Tag Archives: 1918 Flu pandemic

6 Days, 6 Degrees…

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Musicbugsandgender doesn’t entirely set out my stall, so to speak. My blog was thus christened via a brainstorm perhaps not far removed from that process fledgling bands go through trying to find a moniker that’s snappy, apposite, memorable and as-yet un-trademarked.  The music part was pretty much a given; that being my consuming passion. Bugs and gender were inspired by a cursory glance at my sagging bookcase, prompting the realisation that a number of my most memorable forays into literature to date had consisted of two comprehensive documentaries of the 1918 Flu Pandemic * ^ and a few variously witty and worthy tomes by the likes of Ariel Levy, Susan Brownmiller and Andrea Dworkin. On reflection I think I chose pretty well, but as my opening sentence implies, it’s far from all-encompassing. The sub-heading ‘A leisurely browse thru the rickety shelves of my mental bric-a-brac’ is perhaps more apposite, a worthwhile suffix at any rate: it grants me room to manoeuvre; permission to include heterogenous, deviant missives from time to time.

A couple such I posted towards the end of last year when I on a slippery slope into a mental black hole (later, when I was in the hole I wasn’t posting at all) exemplify this well; and I reiterate them here only by way of contrast (indeed, polar opposite) to my somewhat elevated mental state of the past six days. I’ve been positively buzzing, actually; feeling reckless and vulnerable in a way quite different to the aforementioned slump. As much as it’s been enjoyable, there’s an edge to it which is slightly disconcerting, accompanied by increased clumsiness (not good when one’s workplace is filled with a multitude of hot and pointy things like my kitchen!) forgetfulness and a temptation to indulge. In reality, these feelings may have begun sooner and more stealthily but the meat of today’s missive begins with last Friday…

I worked ’til seven on Friday, having swapped a shift with my junior chef to get my usual – working – Sunday off, thus enjoying what ‘regular’ folk will know as a weekend: an unusual experience for me. This worked out well, since our lovely nursing team – always a solid bet for a proper piss-up – had organised a staff night out on Friday, helpfully covening at, if not my local, then – five minutes up the road – as good as. This gave me the whole of Saturday to recover – necessary, given the eventual 4 am finish – prior to another engagement on the Sunday (more of which in my next post).

Friday night was great. Outside we don’t – en masse – socialise as regularly (and generally not to the degree of – chemical and alcoholic – indulgence) as we once did, but when we do it’s gratifying to see that a spirit of comradeship quickly comes to the fore. It’s always there, of course; but nights like those remind me why, approaching a decade of uninterrupted employment, my enthusiasm and affection for our team and wider organisation remain undiminished. The aphorism, I believe is ‘work hard, play hard’: we do, and I actually enjoy it (the playing) all the more because it only happens once in a while. Besides, the costs are higher and take longer to pay off. Booze is still a nice buzz; but there’s deeper satisfaction to be had and I’m starting to get an inkling of where that might be had…

I’ve been feeling broody of late. If you’ve hung out with me for any length of time – and I count myself lucky to have a select bunch of lovable reprobates who have – this might come as a surprise. Hell, it surprised me! Having given some thoughts to the undercurrents that nudged this particular impulse to the surface just recently, I offer you these: 1) I’m fast approaching forty. This is less significant from the point of view of actual age, mind (though I’ve read recently that as guys get older their chances of fathering healthy kids begins to diminish – deteriorating quality of the genetic material in our sperm, apparently) so much as that that was the age my folks were when they adopted me. 2) Everybody at work (hyperbole alert!) seems to be having them. 3) I’ve recently met someone I can actually envisage having children with. I’m not going to embarrass anyone by naming names – not that said someone or her associates is likely to be reading this – but suffice it to say that she was there on Friday night and I was acting like an infatuated adolescent around her all night: at least, that’s how it felt at the time; my every gesture and utterance intolerably witless and gauche, no matter that she assures me otherwise.

This a far cry from  our post-gig dinner on the Sunday night, when on a far from typical – and perhaps, Burgundy-emboldened – priapic impulse I asked our waitress out on a date after the meal. I’m not entirely sure whether she misunderstood my proposition or politely – invoking her Frenchness – feigned as much. Either way, it was too brilliant a night to be spoiled by such an impersonal rejection. I wasn’t in love with her, after all. Along with the remainder of our party I repaired to the Pavillion Theatre bar around the corner for an informal debrief of the evening’s events and further amusement…

My good mood persists as I speak. I managed to meditate two days in a row – these last two – which is rare for me. I generally only remember to put these nourishing practices into, er, practice when the shit hits the fan: the adage that ‘prevention is better than cure’ buried in a far corner of my pickled brain. Mindful? I’m working on it. In my heightened state I’ve been overly tuned into and really enjoying the amazing autumn light; the – once – unseasonal warmth of the day. I stopped off for a couple of pints at the pub on the way home from work, just to enjoy the warm afternoon and watch the world go by. Whilst I was there I came up with the idea of a nice, simple little blog post before tea, describing what a great time I had last Friday. That was around six – it’s now half twelve…

And here’s one more thing (for those whose patience isn’t yet exhausted). Reviewing my mental ups and downs brought to mind one of my favourite pieces of music, a kind of rock opera – opera’s not quite right, since 6 Degrees of Inner Turbulence isn’t a storytelling album like The War of the Worlds or Tommy, although the music creates its own narrative arc which has a very ‘story-like’ quality – by Long Island, NY band Dream Theater. It’s a flawed masterpiece for sure, specifically in the lyrical department: as much as John Petrucci is a virtuoso of the rock guitar, his words can all too often lapse into cliche, banality and contrivance: but on this occasion, the sheer strength of the music prevails: it rarely fails to move me – especially the About To Crash and Solitary Shell movements. It certainly struck a chord today.

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