Wednesday 14th September 2022, 10.40am (day 4,038)
I was just passing, honest. The crowd who were in the foyer of University Place next door were doubtless heading here shortly after I did so, ready to spoil the pristine purpleness of the carpet, at least. But I’m sure the posters were interesting.
Recently, Britons have been staying at home because a computer program — which they are not obliged to install — has been telling them to. As a consequence, holes appear in the supply chain, not of everything — you can see there’s still plenty of booze on the shelves — but of certain things. This is the crisp and snack aisle at the Co-op. All that remains are two tubes of Pringles and an anomalous, lonely tup of Chupa Chips. A First World problem for sure, but nevertheless, a bizarre demonstration of the Butterfly Effect if you ask me. Someone designs an app in a certain way; a few months later, there are no crisps, tinned tomatoes or frozen vegetables available for purchase.
After a good and enjoyable weekend — the comedown. Rain all day and the streets of Manchester still empty, this is a city with a lot of ‘recovery’ needed; and at the moment it’s not happening. From next week there’s more of a chance but there are a lot of political interests who, seemingly, would rather it didn’t — for whatever reason. “The struggles of the past have resulted in great gains”, quotes the Guardian (via its sponsored deckchair). Not this one, so far.
Booth Street, Manchester. This is the most public of workplaces, floor to ceiling windows on the ground floor. It has lain empty for 15 months now. Today, the lights were on — yet still no sign of occupancy. The ‘evacuation point’ sign seems somehow meaningful.
I’m not an economic expert, but I’ve been observing. Just audible at the moment, over the general silence of our cities, is a quiet but ominous creaking. If the arbitrary closures go on any longer than December 2nd, and the busiest month of the year is taken away from businesses like shops and pubs, expect to lose most of the independently-owned ones by March. I think Boris Johnson knows this, but the question is whether he cares enough.
The schools are shut for half-term, there are no trains to Manchester and it rained most of the day. Hebden Bridge is back in lockdown almost by default. It’s a depressing time, a silence hangs over the place that is unnatural and wrong.
This is Leeds railway station, at what should be peak time on a Saturday morning.
You may think this desperately depressing scene is justified and necessary. I do not. When a crime has been committed the good investigator first asks — cui bono? It means ‘who benefits’? And who does benefit from all this — if we are not travelling, not spending money in the same places we were spending it last October, seeing friends, partying in nightclubs, going to Elland Road or wherever? I name Rupert Murdoch, Jim Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt and all their kin as people with the most profoud vested interest in keeping us locked up through the spreading of fear and this year’s sudden, digitally-driven enhancement of what Michel Foucault called the carceral state. If I’m wrong, sue me. If you don’t like it, defy it.
This idea of ‘underuse’ has been a recurring theme lately — but there are obvious reasons for that, and it is going to become even more the case now that uni have decided that, after all, they would rather not teach face-to-face, ‘at least’ until the end of October. Which is, conveniently, after everyone’s arrived and paid their rent. Don’t blame me — I oppose the decision, and rather vehemently too. But it seems this opinion is now in the minority.
Pubs now have to shut at 10pm, and so with no nightclubs or alternative venues available for anyone wanting to carry on with their evening, everyone now mills around and gets into taxis and buses at the same time, thus compressing all those infective agents together instead of spacing them out more. And if you think this idiocy will be repealed soon, recall that the licensing restrictions brought in during World War One remained in place for eighty years.
Meanwhile, your friendly local high street is becoming a ghost town; if your place looked much different from Hebden Bridge at 10.50pm this evening (or on any given evening), then I would say that’s unusual.
Saturday 1st August 2020, 11.25am (ish) (day 3,264)
It’s been nice to come down to London for a couple of days, the weather’s been good and I have met friends and had decent exercise. But there’s been something eerie about it, unnatural and wrong. Difficult to do much else today than post another picture of somewhere that should be very busy on this day and time under normal circumstances, but instead, echoed like an empty cathedral.