There is a film coming called Songbird. The trailer has recently popped up online. It is utterly terrifying.
It’s set a few years in the future. So far, so standard dystopia. Except in this future the world is still in lockdown, and has been for FOUR YEARS! The virus has mutated and now attacks the brain. Squads of hazmat-suited goons arrive to suck up the infected and transport them to infection ghettos. Those trying to avoid capture are shot.
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The conclusion of this movie is currently unknown. Unless there is a great reveal that lands on a world-saving vaccination, this is a hellscape that we can surely do without. It answers the question about how art will start to talk about the Covid epidemic. But quite who this is for is not clear.
Obviously, people like scary films. It is a well-trodden explanation that we’re attracted to the darkness because either we can get a kick out of fear that won’t be realised, or else we like to have our own real situation feel even better. Not sure that flies with Songbird.
We’re tired of the reality that lockdown, of various tiers, brings, of the lives Covid has taken, of the businesses and livelihoods battered by it. Do we want to see it rolled out into an uncertain future?
Therefore, in a bid to raise spirits and counter Songbird, here’s a list of things that will make you feel better. Guaranteed. If they don’t, we’ll find something for you. At The Big Issue, we aim to be useful.
1. Walk my dog. OK, granted this is a little specific and most of you won’t be able to spend time with Toastie. That’s a shame. This is REALLY his time. See any leaves lying around? He’ll wait for you to kick them so he can jump up and catch them. With the same glee on the thousandth jump as the first. If you can’t spend time with him, find a dog that you can. You will feel better.
2. Watch any farming-related programme on TV. The remake of All Creatures Great and Small. Our Yorkshire Farm. This Farming Life. It doesn’t matter whether it’s grounded in fact or fiction, there is something undeniably calming about watching the goings-on in the country. Search out on any catch-up service you have.
3. Read PG Wodehouse. One of the funniest writers in the English language, you’ll find yourself dying to escape back into the world where Jeeves glides in and sorts things out. Same goes for Simenon. Read all the Maigret you can.
At The Big Issue, we aim to be useful
4. Watch Dennis Waterman sing the Minder theme, I Could Be So Good For You, on Top Of The Pops. Probably the best ever British TV theme, for many memories will flood back of Thursday nights decades ago when your dad would be immovable, laughing uncontrollably at Terry and Arthur. In this footage you’ll find Waterman winking at the front row, shirt unbuttoned too far below his chest, cocky and king of all he surveys. You’ll thank me.
5. Listen to Sam Cooke doing Bring It On Home To Me, Live at the Harlem Square Club in 1963. One of the great performances, by one of the greatest ever singers post-war, you can feel the raw heat from the club rise. By the end, you’ll want to bring it home to Sam.
6. Lose yourself in Miles Davis’ Porgy and Bess. You’ll know the tracks and you’ll feel very, very cool.
7. Write a letter. Using a pen and paper. Write down the thing you’ve been meaning to write down for ages and send it in the post. Don’t do this if what you mean to write would cause the authorities to pick you up, obviously.
8. Take out a gift subscription to The Big Issue and delight somebody. It’s easy. You’ll feel better. They’ll feel better. We’ll feel better! Go to bigissue.com/support
This list is not exhaustive. I’m keen to grow it. If you have suggestions you’d like to add, send them to me and we’ll develop The Big Issue Big Feelgood list. It’s the way ahead.
Paul McNamee is editor of The Big Issue.