309. Gone

We lost our 12-year-old ginger cat Pastille on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

She didn’t turn up for the Tuesday morning feed, then later staggered into the kitchen, struggling to walk. She eventually hobbled into the garden, curling up listlessly in a spot she had never frequented. We knew the signs.

Before the light faded, we took her in, and she spent her last 30 or so hours either flopped on a blanket or spreadeagled on a wicker basket. Head drooping, occasionally taking small mouthfuls of water, almost zero interest in the morsels of food we offered. As we went to bed Wednesday night, I lightly tickled her under the jaw, as she liked. Just for a second, she rubbed her head against my hand. “Night night baby,” I whispered.

Maureen woke me at 6.30 a.m., sobbing. Pastille was beside the basket, body stiff. Best guess is she died of kidney failure. We buried her in the garden that afternoon, topped with a rose.

It wasn’t unexpected. Pastille hadn’t enjoyed the move to my Dad’s house a year back, and never settled. She looked permanently unwell and out of sorts in the more cramped environment. I’m so glad she exited relatively swiftly and without a major struggle.  

She came into our life in autumn 2010. Cajoled by our daughter, we bought brothers Pastille and Pippa, and another kitten, Bob.

When they played together, rushing up and down the stairs, Pastille always came off worse. Slightly smaller, and less inclined to fight-play. So I made Pastille a promise: “I’ll always look after you.”

These pics from that time had tears streaming from my eyes.

Pastille and Pippa both had a sex change in early 2012. Pippa became pregnant and then the vet, when neutering Pastille, noticed she was female.

Pastille needed the most love of our brood, which numbered eight at one stage. As she grew, she insisted on eating separately from the others. If the litter tray was unclean, she would shit on carpets and under beds. She has been cursed more regularly by me than any of her peers. At our last two residences, the others all ventured out into the fields at the back, catching vermin that they brought back for our inspection. Pastille stayed in the garden, and often the house.

When she was about three, she was basking alone in the sun one day when a monster farm vehicle came thundering past in the field at the back, spraying fertiliser. I watched her sprint at greyhound speed towards the house, and then take off through the air where the grass stopped. She hit the back wall of the house about four feet up in the air, and then stayed at this height, running round two intersecting walls like Spiderman, before dropping down to ground level and fleeing into the house. Amazing and hilarious.

A fragile, flighty cat, she couldn’t climb trees properly, somehow getting her claws stuck. She was often plagued by fleas, despite various medications. And generally scared of humans, most noises and perhaps life itself. She might be a doe if she reincarnates.  

Many times, when I’ve been sitting quietly, she would noiselessly glide into position next to me. Or tentatively alight on my lap, in her braver moods. A purring would slowly make itself known, rumbling away like the inner voice of the earth. Her love was unconditional, never manipulative.

In our last house she found great peace in parts of the back garden area that I let become a wild meadow, stretching out in sunny solitude for hours.

Now there’s a bowl less at feeding time, and a body less near the lounge windows where the light pours in throughout the day. I still whisper to her when feeding the birds, or sitting near her grave in the sunshine, with a cuppa. Never loved a cat like that one.

Life gives and it takes. Just over a year ago, we still had six of the original eight. Now just four are left.

The black and white Daisy refused to move with us to Dad’s house, shacking up instead with one of the neighbours. With Pastille gone, it feels as if a special time may be finishing.

In her lifetime, I learned Buddhist meditations. I started to walk out in nature for hours on end. Learned not to trust the TV. Wrote my book, ‘Out of Essex’. Finally realised that newspapers are rarely more than arse-wipes with pictures. Grew vegetables again. Learned transcendental meditation. Started my blog. Became a carer.

Pastille was my little friend during a fascinating and memorable time. I’ll always be grateful for her company. Maybe we’ll meet up again, down the road.

In the meantime, I walk to her grave each evening and place four heavy pots around her rose, as protection against badgers and foxes that might fancy a buried meal.

A promise is a promise.

308. Almost gone

It’s been a year since we moved in with my father, on 30 September 2021. Not a happy year. But utterly memorable. We’ve kept him fed, watered, warm, fairly healthy, clean and, most importantly, we have kept him company.

Eric will be 95 in January. He hasn’t left his bedroom for several months. No more power in his legs. He doesn’t eat much. He has a commode and a TV. Vascular dementia is slowly killing him. We leave out family pictures and photograph albums to jog his memory, which is riddled with supertanker-sized holes.

His questions on an average-to-bad day might include “are my parents alive”, “where do I live”, “are you my brother”, or “do I still go to work?” He has no short-term memory beyond 4-5 seconds, while his longer-term memories are patchy.

He was once a tough guy, who inspired my dread and admiration in equal amounts. It’s all there in Blog 260 (https://thebiscuitfactoryonline.com/2020/02/09/260-bad-company/).

Now his agency is almost gone. Odd splashes of ego and confidence remain, although he cannot read much or walk far.

Going to the toilet can be an effort. He prefers his drinks through a straw. Food with a spoon.

Living with Dad is like swimming through mud. Ensuring he gets drink inside him, fretting over his minimal appetite, worrying  constantly that he may be cold, uncomfortable, sad or lonely.  No holidays, few breaks. Anxiety.

Yet he brings unexpected and strange gifts. His past intermingles with the now. I awoke him one morning, but he couldn’t leave his dream. He was making a speech: “I’ve had a wonderful day that I’ll never forget, and you gentlemen have a wonderful golf club. Thank you so much.” (Was that an allegory for his life?)

Inadvertently, he makes us laugh. He likes his curtains drawn at night, so that no neighbour can see into his room. Even though his room is on the top floor of three, a light at night might make him viewable from houses higher up the street. I drew the curtains recently, only to be told that there was still a slight gap at the top. I pointed out this was too high for any neighbour to see in.

“What about airline pilots?” he replied.

The trick to keeping him buoyant is talk. Finding a subject that he partially recalls, then thoroughly exploring the topic, and all the offshoots. He was once a golf club secretary for five years, so we might chat about the members, the course, the sport, the bar, the staff, and so on. Maybe as we watch golf on TV. I make a note on my phone every time he vouchsafes a new detail. Then add it to the next conversation.

Maureen is also brilliant with him, but we have hit a towering problem. He recently resurrected a series of sleazy remarks that he made to my wife not long after we moved in. Blunt, unsubtle requests to fondle specified parts of her anatomy, and for her to reciprocate. Maybe he mistakes Maureen for his wife, who died in 2006 – or just sees any female visiting his bedroom as ‘fair game’. When the remarks emerge, they are often accompanied by attempts at self-pleasuring beneath the sheets. He cannot help himself. Maureen gets distressed: angry and upset. She withdraws from visiting his room for a few weeks. I get it. I fill in and step up a gear. Neither of us complains too much as it brings down the other.

Dad and I have unresolved tensions, forgotten by him. Rage leftovers from my childhood. I want to vent that occasionally, but he wouldn’t begin to understand.

Yet there is also a welcome intimacy that I would never have anticipated. Sitting him up in bed for his drinks requires that I nestle softly into his neck, my arms locked under his armpits, before lifting him up and back. We both smile at the effort. “I flew through the air,” he sometimes gasps. And I empty his bedpan, with its piss and stinking turds. I have helped clean his room after he tried to shit in a urine bottle.

It may seem odd, but intuition tells me that this closeness is healing, for both of us. And there is usually a chuckle around the corner, even if one party doesn’t see the humour.

Eric lives almost entirely on tea and custard creams. I took some up a while back and he noticed that one of the biscuits had a corner missing. He scrutinised it keenly, pointing his finger at the absent section and then looking me hard in the eyes. “Did you eat that?”

Until Dad started to suffer, I gave little consideration to dementia and related illnesses. The learning curve has been immense, witnessing a remorseless one-way condition. The blessing is that he forgets any woes almost as soon as he discovers them. He has become like a child, kicking his feet under the bedclothes as he goes to sleep.

We watch endless hours of sport, to help pass the time. One of the five cats we brought to his house generally jumps up on his bed while we view. Once, during a televised soccer game, his face crinkled in thought. “Do cats form football teams?” he asked.

I’ve discovered how much Dad loves language. I’m grateful, as I can see where I get it. He can still recite chunks from ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. At his East London junior school in Globe Road, Bethnal Green, he regularly used the same two words to win the weekly spelling competition. Unique and antique. The other kids weren’t interested. As his condition worsens, nursery rhymes fascinate him. ‘Jack Sprat’ mesmerises him. He puzzles over the meaning, wondering why Jack’s wife “would eat no lean”. If one of our felines jumps up while he ponders, he starts the rhyme again. “Black cats can eat no fat”.

Football chat animates him, taking in Eric’s first visits to Leyton Orient in the 1930s, or seeing Tottenham play Arsenal in the annual ‘Jubilee’ game each August. He marvels at an intrepid expedition south of the Thames (“like a foreign country”) to Charlton Athletic, where Derby County were the visitors. Dally Duncan and Sammy Crooks are two names he somehow remembers from the game.

Soccer talk invariably ends with the question of how much a ticket would cost now. When I suggest somewhere between £40 and £50 for a top game he explodes with surprise, indignation and laughter. “But it was threepence when I was a boy.” That conversation can take place ten or more times if we watch a game.

I try to be kind, tolerant and compassionate. I strive to treat him with the tenderness I would prefer if ever ending up in such frailty.

But, some days, just being in the same house is mentally exhausting. A ceaseless stress is his repeated requests for cigarettes. I explain dutifully that he has almost killed himself with fags, that he risks setting the bedclothes alight. He agrees that any more would be unwise. Two minutes later he asks if he can have a cigarette. The night hours can be ravaged by his cough, linked to the tapestry of scars on his lungs from 80 years of smoking.

I still work, in a small study just yards from his bed. My ears are always listening for his requests for help, or for the squeaking floorboards that tell of his short trip to the commode. I haven’t touched alcohol at home for months. Being drunk and caring don’t mix.  

The big daily pleasure, the Great Escape, is my four-mile afternoon walk at a local nature reserve.  And there is a morning break when the carers wash him. When my brother Neil stands in, Maureen and I enjoy delightful hours away. Usually the coast or the cinema.

Then it’s back to the circular reality of sitting by the bed, hoping the TV will preoccupy him or discussing his life. His father Harold’s death when Eric was just a toddler. The horse and cart that crashed through the window of his mum’s shop in Bethnal Green in the 1930s. His neighbour Podar Currie, whose family were so poor that there were no birthday presents. The firework that cost half a penny – known as the Boy Scout Rouser. Going to the speedway at Hackney Wick Wolves, with his cousins Terry and Alf, proudly wearing his red and gold scarf.

A good session plunges him into sleep for hours. Often preceded by the admission that he is “all mixed up”.

He recalls looking over his gran’s back wall in Moss Street at Oswald Moseley and his parading Black Shirts. He remembers London’s barrage balloons that were often released too late in the Blitz.

You learn to chip in with names and dates and events so that he forges on.

We talk of his evacuation to Norfolk and Staffordshire during WW2 with his grammar school. Meeting Kenny from Kennington and Ronnie and Renie from Ladbroke Grove. Then back to London, cruising the streets looking for dog ends. Classic line from Eric: “I would smoke anything that lit.” His first job at the Ardeth Tobacco Company. First girlfriend – Joyce Lewis.

In 1944 he joined the navy, aged 16. Trained as a coder.

Missed any WW2 combat. Sailed around the world, including Cape Horn, lingering longest in Ceylon. Demobbed at Whale Island, in Portsmouth, in 1948.

Back to East London (Homerton), he began work at Billingsgate fish market. Morning finishes, long sessions at Hackney public baths to wash away the stink. Going dancing at the Tottenham Royal on Saturday nights with his mates Wally Knight and Billy Tissle. Meeting Mum at Butlins in Skegness, marrying her in 1952.

After that, the haziness thickens. His football mates and his jobs flit in and out of his mind. I’m usually the one telling the story. Which is all he has to hang onto, for no more than a couple of seconds, before the void returns.

In the wider world, in 2022, there is deepening chaos. War, financial collapse, political deceit and ineptitude globally. I’m glad Eric cannot begin to comprehend the turmoil.

An odd vision came to me the other day. That Maureen and I are metaphorically protected, almost invisible, tucked away to the side, as we push Eric along his destined journey by night, in a cart or a wheelbarrow, while the warring troops sleep. He rests by day when battle recommences.

His involuntary humour helps keep us pushing. We were watching cricket the other day. He finished his cup of tea, and I handed him his two prescribed pills.

“Are there pills for cricket?” he asked.

“Dad…why would pills be needed for cricket?”

“To stop people falling asleep”.

My father the demented, dwindling genius.

We could put him in a home, but nobody would know him intimately, or truly care for him. He always said he wanted to die “in his castle”, so that’s the plan. On we go.

307. Contrasting fortunes

I met Rod in a Norwich pub. He was a mate of a mate. The beer was flowing on a Saturday night in the Fat Cat.

Rod sat on an adjacent stool. A friendly guy, confident but not arrogant. We got chatting.

It was spring 1994. Margaret Thatcher’s notions of a share- and property-owning democracy had taken root – and Rod was gripped by an idea. Owning not just one but a whole string of houses. He had started by using the ‘free money’ available from the British government’s initial privatisations of public utilities: British Telecom, British Gas and so on. He would apply for as many free shares as possible in each state company being flogged off, and then cash in by selling them.

He would put the profits towards a house deposit, buy a small property and get some tenants in to pay the mortgage, with some rent left over that went towards the next house deposit. And so on.

I was on a wilder track, obsessively refining a betting system with the aim of enriching myself. He correctly thought I was misguided and unlikely to succeed. I thought he was unknowingly helping to rip away some of the socialist fundamentals that held much of the UK together.

But each to their own path.

We spent an enjoyable hour in each other’s company and that night was the last I ever saw of him.

Our mutual friend Jonny Price told me three years ago that Rod had died, age 62, of suspected heart trouble. At the time of his passing, he owned “about” 103 properties with tenants.

I’m 65 now, no property to my name. My wife and I live with and care for my father, whose vascular dementia is steadily increasing. It is treacherously hard going at times, but Maureen and I usually get to sit in the morning sunshine and make each other laugh. A pleasure not to be under-estimated.

Meanwhile, the fullest fruits of privatisation are about to smash British life this autumn, as energy prices go ballistic. It won’t be pretty. Countless families will be choosing between heat and food. Some will borrow unaffordably to afford both. An estimated quarter of a million Brits are already homeless, many unable to pay the rents charged by private landlords.

Funny how things turn out. I’m not sure there are even any rules. We all play the hands we were dealt. As best we can. The cookie crumbles as it will.

Here’s a caricature of Rod drawn by a fellow ornithologist in the 1980s. I’m glad I got to meet him.

306. Unfettered joy

The UK is about to enter a four-day national bank holiday from Thursday, June 2 until Sunday, June 5. The Platinum Jubilee Weekend is to celebrate Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the British throne.

Her Majesty. Step back a few mental paces and consider the two words. I have a couple more. Freak show.

Ludicrously, the Royals are adored by some. You have to wonder why. The Windsors epitomise elitist privilege, living effortlessly off the sweat and taxes of their “subjects”. The wealth of ‘The Crown’ is beyond anything that most of us can comprehend, running into trillions of pounds.

And let’s pull no punches about these people. The Royals are dysfunctional, arrogant, manipulative and downright dangerous.

The heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, was a good friend of the rapist Jimmy Savile. His disgraced brother, Prince Andrew, was a top mate of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

I can only guess that some people are just blissfully unaware that their enthusiasm helps prop up what amounts to a feudal system that sits outside of the law.

None of that mattered some 45 years ago, on 7 June 1977. Silver Jubilee bank holiday. I was 20 years old, living in Birmingham. It was one of the happiest evenings of my life. Pure pleasure, causing no harm, and racking up a legend or two.

A pack of us headed to the Plough in Harborne.

Great pub. Good cheap beer. Our exhilaration may have been upped a notch by the BBC’s banning of the Sex Pistols caustic new single, ‘God Save The Queen’.

The merriment we let out fully equalled the ale taken in, too many to count. Get it down your neck and get another round. Again and again.

We had a mentor. Neil, the Mancunian that we tagged Big Dad. A mature student of around 24, Dad provided fathomless wells of stories and jokes. He had enigma and charisma to burn.

After the pubs had closed, a group of us congregated in the High Street, singing our slanted homage to the monarchy.

‘Jubilee, Jubilee,

Oh we’re all pissed up and we’re having a Jubilee’.

Swarming in the road, we surrounded a double decker bus, and Dad proceeded to scale the side, like a mountaineer, to the driver’s incredulity. This stopped the traffic in all directions as rubber-necking drivers clocked the action.

Five minutes later, we were still laughing, eyes streaming with joy, heading back through the leafy neighbourhood of Edgbaston.

Dad and some others decided to break into a swimming pool in an unoccupied house. I had a fresh criminal record – and so this seemed like intrinsically dangerous behaviour. Others chose to climb over walls and steal some expensive-looking plants. I sat on a wall by the road with a couple of unknown girls, waiting to see what transpired.

Two of the lads returned with green things in pots. They began debating whether to take a swim in the pool of the particularly sumptuous house where Dad had ended up, and whose owners were obviously away.

Suddenly, with zero warning, a police car came screeching to a halt just feet away from our little wall. You should have seen the boys scramble. Left, right, over walls, behind bushes.

One instinct told me to do the same, while a stronger command said stay put, because you are guilty of nothing. Micro-calculations in less than a second, resulting in me remaining wedged on a wall between a random set of cactuses. Pulse racing.

The coppers asked if I knew any of the culprits. Instinct kicked in. I said I’d met them that night. They wanted names and descriptions, so I invented a shedload, and sat in the back of the police car while the information was sent to HQ. “There was a tall guy called Gary, well over six foot, dark hair. Smaller fella with ginger hair, said he came from Erdington. Think he was called Brian.”

I described about six non-existent humans. The two rozzers told me to stay in the car, and went outside again, sniffing around for perps.

Now the tour de force. A never-to-be-forgotten image appeared in the wing mirror. A bloke walking down the road, whistling. A pumped up yellow lilo slung over his shoulder. At night, in the middle of landlocked Edgbaston.

As he neared, I could see it was Big Dad. He had lifted the lilo from the pool. Intending to give it a new home. As he walked past the coppers, who were still scrambling around for clues, Dad said, very politely, “evening officers,” before winking at me and ambling on. They were too preoccupied to notice.

Then I got a lift home for my co-operation. Grinning from ear to ear.

Happy days.

305. Now the drugs don’t work, (they just make things worse).

There’s only one blog rule – write truthfully each time. Let any readers make of it what they will.

After two years plus of Covid-19 shenanigans, some people still believe Planet Earth has waded through an existential crisis almost equivalent to WW2.

The journalist in me begs to differ, and here’s why. The evidence.

Anyone wanting to logically figure out what really happened can dip into a wealth of official data, expert statements and research. It’s all out there. In so doing, much of the available evidence about the Covid shitshow sharply contradicts the deceptions and disinformation pumped out nonstop during the past 24 months. It forever shames the pumpers – the government ministers, medical professionals, bureaucrats, entertainers and mass media around the world.

At worst, the reality was something no more deadly than past pandemic flus. Just look below at the UK’s all-causes mortality rate for 2020, which was only the 19th highest since 1990, on an age-adjusted basis. In plain English, there was no exceptional spike in deaths, despite the ceaseless narrative of a ‘deadly pandemic’.

The sad truth is that we were bombarded by some of the biggest falsehoods in recorded history. From early 2020, much rational thought was choked off by a ‘propagandemic’ that was inseparable from the ‘pandemic’.

One horrific example: people were somehow persuaded that it was right to ‘follow the science’ and so keep away while their elderly relatives died alone, on ventilators and in care homes. Even now, does that not make your jaw drop and your eyes water?

People were cajoled that wearing a mask in a restaurant was essential for health when standing, but not when sitting.

Over 2 million UK university students had their education severed as they stayed indoors to avoid ‘killing granny’.

Around the world, mental health was ground down remorselessly. A whole generation of children had their cognitive development reined back by interrupted schooling and being deprived of human contact/uncovered human faces.

Among other befuddlements, untold numbers of otherwise healthy youngsters now genuinely think that a runny nose requires a ‘test’, not a handkerchief. And that they might die of a head cold. Another legacy is that many people still wear an item that restricts their breathing as a part and parcel of their everyday ‘safety’.

And fist-bumping. I mean FFS. If you think I might be carrying a dangerous illness, stay well clear of me. No problem. I readily respect any choice you make about your health. But if you do want to come within range of my breath and touch me, then show some frigging enthusiasm. Shake my hand. Hug me. Kiss me. I do French if required. My immune system is promiscuous, craving one filthy bacterial challenge after another.

The collective psychosis, the mass abandonment of reason, the loss of touch with reality, was hardly surprising. Because gargantuan nonsenses were repeated over and again, via an industrial-scale barrage of fear porn by health authorities and politicians that was amplified by mainstream media.

Almost an entire society fell under magic spells predicated on fear, transmitted through TV, radio, memes, adverts, motorway signs, slogans, trigger words, and, most lethally, through social media.

And boy did it work. In Blog 297, for example, I told how a terrified woman out in the fresh air bent over a wall to avoid my breath (https://wordpress.com/post/thebiscuitfactoryonline.com/3542). Blog 291 (https://wordpress.com/post/thebiscuitfactoryonline.com/3358) depicted how a poor bartender almost collapsed with anxiety after I inadvertently leaned my bare elbows on his counter.

Even if you trembled behind the sofa, wearing four face masks and an adult nappy listening to the 6 o’ clock news – I empathise. The truth is that we were trained into compliance like Pavlov’s dogs. Salivating at fuzzy pictures from Wuhan, gaslit by pictures of trucks lining a dark Turin street and bamboozled by newsreels of static ambulances outside UK hospitals. Paralysed by newsreaders reading big numbers, fearing personal obliteration at the hands of an insidiously invisible plague.

Remember how 500,000 Covid-19 deaths were predicted in the UK by Imperial College, to scare the living daylights out of every Brit?

The British government has acknowledged that it enlisted the covert tactics of the army’s 77th Brigade to back media efforts to stop people thinking for themselves. It worked. The military-grade drumbeat of fear, so forceful and constant, reduced many adults to frightened children, doing as they were told by officials and men in white coats.

The fallback, the great thing – in our age of ready information – is that you don’t have to be a virologist, doctor or scientist to begin to work through the disinformation and absurdities for yourself. Scanned by common sense and a diligent mind, data rarely lies. I would estimate that an independent-minded 12-year-old child could easily work out the 10 bullet points below, given an internet connection and a day to study and reflect.

*In March 2020, just before the first lockdowns, Covid-19 was removed by the UK government from its High Consequence Infectious Disease list. Removed, not added. No longer on the list. Then we locked down.

*The official number of fatalities in England and Wales caused solely by Covid-19 over the whole of 2020 and 2021 was a mere 6,183, according to Freedom of Information request number 2021/3368 submitted to the UK government. Just 6,183. Terribly sad for relatives and loved ones, but hardly something that warranted bringing the country to a halt. No mass graves in public parks.You can find the information at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/aboutus/transparencyandgovernance/freedomofinformationfoi/covid19deathsandautopsiesfeb2020todec2021

*Only three English and Welsh children (aged 1-19) became Covid-only fatalities during the 23-month review period. Yet there are still maniacs who advocate Covid vaccinations for children.

*In Italy, the number of deaths caused solely by Covid was eventually subject to a 98% retrospective reduction from the initial headline figures.

*Western countries spent two years suppressing effective early treatments for the small percentage of the population that contracted serious cases of Covid-19.

*Covid-19 has something like a 99.8% recovery rate without treatment.

*Masks did not reduce transmission. The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) quietly admitted in spring 2021 that masks are useless against Covid-19 aerosol spread. All major governments have probably known the truth about masks for at least a year.

* Despite the huge PR campaign to the contrary, natural immunity exists, and works. I continue to trust in mine. Pfizer trial data revealed natural immunity was as effective as the jab. Even Holy Father Bill Gates acknowledged that the fast spread of the Omicron ‘variant’ conferred a scale of immunity that vaccines could not. Even Archbishop Anthony Fauci has openly admitted the vaccines will not deliver herd immunity.

*500 million global Covid ‘cases’ were built around PCR and rapid antigen tests that are imprecise and inaccurate. We had essentially meaningless ‘case’ numbers endlessly shoved down our throats after the swabs went up our noses. Western Australia, for example, has hosted around 300,000 positive tests, but just 148 Covid-linked deaths across two years. Yet people still take the ‘tests’.

*Global lockdowns ‘coincided’ with the greatest centralisation of wealth in money’s 5,000-year history. The incarcerations further increased global poverty, as tens of thousands of small businesses folded under lockdown, while an estimated $3-4 trillion was transferred to the planet’s 2,750 or so billionaires. To the 0.000035% that run the shitshow. And, somehow, the UK government ‘wasted’ a cool £37 billion on its failed Track and Trace system.

Those bullet points tell truths skipped by most mainstream narratives: the limited scope  of the ‘pandemic’, the futility and fraudulence of the lockdowns and the clear identity of the beneficiaries.

I would never deny that Covid-19 is a nasty illness. Or that hospitals came under severe pressure, as they do every winter season. Neither was I complacent about the risks, as my then-92-year-old father was clearly vulnerable. But once a pattern emerged about the fatalities, it became clear that no mass plague was afoot, whatever shite you might hear from Piers Morgan or James O’Brien. Dad was kept safe by common sense, not by arbitrary guidelines ignored by the ministers and ‘scientists’ that concocted them.

Several acquaintances suffered badly, with one needing brief medical intervention. But nobody in my friendship, professional and neighbourhood circles died of SARS-COV-2, as would have happened with a pandemic worthy of the name.

In those circles, anecdotally, a friend of my son said his 89-year-old neighbour was sadly a fatality. Another friend had a mate who fell from a ladder and died from his injuries. He was designated as dying ‘with Covid’, which he supposedly contracted in hospital. My cousin’s father-in-law died of a long-time heart condition. Again, he was listed as a ‘with Covid’ death. His son, a GP, was furious at the categorisation.

The last two examples are pure fraudulence, aligning snugly with the farcical headline death counts for Covid that were designed to scare people shitless.

As a part of building that fear narrative, medical professionals in multiple countries were encouraged to list Covid-19 as cause of death for fatalities with inconclusive causes. In the US that approach was amplified with a monetary encouragement, paying hospitals much more for their ‘with Covid’ patients and especially for ‘with Covid’ deaths. 

If we look at the unfortunate 149,000 or so English and Welsh fatalities listed as dying ‘with Covid’, during 2020-21, they carried an average level of three existing morbidities. Most were old (average 82) and terribly vulnerable to added respiratory ailments. Regrettably, a huge risk factor for dying ‘with Covid’ turned out to be that you were already chronically ill.

Another huge risk factor occurred in Britain if you were one of the unfortunates shunted out of a hospital into nursing and care homes in spring 2020, to free up NHS bed capacity. Many, the numbers still unquantified, were left lonely, starved and dehydrated. Some were murdered by withdrawal of medications, and end of life care pathways incorporating nil by mouth, DNR and morphine/Midazolam cocktails, even for those nowhere near death. Some observers called this euthanasia, or just plain genocide by the British government.

To prevent stamping everything with a Covid sticker, to make real sense from the headline figures vomited out by media, required autopsies. Among the first 4 million fatal ‘with Covid’ cases worldwide, just several hundred autopsy findings were reported in international medical journals.

Answers to critical questions were lost forever. Was Covid a contributory cause of death? A co-morbidity to other primary causes? Was SARS-COV-2 falsely detected? How many ‘positives’ were fully symptomatic? Until the medical notes for each and every patient are subject to a rigorous clinical audit, we will never know whether even a single death labelled as ‘with-Covid’ was correctly ascribed.

More positively, hundreds of millions of people now have personal experience of surviving SARS-2 infection, which at least makes propaganda about the threats posed by the virus a far harder sell in future.

NHS deceit

One of the most unforgiveable pieces of fraudulence during 2020/21 – topping a towering edifice of deceit – was the unceasing exhortation to follow health guidance, so that we could help to ‘Protect our NHS’.

The overwhelming reason for UK lockdowns, we were told, was to ‘protect’ the National Health Service from a surge of incoming Covid-19 patients. Drummed again and again into our heads, to weigh on our consciences as good citizens. ‘Don’t spread the virus or our hospitals will go under.’

Britain’s NHS is free of charge at the point of service for all users. It is a gem. Admittedly in need of management streamlining, and tens of thousands of new beds, but in my humble opinion worth huge efforts to maintain and protect. In spring 2020, the government urged people out onto the street on Thursday evenings to applaud the frontline work in NHS buildings.

I’m so sorry folks, but it turns out that the fucksters running the UK have already decided to fully privatise it. And, breaking the decades-old prohibition, to begin charging users for services. Your cash (and your data) please.

You can look up the plans for yourself at https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/

The money shot is on page 101 of the downloadable PDF. “Reforms to the payment system will ….ensure a majority of funding is population-based.” I have visions in which US hedge fund managers downloaded the document. And the subsequent semen stains holding the pages together.

It appears that one of the greatest political achievements in British history will be subject to even deeper staffing cuts, with much of the existing human contact switched to a digital interface. Electronic health surveillance will be paramount. The planned new name for the delivery team, NHSX, is a play on words, a piss-take.

Hopefully you just asked yourself why this bombshell news item is not in or on the ‘news’, given the sickening hypocrisy at work in the government’s sloganeering? I’ll leave that one with you.

Vax riddles

Maybe the most worrying part of the sorry Covid tale concerns the new medical technology now embedded in the blood vessels and lymph glands of a purported 65% of the world population. The vaccines.

*24/7 waves of media and government persuasion and propaganda paved the way for the jabs, obscuring and smothering the fact that recipients were effectively volunteering for a global human drug trial that will not officially finish until 2023/24.

*Yet it transpired that these ‘miraculous’ injections do not prevent infection, transmission, hospitalisation or death. Remember all the claptrap that the new state-of-the-art mRNA vaccines would be a ‘game changer’. The promises from Gates, Trump, Fauci, Obama, Blair, Hancock, Trudeau, Johnson, Biden, Macron and other liars?

Remember the nonstop PR about 95% vaccine efficacy? Then 90%, 85%, 80% and ever downwards. Then the revelation that only ‘booster’ doses would fully protect you. Now the jab just ‘makes your symptoms less mild’.

UK government figures reveal that three quarters of the UK Covid deaths registered in March within 60 days of a positive test involved triple-vaxxed people, who now constitute about half of the UK population. As things stand, the majority of current Covid-linked hospital admissions are triple-jabbed. Many of the ‘boosted’ cannot clear Covid easily and are regularly reinfected. In Canada, government data shows that the triple and double vaccinated accounted for 4 of every 5 Covid-19 deaths in March 2022. Australia and New Zealand health data tells a similar story.

The only rational conclusion is that the new vaccines do not work as touted. Why is that not screamed out as headline news?

*To make matters worse, many of the jabbed were coerced into accepting what remains an experimental medical treatment, still under emergency licence. Sleeves were rolled up under threats of job loss, or exclusion from social settings.

Civilised societies do not enforce experimental vaccines on people who do not want them. That’s a clear breach of the Nuremberg Code stance on bodily integrity. Remember the Nuremberg Code? People seem to have forgotten. It followed Nazi atrocities in WW2 – specifically the often-fatal experimentation on human subjects without consent.

Meanwhile, despite the glaringly bloody obvious fact that the vaccines did not stop transmission, ‘vaccine passports’ were created in France, Ireland, Israel, China, the US and elsewhere. Futility was fucked by tyranny, spawning medical apartheid. In many so-called liberal democracies, untold millions of people who simply made independent choices about their own healthcare acquired the status of pharmaceutically segregated, second-class citizens. And the vaccinated went along with it.

*Even if you prefer brushing human rights issues under the carpet, there is no escaping the reality that these are the deadliest medications ever released in human history – even on just the official numbers. Sorry.

Once upon a time, pharmaceutical companies had an obligation to prove the safety of a product over 10 years, and to immediately withdraw it from market if 25-50 deaths occurred. When media discovered in 2009 that the swine flu vaccine had topped the 25-death mark, eventually reaching 53, reporters and editors did their job. The vaccine was pulled. Correctly so.

With Covid-19 vaccines, we were assured, ad nauseum, beyond any lingering doubt, of the ‘scientific consensus’ on their safety, despite rushed trials that skipped animal trials, safety data for pregnancy, and toxicology tests.

Within 3 weeks of the first jabs in December 2020, the 50-death mark was passed. Was the vax pulled? Where was the amber alert?

By early February 2022, an aggregate 64, 684 vaccine-related deaths had been officially recorded across Europe, the UK and US, with nary a peep from mainstream media or any regulatory agency. 64, 684 dead people. If that isn’t a red alert, what is? The number will be larger now. How large must it grow before the jabs cease?

With a functioning media, the vaccine rollout would have been stopped in its tracks as a killer and a major human rights violation. Pfizer would not have earned $37 billion in 2021 vaccine revenues, making the Covid jab the most lucrative medicine in any given year in history.

However, in the absence of that context, most people continued to roll up their sleeves.

This meant that people’s consent on being injected with an experimental medicine was clearly no longer informed consent, breaking another key Nuremberg principle. These are major crimes, being committed by government, medical and commercial institutions.

The regional breakdowns look like this. In the European Union, as of 5 February 2022, there had been 39,543 deaths among 1,478,143 individuals who reported adverse reactions post-vaccination for the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots, according to the official EudraVigilance database, which compiles adverse reaction data.

In the UK, by 11 February, 1,996 fatalities were notched up by 441,471 individuals reporting adverse reactions post-vaccination as recorded by the official Yellow Card reporting system.

As of January 28, 2022, there were 23,149 instances of death from 1,088,558 reports following the COVID jab in the US, under the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). Death totals reported across the three regions comes to 64,684.

Pfizer has admitted that it hired 600 extra staff just to process all of the adverse reactions being reported from its Covid-19 shot, and might need 1,800 in total. Researchers at Columbia University have argued that the real number of people killed by the Covid jabs is about 20 times the reported rate.

Whether that can be believed is relatively unimportant. Again, why were the first 50 deaths not enough to stop these vaccines? I would humbly suggest that executive reputations, company share prices, cabinet positions and, in the UK, knighthoods, were prized more highly than mere human mortality.

And that those lower down the employment chain kept their heads below the parapet, fearing for their jobs and pensions.

You could of course argue that some of these unfortunate fatalities were going to get sick and/or die regardless of what vaccines may or may not be doing. On the other hand, the adverse effects encountered by much bigger populations in Africa, Asia and Latin America have not been comprehensively logged, and so not included in the tallies.

For sure is that the mRNA vaccines have already killed more people than all other vaccines combined over the last 30 years. Healthy teenagers and athletes are among those who have died within hours or days of receiving Covid-19 shots, as most major sports have been hit with ‘inexplicable’ medical conditions. Everyone in the world must have heard the term ‘myocarditis’ by now.

Before 2021, an athlete collapsing or dying was a highly newsworthy event. In the soccer world, FIFA now reports players (and spectators) collapsing as a matter of course.

In the tennis arena, an astonishing 15 players were unable to finish the Miami Open 2022 tennis tournament, including the male and female favourites. To compete, all players had to be ‘fully vaccinated’.

By end-March, Good Sciencing said it had had recorded 833 athletes, worldwide, post-Covid injection, who have experienced cardiac arrests or other serious issues, with 540 dead. Cricketers, wrestlers, boxers, cyclists, basketball players and so on.

From an actuarial angle, a raft of emerging statistics from life insurance companies in the US, India and Germany show a 40% or higher increase in all-causes deaths in working-age people in the second half of 2021. Insurers keep a tight handle on death statistics. Another source on the ‘death frontline’, embalmers, are reporting hitherto-unseen blood clots post-vaccine rollout.

Myocarditis is only the tip of the Covid vaccine injury iceberg. If you examined the vaccine-related injuries officially recorded by early February across the EU, UK and US, the dial soared to 3 million. Rough calculations from VAERS data suggest that the new shots are at least several hundred times more likely to hurt you than flu vaccines. After analysing medical data from 10.9 million insured individuals, German health insurance company BBK Provita concluded that 400,000 doctors’ visits could be realistically attributed to jab side effects. A study by the Israeli Ministry of Health showed a 4.5% neurological injury rate, post-vaccine.

Incidentally, Pfizer wanted its clinical trial data suppressed until 2076. A mere 55 years. I wonder why.  

Might a recent court-ordered release of Pfizer trial data provide clues? A staggering 1,291 side effects were revealed within the data. To name but a few: arthritis, autoimmune disorder, blood clotting, brain embolism, cardiac arrest, cardiac failure, diabetes, facial paralysis, hepatitis, herpes, infertility, myocarditis, multiple sclerosis, organ failure, pericarditis, prenatal death and stillbirth.  

Pfizer’s knowledge of the side-effects might keep company lawyers busy. US journalist Naomi Wolf has been going through the tens of thousands of pages of documents that a federal court finally forced Pfizer to release from its submission to the Food and Drug Administration for Covid-19 mRNA vaccine approval. On 25 April, Wolf said that, according to the documents, 3.7% of the cases Pfizer looked at for ‘adverse events’ died, with a much higher rate of serious injury. According to the independent The Light newspaper, the documents show that in the trials there were at least 1,223 deaths reported in the first 28 days after injection, with deaths occurring at a higher rate in the non-placebo group.

In other words, Pfizer knew that its vaccine would kill.

Hundreds of similar facts are continually popping up through the cracks, far too many to list. But here are a few worth consideration:

*A Freedom of Information request to Blackpool Teaching Hospitals showed 2021 and 2022 heart failure referrals rising by 200% over 2018/19 data;

*Queensland’s health minister recently acknowledged 40% more ambulance calls for cardiac events and sudden deaths;

*Covid vaccination increases the risk of severe heart inflammation up to 120-fold, a major study from Scandinavia published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found;

*According to a cost-benefit analysis by Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., and independent researcher Kathy Dopp, all age groups under 50 years old in the UK and US are at greater risk of dying after receiving a Covid jab than an unvaccinated person is at risk of dying from Covid-19;

*Britain’s Office for National Statistics has released data covering January 1 to October 31, 2021, indicating that for children aged 15–19, the risk of death increased by almost double if they took the first shot and by over three times if they took the second, compared to their unjabbed peers. Worse, 10–14-year-olds, ran the risk of dying almost by a factor of ten following the first dose while the second dose brought a 51.8 times greater risk of death than if they had remained unvaccinated;

*A study published by the Lancet in October 2021 claimed the Covid vaccines could reprogramme your immune system to respond in a dysfunctional way, leading to what it called Vaccine Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. A new form of AIDS. And all that entails. (Perhaps you might even speculate that depleted immune systems are a factor in the vaccinated individuals dying from Covid?)

These data snippets are merely the tip of an expanding iceberg. If I can find and underline these trends, why cannot (better-paid) journalists for major newspapers and broadcasters do the same? Again, I’ll leave that with you.

Anecdotally, I was told by an NHS trust employee that UK ambulance staff are struggling to deal with unprecedented levels of deaths among younger-middle-aged people. He said that an alarmingly high number of the excess non-Covid admissions at NHS hospitals are among those aged 35-50, and that a high percentage involve clotting, skin rashes, breathing difficulties,  unexplained workplace collapses and myocardial/heart issues.

It is extremely difficult for me or anybody else to guess how many people have died or experienced life-changing injuries from the Covid-19 vaccine. At a personal level, one close relative seems to have experienced immune system deterioration since the jabs. Anecdotally, I have heard of two heart attacks occurring two or three days after the recipients’ first jabs. As evidence builds, what seems clear is that the number of victims is already very high. To reiterate, the damage dwarfs anything seen with any other vaccine in history.

Interestingly, alternative media have cited leaks by Whitehall sources (based in the UK Department of Health) that a state cover-up of vaccine-related disability and death is ongoing. 

In my opinion, it has become reasonable to say that the longer these shots continue to be used, the greater the likelihood that they will eventually kill far more than the actual virus ever did.

Seeing the wrongdoing, my only choice is to write about it. And not as a disinterested outsider. I have real skin in the game. So many people that I know, and love, have taken the jib-jabs. I fret about their future health.

As for giving the shots to children, I defer to Dr Robert Malone, who helped invent mRNA technology.

“These genetic vaccines can damage your children. They may damage their brain, their heart, their immune system, and their ability to have children in the future. And many types of these damages cannot be repaired. On average, between one in two thousand and one in three thousand children that receive these vaccines will be hospitalised in the short-term with vaccine-caused damage. Only with the passage of time will we know what long-term damage occurs.”

In summary, the world’s leaders and scientists seemed to make a public health mountain out of a viral molehill in early 2020, out of panic and incompetence. Governments have spent two years hyperventilating about incidences of SARS-2 infection that turn out to be minuscule, or at worst normal, if compared to other pathogens that infect us. Unforgiveably, they compounded their mistakes by rushing out vaccines that are not only ineffective but can be lethal. And nobody will carry the can, as the injuries and death tolls mount.

Was it just a cock-up? Or something more conspiratorial? You have to wonder, given the never-ending tapestry of lies from individuals at the very top, all of whom seemed to agree profoundly with each other that 2 plus 2 equalled 5.

Who can really know?

304 My tribe?

Since adulthood, finding a group of people to slot into hasn’t come easily. Probably the last time I fitted in anywhere without friction or anxiety was 41 years ago, in 1981. Nine months working nights in a vacuum flask factory, telling jokes and swapping endless stories.

In the interim, I’ve become warier, harder to please. Groups are often dominated by a handful of individuals, typically long on voice, and shorter on listening skills. I want the intimacy of good conversation, back and forth. With space for everyone.

And yet, about two weeks ago, I was happy to find myself ‘belonging’ to a very, very large and highly unsubtle gathering. Deep in the heart of London’s East End, on the evening of 17 March. The occasion was West Ham United Football Club’s most important game for many years, against Spanish side Sevilla. My first live game for over 6 years, in company with my son, Rory. And 60,000 others. Under the floodlights at the London Stadium in Stratford.

A dynamite of anticipation was in the air, poised to explode. Cockney and Thames Estuary accents resounding around the stadium bars, primed and ready for the action. A pre-match schedule of lager, lager, piss, lager.

Then up to our seats, where lone shouts and group chants of ‘aye-yans, aye-yans, aye-yans’ rung around the terraces, for the club that started life in the 19th century as Thames Ironworks FC. And is still a proper working class club, 127 years on. It’s in the air, the wit, the clothes, the body language.

The ‘Irons’. The ‘Hammers’. The ‘Claret and Blues’. Come on you Irons! COYI!

‘Aye-yans, aye-yans’

The ref blew his whistle and off we went, hurtling down a tunnel of partisan noise designed to help the Irons win the Europa League knock-out tournament.

I was born a Londoner, in Edmonton. More pertinently, my father grew up in the East End neighbourhoods of Bethnal Green and Homerton. I first joined the ‘Irons’ tribe 56 years ago. Dad took me to see West Ham play Newcastle in 1966. The noise and sights stirred something that never left me. A past blog (https://thebiscuitfactoryonline.com/2018/10/24/41-come-on-you-irons/) attempted to convey some of that.

A seam of cockney bluntness runs through most subsequent ‘Irons’ memories. A guy standing behind us epitomised it. “That fucking referee is a cunt. Nine out of every fucking ten decisions go against us. He’s a fucking twelfth man for these Spanish cunts. There he goes again….that weren’t a fucking foul. You fucking blind cunt. Ah what a fucking cunt he is. A cunt with a  whistle and fuck all else. Ah it’s a fucking joke. I might as well talk to the fucking ceiling for all the good it does.”

Rory and me were grinning from ear to ear.

For over two roisterous hours, I had no need to explain myself. No need to think. I joined in the singing, and the mesmeric, thunderous clapping. Music gig meets football match for loud sex. An ear-shaking wall of noise, arcing out, wobbling, and boomeranging back, An uncensored maelstrom of one-way intent, obliterating my existence as my father’s carer.

After riotous final whistle celebrations, the feeling of bridging the years continued as Rory and I walked back to Stratford railway station, jammed in a slow-shuffling crowd. The mood was euphoric. Cries of ‘aye-ans, aye-ans, aye-ans’ cutting the night air in salute of the 2-0 win. And the progress to the tournament’s quarter finals.

A group of police walked past with a bloke in handcuffs, and the naughty boys and men around me erupted in various songs about ‘rozzers’ and ‘filth’ and ‘pigs’. Rolling back the years.

By the time we boarded a train home, post-coital calm was upon me. With each stop further out into Essex – Ilford, Seven Kings, Goodmayes, Chadwell Heath, Romford, Gidea Park, Harold Wood – the conversation quietened and I slowly returned to my usual self. Reflective, listening, distanced.

Did I rejoin my tribe for a night? It was a delicious moment. But a transient one. Tribes are 24/7 affairs.

303. Loose ends

Sometimes things are so awful that you just have to laugh.

Nearly three weeks ago my 94-year-old father almost lost consciousness as he came out of the bathroom. The paramedics arrived and advised an overnight stay in hospital. And so I came to be sitting with him one afternoon at the Major Emergencies ward at Broomfield hospital, Chelmsford.

They had hooked him up to a variety of stuff. Sensors across his abdomen, a blood-oxygen gauge clamped on his finger and a blood pressure device on his arm. All of which meant the poor old boy couldn’t easily wander across to take a wee in the commode. The situation required lots of explanation on my part, because he suffers from deep vascular dementia.

Each time his bladder filled, my job was to pull down his trousers and pants and give him one of the disposable urinal bottles to piss into as he lay on the bed. On one occasion, when he had finished, I took it over to the sink and emptied it. Turning round, I could only see his back. But he stirred my curiosity as he was cocking his head at differing angles, as if deliberating over some kind of choice.

“What you looking at Dad?”

In a stride it became clear. He had taken the clamp from his finger and now had it poised, jaws open, above his penis. Still cocking his head, trying to judge which part of his bell-end might best receive said clamp.

Before he could let the thing squeeze hard around the purple flesh, I snatched it away. “What the hell are you doing? That goes on your finger.”

“Oh, I didn’t know.”

Back home, I told Maureen. The pair of us ended up crying so hard with laughter that it hurt. We were weeping at the bit where he was puzzling over the best angle to clamp it on.

Hearing the story, a couple of friends suggested we could buy him some clothes pegs for his birthday. Or maybe attach a set of jump leads that start flat car batteries. Another recommended a good S&M club.

The line between tragedy and comedy can be so thin.

302. Touching the void

It was an uneventful Saturday night. Snooker on the TV, which is always a bonus as it keeps my father happy. The central heating banged up high, to keep the January cold out.

I had stayed too long in the same position. And felt dehydrated, having long ago finished my caffeine drink. As I became hotter and hotter, my lethargy increased. I needed a big glass of water, but couldn’t be arsed to get off the sofa. Each minute of immobility chipping away further at my motivation. Dad was absorbed by the slow clicking of the coloured balls. My ceaseless fretting about him had stopped, temporarily. Why disrupt a peaceful moment?

“Kev, can you get me a toothpick please?”

All good things must end. So, I hoisted myself up, stood fully, and felt the dizziness come rushing. To steady myself, I reached towards the handle of the cupboard with the toothpicks, just a few feet away.

Then I was laying on the kitchen floor, next to the overturned bin. Shoulder and neck slightly numbed, vaguely painful. Unsure of this new world, but all instincts urging me to get up, get my bearings, assess the damage, see if any bones were broken. I forced myself to my feet, noticing Dad trying to raise himself to come to my aid, and hearing Maureen rush up the stairs.

The very weird thing was how good I felt. Everything was brand new. Adrenalin and endorphins smashing around my system, I could walk, could swing my bruised arm and shoulder. Could twist my neck. I was grinning nervously at my wife. Quivering a little with the shock.

Here’s the kicker. Despite the shaking, it felt not unlike coming out of a very deep meditation. Like the one described in Blog 231 (https://wordpress.com/post/thebiscuitfactoryonline.com/2413). There was a lingering legacy – if such a thing is possible – of two or three seconds of unconsciousness. Of going into the void and emerging with more of a feeling than a recollection. Touched, for the briefest of moments, by an indescribable sweetness.

Lots of me hurt for the next few days. The bin was twisted beyond repair and had to be thrown away. I’m fully aware of the luck that it cushioned my fall. Could have broken my collar bone or even my neck.

I’m so grateful that I didn’t seriously injure myself. Although it’s boring I’ve been drinking much more water in subsequent weeks.

But where did I go for those few seconds, as my body fell? It’s a gorgeous mystery.

301. Loss

About five months ago my landlord rang.

He never calls, so instinct said to brace for bad news. Trust your instincts.

He wanted us out after almost 7 years; and wasn’t giving much time to find a new place. A hammer blow that had my wife Maureen in tears, while I immersed myself in anxiety. Could we find somewhere suitable, and as cheap? Quickly?

The calculations indicated financial catastrophe. Our rent had stayed the same since 2014. We would have to find another £400 plus a month for somewhere equivalent. That isn’t easy in your early 60s, as work takes more of a backstage.

An idea poked temptingly through the turmoil. Could we kill a couple of birds with the same stone? It’s a cruel proverb. But might we move in with my father, who lived 16 miles away, in Brentwood?

15 years after Mum’s death, he is the victim of ever-advancing dementia, and cannot begin to fend for himself, rattling around on almost zero memory in a three-storey town house. Although my brother and I were visiting on alternate days, mixed with carer visits, we could never give enough time and attention. So why not give him live-in carers, company and a constant watchful eye, in return for rent-free accommodation? Two potatoes nicely mashed with the same fork.

It wouldn’t be plain sailing. From a routine where I saw dad every other day for 8-10 hours, I would switch to being his constant companion. Looking down the timeline, it terrified me that the unrelenting proximity to his quasi-helplessness would be exhausting.

With no better alternative, the plan swung into action. Things moved along with a few strokes of luck, so that we got an extra three months, and could enjoy the whole summer in our rented home before moving. That was a blessing – because our summers in Great Waltham have been so joyful – and a curse. Every day reinforced my sadness that we had one less day left before the upheaval.

On the worst days, the sense of loss was overwhelming. Parts of June, July, August and September were funereal, as I walked and cycled along the latticework of local, rural routes I had painstakingly reconnoitred and mapped down the years, sometimes buoyed by a pint or two. Saying goodbye to the quiet mid-Essex back roads, churches, special trees, and certain vistas and buildings like they were old friends. Taking leave of the play of light on the fields, through every season, and so many country pubs, where a beer could lend spiralling, ecstatic new dimensions to a walk or a ride.  

Sitting out back some evenings, feeling sorry for myself, as the evenings shortened.  Wondering if our six cats would transition to a new home with less space and garden. How I loved that garden, its length, its colours and old wood and the little meadows we created last summer.

I moaned far too often to Maureen about the trials to come. She said we had to get on with it. Sometimes love is blunt and practical.

We finally moved on 30 September. The weeks leading up to the event were so busy that I forgot about my broken heart. No time to mourn as we packed, cleaned and downsized.

Two months later the pain has gone. Many new things have replaced it. The pictures below give a flavour of that disappeared past.

300. ‘Half Sister’

Writing anything here has been problematic for some time. Yes, looking after my father every other day for the last 16 months has been increasingly draining. But it is more than that.

Every sense and instinct prods, gnaws and pinches. Nagging insistently that that a train crash is coming. Any words I find to try and describe this cannot begin to capture what is hurtling, still quietly, down global tracks. And writing about anything else usually seems pointless, frivolous.

Maybe Iain M Banks got near to nailing down the massive force that I sense approaching, with his last few chapters in the ‘Consider Phlebas’ sci-fi novel, where a group of space mercenaries land on an ostensibly deserted planet. An enemy hides within a complex of subterranean train stations. One protagonist sets a train for a collision course into a station. The slow build accelerates, steadily, into an atomic finale, mind-blowingly presented, maybe even a little orgasmic to my odd sensitivity.

What might be coming in our realm? Truth, for sure, say my guts. In bulk. Hundreds of tonnes of it, like a giant bog brush clearing a miles-long U-bend.

Which brings in Protomartyr, a US band that has come to my attention in recent months. Making this 64-year-old feel like a teenager again. The ultimate compliment to any band!

To me, their music speaks and resonates like no other at present. Check out their last two albums: ‘Descent into Relatives’ and ‘Ultimate Success Today’. Powerful art, cutting away all shite. Music and lyrics that say, quite beautifully, how darkly and direly we are positioned in time and situation. Maybe in terminal decline – social, political and economic – as things stand.  

So many brilliant tracks, rendered so poetically, but one stands out. ‘Half Sister’. Located at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sd9nEpqVOQ&list=RD5sd9nEpqVOQ&index=1.

Resonating with every part of me, it contains an opening line that any inventive writer might happily die for:

In ancient Palestine a Roman middle manager dresses down a radical.

Don’t lie. You didn’t expect that little scene-set. Teeing up par excellence. Backed by urgent guitars, bass and drums. Fucking listen, it says. Sounding like the Smiths and Mark E Smith bumped into Nick Cave and Nirvana.

I have a backlog of so-called prophets
You are of a multitude
The offender said, “I witness truth”
Perplexed and filled with pique the jailer replied,
“Truth, what is it?”

Now the second verse leaps into the near-present, stepping up the imagery with surreal crafting. Hats off to singer/writer Joe Casey. Tying together more and more themes.

Outside of Darlington in 1963

On certain mornings a specter appeared
In a well-appointed back garden
Its voice was still heard after the sun had burned away its image
Consulting physicists and mediums, the man he realized
It was a relative, living 1000 miles away
Half sister was thinking of him very poorly on those mornings

Quite a story already, huh? The wall of sound building, circling, guitar still going forwards, promising a shift up in gear. Joe belting it out with everything he has, because it’s his job to relate that things are looking decidedly dodgy.

In Northern Michigan there was an incident in winter
A horse was hit by lightning and began to speak in a foreign language
When he was finally understood, it repeated, “humans are no good”
So they shot it behind the shed and stuffed him
He’s now on display as a lesson for the kids to always do your best
Do your best always
Always
Always

Just 3 minutes in, and it surely can’t get any better. Eternal truths, from the poor horse’s mouth, as Protomartyr rock your nuts off. You fleetingly think of being lucky enough to witness this in a live audience, moving your body and feeling your soul lift to something very unique.

And then the bass crosses a bridge and the band hit fifth, a truth train rushing into the world’s blocked colons, dipping into an even richer, gorgeous riff that they have been saving up, more urgent than ever.

Truth is a colicking horse
That serves no purpose
Truth is a babbling prisoner
You’d rather not kill if they confess

Electrifying. And they ram it to the hilt, at a time when almost every newspaper you read and virtually every brownnosing TV and radio presenter you hear is full of utter shit.


Truth is the half sister
That will not be forgotten
Truth is the half sister
That will not forgive

She is trying to reach you
Trying to reach you

As my mate Jono says, they are THE band of these times. The final message insistently knocks on the door:

She is trying to reach you
Trying to reach you

Joe Casey says she won’t forget or forgive. Forgive me, but I’m keenly anticipating that day.