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w/e 2021-02-07

Wikipedia tells me that, “January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period.” Makes sense.

§ Favourite music this week is Emma Kupa’s recent-ish album It Will Come Easier. Here’s one of the tracks, Nawlins:

I like how her lyrics look like prose when written down but work well as lyrics:

Swigging whiskey from the bottle with a girl so pretty she could be a model in New York city on the underground. Felt like a movie, not like dad when he’s down.

She also has a song about Crystal Palace for those of you local to there.

§ We finished watching The Serpent this week, the based-on-a-true-story eight-part drama about a 1970s serial killer, mostly in Bangkok. Most of it, at least the first 4-5 episodes was a bit of a slog. Not because it was bad but because it was grim. Watching awful people continually get away with murder (literally literally!) is not my idea of a relaxing evening. But I think the whole is ultimately, just about, worth it, if you can face a mere several hours of consequence-free murder of innocents.

One odd thing… I was convinced that in the very first scene of episode one, an interview (see on iPlayer or the first seconds of the trailer on YouTube), Charles Sobhraj was CGI. He’s deep in that uncanny valley familiar from video game cut-scenes: too calm, lips not quite moving correctly, movements somehow too smooth. But, having watched this odd character for eight further hours, I guess he’s real here too.

§ I belatedly realised that Yoga With Adriene has a calendar with a single existing YouTube routine per day, which, importantly, gives its duration. Perfect. So I’m planning to continue doing that most days now that January’s over.

§ This week I’ve been re-reading Douglas Coupland’s Life After God a collection of short stories from 1994. I must have read it at least three times before, but not for well over 20 years. I still love 1990s Coupland.

Reading him back then I guess I had a feeling that was a combination of both distance and closeness. Distance because the books’ world wasn’t entirely real to me — I didn’t visit America until 1993 but had been a lot by the end of the decade — so it was always somehow at arm’s length. But also closeness because Coupland’s great at capturing the universal feelings of people struggling with how to be adults, and I could feel part of that, of them. I guess young people reading some Gen Z writers now feel a similar sense of, “oh, it’s not just me that feels like this”?

Reading him now I still get that distance/closeness feeling but there’s an extra layer. That feeling’s now routed through me-in-my-twenties reading Coupland in 1990s Bristol or London. I’m reminded of what I was like then, what my world was like, what our world was like (no internet, more talk about potential nuclear war), and have a sense of how the stories made me-then feel.

§ I never used to be that bothered about the signs of spring when I was in the city. Sure, it was nice to see occasional daffodils or blossom, but whatever. But now I see more nature around me, and because so little else is changing, every little step towards spring is a wonderful sign. We’ve had snowdrops for 2-3 weeks. The daffodils are very nearly about to burst out. It’s light after 5pm! And I’m pretty sure the birds are chirpier, although maybe I’m just hoping.

I can’t wait for spring lockdown! So much better than winter lockdown!

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