that was a fortnight, 26 April 2020

Lots of things to talk about, almost nothing to talk about.

Mainly I’ve been sunbathing on my balcony. April’s been amazing, hasn’t it? Well, the weather. Not everything else. I realise sunbathing is now considered a private luxury and I’m lucky.

I’ve not developed agoraphobia, but there’s definitely rising fear of other people in public spaces. With the good weather, the park and the marshes have been a bit busy for me. Hopefully this is temporary.

I did make it to the allotment. Watered the mustard greens that are trying to bolt in the heat and marvelling at a now massive beetroot I had forgotten to pull up last year. Planted a few peas.

I’m not a flower person, but daffodils represent hope in the dark, and my collection has grown every year. And this year I added a few tulips, as they represent spring. What next? And now Leif is here (in Animal Crossing) and I can buy lilies and chrysanthemums.

I’ve also realised I’ve not been listening to much music or to podcasts. This is definitely bad for me, but I don’t like music on when I work, and I never leave the “work” spaces because they are my “not work” spaces as well. The one thing I have listed to is 2 episodes of Off Menu (probably the only appropriately socially distanced restaurant at the moment) – the Paul F. Tompkins and Sara Pascoe episodes are some of the funnest things I’ve heard in a long while.

I’ve been ordering more and more specialist, esoteric lockdown supplies. Goat shoulders, specialist cheese, natural wine (also), even pre-mixed cocktails. I’m the wrong side of the tracks (in E15) to get delivery from the more hipster Hackney places, but the combination of a lot of restaurant quality food and drink that needs using now floating around, plus many trade wholesalers turning retail for a bit, means there’s all sorts of things that I couldn’t normally get.

But you have to remember it’s pretty desperate for producers and supply chains. I’m not optimistic about what we’ll have, food or restaurant wise, on the other side of this. Gabrielle Hamilton’s piece about running Prune in New York for 20 years captures a lot of the essence of the questions we all should be asking:

“The concerns before coronavirus are still universal: The restaurant as we know it is no longer viable on its own. You can’t have tipped employees making $45 an hour while line cooks make $15. You can’t buy a $3 can of cheap beer at a dive bar in the East Village if the “dive bar” is actually paying $18,000 a month in rent, $30,000 a month in payroll; it would have to cost $10. I can’t keep hosing down the sauté corner myself just to have enough money to repair the ripped awning.”

“The girl who called about brunch the first day we were closed … is used to having an Uber driver pick her up exactly where she stands at any hour of the day, a gel mani-pedi every two weeks and award-winning Thai food delivered to her door by a guy who braved the sleet, having attached oven mitts to his bicycle handlebars to keep his hands warm. But I know she would be outraged if charged $28 for a Bloody Mary. … No. We are not open for brunch. There is no more brunch.”

In the UK, Jonathan Nunn’s new newsletter, Vittles, is approaching food journalism from a very different place to most mainstream media (I still love Grace Dent’s columns).

Boxsetted DEVS. I nearly didn’t watch it as the clip they used to promote it has someone say “What is Devs?” in a perfect Philomena Cunk intonation. It’s nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is (and not as good as Russian Doll), but the production style and values are impressive. I’ve like a few articles about how they made it – specifically

“There is a sequence in episode one where Nick Offerman’s character Forest takes his new employee Sergei into Devs for the first time. Chatting, they walk across a bridge through the redwoods in the heart of the Santa Cruz campus, enter another redwood forest we miraculously found in an arboretum outside London; come out, still talking, into a field at the edge of the Californian campus; approach the VFX Devs building; and finally walk into a set on a stage in Manchester. In the final show it’s seamless. As Forest says to Sergei as they walk, that’s “pretty neat”.

Telly magic.

The pandas are mating for the first time at Ocean Park in Hong Kong. Maybe having thousands of people visit each day is… bad for them?

I’ve not watched any of the livestreams or replays being put on by all the theatres and venues (I may pay to watch Fleabag). Something about the time-limitedness of them, and the fact they couldn’t or wouldn’t do this before they were forced to close, rankles a bit. Like closed archives always do.

BBC4’s How to Make is good on both product design and materials.

There was probably something else. Time is doing that super quick super slow thing for me. Definitely lost track of days.