Like many others, I assume — including his old man — Joe has neglected haircutting duties over the last few months. I have pointed out that the barbers’ have reopened, but still, the ponytail remains. Though if he could only take his headphones off for long enough to cut it, that would be a start.
Those nice people in Authority have promised not to threaten arrest for doing something as subversive as going on a walk, on one’s own, in countryside that doesn’t happen to reside within spitting distance of home. So Joe and I went out on a walk. I bagged my 600th Wainwright and Joe, his 50th. (Full details soon to be posted on my other blog.) Both those milestones came on Wether Hill, but that is a rather unphotogenic lump — Steel Knotts, its predecessor in each sequence, was rather better. It’s appeared before on the blog, too: pictured from a distance on 6/2/17.
Is Joe the only person in the world whose most recent birthday has been a lonely affair, deprived of real contact with friends and all but his immediate family? Of course not. But that doesn’t lessen the sense of sadness that I feel, while at the same time, celebrating the anniversary. Not just any birthday this year, either. He is 18, the age of legal responsibility, official adulthood. Whether that makes him feel any different than he did yesterday is his own concern. But somehow, I feel different.
It’s Joe, and his generation, that I feel sorriest for right now. He turns 18 in a few weeks yet is spending this time locked in a room with, or rather without, everyone else. At least he’s still prepared to get out into the landscape now and again: here, on Brown Wardle Hill, above Whitworth in Lancashire.
So schools and colleges had one day of life and now Bojo has said they’re unclean, like the rest of the country. So Joe gets to spend the next six weeks, maybe twelve, at home, while algorithms and their creators bicker to be given the right to determine his future. Conviviality and intimacy are things of the past, getting further away all the time.
Grim weather led to the cancellation of a planned day out and with Bojo the Clown having decreed all other options ‘unsafe’ (while he flaps around in his comedy trousers), we dug out the box set of The Singing Detective and sat and watched its seven hour span through the afternoon and evening. Classic TV, and as it was always a period piece, it hasn’t dated. Joe got through the lot though he seems less than attentive on this shot. It gave the day its main interest, but how I miss other people.
3,371 days into this blog (nine years, two months and 22 days) and I am buggered if I am going to let this profoundly boring and pointless period see it peter out through sheer lack of interest. But it’s not very interesting, is it. This is the true impact of this bloody virus. It’s made the world so goddamn boring, suddenly. (With no offence meant to my family members, pictured here, who are about the only things that are keeping me sane.)
Time is on our hands. I can’t easily get into Manchester this week as the train line is having one of its bouts of ‘maintenance’. Joe is on his half-term break. I needed a film making for teaching purposes and it gave us both something to do, and him something to put on his portfolio for later life.
Astonishing as this may seem, our Joe is now at the stage where he is putting together applications for university in 2021-22. Staffordshire University, in Stoke-on-Trent, is on the list, but all any of them can offer at the moment are ‘virtual open days’ which provide info, sure, but not a feeling for the place. And that’s essential if you’re going to spend three years anywhere. So we arranged for our own little tour of inspection today, both of the campus and the city. And despite it being dead, like the set of a post-apocalypse movie dead — the campus tour did not seem to be offputting. Perhaps then we will be seeing more of this place in the future.