beautiful apocalypse

‘It’s a beautiful apocalypse’, my housemate says this morning at breakfast as we look outside at the sunshine. It’s Tuesday 24th March. For me the bright sun is adding to my sense of general unease and that there’s something not right in the world. And the forecast is saying sunshine and warm days all week, but also snow showers on Monday, excuse me but what is this? Can we go back to normal now? Although last February there were a few strange days of hot sunshine and we felt uneasy about the impending climate catastrophe but it was far enough away that we couldn’t get a grip on how we should direct that feeling. I hope we learn from this crisis that it is possible to reduce flying and make changes to the economy. I worry about the costs of this change when we emerge from lockdown, maybe there will be some positive changes and adaptions. I think of this image I saw on Twitter from Hong Kong. It was about the Hong Kong protests of last year but it seems apt, it says: ‘we can’t go back to normal because normal was the problem’.

We can’t go back to normal because normal was precisely the problem

I log in today at 4 and pick up an order for burgers from Five Guys. There’s one other rider there waiting, and we watch as a pigeon limps along the ground in front of the restaurant, unable to walk on one of its feet. I watch the pigeon hop between us for several minutes. At least it won’t get stepped on as Cabot Circus is closed except for a few takeaway restaurants. What would happen to Bristol if humans died? I think about the news report I saw about animals taking over in places vacated by humans, like the monkeys in Thailand I mentioned before. The news report cites this tweet:

There’s talk of drunk elephants frollicking in rice paddies in China, drunk on honey wine. I don’t know what to believe any more. What would Bristol be like? Deer were already causing havoc on my mum’s allotment, and that was the talk of Backwell back in ‘normal’ times. Post-apocalyptic Bristol will have seagulls the size of baby hippopotamus’s swooping on the last remaining scraps, rats like the giant rodents of the Canary Islands that went extinct with human settlement of the isles, and Goram and Ghyston will return to battle over the hand of Avona, drunkenly ambling through Cabot Circus and draining the last remaining stocks of Dragon Stout on Stapleton Road, finally resting their heads at the yellow house, the roar of the M32 finally silenced after the last human on Brexit island expired at the tailend of 2021. I forget about the pigeon and take the burger to its rightful home in Barton Hill.

At the end of the world there’ll just be Yo bikes and Deliveroo riders roaming in packs, fighting over the last curry order. Deliveroo will be sending out random texts firing couriers who’ve been dead for months. ‘We’re sorry that you’ve been unable to fulfil service requirements and we’re now terminating your service agreement’. Today, Deliveroo sent me a pop-up message that said this:

What report was that, Deliveroo? I check the groups, every single rider received it, including those who haven’t logged into the app for weeks, since before they introduced contact-free deliveries. Two hours later, we get this message: ‘We sent you a message about contact-free deliveries earlier today – this was an error. However we still ask you that during COVID-19 you complete all deliveries contact-free. Find out how.‘ Deliveroo works in mysterious ways sometimes (how much do we get paid for an order, who can say?!) but I’m not sure what’s going on with this one. I think it’s just going for the creepy ‘we’re always watching you’ vibe this time. Strange that with the amount of data they have on us, on the customers, on everyone using the app, they could be more competent in their use of it but sometimes I get the feeling that whoever’s in charge of messages to us is someone’s Mum who’s just learned how to use an iphone for the first time.

There’s so many people out in town and on the Downs that I can’t help feeling that BJ’s stately address hasn’t get through. He should have played Drake’s ‘Hold on we’re going home’ on repeat and then added ‘for three weeks’ at the end. Either way, I’m listening to Drake while I take a burger to Brislington. All I deliver these days is burgers. As the world takes its final gasps there’ll still be packs of geeky Deliveroo cyclists angsting about their Strava scores while dodging quad bike ferals ruling the road and controlling the last stocks of chain oil, and Five Guys will be still be churning out cheeseburgers for nonexistent customers while Max seeks vengeance over the death of his wife at the hands of the Yo bike crew. We’ll take over the Future Inn, queueing up daily outside the putrid pit where Cabot Circus used to be, waiting for our app to ping for a burger, then grinding it into floor as there’ll be noone to take it to. The seagull-hippopotamus creatures will have taken over The Best on Stokes Croft by then will be selling overpriced tins of lager to the last ravers to emerge from Lakota who fell asleep in the toilets in January 2020 and emerged wide-eyed and blinking not noticing any discernible difference save for the tiny banana plantation where Turbo Island used to be. Back at the Future Inn we’ll burn the last remaining hotel curtains in the oil drum and dance for Avona, sultry in her drapes pulled the advertising hoardings rotting by the side of empty motorways. I’ll be drinking vodka and orange at the end of the world and toasting the days when I had people to deliver burgers to.

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