My God, how is it almost May?
Well, a lot’s happened since I last posted here. The Omicron variant kicked our booster shots in the teeth, then all the armchair epidemiologists became experts in Russian/Ukrainian relations and the Tories ramped their brand up to 11, lying under oath and smirking at our grief.
Keep it light, Parlett. This is supposed to be an advertisement.
Thankfully, asthma boy here stayed out of hospital but long Covid sure is a trip, isn’t it? I compared mine to the haunting of electrified marrow and a broken heart concussion that rotted my soul – and the doctor just shrugged, booking me in to get checked out for carpal tunnel syndrome or whatever.
So, after a month and change of that nonsense, my mojo slithered out of my pores, coughing up something that would’ve screamed the future in a cursed tongue if it’d lived a moment longer. I poured a big glass of red for the next review but it tasted worse than the thing on the floor. The little circles on maps had turned from covid hotspots to nuclear blast radii and everything was to blame for the cost-of-living crisis except the very things that caused it. Something made me look on Twitter to see if our local MP had denounced her right honourable Johnson, I saw instead she’d posted a link to something called Gosport Cultural Consortium (GCC).
GCC, it read, “is looking for artists and crafters, makers and creatives, to feature in their new pop-up shop on Gosport High Street. GCC is part of the Council’s High Street Heritage Action Zone.”
The pandemic saw a shocking rise in domestic abuse but, rather than drowning their infant children in the bath, many mothers took to making sourdough bread and an altogether different kind of needlework. I’m now something of an expert myself on pastimes as broad as metal casting, knife forging, flat earth theory, fox keeping, transhumanism and repairing old Gameboys found in haunted orphanages; not to mention how to play like Lindsey Buckingham, cook an authentic Bangladeshi curry, pick locks, bate scams and hunt cryptids.
Who’d have thought we’d be going back to school in our Batman jimjams – idle junk in one hand, pint of pinot grigio in the other? Maybe I was really just looking for a father figure among those urban stealth campers, guitar builders and wood turners – or maybe it was simply a homoerotic mid-life crisis.
It’s all good.
In a world without adventure or enlightenment, when something as tiny as a virus or a splitting atom could ruin your whole day, thank God for the wholesome vicarious thrills of the internet.
Before my whisky reviews cured my love of whisky, my lockdown thing was teaching the dog to dance – a fool’s endeavour that ended with a trip to the hospital where the nurse informed me that she treats more human bites than dog bites.
This was only at the beginning of the pandemic too.
But when we’re not all tearing chunks off one another round here, we do have softer, more artistic sides; and lockdown was a time for many to discover and develop those passions.
While Gosport Museum and Art Gallery is being refurbished, One of a Kind is a pop-up shop on the high street that is much like those cute wee gift shops you find in sleepy seaside towns from Cornwall to Caledonia selling local arts and crafts.
Painters, printmakers, pickles, jams and chutneys; bespoke designs on pottery and glass; flower arrangements; jewellery crafted from coffee pods and recycled silver; linocuts and textiles and art made from flotsam and jetsam – and a lady trapped at sea during lockdown who made monkey knots for dog toys.
All objectively good shit – and with plenty more to come, I’m sure. Plus there’s room out back for community exhibitions and activities.
And then I turn up for my interview, all sweaty and ridiculous, to pitch the novels which don’t exactly hold the area to high regard.
I get it, books are old fashioned and no one reads. I’d surely make more money busking and my time would be better spent making fat naked mukbang streams on Twitch – but I guess I’m just an old fashioned kinda guy. Give me paperbacks or give me death.
I didn’t say that, of course. I was witty and verbose and not dangerous at all. It was disgusting.
So I typed up a profile and sent it over – along with my repurposed Tinder photo – and that’s how I ended up for sale on the High Street.
With funding from Historic England, HM Government, Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, “GCC forms part of Gosport’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ), which is a four-year project to revitalise, repair and enhance Gosport’s historic high streets through art, restoration, cultural and community engagement initiatives.” (1)
If you’re local, pop in for a gander.