Simian Substitute Site For March 2020: Monkey Business
Simian Substitute Site For April 2020: Monkey Wellbeing

Life As We Know It v2.0

Cartoon by Giles Pilbrow from the current Private EyeThe last time I posted on here was three weeks ago. Buried towards the end of a paragraph about Norwegian Slow TV is the humorous suggestion that real-time footage of a nine-day Arctic expedition will give you something to watch if you've got to stay in the house for a couple of weeks. LOL!

And now everybody's staying in the house for a couple of weeks.

Welcome to Life As We Know It v2.0. I think we all preferred the old version, didn't we?

Before anyone starts panicking: we're both okay, at the time of writing. The lack of posting so far this year on the blog hasn't been down to illness, it's just been a very busy year. We keep doing stuff, I keep planning to write about it, and then we do other stuff instead which increases the backlog. Just to give you a glimpse behind the curtain, these are all the posts that are currently under construction to some degree or other:

  • The followup to BrewDogging #69, looking at what we did in Hamburg last Christmas apart from hanging around the BrewDog bar.
  • A scientific analysis of what happened when we went vegan for the whole of January. (We were sober for the whole month as well, but that's been discussed already.)
  • The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme! I saw seven of the films in it when they played in London back in February.
  • The British Animation Awards! After a few years of not being able to make it to the Public Choice screenings, I managed to catch all of this year's, which means I have roughly 60 short films to review.
  • BrewDogging #71: a weekend in Cambridge, visiting the bar and doing other stuff (including a night in Norwich along the way).

I've got notes for all of the above, which at some point should be expanded into full-length posts. But I've got to finish writing them in a very different world from the one I started writing them in. Cambridge was only two weeks ago, for God's sake, and already it feels like another historical era: one in which we drank casual pints in bars, or gathered in tiny spaces to listen to live music. (This is going to play havoc with The Belated Birthday Girl's Undiscovered Gigs project, I can tell you.) And going back further, the idea that we were allowed to travel unimpeded to Germany over Christmas now seems like some sort of wild fantasy. At some point, I guess these pieces will get completed and posted, but expect them to be coloured by an awful lot of hindsight. (A bit like Grace Dent's restaurant review in today's Guardian, perhaps.)

Happily, it's not like either of us have lots of downtime at the moment during which I could be writing for the blog. Both of us have found ourselves in jobs that are capable of being performed from home over the internet: and both of us are, in different ways, working towards helping other people do their jobs in this unfamiliar situation. So we're very busy, and online most of the time. What's been an interesting development in literally the last week is how the pivot to video conferencing is happening in our non-work lives as well, with everything from Japanese lessons to tai chi classes being held over Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Which brings us to the arts and entertainment, which is technically what you've all come here for. And it turns out that they've been embracing the idea of streaming video into your home, too. Movie services like Curzon Home Cinema have always been well placed to give you access to the latest cinema releases, even more so now there aren't any cinemas worth speaking of. But the other performing arts are starting to get in on the act too: from Robin Ince and his mates running their Stay At Home comedy festival, to the Met Opera repeating some of their more popular broadcasts over the web.

I've been setting up a small online support group for Spank's Pals: the plan is that we regularly meet up over Skype, and then jointly watch something fun online and chat about it afterwards. Because in the short term, it looks like that's all we'll be able to do. We've already had to cancel one upcoming event from our calendar, as the plug got pulled this week on the BrewDog AGM. Our big summer holiday is also looking uncertain at the moment. Beyond that, who can say? Will we get to go to Edinburgh this year? Will there be a London Film Festival?

For now, all any of us can do is the best we can. Wash your hands, for at least 20 seconds every time. (I'm finding Vatican Broadside by Half Man Half Biscuit to be my handwashing song of choice.) Practice social distancing. (We unexpectedly met fan favourite Old Lag on a train the other day, and exchanged our very first elbow bump.) Don't panic-buy everything like a dick. (The trick is to go to a shop that doesn't have a car park, I think: besides, local stores need your support more than supermarkets.) Take care of yourselves, and each other. Let's see where we go from here.


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