There is now no doubt that we are at war. Our website today came under an attack from Panama with 249 attempted hacks in 10 minutes. Fortunately, our defences are strong, but quite what Signor Jorge was hoping to do is beyond me. Was he trying to discover the secrets of our Cheltenham – I can tell him. Pick the wrong horses in 80% of all races. Was he trying to discover our monetisation policy – easy, it’s free. So, Sgr Jorge, get back to your school books and stop practising your limited black-hatting skills on me. I am simply too knackered to deal with you.
Thank you for asking, no I am no better. But equally, I am not so hugely unwell that I cannot manage a couple of hours before I am overcome. The headaches continue, and my back is hurting like billyo, and I am wearing one of my snuff handkerchiefs as a mask – which achieves little, but which makes The Memsahib feel secure. Talking of that increasingly outré pastime, (taking snuff, not pleasing the Memsahib obs), I wonder whether taking snuff might be the answer to C19. My man at Wilsons of Sharrow does a very splendid mentholated dark snuff called Dynamite. It is not for the faint-hearted. We shall see.
My very old friend, the cartoonist, script-writer, producer, and all-around dangerous good-egg, Mark Grant sent me this, for which I thank him.
A LETTER FROM F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, QUARANTINED IN 1920 IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE DURING THE SPANISH INFLUENZA OUTBREAK.
Dearest Rosemary,F. Scott Fitzgerald
It was a limpid dreary day, hung as in a basket from a single dull star. I thank you for your letter. Outside, I perceive what may be a collection of fallen leaves tussling against a trash can. It rings like jazz to my ears. The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has retreated to their quarters, rightfully so. At this time, it seems very poignant to avoid all public spaces. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to that he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked if he had washed his hands. He hadn’t. He is much the denier, that one. Why, he considers the virus to be just influenza. I’m curious of his sources.
The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy. Please pray for us.
You should see the square, oh, it is terrible. I weep for the damned eventualities this future brings. The long afternoons rolling forward slowly on the ever-slick bottomless highball. Z. says it’s no excuse to drink, but I just can’t seem to steady my hand. In the distance, from my brooding perch, the shoreline is cloaked in a dull haze where I can discern an unremitting penance that has been heading this way for a long, long while. And yet, amongst the cracked cloudline of an evening’s cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow.
I am reminded by this of Geoge Bernard Shaw’s observation:
If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience?