of forty would struggle to understand.
5 April 2020: To deal with the huge numbers of expected casualties from the Covid-19 pandemic, a field hospital has been assembled in the Excel exhibition centre down in London. Like much of the capital, this massive trade fair space is owned by a Middle-Eastern organisation (in this case, Abu Dhabi exhibitions) and the NHS is paying millions of pounds each month in rent.
Back in 1988, I explored the characteristics of abraded polyprop. We had two grades available for study; a rubber-toughened black plastic, and a slightly harder ethylene-propylene copolymer. Each of these was abraded in a uniform manner using a range of silicon-carbide papers, ranging from 120 mesh to 1200 mesh. The micro-roughness of each surface was then measured using a ‘Talysurf’ motorised stylus. The roughness profile (average peak height) was plotted against 1/(mesh size), and we ended up with two gentle curves which crossed over.
Perhaps the intersection was a point of optimum roughness; we found that wet abrasion (through a layer of primer solution) always gave better adhesive bonds than dry abraded plastic, regardless of the roughness. Because of this, we concluded that some aspect of the process was completely overriding the physical roughness effect.
f'(y,t) = (x+ai)(y+bi) – (x^0.372+mi)(y^0.372+ni)
Where y is the average roughness profile, a and b are the hardness values of the polymers, and m and n are the solubility parameters of the two polymers.
The centre of Manchester has fallen quiet, as pubs and restaurants and cinemas are all closed by order of HM Government. In Canal Street, some of the venues have boarded up their windows to prevent opportunist thieves. I recall seeing a picture in Via which looked exquisitely clever, and which I would love to steal if I thought I could get away with it…
The picture shows a neatly stylised face, photographed in B-and-W, with elegant shadows. Parts of this face have been amended by including round stencils which carry sections of the same photo, with volume parameters governed by the equation:
f’(r,θ) = (g+ai)(h+bi) – (g^0.815+pi)(h^0.815+qi)
Where r is the average grey scale density, g and h are the horizontal and vertical coordinates, and p and q are the length of curved lines between regions of high contrast. The image has been constructed using overlapping regions of metallic pigment film, giving an illusion of depth and shifting texture,
Holy water is the supreme vaccine? Religion is vitally important nowadays: passing your exams will get you a well-paid job, but Holy Communion will get you entry to Paradise.
DUP councillor John Carson, from Ballymena, County Antrim claimed that the coronavirus outbreak is God’s punishment on the UK government for allowing gay marriage and abortion to be legalised.
Conservative Tennessee preacher Perry Stone made exactly the same arguments, as did Iraqi Shia political leader Muqtada al-Sadr. And in Russia, huge crowds of believers queued for hours to kiss the relics of St John at St Petersburg, firmly convinced that viral diseases are unable to harm anyone inside a consecrated building.
In another story from a few years back, we heard how a primary school headteacher has been mocked on Twitter after claiming that evolution was “a theory” and there was “more evidence that the Bible is true”.
Christina Wilkinson, of St Andrew’s Church of England school in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, made the remarks in a tweet responding to London headteacher Tom Sherrington, who urged teachers to stick to science when teaching the origins of life.
“Evolution is not a fact. That’s why it’s called a theory! There’s more evidence that the Bible is true.” Christina Wilkinson, Headmistress of St Andrew’s C-of-E Primary School, Ostwaldwhistle.
Evidence? What evidence? Kids LOVE dinosaurs – and this woman wants to deprive them of the drama and excitement of the early archaeologists, and the fantasies of Jurassic Park, and the splendid treasures in the Natural History Museum…
Amid criticism and calls for her to resign on Twitter, Wilkinson issued a statement saying: “I’d like to make it clear that we teach the full national curriculum in school and that our pupils receive a fully rounded education.”
Meanwhile, in the UK, the warm weather has lured sun-worshippers to parks around the country, prompting the health secretary to threaten that outdoor exercise of any kind would be banned if people carried on flouting the rules.
‘Vanishing Lung Syndrome’ by Miroslav Holub
(Text copied from ‘poetic orphanage’ on the snarkattack-gracenotes blog: poem published by Faber and Faber, 1990)
Once in a while somebody fights for breath.
He stops, getting in everyone’s way.
The crowd flows around, muttering
about the flow of crowds,
but he just fights for breath.
Inside there may be growing
a sea monster within a sea monster,
a black, talking bird,
a raven Nevermore that
can’t find a bust of Athena
to perch on and so just grows
like a bullous emphysema with cyst development,
fibrous masses and lung hypertension.
Inside there may be growing
a huge muteness of fairy tales,
the wood-block baby that gobbles up everything,
father, mother, flock of sheep,
dead-end road among fields,
screeching wagon and horse,
I’ve eaten them all and now I’ll eat you,
while scintigraphy shows
a disappearance of perfusion, and angiography
shows remnants of arterial branches
without the capillary phase.
Inside there may be growing
an abandoned room,
bare walls, pale squares where pictures hung,
a disconnected phone,
feathers settling on the floor
the encyclopaedists have moved out and
Dostoevsky never found the place,
lost in the landscape
where only surgeons
Translated from Czech by David Young and Dana Habova
5 April 2020: Today’s figures reveal that a further 621 people have died from coronavirus in the past 24 hours. And the Scottish chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, has been fiercely warning members of the public not to make any unnecessary journeys or go out in public without good reason.
Meanwhile, Calderwood decided to drive over to check on her second home in Fife, and has been warned by police against such conduct. Oddly enough, les gendarmes didn’t slap her with a sixty-quid fine like they would with anybody else caught doing the same thing.