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w/e 2020-03-01

Pinch, punch first day of the month.

§   Mouse update… the morning after last week’s update I came down to the kitchen to find a dead mouse in spring-loaded trap. RIP mouse, you were too rodenty for this house. We haven’t seen pooey signs of more mice since so we assume the only mice left are more discreet and/or only in the loft, where we have now activated further traps.

§   In an effort to remain a little active out here, I recently started doing a bit of yoga every day. It had been a while since I did any – at various points over the past 20 years I’ve done weekly classes – and it’s the kind of thing I always felt I should be doing again, and more frequently. It’s not like I’ve heard of anyone saying, “I’ve been doing yoga my whole life and it was such a waste of time!”

Yoga With Adriene seems like the default, free source of internet yoga so I’ve given that a try, doing her first 30 Days of Yoga series from 2015. It was good! With classes it was always a gamble as to what the teacher would be like – I never wanted anything remotely “spiritual”. No new age music, or waffle about your soul, or anything else remotely woo-woo. A muttered “Namaste” from the teacher at the end of the class is my limit.

Thankfully these videos were within my tolerance for such things and Adriene is pleasantly down-to-earth, welcoming and self-deprecating. She’s a friendly face to see every morning. The five minute introductory chat gives a flavour. The videos were mostly between 15 and 30 minutes long and it’s been nice to do a bit of slow, stretchy exercise, paying attention to one’s body. I’ve now started the following year’s 30 days series, Yoga Camp, which threatened to be a little more icky: talk of being “humble” and being “the best version of ourselves” and daily affirmations or mantras… but two days in that hasn’t made much difference.

So I’ll keep going with a bit of daily yoga. I’d be intrigued to try the Adriene of Do.omyoga though.

§   Also, this week we joined our local gym, a small community fitness centre that opened a few months ago in the next-village-but-one, a ten minute drive along country roads. The gym I went to in London was big, containing a 25-metre pool, a running track, three studio rooms, a separate (small) women’s gym, oodles of cardio and weight machines, and two free weights areas.

Our new local is a single space in an industrial unit adjoining a community cafe, and has maybe ten cardio machines, perhaps four weight machines, a free weights area with just enough room for a squat rack and a bench, and a smallish matted area. It’s also about ¼-⅓ the cost, has almost everything I usually use, and is very welcoming.

While the London gym wasn’t solely City workers pumped before and after crushing it in the office – there were quite a few locals just keeping fit – this place is definitely for local people of all ages, and feels friendly and chatty.

It’s probably a good microcosm of the social differences between city and village. You’re quickly on first-name terms with people, everyone can see what you’re up to, all conversations can be overheard. There’s no anonymity, no ability to hide in the crowd. This isn’t better or worse, just different.

§   I finished reading Richard Yates by Tao Lin this week which, like The Idiot that I read recently, I’d noted from a Guardian article a while back, “How the internet is changing language as we know it (ikr lol)”. I enjoyed the book but I struggle to decide whether it’s Good or Bad. Whatever, its style was interesting, and that’s good enough for me.

The two protagonists are referred to throughout, in full, as Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning (and her mother is always referred to as “Dakota Fanning’s mother”). Here’s a bit I’ve picked pretty much at random:

    “Will I go to jail if your mom catches me.”
    “I don’t know,” said Dakota Fanning. “I’ll just choke her.”
    “Will I go to jail. Would she do that.”
    Dakota Fanning said she didn’t think so. Haley Joel Osment asked what would happen. Dakota Fanning said she didn’t know. “Neither of us cares if we go to jail,” she said. “So why are we talking about it.” Haley Joel Osment said she was right. He said he was just curious. “Should I come,” he said.
    “Yes,” said Dakota Fanning.
    “You were late last time. I was sad. I thought ‘she is late.’”

It’s all like that, oddly affectless, a little dead. It’s filled with a sort of ennui but it feels different to the ennui one would read in, say Generation X, to pick a favourite example from a (my) previous generation. Those characters seemed more knowing, wanting to appear clever, and, although they were bored, the feeling’s perhaps better described as listless.

In Richard Yates the characters seem more seriously bored, like why even bother with this shit, we should just end it. I don’t want to characterise two entire generational cohorts by the characters in two novels, entirely off-the-cuff, but… it would suggest that Gen-X felt disillusioned and ignored but could muddle along fine without much struggle, while this generation feels much closer to the end of the road. One had grown up with the fears of the Cold War and was coming out the other side making do with McJobs because everything else seemed too much hassle. The other knows it will be growing into an inevitable climate catastrophe and McJobs aren’t as steady as they used to be.

I could bang on for hours. Making up generational generalisations is a good wheeze isn’t it.

Aside from all that, Richard Yates features an index, which I feel more novels should do:

facial expression
    alert 117, 194
    amused 190
    angry 68
    bored 63
    calm 68

§   I’m frustrated with lack of progress at the moment. Outside of work — which trundles on fine — I don’t feel I’m going anywhere with anything. I’m not doing any acting. I’m not learning anything new. And, probably the immediate cause of the frustration, all my non-work computer time is spent on chores: updating @samuelpepys, life admin, fielding emails (every one a new To Do), and keeping on top of the drip-drip-drip of maintenance, requests and bug fixes for existing projects. I’d like to make something new but (a) I can’t find any more time (that I want to spend at the computer on top of all that) and (b) a new thing would only add to the number of things generating emails, bugs, etc. Meanwhile, the months slip by.

§   The Borderlines Film Festival started in this region this week and we’ve booked for a few things. Our first film was in Hereford, The Cordillera of Dreams. We felt pretty young compared to the almost entirely grey-haired audience. I’m pretty sure almost all the men were wearing checked shirts and sensible sweaters. I dozed off briefly just after the film started – we’d been walking around a lot and the auditorium was warm. I shut my eyes to a soothing voiceover rhapsodising about the Andes and opened them to scenes of policemen beating unarmed protestors in Pinochet’s Chile. My understanding that it was going to be a documentary about the mountains was, well, a misunderstanding.

§   Two months of 2020 seen off. As Adriene might say, “nice work my friends”.

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