Weeknotes 2022.9: Stepping back from Hell, just for now

A bar graph of daily walking distance showing a peak on Weds to Sat (19.1km on Fri 4 Mar.)

We’ve just come back from our first post-pandemic foreign trip, 4 nights in Paris. It was chilly, the air quality wasn’t great, one of us got a cold, the hotel breakfast was a bit lacking, and we walked far enough to make our ankles ache (19.1km on Friday!) but we had a great time and we think we managed to avoid COVID. I also impulse-bought a spectacularly loud shirt from a little shop on Île Saint-Louis. A photo dump is incoming (of Paris, not the shirt.)

Reducing my news intake to protect my mental health seems to be working—kinda. This is probably because I’ve been on holiday. And even when I should’ve been concentrating on the gems at the Islamic art exhibition in the Louvre, and savouring the delightful meals, I haven’t been able to drag myself away from tapping that little “ignore limit” button. It’s a similar spiral to the one I had at the start of the pandemic, and in August 2017 when Trump made his “fire and fury” remarks. I’ve had to cut the limit from 15 to 10 minutes, and add a slew of news sites onto the list. (Even now, as I write this, I find myself drawn to Wikipedia, to tapping “ignore for 15 minutes” on the BBC News page, to scrolling and catastrophising myself into a pit of despair that people willingly inflict such monstrosities on others.)

It was also appalling to hear that while I was away, another cyclist was killed at the death trap Holborn gyratory in central London. Every single person who is killed like this is an engineering and moral failure on the part of policy makers.

On our Eurostar back to London this morning, we spent 30 minutes stopped at the platform at Stratford International waiting for a “technical problem” (signal failure? Broken down train?) ahead of us to clear. Had Stratford “International” actually been an international station, we could’ve got off here and walked home. I was left wondering if I could claim Delay Repay from successive governments and decision-makers that have de-scoped infrastructure investments salami-slicer style so that we’re left with… well, whatever it is that we have.

This performance of How Not To Drown by CHVRCHES and Robert Smith is a delight from the doldrums. Definitely one of my favourite songs from last year, a condensation of what helplessness, depression, and screaming into the void feels like.