44.  Friday afternoon.

Back at the institution around the corner from the bookshop.  I always feel I have to be slightly circumspect when coming here, furtive, invisible.  People may see me.  I’ve not felt like this since living in Halifax.  The Melvyn Hayes idiot creature is here for light entertainment.  He’d be too excitable in a sex situation I expect.  He did show a lot of torso flesh just now.  Not awful.

It is busy in here this evening, an old-fashioned Friday end of the week hot day, jolly, chatting.  The screens between the tables are actually quite tasteful and discrete, with fake plastic wood panelling in the lower half, if the top half was obscured, frosted, it could be the 1950s.

I don’t think things will get “back to normal” any more.  I don’t especially want life to be “normal” or like before, anyway.  If we could by some miracle achieve that, I’d have a continual background anxiety about it all collapsing again.  If it did collapse we’d be back in this state again, or if it didn’t, we’d slip back into the oppressed mundanity, which would feel more oppressive, having been given a glimpse of the opportunity to think laterally, and dream of a new way of existing.  The notion of a traditional Monday to Friday 40 hour week has hardly ever been my real experience anyway.  I think the theatre world will have to end, temporarily, for us after October.  The government has not offered any meaningful support to the industry, and after the current stipend runs out, we will be left to fend for ourselves.  Some, most, many people see the culture sector as having been “rescued” by a strange discounted half price meal voucher thing, and therefore don’t look beyond that, or see a need for anything comprehensive or longer term.  I’ve been having dreams about being in work situations and failing.  I think this means things are due to change.  How can they not?  A nervous thought, but I’ve picked myself up, reinvented myself and started again before.  Last time I think my mind was unbalanced though.  This time it is clear.  The sheer clarity is what makes this situation so bleak.

This country has little to offer for me now.  Sad, although I’ve never been especially patriotic, but now it is an embarrassment in the world’s eyes, shambolic and governed by arrogance and self-serving greed.  Not for the first time in my life I am seriously contemplating living elsewhere.  Obviously our government has spent several years working towards a goal of making it harder for us to go abroad, and making life worse at home, through a stupid set of values based on empire building, bigotry, and a misplaced sense of Britain’s importance to the rest of the world.  To the rest of the world, though, we’re a small island making a lot of noise.  Nowhere will be perfect, of course, but this year has shown which countries look after their people, and prior to all this, some appear more human, have culture, have support.  People seem happy.  Amsterdam is great for cycling, Berlin allows squats.

Melvyn Hayes just walked past, he’s actually not too bad, facially.  Just the odd jerky body language that is unsettling.

I feel slightly down now.  My moods are changeable.  Lots of attractive young people around, bare arms, away from me.  The Perspex screens could start appearing everywhere.  In shops, on streets, all of us contained.  I’m at the shop again tomorrow.  I want to stop doing Saturdays.  I may have to force the issue, the working relationship has broken down.  Some woman is shrieking like a banshee now, noisy common whore.  I wonder how much capital I’d need to open a small bookshop of my own.

                                                                                __________

Later.  I shouldn’t have stayed for this long but I have.  Upstairs now, next to a diffused window.  It gives a gentle soothing light.  Headache setting in.  Several men in shorts and vests, young, athletic, in groups of friends.  Two with legs touching closely.  Uninhibited, innocent, sweaty.  Are they not buying into this distancing isolation scene?  It’s like a Colin MacInnes vignette.  Playing cards, letting time pass, watching the light fade.  Using time, wasting time.  Time is a commodity we all have in abundance now.  We’ll have to learn how to use it.  We need to be allowed to use our time though.  Do we just give ourselves permission to do what we want?

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