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COVID 19 Dreaming

Toon Traveller gives a sunless Sunday on the Tyne both barrels

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by Toon Traveller, Travel Correspondent for outsideleft.com
Time to start planning a rust belt music trip...

COVID 19 Dreaming
A sunless Sunday on the Tyne.

Saturday’s searing, 
well for England’s North East, 21C
then wall to wall to wall sunshine faded 
into Sunday’s dull grey and drizzled dawn.  

Warm inside, then remember,  
bluster and phaff from the 5 o’clock frolics, 
BoJo’s Covid 19 gang show. 
Deep despondent sigh.  

I’m kitchen standing, 
dinner planning, 
breakfast sorting, 
beans ground, 
coffee pot on, 
toast grilled, 
showered and dressed. 

Lockdown rules, 
lone living,  
days seem little different, 
good pension blessed, no commute, 
no packed carriages, 
no bus stop standing, 
no mask worries, 
hands ungloved.  

March starts, complacent cares, 
easy resting, 
Virus-a-coming, distant days,  different feel. 

Today, it’s the weekend, 
battened down,
closed in,
locked out,
feed up,
shortened vision,
zeitgeist of today.

Missing meet ups,
workers’ weekend play times, 
Northern Stage - coffee,
Biscuit Factory - Cake,
Tyneside Cinema - salads, 
Jam Jar Cinema, 
theatre, dance, gigs at The Cluy,
The Riverside,
Soul at The Hoochie Coochie,
Jazz at The Bridge,
and The Railway,
all closed, dimmed, silent and lifeless. 

The beers sipped, laughs and strangers met, 
bands seen, the - ‘soon to be’s, - never will be’s,- has been’s, never was’s; 
some great, some a disappointment, 
some a surprise, all missed, 
all memories, many 
never to be revisited or revived.

Summer’s start days, 
waiting for Spring’s colourful explosion into 
glorious flower and aromas, 
reality these grey days, 
no prospect of a pint and papers, 
coffee cake and catch up, 
locked down, 
closed out, 
tied in, 
and pissed off. 

It’s all too easy to become depressed, 
especially if being alone’s a new experience, 
thankfully not for me.  

I live with most of life’s days’ s patterns
and rhythms
no pitfalls, no pratfalls, 
no disasters, 
regular flashes of light, 
splashes of delight,  
like before lockdown,  
and fingers’ crossed
after closedown, opens again.

Working years were ‘working to live’, 
yeah I had ‘challenging jobs’ and ‘responsibilities’ and yeah
I edged up the ‘greasy management pole’, 
always aware of the losses, 
personal, psychological, and emotional. 

A couple of times stepped back, changed path slightly. 
Had a Sorta philosophy 
“life’s a journey, enjoy the ride”, 
and that’s done for me up to now,
and helps me through these days,
journeys in the body and soul,
places real, imagined and existential, (this year’s word). 

A friend summed it up succinctly – “happiness is a journey, not a destination”. 

These days of gloom and fear, 
fear’s out there, 
on faces, 
in whispered supermarket voices, 
anxious shouted angry 
radio phone-in ranters. 

These days for me,
dulled and fogged in uncertainty,
are more difficult to deal with 
as the Virus continues to stalk the land. 

Stressed?  I know my signs, 
depressed – hmm – 
had darker, deeper, lonelier, scarier times. 
I know how depression, fear, despair, 
resignation, seeps into life, 
a classic horror film fog 
hiding the killer, 
obscuring vision, 
destroying horizons.  

On these days, 
at these times, 
in this world, 
in this life, 
I need to see 
a “lockdown - breakout” route.

Long before this Covid disastrous catastrophe, 
I’d planned a Cataluña trip,  
in and out of Girona, 
trains and buses, 
no travel plans, 
no hotel booking, 
go with the departure board.  

My escape terminated, 
Spanish Flights grounded, 
Hotels closed. 
No more check in, no more bag scans, 
no more ‘seat belts on’  
Nowhere to run, 
Nowhere to fly 
Nowhere to stay. 

In the UK even Blackpool’s closed, 
no city breaks, 
no away-days, 
no way out. 
Well perhaps there is, 
there are, there will be. 

Holiday dreams, plans, hopes, 
and that’s what keeps me going through these dim despairing days.

2020 Soccer Euros, 
a major championship, 
Mid-June / July, 
Italian Puglia in June, 
what’s not to like,  
thoughts gathered, 
guide books scanned, 
Covid crushed that, 
ideas - binned, guide books – shelved, web searches – abandoned, 
no money laid down, nothing wasted, no waiting for a ‘cheque in the post’. 
A holiday denied, 
despondent yeah back to Italy next year? 

Well who knows, who knows. 
2020’s closed down, dreams snuffed out, 
grounded and cancelled. 
Hopes and dreams differed this year, but hey 
save the money and it’s long haul holiday next year in my head.  

Doorstep Europe is a Jet2 flight away, 
so for the locked down days, 
rained and clouded, 
it’s them closed out, shut-down days, that need an escape plan. 
No wooden horses, 
no secret keys, tunnels. 

No it’s website check,
a price review, credit card flick,
magic mouse click, and I’m on my way, 
long hauled via Paris, or Amsterdam. 
Why? Hate the Heathrow terminal transfer, 
the worst way to start steel tubed, 
tabled-uped, seats forwarded,
belted-in environment controlled, experience.  

Where too, Why to go, When to go, What to do, plan to see. 
The 4 “W”s  holiday essentials, 
planning’s in the head and heart, and imagination, 
blasts the grey and sparks the heart. 

holiday plan, 
savings plan, 
galleries, attractions, sports events, 
festivals, budget, expenses and fun money,  
the solo traveller - ‘single supplement’. 

Yeah I moan, but it’s life, my choice, 
 just get used to it, put up  –  or  shut up. 

Ruminate, prevaricate, procrastinate, 
glance through a Tyneside window,  
Sunday Tyneside  view, same old song, same old cloud, 
cold rain splashed wind, 
holidays, holidays 
who knows who’s flying where, 
what’s going, what’s not. 

Mid June 2021, Italy, Italy,  
time for long haul, 
take it when I can 
before, age, health, 
and Covid19 insurance knock it on the head. 

“When’s” picked, 
the “Why” well that’s simple, 
to get away, 
see other places and people, 
see another world, 
another place, 
a good time, a sound theme. 

Last Stateside music tour, topper trip, 
did the blues and Jazz thing, USA more than a nation, 
a continent of music and sound, sounds good.  

Had kinda pencilled in a ‘states trip for 2021 anyway,  
seems better now, plan, inspire, dream and believe.

So Where, 
in the whole of the USA, 
gotta remember it’s big cities, 
non-driver’s limits,  
music, woah partner, other stuff, 
culture, galleries, 

Museums, sights,
a road trip, well AMTRAK, 
(that’s the all too few, long distance, stateside trains, USA). 

When I’ve done the States before folks said,
“You’re from Ur-uupp,”
I’d nod, “yeah I am“ 
“you use the railroad, it’s so slow, (true)”, 
“it’s so unreliable (yeup freight trains hold you up)”,
“it’s so old fashioned, (that’s it’s charm)”. 

I know some of those folks think I’m mad,
Aren’t we all?
But that’s the charm, 
you see more, talk more, hear more, 
and there’s always the lonesome’s whistle’s whine 
in some downtown, down at heel, boarded up, 
worn out small town, home town, 
rushed through less than a whistle stop
that’s at the heart of the dimming American dream.  

I could feel my anticipation, excitement growing, 
mouth watering, ear worming, heart raising sounds,  
echo’s in my ears, 

Where, where, where, to go 
how long, 
if it’s music Texas, tex-Mex, Latino, and Country , Texas Blues and Southern Rock. 

Hmm it’s bloody hot, Culture, yeah oil money flaunts it’s style, 
and seeks “old money approval”.  
Like the Los Lobos, Joe Ely, sounds. 
Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Amarillo, is there a train ‘way’ to there.

too big, for non drivers, 
taxi and Uber transfers,  
no appeal, 
ear worm alert – ‘Take it easy’ in ‘Hotel California’, 
‘Let  you’re love flow’ with The Bellamy Brothers, 
awhh no, not California dreamin’  hmm,  
California nightmare.

Tennessee, well done ‘em both (Memphis and Nashville)  
not the down home Appalachian sounds, 
but been there, heard it, seen it, something new for me.

Rust belt travellin’ history seeing, 
music catchin’ - - Philadelphia  -  Soul and Disco, 
art and culture,  
Chicago, blues and Jazz,  
love to do Washington art and history, 

Baltimore, (Nina gave a view – is it real) 
Cleveland,  (top Symphony Orchestra) hmm, chin stroked, 
hmm,  June, yeah hot, hot, hot, sweaty in Washington, 
windy in Chicago, 
any festivals... 

Sports, feels like baseball, 
love a ball game, 
summer sun, 
cold beer, 
chilli dogs, fat lady singing,
need to check who plays where, 
- The Flyers, The Diplomats, The Socks, AMTRAK routes, 
this feels like a plan. 

Take a break, a coffee slurp, toast and eggs. 

Switch to web, 
flights, trains, hotels, sports seasons, 
buzzing in head, eeekkkk, 
it’s all closed suspended, 
no flights, no trains, hotels – 
God knows, mouth sags, heart sinks, sigh, 
longer sigh 
despondent sigh. 

These days, these weeks, 
hopes are few, 
there’s much that’s uncontrollable.
So much is uncertain, 
just a simple plan, 
a simple outline, 
what planes, what days, what train. 

Aawwghh rethink, re-plan, re-review, check train routes,
the cities 
what’s in, what’s on, which team. 

So that’s a wet dismal Sunday plan, 
Cities, attractions, gig venues, and sights. 

Yeah start planning the Rust belt music trip, 
even it’s just ‘top 10 things to do’ in the cities. 
On the radio - - - 

I look out of my window,
And what do I see
I see a world that’s full of confusion.
And I know just what it needs… )
(Fekaris / Zesses – Sony Music)

Holiday dreams
and simple plans - 
is wot we need.

see more stories from outsideleft's Fiction & Poetry archive »»

Toon Traveller
Travel Correspondent

Born - happy family, school great mates still see 7 / 8 in year, degreed, beer n fun, work was lazy but usually happy, retired. Learning from mum and dads travel exploits.


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