Posted in rant, The Quarantine Diaries

The Quarantine Diaries: Losses

My mood is souring and has been over the last few days. The frustration of not being able to go anywhere of importance is still like banging my head off a wall, except now I’m aware of the futility of the action before I do it, i.e. I’m no longer thinking in terms of what I’d like to do; instead, what I should have been able to do.

The reason I’m feeling extra pissy right now, is because I should have worked a half shift today and left the office at lunchtime, happily giving everyone the figurative finger and shouting ‘me ne vado’ at anyone who happened to see me. I should have spent today packing my suitcases and charging up the kindle, watching an Italian film and singing myself to sleep with ‘Una Notte a Napoli’. Then tomorrow, I should have been meeting Mamma and there should have been a leisurely taxi journey to the Holiday Inn at the Airport where we should have spent a pleasant afternoon and evening giddily preparing ourselves for the adventure ahead.

Friday morning at 7:25am I should have been on the fucking plane to Naples.

Too damn true…

I saw this above tweet about a month ago, right around the point when we all realised Coronavirus was here to fuck up everything and I got the email to say the holiday was cancelled. Now we were fortunate enough to get a full refund from the holiday provider, the insurance and the airport hotel, however, are refusing to refund anything. I understand what no cancellation means, but I didn’t cancel – Jet2 did. And if no virus had appeared, then we’d be in the damn hotel and making use of the insurance now wouldn’t we?!

I digress. I get it, I do. This is not a joke. All the years that people called me nuts for raving about horror movies, and having a zombie plan in place (not to mention a ton of tinned food – I didn’t need to panic buy, Karen) and it’s finally here. Governmental response has been far more meh, than in any zombie film I’ve ever seen, yet given the track records and who we’re talking about, did we really expect them to step up?

But as the tweet above says, we can still be aware of the gravity of this situation and still be sad for the things we’re losing out on and missing. No one ever expected life to be shut down almost completely, not during ‘peace time’ anyway. The debates will continue forever about why Coronavirus happened, what it will mean for the future, and what does it say about societies and consumer lifestyles.

Before all that we can still lament, people missed out on weddings, births have happened in private, funerals are restricted, milestone birthday parties have gone on zoom and wishes are sent via TikTok dances. And for me, it was the chance to return to one of my most favourite places on this spectacular planet after seven whole years. A place that shaped me and formed me; from the first time I was there in 2008 and I was just a 19 year-old stuck with family and practising tiny bits of Italian, awed that I could order full meals and have basic conversations by the end of the holiday. When I returned in 2009, young free and single and only 20 years old, the feeling was unreal, the high wasn’t like anything I’d ever experienced. By the time I’d arrived in Sorrento, I’d had so many wonderful, random conversations and met a whole host of colourful characters. It was then I made more memories, took more chances and grew more confident, not only in myself but in my ability to do the things I’d set my mind to. I chose to learn Italian, I chose to keep studying and working away when others told me to chill out and relax. Now I can relax by the pool with a limoncello and having a fantastic conversation with the hotel staff teasing about the effect of Federico Moccia and Tiziano Ferro on my life.

Well, I should have been relaxing by the pool…

e x

Posted in Crafts

So I had to give up crochet

For the sake of my health, it was the sensible thing to do.

And it was the hardest fucking day of my life!

Crojo Extreme

I’ve been crocheting almost non-stop for the last few weeks. It’s a great diversion and allows me just to focus on my stitches and not panic about… everything. I usually listen to an audiobook or some soft jazz and just chill. Normally after a couple of days of stitching up a storm, I would get a stiff shoulder or my fingers and wrists would hurt too much to keep going, and I kept waiting for it to happen but it didn’t. Until two days ago when my shoulder crunched. I’m fighting an old injury here from my retail days of hauling boxes for a living, the pain was awful and my fingers started to swell and ache. Thus I had to admit defeat.

Recovery is Hard

I woke, stiff and achy, but my hands were itching to get crafting. I’ve been so inspired lately I just keep thinking of great projects to work on. But I needed a break. So I read on the kindle and a real physical book (hard to do while crocheting, hence audiobooks), watched some TV (hard to do while not crocheting) and horror of horrors I tidied my house (a bit). I felt like such a wee crochet junkie, I even had to console myself by holding a hook and ordering some more yarn!

Crochet Forever

Well now that that is behind me for the time-being, I’m planning projects especially single-ball blankets and scarves as I’m hoping to build up a wee stash of made things and to eventually launch an etsy shop to sell my products once lockdown is over. I get pretty good feedback and I’ve had people interested in what I make but as much as I gift things sometimes, it would be nice for the value to be appreciated too.

This is a snippet of how I’m coping in lockdown, how’s everyone else getting on? Picked up any new hobbies or rediscovered old ones? Let me know all about it in the comments below!

e x

Posted in Books

Buon Dantedì!

Oggi, il 25 marzo è la giornata dedicata al poeta Dante Alighieri della Divina Commedia.

Anche durante questo periodo strano, gli italiani è quelli che amano l’Italia, leggono le sue opere a casa, a youtube e insieme a distanza. Leggete più!

Non lo sapevo che esistesse il Dantedì, e in quanto tale adesso leggo il Purgatorio!

La Divina Commedia

Come festeggiate il Dantedì?

e x

Posted in Coronavirus

The Quarantine Diaries: Lock down Edition

So the UK is in Lock Down. Whatever that means.

Apparently it’s tightening the rules of what had been in place, further so that people really must stay home. We are only allowed out in maximum groups of two; can leave the house once a day to exercise, again alone or max with one other person; can go out to the shops for food or medicine; or must be going to care for a vulnerable person or travelling to work only if not at all possible to work from home.

Most of that seems self-explanatory. However, there is definite confusion around the concept of ‘essential’ business. Of course, these seem to be banks and post offices, pharmacies and food shops; but should building sites and call centres really be included here? Obviously every business thinks their work is essential and it’s a bitter pill to swallow but eventually it might need to be. Especially given that in these roles maintaining a physical distance can be difficult and aren’t set up in such a way to allow work to continue with physical distancing.

I’ve definitely felt it in the last few weeks for the call centre staff I’ve needed to call, several 40 minute queues to Jet2, first to enquire if my holiday was still on then another a few days later just to accept defeat that my holiday wasn’t going ahead and could I please get a refund. Then trying to call the holiday insurance who despite their website offering a refund of 50% the call centre staff refused to give me anything and only raised a complaint with the underwriter. Everyone is overwhelmed and unsure but for the most part I can see why for now these are necessary roles to continue. But for how long? Most airlines are reducing their services by at least 80% and some are going further to close down for the foreseeable future. So will all their workers still be risking life and limb in potentially toxic environments to come to a job where there’s no demand?

My parents are both in the at risk category, so they’re expected to be in for 12 weeks… There are too many hows and whys to that statement, I can’t even bring myself to deal with it just now, just putting it out there.

Hopefully there will be more information or clarification later today. Hell, even shut the whole damn country so we can ride it out in safety.

e x

Posted in Coronavirus

The Quarantine Diaries

Well. Fuck.

For years I’ve been teased and mocked for stocking up on essential foods, tins and pasta, and having an apocalypse plan. Now who’s a week into quarantine and not panic-bought a damn thing?

The first couple of days I spent glued to the TV watching the news all-day-long, which wasn’t doing anything good for my stress levels. I’ve stopped even turning it on until the evening news and just catching the brief highlights. The world’s going to hell whether I watch it or not.

I’m sad because in the last few weeks we have seen the best and the worst of humanity. The panic buying of toilet paper and pasta is utter bullshit, seriously where are you going to put it all? Nobody eats that much pasta in the UK, not really. And since when did you all give a damn about fresh fruit and veg? Leave it for the people who actually need it. The good bits are the community spirit has come alive again, people are saying hello, supporting neighbours and the elderly, a tiny effort can make all the difference to someone. I’m also surprised at this Tory government starting to realise actual human beings are the cogs which keep the wealth flowing in this country, so it’s only damn right to offer as much help to them. Basic things like sick pay being paid from the first day off, as it should always have been. Then people realising how low sick pay actually is, then Universal Credit being even fucking lower… So all those people talking about benefit scroungers and cheats, you think it’s worth the effort? Maybe now they’ll realise what people truly are worth.

As soon as Coronavirus crossed into the UK, so many businesses and corporations were suddenly announcing that they were ‘stepping up’ their cleaning protocols and schedules, handing out hand sanitiser and giving colleagues more opportunities to wash their hands and adhere to stricter hygiene rules… why? Because they’ve known full well that their hygiene and cleaning rules were lax and probably non existent due to time constraints, fundamentally a money problem. It’s hysterically tragic that money should come before even basic hygiene practices.

I’ve lost count how many jobs I’ve had were bathroom breaks are timed down to the second, how many people I see dashing from the toilet to the sink and splashing a little water over their hands, quickly grabbing a paper towel crunching it between their fingers and tossing it towards the bin, missing it but dashing back to their desk because TIME = MONEY. That’s even the ones who at least pretend to wash their hands. Leaving the bathroom and grabbing a squirt of hand-sanitiser en route to your seat does not equal good hygiene. How many doors and surfaces have you touched from A to B? That just in the office environment, need I go on about computers, hot-desking and the distinct lack of apparent cleaning being done unless you bring in your own wipes? And the mystery crumbs.

Hospitality and cafe work is even worse. I’ve done my share of these jobs and I can only think of one place that had good standards because everyone gave a shit and there was far less pressure on the staff to work if they were ill. We could swap shifts with ease meaning that no one was risking other people’s health or their own further. It was a great job, but of course it was soon obliterated, something to do with money I guess.

Prior to that I worked for a very popular and well-known coffee chain over the Christmas period one time, and in the cafe of a well-known supermarket. Both, during training, explained the need for health and safety, food and hygiene practices etc etc… in the cafe we did the full certificates for these one day. The instructions were simple, before leaving the staff area wash your hands, upon entering the kitchen/cafe area wash your hands again for at least forty seconds and use a nail brush, which will be provided, to clean your nails also. I accepted these rules, wore no nail polish, rings nor perfume. First shift, I washed my hands the first time, no nail brush, got down to the cafe and saw the manager who was already rushed off her feet, she told me to follow her but I quickly made for the sink to wash my hands again…. I’m sure Medusa looked at her victims more kindly than this manager did me that day. ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ She asked. And that was that… Seven weeks in that hell and not once did I see a nail brush, not once did I get a chance to wash my hands between using the dishwasher, serving food and handling cash on the till. The coffee chain wasn’t much better, three of us were Christmas Temps and we all ended up with the cold and sniffles. Did that stop us using the dishwasher and serving food to customers? Nope. Did we ever get disinfectant spray to use on the tables? Nope. Did we carry a damp cloth in our aprons that we used to wipe trays and tables and occasionally rinsed under a tap? Yep.

So honestly, I’m surprised this hasn’t fucking happened sooner.

I’ve ranted enough for now. I am heartsick at the number of people who have died from this, I’m devastated at the rate at which this virus is ploughing through the world taking the most vulnerable with it. I’m disgusted that no one in power seemed to be prepared for this, that governments are slowly realising power and money means fuck all if you’ve no people left in your country and that maybe we’re all human and we all have a right to live and survive no matter what type of education or background we have. But most of all I’m revolted by the people who are still flouting the fairly generous restrictions we have in the UK just now. It’s not fucking hard. Stop having parties, stop going out in big groups, stop travelling to the fucking highlands where the health service there can barely cope if all the locals contract Covid-19, and stop being so damn selfish. This isn’t a free holiday from work, this isn’t the perfect day for a day trip, you could be carrying the virus with no symptoms and be spreading it to the elderly and vulnerable family members of everyone you come into contact with.

Stay the fuck at home. Read a damn book. Play FIFA or take advantage of the free subscription to Porn Hub. Don’t be so cavalier with other people’s lives. Stay the fuck home.

e x

Day 6

I’m in Day 6 of quarantine… but day 5 of not having left the house at all.

I regret not panic buying a hamster.

e x

Posted in Video Games

Tiny Living Stuff Pack – The Sims 4

I’ve never actually done a proper post before for a specific pack, so I’ll start with the most recent. I am that person who has every expansion and pack to the game and with this one and University I bought them on release day then didn’t have a chance to play them.

So recently I did; using a game I started for University I moved my recent graduate out of her family home (divorced her wife and left the kids) and into the tiny micro home that maxis waved in my face in worlds mode.

Tiny house. Not my sim strolling by…

The top images show the entirety of the house and my sim during her siesta. The bottom images show the wonder of the Murphy Bed closed by remote, turning into a two-seater sofa and a shelving unit. (Using the remote for the bed gives the sim a bluff making them feel powerful, hmm.)

I didn’t play in this house for a long time, it was painfully basic, though cute. My sim is much like myself (materialistic) and there was little to occupy her. So she wrote a few more books to earn some extra money.

I pull the same faces when I’m writing!

And then she moved!

I forgot to take a full exterior shot of this bigger micro loft home – a level 2 but it’s on the gallery and has a good bit more space.

I’m not a builder by any means but I’ve been looking at different sim builds on the gallery and I’m impressed by the variety and attention to detail people can afford to put it. For me, I’m all about the gameplay. I’ll happily download someone else’s wonderful creation (legally) and ship my sims in to wreak havoc.

Ultimately Tiny Living is cute and maybe like living off-the-grid some sims are happy with this. I like that there are new compact objects like the TV, stereo, and radio all-in-one which I will use elsewhere but my sims would rather start off skint and in a big empty apartment/house and eventually fill it as they progress in careers/skills.

My sim has started dating a guy she was at Britechester with and he hates tiny living – he’s always throwing a strop trying to use the bathroom and the lack of space. So I guess they’re saving for a bigger place now.

e x