Something In The Air

March 17, 2020

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This was written several weeks before everything kicked off….not long after I returned from Singapore, a germ of an idea you could say…..

Open my eyes, all’s good, I have yet another day on the planet – except I feel terrible. Hacking cough, feverish, aches and pains. This is worse than the self-inflicted drinking days.

Bloody Coronavirus, it’s obvious. Went in the local Chinese supermarket a few days back for a fortune cookie. They clearly don’t work as it never foretold this would happen. I reckon it was in the bag. Hermetically sealed little foil ballon of Chinese air. That’s how Homer Simpson caught it. Some Chinese geezer in the Juice Squeezer Factory sneezed in the box, quarantine that, squllions of little spores all just sat there waiting for you to tear the packet open, then woosh, straight up your hooter.

Shoebox called by, turns out he’s got it too. Looks terrible. Apparently had a swift 15 pints of Stella then the deadly Singapore Noodle takeaway while strolling home. Should have had fish and chips, never a problem with fish and chips. Cross-contamination, Shoebox blames some snake shagger in Wohan market but I’m not so sure. I’ve seen Twelve Monkeys, we’re all doomed, this is how it starts. They thought Spanish Flu was bad. That started in the US but they somehow managed to palm it off on Spain. Killed 50 million. Bloody Yanks, always avoid blame. I reckon Trump’s strapped to a ventilator right now with a body double floating around outside.

So we need to self-isolate. Social distancing, done that for years. For me, it’s no change, business as usual as no fucker comes in the shop anyway. Want your guitar fixing? Just slide it through the letterbox. I watched a film once where some weirdo could dislocate all his bones and slide into your house through the letterbox. Try thinking about that when you wake up in the middle of the night.

Apparently Brighton has it now. Bet there’s loads of Chinese Takeaways there. All sneezing in their woks. I remember, when I was a Northern kid, the first local Chinese Takeaway opening. Early ’70’s. They used to have David Carradine on the telly, Grass Hopper…. kicking fuck out of anyone who bugged him. Kids loved it. Foreign food cooked by foreigners. They were brave. I’m not quite sure how they got away with it. Aside from all the xenophobes wanting to mash ‘em up, the food was damned expensive but the chips exquisite. I think the latter is how they got away with it, that and Grass Hopper’s cult status, he made Batman look like Noddy.

This is hard to put into perspective now. 100% white working-class neighbourhood, isolated, skint, meat and two veg. Packet Vesta Curry had just hit the shops and this Chinese family pole up selling crispy wanton and chicken and cashew nuts. Unbelievable.

Who had ever heard of a cashew nut? And then some fucker fries it in a bowl of hot oil !!! We all used lard and a chip pan. Clearly they deserved a good beating and running out of town but it was definitely the chips that saved them. Strange that, allowing Johnny Foreigner to make better chips than Sid’s Silver Grill and not only that but buying them too while Sid looked on. Thankfully times and attitudes have changed, though there are still hangers-on in my old stomping ground. A place where the accent is harsh and doesn’t have the lure of a Geordie brogue. Big industrial river without the romance of the Tyne. Dead in the water.

You are probably too young to remember Vesta Curry, boil-in-a-bag cod in parsley sauce – the cause of many third-degree burns…, Fray Bentos pies in a tin. Outrageous. Whoever thought of putting a whole pie in a tin? Great idea if you’re Mad Max. Everybody deserves access to a pie once a week.

Sunday tea. Special occasion, we used to have a tin of ham. Some pink stuff pressed into a lozenge-shaped tin, smothered in suspicious amber jelly, with lettuce leaves, sliced white bread and margarine. I hated it. This was supposed to be a treat. Followed by tinned mixed fruit and condensed milk, yes you guessed it, straight from a tin. Rationing had finished about twenty years prior but we lived in a time warp. It’s a wonder we didn’t have rickets and little boys up the chimney, if you were lucky enough to have a chimney.

Cut off from reality. The only reliable source of information being the Daily Express and Radio 2. Punk never happened. We were getting into the Beatles and Stones in the mid-’70’s, provided your dad didn’t know….

So we had dinner at dinner time. That’s about 1 pm. Tea when your dad came home from work at 5.30 pm and if you were lucky, maybe supper 5 minutes before bedtime, a bowl of breakfast cereal. No wonder we were all fucked up.

Lunch didn’t exist. Anyone who ate lunch got a good kicking. Soon put a stop to that – it’s dinner that, posh twat, BOSH. Southern nonsense.

I remember moving South in search of work, ha ha, being invited out to “supper”. What the fuck was that all about? Visions of turning up in my pyjamas and dressing gown and being served a bowl of Weetabix. Supper my arse.

Back to self-isolation. What to do? I check out a survivalist website for tips. This all starts from an innocuous search for a new bag to hold my stockpiled pasta. There’s some proper wacko stuff out there. Just how many axes does a survivalist need? They sell all sorts of scary kit. I find proper guitar cases solely designed with the purpose of disguising and carrying a big fuck-off gun. That’s America for you.

Shoebox says all you seriously need is tinned pies and a guitar, then you can live forever. Read on in Part II Fever (

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