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It Was Friday 13th Two Years Ago And COVID Was In The Air

In my manuscript, There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth  I finished a chapter about the ‘elderly Dutchmen party with Alison Alexandra’ on Friday 13th. I took a trip and, on 19th March, began what turned out to be nearly a full year of Pandemic writing.The next chapter of the novel begins “In times of Pandemic, one of Alison Alexandra’s greatest worries is being bored.”

I started planning to write about the Pandemic the day after I heard that China was constructing hospitals solely devoted to COVID patients. I knew then the world was going to be in a lot of trouble. I was proved right.

 This is how that chapter began.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In times of Pandemic, one of Alison Alexandra’s greatest worries is being bored. And though she doesn’t want to test the theory, she believes she would rather be ill than bored.

“I’d step lightly there,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.

“You would?”

“I would,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost. “And I know what I’m talking about. Yes – I do.”

Within the week of Wuhan City in China being shut down, and the building of emergency hospitals to house the sick, Alison Alexandra knew this would inevitably become the fate of the world. It might have intruded a bit more quickly than she has anticipated, but not by much.

Alison Alexandra of course thinks about the Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”. But she also knows that this is a phrase in English that has no Chinese equivalent. The closest curse in Chinese is “Better to be a dog in peacetime than a human in time of war”.

“I won’t argue with that,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.

And she doesn’t.

So, it was at the beginning of the Chinese curse that Alison Alexandra sets her plan into motion. It is simple, though dependent on circumstance.

Alison Alexandra arranges to get those with whom she’d like to share the End Times – if End Times they prove to be – to join her at her house and wait out the famine with a feast or two. Or three.

“I don’t think the End Times are supposed to be good times,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost/

“Not to put too fine a point on it,” says Alison Alexandra. “But aren’t you supposed to know?”

“Point taken,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.

Franz Kafka [Again] Faces The New Year During His Own Pandemic

I posted this last New Year, little thinking it would be appropriate for this New Year. However, it already has many viewers today, so why not give it another run?

+++++++++++++++++

Not only did Franz Kafka go through ‘The Spanish Flu’, he contracted it and survived.

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in his missing diary entries.  Two such are New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

I will point out that Kafka was often abrupt in his real diaries. There are just two sentences for Sunday, 02 August 1914, the day the First World War began: “Germany has declared war on Russia. Swimming in the afternoon.”

**********************

From Kafka in The Castle

31 December 1917

The end of the year. The end of a love. The ebb of a life. Even the Empire can not last much longer.

01 January 1918

It is strange how we are expected to wake up on a Tuesday morning – just as any Tuesday morning – and be full of hope because it’s the first day of some arbitrarily appointed year. I walk the streets and it is still Prague.

A Meal For Sailors Home From The Sea & Staying Together During A COVID Pandemic Lock Down

It is ever-practical Linda who knows a thing or fifty-two about what sailors who have been long on the sea want to eat and drink when first ashore, who suggests a menu, and is more than willing to prepare it all herself, but is convinced by Bridget that, in this instance, too many cooks will not spoil the broth.

“So what’s first?” asks Bridget.

“Always beer,” says Linda. “And a small bowl of nuts. And since this is so special, make them cashews.”

“That’s like a tease,” says Amanda.

“Yes.”

“And what’s next?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“Potato canoes, with lots of bacon in the mix,” says Linda. “And cook the bacon at the time, so he can smell it.”

“Crafty,” says Bridget.

“Tricks of the trade,” says Linda.

“What’s up next?” asks Amanda.

“As fresh a salad as you can make,” says Linda. “If there are cucumbers and mushrooms, so much the better, because those don’t keep well on a ship.” Linda winks. “And throw in some dried cranberries.”

“You’ve entertained sailors home from the sea,” says Amanda.

“I have,” agrees Linda. “My father and my brother. All this I have learned at my mother’s knee.”

“Home cookin’.” says Alison Alexandra. “What’s the main course?”

“Steak – always,” says Linda. “Sirloin tip with the cap on – or better.” She speaks sternly. “And don’t overcook it – even though they say that’s what they want. They don’t. They want the taste, and will appreciate it.”

“I hope we’re all getting this,” says Amanda.

“And fried onions,” says Linda. “On the side.”

“For the smell,” says Bridget.

“Always a winner,” says Linda.

“Any other side dish?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“Fried rice,” says Linda. With BBQ pork and onions in it.”

“But we already have potato,” says Amanda.

“They can’t get too much starch,” says Linda. “And they get to choose as much as they want out of the bowl.”

“Large bowl,” says Bridget.

“You bet’cha,” says Linda.

“Is that it?”

“Yes.”

“What about dessert?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“We offer apple pie with ice cream, and rice pudding with a velvety skin on top.”

“That’s quite a choice,” says Bridget.

“Oh, those sailor boys will choose some of each.”

“Is that it?” asks Amanda.

“No.” Linda smiles. The end is a pot of bitter Chinese tea, a plate of thin, crisp, mildly sweet cookies, and a bottle of amber rum.”

“I’m stuffed,” says Bridget.

“Welcome home,” says Linda.

Alison Alexandra Has Novel Expectations That Don’t Have A Ghost Of A Chance In The Pandemic

“I’d like Bridget to meet you,” says Alison Alexandra.

“No.” R/Jane-the-Ghost shakes her head. “That can’t happen.”

“She’s my cousin,” says Alison Alexandra. “Blood relation, and straight as a die.”

“No – that’s not the way it works.” R/Jane-the-Ghost smiles. “Even though I like your little pun. Trust me.”

“She’s been to the Mansion.”

“Not my department,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost. “As you know – I have not.”

“I’ve noticed that,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Different stages of departure,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost. “As for me – I am well and truly dead.”

“Well then.” Alison Alexandra actually tries to see her companion. “Do you have any advice?”

“About what?”

“How to deal with this Pandemic?”

“You’ve got booze stacked away?”

“Yes. And more coming.”

“Then that pretty well covers it,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost. “Creature comforts for the creature. Your spirit will take care of itself.”

“Body and soul,” suggests Alison Alexandra.

“When threatened, your body will be more aware of your soul.” R/Jane-the-Ghost smiles. “The booze will make it easier for you to say ‘hello’.”

“Cousin Bridget would like to know that.”

To Wear A Jolly Hat

colorful-fedora-hat-more-colors-10

 

Oh, to wear a jolly hat,
 
An impressive chapeau,
 
A trendy  topper.
 
And be:
 
The host of the neighbourhood,
 
The toast of the town,
 
The Crème de la crème.
 
The bee in the bonnet,
 
The bee’s knees,
 
The cat’s meow,
 
The font of celebration
And good cheer
 
To direct,
 
Like a traffic cop
 
In the midst of
COVID constraint
and
Rambunctious chaos.
 
All those
 
In their honking cars,
 
With balloons
 
Tied to door handles
 
Or streaming
 
From
 
Open windows
 
 
Fiddling
(figuratively)
Whilst Rome burns.
 
 
Bringing cheer to those,
 
Trapped upon their balconies,
 
 
Daring not to go down
To the parking lots of life.
 
 
Except
 
(of course)
 
For those few
 
– well, not so few –
 
Who leap over constraints;.
 
Social order;
 
Good health
 
&
 
Metal fencing.
 
To grab at
 
Proffered gifts,
 
And bestow upon
 
Friend and family alike
 
The hugs
 
And
 
Kiss
 
Of Death.

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