The Plague Diaries – Week#2

The Plague Diaries – Week#2

Life Under Lockdown

Covid-19. The Coronavirus. Just a quick note to acknowledge it’s a serious thing. A deadly serious thing. It might only represent a very minor inconvenience to you, should you be unlucky enough to catch it, but somewhere down the line, with the person you pass it on to, or they pass it on to, or beyond that, the consequences might be fatal.

So don’t be a dick, think about what you’re doing, follow the guidelines and stay well.

That said, we still have to get through this, so hopefully a little gallows humour and the odd, ostensibly cycling-related bit of frivolity might help.



So let’s plunge into Week#2 of The Plague Diaries…

First up, will someone please explain to me why people stared panic buying toilet paper?

Food or water I can at least understand (I still think it’s stupid, but I can understand it.) Antibacterial hand sanitizer, I can understand. But loo roll? Bog paper? Toilet tarp? the Daily Mail™?

Why?

What’s the worst that could happen if you run out? How did the … err … run on toilet paper start and why? Will we ever know?



I completed my second-solo ride under lockdown and now that we’re being advised to ride in groups of “fewer than two” I guess everyone else in the club is doing something similar.

I went mostly south, managing about 40,very lumpy miles in chill, but for the most part dry conditions. I only got lost once or twice.

Self-inflicted earworm, accompanying most of the day, was Tenpole Tudor’s “Swords of a Thousand Men.” I guess it could have been worse, I’m just not sure how.


I shaved for this? It wasn’t worth it …
The old vs the new – wind turbines framed by the old pit wheel at Burnhope.

Anyway, regulated and imposed riding on your own is different, but not without a few positives to balance out the negatives, you know, ups and down, snakes and ladders, swings and roundabouts, a bit of yin to balance out a smattering of yang.

So, my list so far:

Positives:

  • There’s very little traffic (and as a consequence the air is noticeably cleaner.)
  • If I’m riding solo, I can’t get dropped. Ever.
  • I can ride at my own pace.
  • I’m not going to get shouted at (for any reason, or even for no reason whatsoever.)
  • I don’t have to worry about the rider in front standing up to climb and momentarily stopping their pedalling, so their back wheel suddenly lurches toward my front wheel.
  • There are no unexpected salvoes of snot rockets to avoid.
  • I’m not under pressure to leave the house by a certain time to make the rendezvous.
  • It’s a chance to explore new, or seldom used routes.
  • I only have to contend with self-inflicted earworms (although on today’s evidence, even that’s an issue.)
  • I don’t have to worry about the rider behind, so I don’t need mudguards = summer bike, even if it pours. (Yay!)
  • If I puncture, I wont feel the pressure of a hyper-critical audience watching my every move, as I fumble around trying to change a tube.
  • There’s a slim chance I could win a non-cafe sprint.
  • You can stop for a pee almost anywhere and not be disturbed.

Negatives:

  • No witty, erudite banter and thoughtful insight to entertain me.
  • No one to draft behind in a headwind.
  • No cafe’s = no (richly deserved) coffee and cake.
  • The pressure of having to choose my own route.
  • (Related) The ease with which I can get lost.
  • The temptation to take it easy, or just head straight home.
  • No one to laugh at, or take the piss out of beside myself.
  • The lack of motivation to get out of bed and actually ride.
  • The miles seem to crawl by, literally and metaphorically.

I’m sure there’s more. What have I missed?

A Random Ramble …

Words. You know I love words. I feel sorry for them if they’re alone, so always encourage them to cram-up together. Like some kind of wholly unscrupulous, evil, people-trafficker (not that there’s any other kind?) I’ll stuff as many of the poor blighters as I can into any free sentence without a care for syntax, structure, legibility, legality or readability. Well, you know “quantity has a quality all of its own,” as Napoleon once famously didn’t say.

But there are certain words and phrases that seem to get picked up by the media and get used by lazy journalists over and over and over again, ad nasueum, like a stuck record, without even the subtlest hint of variation or variety, or thought behind its use.

I’m sure I’ve already mentioned in this venerable blerg the lazy over-use of the suffix: “gate” to describe any kind of scandal – you know, Pizzagate, Contragate, Deflategate, et al.. This is still true, even though I had to swallow my own distaste when we had our own scandal that could only properly be described as Gategate.

The “so-called Islamic State” was another recent example, used to describe the entity that did actually refer to itself as Islamic State, or could just as easily be referred to as Isis, Isil, IS, or Daesh. It didn’t take too long for the term “so-called Islamic State” to really, really grate.

At the moment the phrase du jour that’s really starting to annoy me is “underlying conditions.” I know, we get it, certain people who have sadly succumbed to corona virus weren’t in the best of health anyway, but with no further information about what these underlying conditions are, it’s a bit spurious, unhelpful and wholly unnecessary.

I also wonder if downplaying the potential, fatal seriousness of the virus is sending the wrong message to those stupid enough to think the threat is overly-exaggerated, or worse yet, a hoax.

Anyway, a new word has just entered my watch-list and I’m sure we’re going to hear more of it in the coming weeks. That word is furlough. I was also surprised to hear a rather well-known BBC presenter exclaim he’d never, ever come across the word, before discussing it with a guest and suggesting it might be related to that agricultural term for leaving a field unplanted for a season … sigh.

And a final note …

So, that thing about people contributing stuff so we could all retain some sense of connection and community and enjoy something mildly diverting at the same time?

Well, it seems that Biden Fecht has bravely picked up his own gauntlet, so keep an eye out for the excellent Fechting Talk, heading your way very shortly.


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