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w/e 2022-06-19

Recently I’ve been enjoying Eve Adams’ album Metal Bird. Wherever I first read about it mentioned a similarity to Mazzy Star which was enough for me to give it a whirl.

§ I started the week with two final pleasant days in Edinburgh before heading home. One day we went to the Hidden Door Festival which was an arts event running for ten days at the Old Royal High School, a grand 19th century stone building up on a hill.

We went during during the day when it was free to just go and nose around the building, which would have been interesting even without anything else going on. Few of the artworks and installations did much for me – I feel like such a philistine thinking so many of them were “a load of old tat” but there we go.

A photo of three impressive, very solid armchairs made of wood with brown leather seats, backs and sides. In front of each one is a similar wooden lectern. They are all very angular, with barely a curve in sight.

The highlight was what used to be the school’s Great Hall, which was converted into a debating chamber before the failed 1979 devolution referendum.

It’s an impressive space in itself, with three wooden chairs like 1970s thrones presiding over an oval of wooden pews, but it was even better for having a few dancers in. There was a raised stage taking up the central space and three dancers and an electric guitarist were, I think, just trying stuff out. Experimenting, improvising, following each other. It was wonderful to watch and listen to people being creative.

A wide-angle photo of a simple but stately large room with a slightly arched ceiling. The room is filled with an oval of three or four rows of wood and leather pews. Wooden balconies run around three sides higher up the walls. The centre of the room contains a slightly raised white platform. On it, a man holding an electric guitar has his back to us, one person is bent over, moving their arms, and two others look on.
It didn’t look that blue in person

This was the longest I’d spent in a city for quite a while and I suffered a bit from post-holiday blues on my return, missing things to do, places to go, people nearby. Well, you’ll just have to make do with an easy life in a nice house in a beautiful and peaceful rural location, won’t you you ridiculous child.

§ The trip involved four long train journeys, which ranged from half-full to standing-room-only. In total I counted maybe ten other people wearing masks.

Once masks stopped being compulsory in shops and on public transport there was a while during which I didn’t feel alone in wearing a mask. It was strange, though, most people being maskless, and some of us not, sharing the same spaces. I kept thinking of it like The City and the City, two separate worlds overlapping, sharing the same physical space.

There were all those people living apparently carefree lives in a world where there was no serious danger from viruses, no matter how enclosed and crowded the space. And then there were people like me, wearing masks, attempting to keep distances, concerned about catching or spreading a potentially deadly illness.

The two worlds were overlaid, the inhabitants of each rarely acknowledging the very obvious differences – in appearance and belief – between them.

But, very recently, that The City and the City metaphor has stopped making sense

As I sat in a busy train carriage, the sole mask-wearer, I was no longer living in a world that I shared with others. I was alone in a world that belonged entirely to other people.

I now felt more like a time traveler from the past visiting a present in which I didn’t belong, and in which maybe I wasn’t welcome. I came from a past that everyone else was glad to have left behind. No one wants to acknowledge those times now, never mind recognise that they might be the present. I sat there, a weirdo covering my face, someone from the Bad Old Days, in a world inhabited by carefree modern folk. Do they think I’m crazy? Do they think I feel they should be masked? Do they want me to disappear?

§ Wildlife news… When I see a squirrel on the bird feeder now, I have taken to charging out of the house brandishing a large stick which I javelin at the creature as it flees across the grass. It’s a good job that we don’t have to rely on my ability to spear wildlife to provide food as I’ve yet to hit the annoying vermin.

Unrelatedly, we have a small cherry tree which, for the third year running, we’ve covered in green netting while the cherries grow, to prevent birds eating them. Yesterday I found the sad sight of a small bird hanging dead from the netting, having got tangled in it ☹️

A little later I went out with some gloves and scissors to cut it free and found a second bird caught, a blue tit, still alive! Poor little thing. I managed to gently cut it free, as it nipped at my gloves, but one wing was still tangled in the remnants, as it hopped frantically through the grass, cheeping. I managed to calmly catch it and, after several attempts, eventually managed to snip the green netting enough that it could fly off.

I’ve hopefully tidied up the gaps and edges of the netting enough that this won’t happen again. It was a little sad and stressful – for me never mind the blue tit – but it was very cute, holding this tiny little thing so close.

§ While at my sister’s we watched season two of The Outlaws (on iPlayer) which was a lot of fun. Everything I said about the first season holds true because they wisely decided not to monkey with an unlikely formula that somehow works, and this was more of the same.

We have been enjoying catching up on season one of The Morning Show on Apple TV+. For a TV show about a news-y TV show it doesn’t suffer from the pompous “We’re the most important show in the world!” attitude that made Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and The Newsroom frequently grating. I mean, it’s the kind of thing characters might say but it’s so obviously nonsense – their show is a perky, lightweight start to the day, and we see little hard news – that it only adds to the fun.

As Alice and Nat said way back in the Before Times, Billy Crudup’s Corey Ellison is an amazing character and performance. An unpredictable joy to watch. So many characters are a confused mixture of Good and Bad, and so many of them spend a lot of time saying things they don’t mean. It is fun and well done.

§ That’s all. Keep it up!

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