Return To Rainy Fascist Island

If you have been following my Instagram (though unless you’re a fan of cat pictures and ridiculous desserts, there’s probably no good reason to…), you may have noticed that I appear to be in Britain. I’m not going to go into all the details of why here, but yes, I am here! Up until the 29th of June anyhow.

One somewhat odd thing about coming home was the racking up of credit card charges to buy UK tests for Day 2, Day 8, and Day 5 (as part of the Government’s Test To Release programme to get me out of quarantine faster), followed by simply getting in my car and going less than a mile to a CVS for a drive-through test. Which cost me nothing. This is not how healthcare in the two countries is supposed to work. Why is it easier and free to get tested in the US than it is in the UK? You don’t need a reason. You just book online and go. With that and how we were herded and penned in at immigration at Heathrow, I’m beginning to understand just why things got so bad here…and why the Delta variant has taken hold. Despite all the signage saying we should have our COVID results and Locator forms out…nobody checked anything and I just walked through the eGate. Good times!

In somewhat less pandemic-focused news. I can tell you that CVG airport has now fully embraced the new Kentucky alcohol laws. Do you want to spend some of your time waiting for a flight sipping on a pour of a bottle of Old Granddad from 1974? Because they‘ll let you do that, and put the shot into a to-go cup that you can take around the entire airport. Incredibly reasonable pricing too — the OGD was $20 for a generous pour.

Meanwhile, on the somewhat sparsely-populated flight, I read Owen Hatherley’s new book — Clean Living Under Difficult Circumstances. I was expecting it to be an all-new book instead of a collection of articles and old blog posts, but a lot of it was still new to me. I was struck by his examination / criticism of the recent popularity of brutalist books, and the men that fall in love with them. And yes, guilty as charged — I follow Cats of Brutalism on Instagram for crying out loud. But I do think my love of the style goes beyond just their stark look; they remind me of the time where, especially in the UK, the state said, we have seen the devastation and the slums. And we can do better. And we will. We will build juggernauts of ambition, streets that tower into the sky, edifices that can block out the massive road arteries of London so you can hear birdsong during the day. We will build these places. And we will build them for the people, for the people have the right to this quality of housing. And for a time, as a country, we did that. Sure, it wasn’t perfect by any means, but places like Trellick Tower and the Alexandra Road Estate are a window into a different world that today is hard for us to imagine that it even existed.

Anyhow, the book is a Proustian rush of blogs gone by, names like Fisher, Carmody1, Reynolds, and all the others that made the 2000s bearable. As part of the I Love Music poptimist collective, I even make something of an appearance in the book. So if you do find yourself on an eight-hour flight back to the UK with an entire row2 to yourself and not much to do, I certainly recommend it for occupying part of that time.

(And for accompanying video, why not a complete set of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?)

That’s it for this week; the next few days seem to involve a combination of coding in Golang, rain, and so, so many COVID tests.

  1. I know Robin isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I have a soft spot for him and his wild readings of what a broadcast in 1971 meant to the nation at large. [return]
  2. And by row, I mean from one window to the other — 10 seats from right to left and just me in the centre. Never had such luxury on a US-UK flight before. [return]