August: May contain vast amounts of nothing happening

TS Eliot wrote “April is the cruellest month.” I would contend that August is the most tedious. (September is probably the most energetic, November is Emo, and December is annoyingly cheerful). This August is particularly bad. Nothing ever happens in August; Governments are not in session and everyone is on holiday. The ongoing pandemic, the lockdowns, the restrictions have added to this. With so many events and milestones either occurring at the wrong time or cancelled altogether, time takes on a sticky, stretchy quality. This August has been the equivalent road tar.

Covid numbers in the UK have been relatively stable, or possibly stagnant, at between 30,000 and 35,000 cases per day. Of course, with schools on break and people away on holiday, fewer people are being tested. Something Trump was right about; test fewer people, get fewer cases. (Not a viable long term strategy, as you still end up with a lot if inexplicably sick or dead people).

Supermarket shortages are still just in the slightly annoying phase. There’s less selection, and what’s left on the shelf is more expensive, but you can generally complete your shopping list. Supermarket bosses are warning us that things are going to get worse, thanks to the shortage of lorry drivers. Some even go so far as to say Christmas will be cancelled again. It’s ironic; last year you could have a massive feast, but no guests. This year the entire extended family can come round and you can all share a single chicken wing. Did anyone think to freeze last year’s leftovers?

It’s the end of Summer and the weather is fine, so Extinction Rebellion is back; erecting various structures to block traffic and gluing themselves to various buildings. I understand their ultimate goals, but I don’t see how their publicity stunts do anything towards achieving them. Blocking off heavy traffic areas just means people have to drive further to get around them. While the public is at first supportive, they quickly get annoyed and then lose interest. All the showy protests do is make people aware of the group ‘Extinction Rebellion’, not what they’re fighting for.

And that’s the tedium of August; a whole lot happening and nothing going on. September will bring changes, both of season and of circumstance. And good or bad, I will welcome them. I cannot cope with the holding pattern much longer.

As we head into September, kids will go back to school, testing will increase. Adults will be forced back to the office, the number of people breathing on each other will increase. The case numbers are going to spike. Hospitalisations and deaths are already creeping up. We’ll finally see how effective the vaccination program has been. I expect the return of some restrictions: mask mandates, limited gatherings, small social bubbles, social distancing, all the things that don’t cost the government anything. If the vaccination program has reached enough people, we won’t need another lockdown. If it hasn’t, and if people are monumentally stupid about not honouring restrictions, we can expect another lockdown, although experience tells us it will come at least two weeks too late to be effective.

We’ll see what happens with the shortage of lorry drivers. Will we be digging out our Grandmothers Ration Cookbook? Or will someone release and updated one? We don’t need Mock Goose and Poor Knight’s Fritters, we need Mock Banana Bread and Approximate Sushi. Is anyone’s Lockdown 2020 sourdough starter still alive? Or maybe all the lorry drivers have simply showing the bosses what an Essential Worker actually is and will return to work when they are paid what they’re worth. It’s already happening. Some Waitrose drivers are earning as much as the executives. Would we even notice if the executives didn’t turn up for work?

I am so ready to leave behind the August inertia and get moving, no matter the direction. I’ve been trying to find new experiences, but there’s not a lot going on. Some Sporting events have gone ahead, but I can’t under any circumstances bring myself to care about sports. Summer festivals, markets and carnivals have either been cancelled or scaled waaay back. The Notting Hill Carnival was cancelled for the second year (and yet the Euro cup and the Olympics went ahead….I guess no major corporations make money out of the carnival).

The closest I’ve come to a new experience lately is trying Mango Ketchup. I liked it, but I won’t buy it again. I cannot figure out what to pair it with.

It’s almost September. I hope the change of month, the change of season will mean a change of direction. Any direction, as long as it’s forward movement. I can’t do the treadmill much longer.

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