I'm noticing it more and more, recently: folks commenting - in person and online - about how, out of the blue and unawares, they have suddenly felt overwhelmed; ranging from a wobbly tum or a sad reflection to fully-formed anxiety attacks and deep grief - nought to sixty - in a fraction of a second...and then it's gone again.
I am trying to remember - with no little difficulty - if the Past felt any different - any less chaotic - than the years since the 2016; I think that they did, but not because the news wasn't always so depressing or concerning or important (it was - this is the natural state of a planet of 7 billion people). No, I believe the one thing that cements the horror and the panic is that we're dealing with the same Actors in this long-playing drama: whatever the catastrophe, whatever the tragedy or travesty, it's the same damn people grinning down the lens.
A black woman gets shot while asleep in her home, or a black man's windpipe is crushed in full view and you're just a couple of lily-pad hops to the gurning, lurching Cheetoh-in-Chief. Fancy spaffing £100 million on carbon-lock tech while every theatre in the country spirals down the business toilet? Pull back the curtain and - Presto! - the Charlie Corolli of posh-boy politicking bluffles and bloviates his ignorance/full support/gape-mouthed confusion (delete as applicable). Sailing, serenely and lizard-lipped, through the whole dumpster fire is Vlad the Man's Man: bare-chested and riding in to fabulous SuperMachiavellivision shot like Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia...
Off-shore tax havens; children in cages; "Stay Alert"; paedophile Princes; "do as I say, not as I do!"; xenophobia; "the Will of the People"; "...many people say..."; food banks in the 21st century; currency-shorting; Nazi salutes in front of Churchill statues; a fully-formed, actually-happening-to-us-right-now-and-not-just-in-a-movie Pandemic.
For my own part, I was searching the drawers for a tee-shirt this morning and found my passport - purple and emblazoned with 'European Union', in gold, across the top*. In March, I was sat at my 'hot desk' in the Aldersgate 200 building gazing over at The Museum Of London and planning my Leiriacon itinerary - a little over a week-and-a-half away at the time; by the end of the same week, my daughter - Daisy - was self-isolating (after showing flu-like symptoms) and I've not been in the Capital (or out of the County) since. I recall speaking to my dear pal Rob on his birthday weekend (almost 10 years ago now) and being told, by his parents, two weeks later, that he had passed away - the fucking SPEED of it!..news that has been all-too-similar for 60,000+ families and friends in just the last three months.
Is it any wonder, then, given the Abyssal fecundity of the Spring of 2020, that we find ourselves ambushed by reality checks? It's more important than ever that we keep our eyes open to these lightning strikes in others, as well as ourselves; your mileage may vary, of course, but we're all - undoubtedly, indisputably - functioning at a heightened level of stress.
It is the last straw that breaks the camel's back and, at the moment, it's raining fucking straw.
*this is not a euphemism for my knob
Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer, Agricola fanboy and jealous admirer of Carl Chudyk.
- [+] Dice rolls