Another month is done and, as of late on Thursday evening, I’m back to shielding again. At least it means I’m not being forced back to work but it does mean I’m not going to be getting out of the house for a few more weeks. Time really has become meaningless this year. Do you remember back to January? January always feels so slow but that’s nothing compared to the last few months. We’ve only just got to August and it feels both too soon and too late. I’ve barely seen anyone beyond my family since March. I’ve gone nowhere but the doctors in the last few weeks. Yet, I still haven’t achieved anything that I thought I would at the start of lockdown. I’m managing to just about keep my reading pace but I’m not reading more. I’ve got loads of unfinished puzzles to do and I’ve not been using the time to apply for jobs. All I’ve done it watch the same old shows over and over again. Can we just pretend 2020 doesn’t count towards our individual achievements?
Not long after Donald Trump became President of the United States, there was a massive increase in sales of 1984. The George Orwell dystopia received a boost after Kellyanne Conway uttered the phrase “alternative facts” in a TV interview. Everywhere you looked, people were turning to social media to make sure the world knew that they knew how Orwellian it was. That’s the great thing about social media. Thousands of people are having the same original thought at the same time. Just think about what Orwell would have made of Twitter. But I digress. The point is, it seemed that everyone had suddenly decided that we were living in a time that was just as awful as the one Orwell had imagined. In the same way that people had started to see the world as mimicking Gilead, we were suddenly living in a version of Airstrip One. It’s a fun idea but, let’s be honest, it’s total bollocks.
June went by in a bit of a whirlwind, didn’t it? What should have been a great month where I celebrated the work of LGBTQ writers and stories, became something else entirely. The death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests made a huge impact all over the world. It’s something we’ve all experienced before but something feels different this time. Although, I say that in July when it’s apparent that the media are already changing the narrative. I hope we don’t get to the end of the month and find that we’re all back to how we were before. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Today is for looking back on the past 30 days.
We all had such high hopes for 2020, right? We were all kind of hoping that it would be the year everything got a bit better but now we’re living in the start of a disaster movie. In the UK, we’re battling with a Prime Minister who is two weeks behind where he should be and still not willing to do what he needs to. Yes, the economy may take a hit but why are there so few people who see that as less important as saving lives? The economy can come back, we’ve seen it. You know what can’t come back? All the people who have already died. But now that most of the world is practising social distancing or self-isolation, there has been a lot of talk about how to fill your time. Most people appear to have high hopes for their time stuck inside. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people mentioning King Lear as though they, like Shakespeare, are going to pen a masterpiece that is still performed/read hundreds of years later. Well, if their plans go anything like mine, the next few weeks will be pretty unproductive.
It feels like every year since 2016 has tried to trump (bad choice of words) the previous one for shittest year ever. 2019 was a terrible year for many reasons and a lot of us were hoping the new decade would be a time for change. Unfortunately, 2020 had different ideas. Thanks to the medication I’m taking, I’m one of the more vulnerable people, so I’ve essentially gone on lockdown for the foreseeable future. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to work from home, which is taking a bit of getting used to. I’m also lucky that I don’t really need to go out for anything major. I’ll have a few of my regular hospital appointments and stuff but that’s not a major issue. Of course, it will mean a lot of time spent inside. I’m an introverted bookish person, so I figured that this would be a good thing in the end. I had visions of me reading endlessly and using my spare time really well. So far, that’s not happened. I’ve become lazier and less productive outside of work. To inspire me, I decided to make a list of the books I was hoping to get through during my period of isolation. Well, it can’t go any worse, can it?
Twitter is a pretty horrible place to be. All you need to do is look at the Twitterstorm that hit Yorkshire Tea a few weeks ago. On the plus side, it gave us the immortal phrase “Sue, you’re shouting at tea!” On the minus, it showed us how fucking crazy people can be. I used to work for the company that owns Yorkshire Tea and met one of the people on their marketing team. He was a nice guy. He was a really good copywriter and really liked his job. As I’m sure everyone at the Yorkshire Tea marketing team is. Definitely not the kind of people who deserve abuse being hurled at them for something that was beyond their control. But that’s the kind of world that we live in. That a politician can be seen drinking a specific tea and then a whole host of people demand a boycott of the brand in response. Despite the fact that the original post wasn’t an advertisement. The real issue with social media is that it’s fooled people into thinking that their voice deserves to be heard. It’s changed the idea of what freedom of speech means to so many people. It no longer means having the power or right to express your opinions without censorship, restraint, or legal penalty. It means saying whatever the fuck you want and not thinking there are any moral, social, or emotional consequences to them.
I almost didn’t post a Friday Favourites today because I was out of inspiration. I’m super tired this week and I just didn’t have any ideas about what to write. I’ve always believed that I shouldn’t be writing content for content’s sake. It needs to be something that I give a shit about otherwise it’s just pointless for everybody. I’m not suggesting that this idea is better than anything I could have forced myself to write but at least I’m into it. Why am I into it? Because it gives me a chance to indulge in chat about my birthday. Anyone who’s been around for a whole will remember that I made a huge deal about my 30th birthday. Not only did I spend the whole year review TBT films from the year I was born but I dedicated the whole of March to writing about the books that made an impact on me. I did enjoy writing 30 Books For My 30th but, looking back, it does seem incredibly self-indulgent. This year isn’t quite as bad but I decided to list my favourite fictional characters who were born in the same month as me. Thereby proving that many of the greatest people were born in March. All information regarding fictional people’s birthday’s found here. Although, on further inspection, many of these were actually wrong.
On 01/01/2020 I started reading a book. I finished that book on 16/02/2020. Even for me, that’s a bloody long time. Yes, I managed to read a fair few books in between those two dates but it was a struggle. I just couldn’t face picking up a book in January. Thankfully, February has proved slightly better. Not much but slightly. Having finally opened the covers of a physical novel has encouraged me and I think I’ll be able to take a bit of a break with the audiobooks. Not that I have a problem with them, something that my post last week can verify, but I do have a problem with buying them. In order to justify my spending habits, I need to start getting a few more finished. Unfortunately, listening to books isn’t going to get that done. Still, we’re only 47 days into the year and I’ve finally crossed one off the old TBR list. It’s some kind of progress. Not good but something.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my bookish chums! I hope your day is filled with love or books or whatever makes you happy. What does my day have in store? This afternoon I’m leaving work early to get a chest x-ray. No matter what they tell me, I’m sure it’s to find out, once and for all, whether or not I do have a heart. You see, from my general demeanour and attitude, you’d probably think I’m a pretty cynical person. I guess, to some extent, that I am. However, having grown up surrounded by books containing some of the most hyperbolic love stories ever told, it’s difficult not to have something of a romantic side. Although, I do worry about what books have done to our idea of romance. So often I see bookish people falling under the spell of utterly abhorrent characters. Novels are dangerous, man. You take one quote out of context and suddenly Severus Snapeisn’t a creepy stalker. You focus on one line of a book and Mr Rochester isn’t just the worst. You repeat a few quotations over and over and Heathcliffe and Cathy had a perfect love. You get the idea. Words are dangerous when you remove them from the bigger picture. Is that going to stop me listing my all-time favourite quotations about love? No. I need a post and it’s bloody relevant.
As I’ve said countless times already this week, I didn’t get a lot of reading done over Oscars week. I just couldn’t find the time between writing so many posts and watching so many films. Yet, I’ve been determined to continue writing 2 book reviews a week. For one thing, it pushes me to read more and, for another, it gives the blog a better balance between films and reading. In order to catch up, I listened to 2 more audiobooks this weekend. The first was The Child which I reviewed on Monday. The second was a dramatisation of Winnie The Pooh. I was all set to post a review of it today but, instead, I wanted to talk about something that’s been bugging me recently. I was out with some friends last week (none of them are big readers) when I mentioned how many books I’d read last year. They were impressed, which is how you can tell they’re not overly bookish people. Compared to most of you buys I’m an amateur! But, they’re encouragement was quickly displaced with disbelief when I mentioned how useful audiobooks had been in helping me get there. Apparently, it doesn’t count. I know they were joking but, in the bookish world, this attitude still exists. And I’m not here for it.