Updated: Apr 28
I hate being told to relax. Because I am one of the most relaxed people I know, being told to relax is like having two people scratch chalk down a blackboard - one for each ear. “Easy listening” music puts my teeth on edge far more than Cage or Stockhausen too.
Being told to cheer up is equally infuriating if you are disconsolate after loss or seething at being left dangling on the end of a helpline for hours being told “you call is important to us/click/your call is important to us/click/your…” After that you really do not want some clown prancing around on your doorstep pouring custard down his trousers and waving a sink plunger like a demented Dalek.
But I am afraid that “Merrily. Merrily” has been written in part to cheer people up. Until Covid- 19 appeared to put everyone on the planet is the same boat, we seemed to living in The Age of Rage and part of me wanted to attempt a little antidote to that, taking the risk that would make some people even more angry.
Apart from a few odd jobs, I have always only earned a living by writing or speaking, but at the moment those of us in such work or in any of the arts are feeling frivolous or peripheral. Or unemployed. Parents alarmed that their children are heading towards the arts are often haunted by the wish that they would “do something useful” instead and a few voice that fear, Endlessly.
At the moment we are being made to realise just how useful “key workers” are, too, in a life or death situation. And in our wonderful country, the NHS has asked for 250,000 volunteers and in less than a week three times that number have answered the call. The call for “more ventilators” went out, and it took a bunch of brilliant engineers from University College London and Mercedes F1 in Brackley to shift from discussion to working prototype in less than 100 hours, ten days to produce 100 and three weeks to produce 1,000.
But of course, the Arts are useful too, although in less obvious ways. When I taught English, I always stressed than the point of writing essays was to become more persuasive. Winning arguments can certainly be useful. And if the F1 techies have deployed reverse engineering, if you know how to be persuasive you can deploy reverser analysis to spot how advertisers are trying to work on you. Go back and have another look at our home page…
This blog will develop as and when. I shall mix the amusing and the bemusing with the occasional hard hit. There will be surrealist nonsense, maybe a poem or two, plus any funny or good oddball story I come across. So with luck it will read like the book I shall also respond to any comments on “Merrily” or questions about it if I can. By all means take me to task if you want to. Nothing illegal or racist, mind I have run a forum on another website for 20 years and it is renowned for its friendliness.
Let’s kick off with… The newscaster said, The Government has ordered cafes and theatres to close. The instant subtitle said, "The Government has ordered catheters to close."
We really are in trouble. *** Apparently, it is necessary to tell people that a cow’s urine does not prevent or cure Covid- 19. I wonder how those who peddled or perhaps piddled the belief that it does, actually collected their samples? Did they move the cow’s tail up and down as though cranking the arm of an old fashioned water pump? In India, was this the job of the lowest caste? Or was working a more sacred cow only entrusted to higher caste members if they wore jewel- encrusted gloves? And now their idea has been poo-poo’d, will they move on to other species like crocodiles or hamsters (do squeeze gently…)