Blog archive June 2022
Blog pause caused by two weeks of covid, hopefully now almost ended. I probably caught it on public transport. I thought at first I had picked up a chill and breathed too much wood smoke at the Wolf Fields labyrinth opening on the 18th (see below). But I was quite unwell on the Monday evening. Tuesday morning I tested +ve, for the first time. For me it was like flu mixed with a heavy cold - aching, sweating, sore throat, catarrh, coughing. But it didn't touch my lungs, thank goodness.
The first week was mostly in bed, sleeping and sweating. Bedclothes and pillows were soaked. I was dehydrated all the time. It didn't worry me because that's how the body gets rid of viruses, but it was a horrible mess. Waking in the night on a cold wet pillow.
I still tested +ve on Monday (disappointing but maybe not surprising). Each day I get a little bit better, but it's slow. The heavy cough and snuffling is the main thing. My energy levels sag and I have to lie down for a while. My sense of taste and smell went this week - I can't smell or taste coffee, for instance. Things have a bitter taste, even ice cream. Can still taste salt, and smell lavender - it's not total loss, clearly a particular set of chemicals is affected.
Of course I am quarantined. I used the time at home to get things that require delivery. A new set of higher performance masks - 'closing the door after the horse has bolted' maybe, but good to protect others from me, and for the future. In theory I have five months' immunity now.
And new headphones. I have a pair of AKG cans for music, about 15 years old and fraying. I have a Logitech headset for Zoom/Teams calls - USB so no good for a phone, and not good for music. I'm tired of the cables. So it was time to have one wireless, device-agnostic set to replace both for work and home. After much reading of reviews and tests I landed on the Bose QC35II - a compromise between music quality, call quality and price. Working well with my devices so far, and comfy. I'm finding extra parts of the music, good and bad.
The great thing about making your own blog is that you can add entries into the timeline where they are meant to be, even if you didn't get around to it at the time. So I can put this entry in on 19th June, despite writing it on 30th.
The Wolf Fields labyrinth was opened today, as part of the Wolf Fields Art Day. The weather was 25˚ and sunny until half an hour before the opening, when it rained and turned cold. The area dean was meant to cut the ribbon, but he had a puncture and didn't arrive until later, so we went ahead anyway. I did a little labyrinth explanation, there were prayers, old and young people cut the ribbon, and the children walked in a crocodile round the labyrinth to the centre, where there were bubbles to blow.
More photos here on Flickr.
The children's procession was entirely delightful - not how we usually walk a labyrinth, but it accidentally recreated the 'labyrinth dance' theory for the origins of labyrinths. I made a note to do this again. It will definitely work better on the rounded patterns like this one.
The barbecue to end the afternoon was brought forward by an hour because of the weather, but there were still plenty of people. We hung around the fire pit for warmth, my coat and bag smelt of smoke days later. I assumed the first signs of covid (see above) were down to the wood smoke.
On the actual release date, here are a couple of clips of Bowie on the Ziggy Stardust tour of 1972 - put together from various sources and synced to a live track - superlative sound and vision editing by Mr Sussex.
[Can't get the Youtube player to embed here, no time to fix. They seem to be reluctant to allow it nowadays.]
It was only after posting the last entry that I saw the note on Wikipedia - the release date was confirmed as 16th June 1972 by this post on davidbowie.com in 2015. Most sources still say 6th June - they missed the correction or haven't been updated. I wonder what the origin of the 6th June date was - 6th vs 16th looks like a typo.
Not that ten days makes any difference to all the other aspects.
Meanwhile there is another jubilee - the 'Ziggy Stardust' album was released 50 years ago today. This makes me feel very old. I still have my copy, the first record I ever bought with my own money, in 1973.
I called in on Heddon Street, where the cover photos were shot, on Saturday for the first time in many years. The street is now pedestrianised and filled with bars. A plaque marks the spot where Bowie stood for the front cover. There is a phone box, but it is not the same model. It could do with cleaning up.
'Ziggy Stardust' the album was not instantly a cultural revolution like 'Sergeant Pepper' or 'Never Mind The Bollocks'. Touring and 'Top of the Pops' did the work. In February 1972, Bowie was a critical success due to 'Hunky Dory' but not a commercial one, and he really needed to sell the records this time. So he toured Britain relentlessly, starting in pubs and clubs and working his way up. By August, he had a fanbase, a hit album and single, and stardom, here at least.
Fittingly, the anniversary falls early in Pride month. Bowie gave his famous 'coming out' interview just ahead of the Ziggy tour, obviously to court publicity (slightly desperately), but also because he felt that the 'next hero' for the 70s should be gay. Not really gay himself, it became a central part of the Ziggy Stardust persona which for a while was not separate from David Bowie in the public mind. (And note that 'David Bowie' was itself a stage name - a character, playing a character.)
An interview in the music press was one thing, the appearance was another. Media representations of gay men in early 70s Britain were middle-aged camp comedians - Kenneth Williams, Larry Grayson, Dick Emery, Mr Humphries in 'Are You Being Served' - limp wrists and coded references, acceptable because ridiculous. And then there was a charismatic young rock star on TV, wearing makeup and the best haircut of the time, bold and confident, referencing art and literature. This was the cultural revolution, more than the music which enabled it as a carrier wave.
This is the last royal jubilee for quite a while. The first one celebrated in a reign is a silver jubilee, 25 years. Charles is 73 and not yet king, and will almost certainly not reign for as long as 25 years. Then William will have to do 25 years to reach his Silver Jubilee. If William becomes king in, say, 15 years time, that means 40 years to the next jubilee. It may be 50.
We have got used to having a jubilee a decade in the 21st century - Golden in 2002, Diamond in 2012, Platinum in 2022. This has never happened before in Britain. Queen Victoria was the only other British monarch to make a Diamond Jubilee (1897). Four others have reigned for more than 50 years, in the last 1500 years. An average century might contain at best three jubilees - two silver, maybe also a third silver or (very rarely) golden. The silver jubilees of George V (1935) and Elizabeth II (1977) were greatly celebrated because they were unusual events (the only two of the 20th century).
So those of us who have seen the four jubilees of the Queen's reign should perhaps not be so blasé about them, in spite of the debunking attitude set by punk during the first one. A diamond jubilee will not happen again for centuries, a platinum probably never.
Now if only one could get decent souvenirs... Merchandise for royal events tends to traditionalism and/or kitsch - pomp and populist. Somehow the monarchy can't be represented by modernity and good design - it can't get out from under the weight of heritage and hand-craft. They did these things better in the 15th century, when the symbolism and heraldry were modern and really meant something. Now it's reduced to twiddles on a teacup. The best 'jubilee merchandise' ever was, ironically, the Jamie Reid 'God Save the Queen' work of 1977 - a critique, but utterly indelible and original. Since then, nothing worth remembering. The best-designed souvenir of the Platinum Jubilee is the Elizabeth Line.
So the one thing that is not compatible at all with my blood pressure medication is grapefruit (fruit or juice). It increases the effect of the medication, unpredictably. This is a great pity because grapefruit is my favourite citrus fruit, and I have a couple in the fruitbowl that I now cannot eat. I didn't want to put off the start of the medication because it will mess up the timing of the two-month review, and I don't know how long it will take to be safe after eating two grapefruit.