The Northern Crack 1st April, 2021. Exclusive Interview Reveals All: Were they really Sirens?
I was driving home after night shift at Wick General. The sun was rising and it was quiet on Cliff Road. I approached the roundabout at 15 mph. Visibility was poor. A whisky mist hovered over the river. At first I thought they were new road signs but then I saw wings. So I thought maybe pelicans or those big birds with fancy feathers, ostriches? Perhaps they’d escaped from a zoo? But then I saw the bare chests (in April!) chiselled, bronzed and sleek like Chippendales and I thought they must be three guys letting rip on a stag night or hungry patients on the run looking for a cooked breakfast. They had long blonde hair like the Angel Gabriel and one of them strummed a guitar. I forgot to keep left or look right and never saw the red Fiesta crash into the wall of Mackay’s Hotel or the Transit van fall off the bridge. The old lady with the cocker spaniel walked right in front of me. It was too late to stop. I’ll never forget her torn face and the blood. I could see the three of them in my mirror peeling her skin like gold foil from a chocolate Easter bunny. I was listening to AC/DC’s Highway to Hell full blast to stay awake so I never heard them singing. That’s why I’m still here, I suppose…
A crisis is like an x-ray. It shows us who we really are. In the case of the UK government the Coronavirus crisis has revealed incompetence and deceit. In the case of the British public however, the picture is more positive. Communities have come to the rescue where the State has failed.
As individuals we are dealing with this new existential threat in various ways. Here’s a light-hearted analysis of the different strategies we are using to cope with strange times. So read on if you want to know if you are an Ostrich, a Doomer or a Happy Clapper.
This group includes all essential workers including health and social care, cleaners, truck drivers, supermarket staff, delivery drivers, police, community volunteers and the invisible people who maintain electricity, water and sewage systems. This group gain strength and meaning through helping others. They enjoy being busy and have a positive, practical attitude to life. Their hard work and self sacrifice must be rewarded and respected.
Unlike the heroes Ostriches think only of themselves and their own needs. They have difficulty facing up to reality and are afraid of change. They admire Donald Trump and believe the virus is a Chinese Hoax. They often have narcissistic tendencies and think the world owes them. During the Pandemic they are out on the streets flouting lockdown rules or on Facebook posting photos of their dinner and complaining of boredom. They have a deep seated fear of death hidden beneath a superficial bravado.
The Happy Clapper
This group have an optimistic trusting attitude. They believe all will be well if only we listen to the authorities. They spend lockdown time painting rainbows on windows, organising sing-songs on Zoom, doing sponsored knitting for charity and making masks out of cotton knickers for health workers. They clap so hard and so long their hands hurt. They are a contented bunch who never ask difficult questions. Sadly I am not one of them.
The Doomer is the opposite of the Happy Clapper. They are pessimists and give up on every project after five minutes. They believe the Pandemic is the beginning of the end of the world and nothing can be done to stop it so we may as well not try. They disagree with Lockdown, thinking they might as well die sooner but on a good hair day and in a nice restaurant. They brood indoors and do nothing constructive, spending time instead watching the 24 hour News Channel and drinking gin. They take their allocated daily exercise strolling around the local cemetery. Doomers are to be handled with caution as they can damage your mental health.
This group are going strong while others struggle. They have been preparing for the Pandemic or some other existential crisis ever since they first saw George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. They may have an underground bunker in the back garden or a basement filled to the brim with essential supplies, hand sanitizer and Hazmat suits. They have an emergency generator in the shed and a very sharp axe by the front door. They are now smugly observing from a safe distance as lesser mortals fight for toilet rolls.
The Creative Revolutionary
This group sees the Pandemic as a chance to change the world for the better. They are idealists. They believe people are basically good and that a new order with humanist values will rise as the virus demonstrates the failings of capitalism. They are using Lockdown time to organise community groups and post provocative messages on social media. They believe art can bring change and they may be artists, musicians, writers or gardeners who leave boxes of vegetables or poems at the doors of needy folk. This group are an inspiration to us all and we must hope they’ve got it right.
Absence is the heart of Love a brutal
Board game for two or more
Capricious players intent on self
Delusion a power struggle not
Enlightenment or hope for the spiritual
Frisson of two strangers touching skin
Gestures an attempt at unexpected soul
Happiness is a voidable experiment not
Intended to last more than ninety nine
Joyful but repetitive days when ruinous
Keepsakes fall like autumn rain before
Love breakfasts lessen to burnt toast
Marmite with cold coffee because
No-one notices cloud formations or
Opens their eyes to truly see another
Person is not the perfect answer to every
Question but more questions that require
Rumination and lead to rheumatism and
Slavery but do not give up hope bitter
Times do not last and love is not worthless
Undressing in the dark nor a virtuous
Virus causing fever flush and accelerated
Weeping at weekends instead
Xpect expectations to be compromised
You will not be satisfied unless you are a
Zealot intent on annihilation.
Please help write a group poem. You don’t need to be a writer to do this. All you need to do is provide one line in response to the opening line. It can be funny, long, short, serious or crazy. There are no rules. Write your line in the comments box. After one week I will combine the lines the best I can to create a WordPress Group poem and post it on this site. Please join in – it’s fun and who knows what might emerge! All the contributors will be credited.
Here is the opening line written by myself. Hope it will inspire your creativity:-
Satin smooth, a dashing tuxedo doodles
in the dark. Coiling, recoiling, she sparks
twin moons centre stage, chartreuse chanteuse,
all that jazz with twinkles. Scrumptious svelte.
The rasp of velvet, the descent and scorch
of needle claw. Bipolar and molar, the healer
of bones. Her silent hum, vibrations that thrill.
Stubborn as a willow in a storm, she bends
and does not break. Not shades of grey
but endless grace. Elastic, fantastic, shape
-shifting dreamer, she weaves a fandango,
spellbinding tangle of chains.