that was a fortnight, 13 April 2020

I was meant to be in Ragusa right now. Living the Montelbano dream. Instead I’ve been pretending to be on holiday.

I’ve managed to configure my balcony to have room for a sunbed. In the Before, I’d’ve gone to Ikea and bought something cheap. Last year I went big on Korean ultralight deck chairs. There’s been a revolution in “things made with tubular aluminium”. Helinox produce super-light deckchairs (500 g) that use tubes with internal bungees to make assembly quick and then, crucially use the ballistic chair fabric as tension throughout the chair. You sit very low, and there are balance issues if you reach or twist too far, but they’re pretty amazing. I…. bought a Chinese copy of these. And then I bought a high backed Chinese version (that Helinox have now expanded to).

Helinox do make “cots” (the tactical name for a sunbed). But most ultralight cots are very low to the ground. There’s a Chinese brand called Kingcamp that are pumping out all sorts of camping equipment, but also making quite innovative designs based around this cheap sturdy tubular aluminium. There’s quite a lot of great packable sunbeds/cots at around 6kg – including the Kingcamp hammocky-thing that’s pretty amazing. In the end I went with the “KingCamp Deluxe Lightweight Off Ground Rip Stop Camping Cot with Stuff Bag KC3988” which was around 100 bucks delivered, but is only 2kg. It took a lot of watching videos to assemble (and realising the included Allen key is vital) but it’s comfortable and pretty amazing engineering. The only downside is that as it’s all tensioned through the fabric, it’s pretty noisy when moving around. It creaks like a ship.

April suntans.

The other thing filling my time is Animal Crossing. The White Pube nail why it’s relevant and important especially now. It’s taken up some time of mine, but that’s replacing Mario Kart completely, and some TikTok time. Before that it was Two Dots time. Share of fingers is the new share of stomach. I’ve been watching the Ghibli movies now on Netflix – and I’m struck that Animal Crossing is rendered like anime movies. The characters that move are simple, but the backgrounds are stunning. It’s truly beautiful at sunset.

I’ve finally planted the first seeds for this year. Mainly tomatoes, chillies, sweetcorn to start with. They’re already getting their first true leaves. Nature is amazing. I’m loving Gardener’s World focussing on the obsessives – this time the daffodil people (from 17m30s on). Plant intelligence.

Interesting to see comedy adapt to the Now. Have I Got News For You doesn’t work. Those used to producing on their own – like Limmy – have all the tools they need in their home to make broadcast quality TV. There’s some interesting experiments like the Covid Arms, which mean that (for less/no money) some comedians are playing bigger gigs than ever before.

I was in central Manchester in 1996 when the bomb went off – but there had been some warning and some people managed to escape. In 1999, I worked in Brixton, lived in Bloomsbury and hung out in Soho when the 3 nailbombs were planted. I grew up with terror. But not on this scale. Every day, there’s a bomb going off with no warning in a crowded cinema or theatre (or closer, a hospital ward or a care home). It’s the oddest feeling. I can’t pretend I can work or live like the bomb isn’t going off.