Thursday 28 May 2020

Things Like This Happen To Other People (part two)

I’ve always thought chasing behind an ambulance as a way of getting through traffic was in poor taste - socially acceptable in fact. But lying there with my feet facing the rear doors, watching the world fold away and disappear behind me at a steady sixty five or seventy miles an hour I could see that I was wrong. I saw cars pulled over to the side wearing expressions of deference mixed with concern (in so much that is as a motor vehicle can wear an expression - you must bear in mind at this point I was coming out of a near death experience). But other cars, belligerent looking blighters, shot into the spaces that opened up and glued themselves to the back of the ambulance 

I was in safe hands with the improbably named paramedics, Shane and Duane. Duane sat on the bench besides me. A brief chat about fishing fizzled out, mostly because I don’t know anything about fishing and I was feeling a little…distracted, so Duane was left to field both sides of the conversation. I may have dozed off.

We arrived at the hospital, Albany Med, and the action started up all over again. Shane and Duane got me out of the ambulance, wheeled me across a concourse and through a set of doors where another team of excited medical professionals were ready to take over. We crashed through a reception area in a blur with someone shouting out my personal details, symptoms and latest vitals. It was like a TV show.

They told me they were going to prepare me for the radiology suite. They had to put me on a different trolley / bed / gurney or whatever those things are called. I didn’t have to do anything. They got round me and grabbed hold of the undersheet, counted to three and lifted me clean onto the other bed. I felt like the star of some twisted showgirl routine.

We were on the move again, speeding along corridors and up in an elevator. I got to see a lot of ceilings and light fittings. and then we were in the radiology suite - I wouldn’t neccessarilly have known this if someone hadn’t told me. A doctor explained that they were going to inject me with a dye so that they could see a map of my arteries on a big screen. I told them that if it was all the same to him I wouldn’t look. He said they were going to sedate me.

Someone said they’d go in either through the groin or somewhere else. I didn’t like where this was going, my vote was for the somewhere else. I may have voiced the opinion. A nurse reached in with a Phillips Phillishave and mowed off a patch of pubic hair, just in case. ‘Oh fuck!’ I said, ‘that’s going to itch when it grows back.’ 

People were working all round me. Electrodes were being stuck all over me - I wish I’d been able to take a selfie. A doctor leaned in and asked in a clear voice: 

‘How are you feeling now?’ 

‘I feel like a racing car in a pit stop.’

They sedated me - they must have done because I was in a grey nether world. I could feel the blood pressure thing around my arm. It tightened periodically to check my blood pressure. It was my friend in this strange grey place somewhere between worlds, a reassuring grip on my arm - it’s ok buddy, everything is going to be ok 

I was in a room and something was beeping, one beep, then a space, then two beeps together… The blood pressure thing was still there - tightening, just to the point of too tight, holding it then slackening off. I discovered I had something electrical taped around my left index finger. It glowed red which I thought might be handy if I needed to find my finger in the dark.

The ceiling was those polystyrene looking tiles supported on an aluminium lattice. There was a sprinkler directly above my head. I hoped the building wouldn’t catch fire. I didn’t want to get wet. I started to make an inventry of the ceiling tiles, how many were unviolated by light fixtures, vents, sprinklers etc. It was an impossible task, I kept losing track and having to start again. 

A masked face was looking at me from behind a clear plastic visor. 

‘The doctor will be in to see you in a minute. You’ve had three stents put in your heart.’

I felt vaguely as though I could just get up, walk out, go home. But I knew that wasn’t a good idea. I couldn’t be bothered anyway. And I was tethered to too much stuff, and now I’d got them to turn down the beeping I was quite content to stay where I was, a prisoner of the electrodes.

The doctor came in. ‘I’m sure I’ve seen you before somewhere,’ I said. He laughed - ‘I hope you’re feeling a bit less like a racing car at a pit stop!’

He explained the stents and how it all was. I’d had quite a heart attack, I’d probably been having it for a few days. I’ve never felt so utterly British - I’m feeling a bit under the weather -  still, must press on

I asked how they got the stents in there and he told me they went in through my right arm just below the elbow. That explained the big bulge of sticking plaster with the large bruise spreading out from it. I’m imagining it was much the same as a chimney sweep sticking a brush up a chimney and screwing poles on until the brush pops out of the top of the chimney, but in miniature. And hopefully a lot cleaner. S
omething like that - unlike the president I don’t have a feel for this stuff.

They were going to keep me in for a couple of days. I felt a lot better than I had - exhausted, and a bit giddy at having survived the ordeal, and a bit freaked-out at being hooked up to all this stuff. Euphoria gave way the next day to a kind of melancholia. I didn’t lie there feeling sorry for myself but I felt beaten for a while. The heart attack was brought about by the Covid-19 virus. My lung power was substantially decreased which meant blood wasn’t being oxygenated, so it started to clot. Lack of oxygen and subsequent thickening of the blood puts a huge strain on the heart. It’s a vicious circle. Before this I was fit and healthy. I spoke to a friend in England who remembered walking around Cromer with me just last February. He said he could barely keep up with me. I started to feel angry How could this have been allowed to get so out of control? 

I’d been subtly warned about the food by some of the staff. I was given menus to fill in. I could tell how it was going to be as soon as I looked at them. Ordering was a matter of damage limitation. Pasta with marinara sauce - I thought that couldn’t be so bad but I was wrong. I was wrong too about meusli, fresh fruit, yoghurt, orange juice… It was all trash, full of additives, high fructose corn syrup,white sugar and all the other stuff any qualified medical professional would surely tell someone in my position to steer clear of. Meusli translated to a packet of Cocoa Pops, fresh fruit came in a festering sealed container steeped in its own sweated juice, yoghurt was a chemical substitute with pink colouring and flavourings - first ingredient on the list: high fructose corn syrup. The soggy overcooked pasta came with a tub of violent red sludge that contrasted perfectly with the green of the mushy pile of overcooked French beans. 

On the one hand you have the science, the technology, the skill and professional dedication that can turn a dying man into a functioning human being, and then you have the business. And where they intersect you see the cynical cost-cutting measures. Someone is running all this with an eye to the profits.

But I don’t want to dwell on negatives right now. The staff at the Albany Med cardiac unit have my undying gratitude, I thought they did a fantastic job and they did it all with kindness and care. My Covid re-test result came back negative so I was moved out of isolation and onto the main cardiac ward. I said goodbye to the bed that had been home for twenty-four hours and I was happy about that. At some point somebody had written the word pain on the framework with an indelible pen and it was evident that no no amount of scrubbing had been able to erase it. I hope that person’s pain proved less enduring. 

They took me off the big heart monitor and put me on a battery powered remote thing that slipped into a special pocket on the pretty patterened gown they gave me. I got a pair of pants too, big pyjama trousers in a contrasting pattern - you could have got four of me in them and it took some ingenuity to tie them up so they didn’t fall down. A nurse got me a pair of padded socks to wear so I could walk around the ward. They were bright yellow, I cut quite a dash. She told me not to go through any doors into the rest of the hospital.

Her colleague expressed doubt: ‘Wait, are you sure he’s not going to wander off?’

I laughed. ‘Yeah right - look at the fucking state of me! I’d go out clubbing but I don’t think I’m going to get lucky in this outfit, do you?’ 

He looked embarrassed - I think he thought I’d been referred from a psychiatric ward - it’s the English accent, it confuses them.

Different people kept wheeling in equipment and conducting tests. I could hardly keep up with it. A guy even woke me up at five o’clock in the morning - he stuck a load of electrode things over my chest and took readings. He was very apologetic but I really didn’t mind because I was on hospital time and anything was a welcome break from the tedium. The only contact I had with the outside world was a few phone calls and a care package from Amy. There were no visitors allowed because of the lockdown. It was quite lonely at times.

The final test was an ultrasound. The ultrasoundist (I’m sure she had an official job description but I can’t remember what it was so ultrasoundist will have to do) was a woman in her late forties perhaps. I asked her if she did anything else. 

‘Nope, just this, I take ultrasounds of peoples hearts. Been doing it twenty three years. I love my job and I’m really good at it.’

Somehow we got on to the subject of retirement. She gave a dry laugh: ‘Huh - I can’t afford to retire, I’m in the medical profession. I’ll be doing this until I keel over.’

I retrieved my clothes and got dressed. The nurses teased me that they were going to send me off with with the gown and pants outfit. One of them gave me a comb so I could look presentable for Amy who was coming to pick me up. I was trolleyed to the front door in a wheelchair even though I was more than capable of walking. Amy said she was expecting a crumpled and broken man but when I got out of the weelchair and walked through the door apparently I looked as though I’d spent the weekend at a health spa.

Not exactly, I felt exhausted - I still do, but a whole lot better than I had a few days before. If I’m honest I sometimes feel vaguely traumatised at the thought of it all, especially that I was offered the services of a chaplain which makes me wonder how close I may have been to popping my clogs. People say it must have been a terrifying experience but I never once felt frightened while it was all going on. I think that’s down to the people who cared for me in the hospital. I can’t thank them enough.

Now I’m out and about again I’m sick and tired of seeing big macho men and fools strutting around without face masks, and of being sneered at by bare-faced people. Maybe they think they’re tougher than Covid-19, or that they’re nature’s chosen, the naturally immune, but some of them are going to find out that they aren’t. They’ll be deeply sorry if they get it like I have. I want to tell them, to warn them, but I learned a long time ago that you can’t tell people what they don’t want to know. If stupid people want to die an unpleasant death I suppose that’s up to them. The sad thing is that in the dying they’ll put other people at risk.

For myself I’m happy to fantasize about full facial nudity…

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Things Like This Happen To Other People (part one)

Things took rather a sinister turn last week - I had a heart attack and spent the weekend before my birthday in intensive care. 

I felt good when I got out of quarantine. A few days later I suddenly didn’t - we went for a walk and I got very out of breath - I had to sit down. It kept happening and it kept coming and going. Other virus sufferers told me they had exactly the same experience - the recovery is long and drawn out. I kept reading about the comet tail - recovery from the virus can be slow and fraught with setbacks. 

Apart from being short of breath, on occasions I started to feel quite nauseous. And then the chest pains started. High up, either side of my shoulders. Then they'd subside and I’d feel tired. I’d curse the virus and try to get on with things.

Obviously it was going to get better. Except that it didn’t. I had a day when I felt pretty crappy just about all day. The following day I got up and felt vaguely well. I sat and drank peppermint tea and enjoyed Amy’s latest homemade granola experiment. I felt tired - maybe I just needed to lay down for a while... I went up the stairs and felt the pain, an acute discomfort, grip me. I lay down and after a while it was a little better so I got up, got ready and went out with Amy in her car to run a few errands.

We were up north of Hudson where some friends have a farm. It was good to be out in the country, in the sunlight enjoying a socially distanced conversation.

I felt unwell. I had to excuse myself and get back in the car.

We set off to go home and I started to feel really unwell. Amy suggested we stop off at the hospital but that seemed to me like a drastic step, an admission that something was seriously not right. And that’s the last thing I wanted to admit to.

Amy said ‘I hope you’re not having a heart attack,’ and I laughed it off and said ‘No, that would be completely different to this.’ It couldn’t be - everybody knows a heart attack is when there’s something like a fist gripping a large stone in the middle of your chest and you get tingles and sometimes a shooting pain down your left arm. I didn’t have any of that so it couldn’t be a heart attack. And anyway, me and a heart attack? It’s not possible, it’s a bad fit. Heart attacks happen to other people and possibly to me in some dim and distant future when I’m very old.

I was quietly freaking out and trying to keep a lid on it because I didn’t want Amy to be upset. My head had turned into a hot, fuzzy mush, my rib cage was squeezing itself inwards, I had a fairly excrutiating pain each side of my chest and my arms had turned into nonsense. It became imperative that we get to the hospital. I’ve never seen Amy drive so fast.

We skidded into the ER parking lot where there was a barrier and one car ahead of us. Amy jumped out leaving the door open and the engine running. Everything was blurring by this point. I saw an exchange taken place but didn’t know what Amy was saying. I found out later it was ‘My husband’s having a heart attack.’

There was a team running across the concourse and I was in a chair being wheeled through. I think I told them I’d had the virus.

‘He’s Covid-positive!!

‘Room seven?’

Yeah, room seven.’

We crashed through to the back of the hospital and into a room containing a whole team of medical workers. They dumped me onto a bed, clustered around, fired questions at me - allergies, medications, date of birth… A nurse who said his name was Scott told me I was going to be ok and he was going to give me an injection. They gave me pills to swallow, tore off my shirt and stuck a whole bunch of electrodes on me. They put a tube in my arm, gave me the injection and siphoned half a gallon of blood out of me. 

Scott asked if I wanted a chaplain.

‘That’s the last bloody thing I want!’

A woman in a lab coat bustled in with some apparatus and announced that she was going to test me for Covid-19. The apparatus looked like something you might use to artificially inseminate a goat - two small wiry looking probes - I tried not to look too closely. She plunged them deep into my nose and I could feel them in my throat. It was unpleasant but it was over very quickly.

They gave me oxygen tubes and I began to feel a lot less alarmingly like I was about to die. I had four over-riding concerns: 

I wanted to someone to go and tell Amy how I was - they gave me my phone and I called her. I had no recollection of this until later. It went something like: everything’s ok here - apparently I’m having a heart attack. 

I wanted to pee really badly - why didn’t I have the sense to go before all this happened? 

I mustn’t die because tomorrow was the second anniversary of the death of my daughter Luci’s mother, and I really didn’t want to bring this on her. The timing was not good and at the very least I could hear her saying: why are you making this all about you? And quite right too.

I was three days from my sixty sixth birthday and I didn’t want to spend it in isolation in a hospital.

Bit by bit I was divested of all my clothes apart from my socks - I went through the ensuing twenty four hours wearing my socks - how quintessentially English - he died with his socks on… They put me in a flowery robe that didn’t button up at the back and it occurred to me that they weren’t planning on letting me walk around anywhere for a while, not in that garment, and anyway I was hooked up to too much machinery. 

I was going to be transferred to Albany by ambulance. I was introduced to the paramedics who were going to take me there, two large and baggy looking men in black satin bomber jackets. They were called Duane and Shane. They seemed quite proud of the comedy aspect of their pairing.

They swaddled me in blankets, strapped me down to the trolley, loaded me into the ambulance and off we went with the siren wailing, Shane at the wheel, Duane busied himself with a few things then sat with me in the back. 

‘So, what do you get up to in your spare time? Are you into huntin’ and fishin’?’

It was going to be a long ride to Albany. 


There's obviously more to come but it's a long and twisted tale. Look back in a day or two for the next installment.

Friday 8 May 2020

Fame, Immigration & Corona

My blog post about being diagnosed with the virus went viral. I was inundated with messages of support and assurances that prayers were being offered up and positive vibes were being beamed in my direction. I was very moved by the response, moved and taken aback. And I felt guilty because when all this came along I was having a fairly good day, I spent hours replying to these kind messages - don’t worry about me, I’m fine - I resisted the temptation to cut and paste.

I felt uncomfortable getting all that attention. People have told me to get over it, to just accept the fact that I’m famous. I don't really think of myself as famous, not on a day to day basis. I'm an artist and entertainer and I've done a couple of things that people have heard of. I don’t even know how you measure fame. 

While I’ve been laying around I’ve been thinking about it all a lot. Around the end of the nineties when I was starting to write A Dysfunctional Success I thought it’d be a good idea to assemble the press cuttings from my brush with fame back in the late seventies. I didn’t have anything. I mentioned it to my mother who produced a large scrapbook filled with everything that had ever been written about me.

‘I made it my business to collect everything’ she explained. ‘Well, I knew you wouldn’t - it didn’t seem to matter to you, it wasn’t what you were in it for.’

And I suppose that’s true. I never imagined when I made my first record that I’d be an overnight sensation. I really wanted to do it but it all seemed so ludicrous that I couldn’t take it altogether seriously. I was terribly shy and I had an alias to hide behind and all the booze in the world to cover for my insecurities. I wanted to sell records and fill concert halls and so on - it was the rest of it that I couldn't handle. I couldn’t bear to read the things people said about me, good or bad, it made no difference. I couldn’t take the insults, the indignities of being treated like an object. I fucked it all up with the help of a couple of record labels and managers. Then I ran away and crept back in as an underground artist.

During the eighties I seemed to meet a lot of young musicians who were hoping to be as lucky as they thought I’d been. They’d tell me how they wanted to make it. My response would be: and then what are you going to do? When I was starting out I thought it’d be great to be in a band because girls would find me attractive. Though it wasn’t by any means my primary motivation the idea was definitely a bonus, but when it started to happen it made me quite cross - they only like me because I’m in a band… And a lot of the time I assumed they probably found the bass player or drummer more interesting anyway.

But I’ve been figuring it out a bit more - there’s a difference between fame, notoriety and celebrity. Celebrity doesn’t interest me - I’ve never been impressed with someone because they’re famous, only for the thing they do. When I go out to play shows I like to be treated with respect, but not deference. Sure, it’s a laugh to be treated like a VIP occasionally - the limousine from the airport, the five star hotel… Those kind of things have really only happened to me a couple of times.

I went to Los Angeles a few years ago to do a highly lucrative private show in Beverly Hills. I was supplied with a car and driver for the duration of my stay. The driver, wearing a smartly tailored black suit that contrasted quite radically with my scruffy jeans, t shirt and jacket, picked me up at the airport. He showed me into the back of a sleek, black limousine - endless bottled water, cocktail bar - the works. He asked was there anywhere I’d like to go or would I just like to go to the hotel after my long flight. I wanted an espresso so I told him where to go and off we went. He dropped me off and said he’d be right there waiting in the parking lot when I returned. I had my espresso, came back to the car, and there he was with a paper cup from Starbucks. We discussed it - he was a nice guy - and I insisted he came back to the cafe with me and allow me to buy him a good cup of coffee. I ended up riding around in the front with him, he showed me photos of his wife and kids, I told him all about my wife, daughter and grandkids and we were like the odd couple in a buddy film. I’m not cut out for stardom.

If you need a break from reading this drivel here's a tune:

The virus is a rollercoaster - unpredictable and tenacious - so I felt ironically better about the attention I was receiving when I felt unwell again. 

I first went down with it around March 15th. I’d been feeling unwell on and off from some time in mid-January but my symptoms didn’t correspond with the known symptoms at the time of this new virus. I’d been working hard fixing up an apartment in England. I had to demolish a partition wall - there was a lot of dust involved and even though I’d worn a mask I put feeling under par down to that. 

I arrived back in New York on February 28th. I landed at JFK. Passport control and immigration is a nightmare there at the best of times. It’s been worse in the last couple of years and I think a large part of the reason is due to the introduction of a new semi-automated system - machines with greasy screens that everyone has to dab at to answer the questions - are you bringing plants or soil into America, have you been hanging out on a farm, all that stuff. I believe the owner of the company that supplied these disgusting, insanitary machines is an associate of the odious president of the United States. This is what I’m told.

The machines often don’t work. You dab at the screen to select your choice of language and follow the instructions. You hold your passport or green card in a slot provided. After a few seconds the screen tells you to take the passport or green card out, put it in the correct way around and start again. After a further wait the screen informs you that it’s having trouble reading your document and tells you to wait for an official who will come and guide you through the process.

Meanwhile you’re surrounded by impatient fellow travellers, all breathing on you…

The official bustles up, takes your passport or green card off you, looks at it closely as he or she shouts at a few people to back up, inserts a key, dabs at the screen a few times and finally reads the passport or green card. Then the machine requires fingerprints. There’s a perspex plate with a green light behind it. You have to put four fingers of your right hand on the screen and hold them there for up to a minute while the thing takes a reading. I’m often surprised the thing can do this because the screen is usually smeared with grease and who knows what else from thousands and thousands of right hand fingers.

Then you dab at the relevent yes/no boxes in answer to a series of questions about farming and commercial goods. When all this is done and you’ve sworn that the information you have given is correct - by dabbing at the screen a couple more times - the machine takes your photo. You have to position everything by manipulating the on-screen image with your fingers, then dab at the on-screen button and brace yourself as the machine takes the worst photo of you that you’ll ever see in your life. The machine then prints out a document with the photo on it that you have to take and present to a border guard.

The airport staff in charge of herding people through immigration seemed quite jittery. Some were wearing masks, cheap ones from the DIY store, the sort you might wear to sand down a plank or spray paint a car bodywork repair.

There’s always a long line for the border guard bit. The border guards themselves seem bored and pissed off, like sulky teenagers, permanently on the edge of going on a break that keeps getting delayed. I can’t say I blame them - checking on miles and miles of jet-lagged travellers, asking the same old questions, it must be utterly soul-sucking: 

Where have you been? How long were you in the UK? Where did you go in the UK? 

And because this is a special time: 

Have you visited China or any other Asian countries on this trip? 

I answered no to the last question and the guy was fine with that though he didn’t check the stamps in my passport so there didn’t seem much point. 

Maybe, just maybe I picked up the virus at the airport. Or perhaps I flew it across the Atlantic. I have no idea. But if I didn’t get it from using one of those machines in immigration I damned sure someone else did.

Some bright spark is going to tell me to apply for the Global Entry Permit. I know - I had an appointment but it coincided with a blizzard so it was cancelled and I haven’t had time since to do anything about it.

I came home, I felt fine. I got on with a few things and on March 13th I had a show to play in upstate New York - the Argyle Brewing Company in Cambridge, New York. I was fully prepared for the show to be cancelled but it went ahead. A lot of advance ticket had been sold but a lot of people stayed away which was probably just as well because everyone was spread out around the room. This was pre social distancing but people were being careful. It was a good show. I’ve had moments since when I’ve thought if that was to be my last public performances I’d be happy enough with it. 

I felt like I had a cold coming on. I went for a walk out in the forest. I got halfway up an incline and realized I was completely out of breath which isn’t at all like me - I keep myself fit if not always in shape. When I’m home I go to the gym as often as I can and run on the treadmill - it nearly kills me some days but I don’t get puffed out walking up a slight slope. It slowly dawned on me that I wasn’t feeling very well. All I seemed capable of was sleeping. I didn’t have a fever - I never had a fever so I didn’t immediately think it was Covid because fever was being touted as the main symptom. I developed a dry cough and started having pains in my upper chest and back so I phoned the medical centre.

I spoke to a doctor who didn’t seem over-concerned. He said it didn’t sound as though I needed to come in and get tested but I could go to the emergency room to have the chest pains checked out in case I was having a heart attack and in the meantime I should just stay home, rest and take Tylenol or Paracetamol. We’ve come a long way since mid March. 

So, apart from driving out to some remote areas where I could walk without meeting anybody, I stayed home, slept a lot, took zinc, echinacea, vitamin C, vitamin D, and drank water by the gallon. I got better. After three weeks I felt fine, ready to rejoin the human race and everything. It lasted a few days but suddenly I went down again, and this time it was worse. Still no fever, just insidious debilitation. It felt like an effort to breathe sometimes and sometimes I felt like I really couldn’t be bothered trying anymore. I’d wake up in the morning feeling vaguely ok, but by the time I was up and dressed and ready to face the day I’d have to lay down for an hour or two. And that’s when I got tested and the test came back positive.

I’m out of quarantine now. It wasn’t so bad - I got to know the back yard quite well - all one third of an acre of it - I swear I went to bits of it I’ve never been to before. Then suddenly the day came that i was out of quarantine, free to roam. I was feeling better but I’d learned not to trust it so I haven’t exactly been gallivanting around, not that there is anywhere to gallivant. But if you see me acting weirder than usual in a supermarket it’s ok, I’m just gallivanting.

I‘ve been feeling well for over a week now, hoping maybe this thing is gone. Yesterday I put vocals on a couple of tracks - nothing strenuous, not a high full voice thing, just easy stuff right in the middle of my range. It all went well and I was happy that I was back to my old self but I was suddenly overcome with tiredness and had to lay down. I had a rest and we decided to go for a walk. After a couple of hundred yards I had to sit down - I felt dreadful, as though I’d run a half-marathon with no training. So no gallivanting for me. I hope I’m not back at square one. I can take the isolation, the distancing, the quarantine, but not being held hostage to this fucking virus. I think it’s just damage though hopefully not permanent.

It made me very sad to see a photo of a protester against the lockdown holding up a banner that read: Get America Back To Work - Sacrifice The Weak. The Covid virus makes you weak so if that person catches it - and there’s a high likelihood that they will - I wonder how they’d like to be sacrificed. On a funeral pyre? Gasping for a dying breath while health care workers who risk their lives every minute of their working day do what they can to minimize the pain and discomfort of the ultimate sacrifice?

If you haven’t had it you’ll probably get it, and though it might not affect you badly you’ll probably pass it on to someone else who will be. It’s not a time to take the virus lightly. This is no time for bowling, going to the beach, getting a neck tattoo, or enjoying brunch with friends while a server wearing a mask waits on you. I’ve had it with lunkheads who shrug it of with their it is what it is crap and refuse to wear a mask. I’m appalled at people who baulk at wearing a mask in a supermarket - the staff are wearing masks the whole time they’re working in there. Surely it counts as basic human decency to not put their lives at risk more than is absolutely neccesary.

But on a positive note - a mask does wonders for a double chin.

I'd like to thank everybody for the support and kindness - letters, postcards, emails, care packages, text messages, grocery runs, deliveries... The list goes on and on. I love you all. I'll reply to everyone eventually... Wear a mask when you're out and about, don't forget to breathe, and steer clear of tanning salons.

Here's a track I recorded while we were in quarantine. It's a John Wesley Harding / Wesley Stace song. Wes asked me to do it for his Community Coronation Covers series. I subverted the song to my personal Corona hell: