The Lockdown Diaries 6: No Time To Be Bored
Selfish joggers are now the target of national hatred.
It’s not all intellectual wordplay and learning new juggling skills up here in Fowler Towers, you know.
I’ve decided that supine entertainment is far more enjoyable than going for a walk. Preferably curled up with as many cushions as one owns. We’re British, we’re thinking; who needs to go out ever again?
Besides, around the centre of the city walking means squeezing past them. The spitting, gasping, utterly selfish Gen X joggers, the most hated group in the country.
But Lockdown has its advantages. It’s proven to be the perfect time to catch up on all the TV shows I’d promised to watch. The advantage is that the charlatan shows have been exposed and dumped by the public, and we late arrivals only have to see the proven successes. No-one will ever need to watch a single frame of ‘Lost’ again. Likewise generic superhero series cobbled together on American streaming platforms, all of them seemingly aimed at dimwitted sugar-addicted children, and po-faced dramas about people who look like robots or vice versa.
Instead I finally got around to seven seasons of ‘Veep’, a less filthy version of ‘The Thick of It’. Selina, the titular VP, is vacuous, bullying, selfish and without a redeeming feature, but of course this is not a series about characters. Like all of Armando Ianucci’s work it’s about the panic of losing control. The difference in ‘Veep’ is that there can only be limited loss of control because over them all hangs the invisible presence of the POTUS, the ultimate out-of-control zone. On balance I preferred the madness of the sadly cancelled ‘Brain Dead’, in which brain-eating aliens take over Republicans, the joke being that nobody notices. The single remaining series is well worth checking out.
‘Friday Night Dinner’ somehow got to seven seasons without me noticing. What I had lightly dismissed as a traditional Jewish sitcom turns out to be well, that certainly, but also an offbeat mashup of ‘Green Wing’ and ‘The In-Betweeners’. I especially like Jim, played with the right degree of disturbing eerieness by Mark Heap.
For serious viewing I’m addicted to ‘The Looming Tower’, set in 1998, with Peter Sarsgaard (CIA) facing off against Jeff Daniels (FBI) in the run-up to 9/11, as their internecine war allows for crucial intel to fall through the cracks. Written by Dan Futterman and Lawrence Wright (the book’s author), it hurtles about the Middle East visiting cells on both sides and demands close attention, which is well rewarded. While the dialogue is not quite up to the Aaron Sorkin gold standard it’s powerful – and damning – viewing. but the self-contained series got lost in the last glut of US entertainment.
The other fun home activity, now that the Husband and I are on separate dining schedules, is cooking my own random meals. Last night I knocked out an easy favourite, Anchovy Lemon Pasta.
1 Sicilion lemon
1 large clove garlic
1 fistful of breadcrumbs
Anchovy oil and olive oil
Heat the oil mix and fry the anchovies, garlic, shallot and several pieces of lemon peel until soft, then set aside. Fry the breadcrumbs. Boil the pasta. Into a large bowl toss the anchovy mix with half the lemon, add spaghetti and finally the breadcrumbs.
With no lockdown end in sight for us and the PM urging caution while he tries to locate all the seasoned professionals he fired from the cabinet and replaced with inexperienced sycophants, we remain patient, but with much to amuse ourselves. And if I had to find a bright side, I’d say that getting sick in lockdown certainly reduces one’s FOMO.