A bit of a mess.

Is it just me...or do things look like they're completely falling apart all over the world? The fabric of human society seems to be unravelling everywhere I look - with our own nation at the forefront of the crisis. The house of cards known as vacuous consumerism was always one step from collapse - built upon a fragile system of poor people selling shit/providing services to slightly less poor people so that rich people could hold sway over those less rich than themselves for as long as possible. Six weeks of forced inactivity has resulted in the folk in the middle of the house of cards having their livelihoods replaced by hugely generous state benefits (sorry....financial assistance) in order to prevent the entire destruction of the whole system, and that assistance is soon coming to an end - resulting, inevitably, in huge job-losses across the spectrum of the aforementioned service and shit-selling industries. We, as humans, have a habit of deferring problems until they absolutely need to be solved, and the imminent unemployment crisis is being swept under the carpet so that the population doesn't start kicking off in the streets (you simply don't get riots in the spring, autumn or winter because it's usually raining.) Put the ridiculous concept of "Brexit" into the mix, and you're looking at a shit-storm of such mind-blowing proportions, it makes you want to go to sleep and never wake up. Luckily, I've never been affected by the awful condition of clinical depression, and I've got the 2 nippers to worry about, so it's a case of just dealing with whatever lies ahead in the best way I can while looking out for those around me hopefully at the same time.

The property sales industry seems to have just about caught up with itself after the shut-down, which was largely confined to April and the week leading up to it. May, June, and July saw me working to absolute capacity, with seven-day working, and 12-16 hour days being the norm during that period. Virtually none of the money built up in issued-invoices has filtered down to me just yet, so I'm not out of any danger by any means, but hopefully, there'll be a payday shortly, and in the meantime I still have to fork out for fuel, living expenses, and the day to day business costs that bleed you dry - including the newly-required pile of PPE that I have to buy each month. This weekend is my first without work commitments since the start of May, and it looks like things are settling down into a manageable routine once again. The clients I visit seem to be largely landlords offloading empty, ex-tenanted flats, downsizing pensioners, and professional, urban families wanting gardens after enduring life in "lockdown" with limited space. Yours truly, and Mrs.Yours truly are also on the lookout for a suitable place nearby, so we can rid ourselves (myself) of the 1200 mile a month school run habit that looms large again in a couple of weeks time. My little Sparkles is frankly shit-scared of getting the bus by herself once again.

The number of people looking for "staycations" (a term I will use only once because of my hatred for media-created headline slogans) has obviously ballooned exponentially, resulting in an increase in photographic requirements for holiday-let shoots across North Northumberland. The general atmosphere in the various tourism hotspots here seems to have changed slightly, with a prevalence of those tattooed, really loud, overweight families who would normally be found in the rough parts of Mallorca and the Costa Del Mental. Even our own village - normally a summer bastion of proper middle-class tourists with binoculars and walking sticks has been taken over by hordes of shirtless scousers accompanied by their broods of shirtless children, and young teenage girls showing their arse-cheeks - all while staring vacuously into mobile phones in-between domestic squabbles.  The school holidays end in a couple of weeks, so things should calm down anyway.

I had the fortune of an early-morning cancelled job earlier in the week, so took the opportunity of taking the family into Newcastle city centre to get some new school uniform, and a spot of lunch somewhere. The multi-storey car park in Grainger Town was almost back to it's usual self, and the streets nearby were fairly busy given the noticeable lack of open retail premises in Clayton Street. The Black Garter pub - an establishment patronised exclusively by a breed of Newcastle citizens riddled with alcoholism, drug addiction, and an aversion to any sort of personal hygiene - was rammed to the hilt, and one of the customers - a mental looking, shaven headed heedtheball decided to get six inches from my face as I passed. I managed to swerve his drunken intentions and make it onto the main shopping strip with family intact. Northumberland Street seemed quite busy, but the true picture lay in the vacant or closed retail premises on both sides. I fear that the vast majority of the stores simply won't be there in six months - travel agents, mobile phone shops, huge department stores, upmarket clothing retailers, cafe chains etc. There was simply nobody in them, with the exception of Primark, and McDonalds who were doing a roaring trade. Outside the school holidays, without furlough cash, and with the addition of some cold, wet weather, this prime thoroughfare just doesn't have a chance. About a third of shoppers weren't adhering to mandatory face-covering laws, and it seemed just a bit grim all round. Attempting to get into a chain restaurant at lunchtime proved to be impossible without prior booking, so we snapped up some cut-price snacks from the deserted Waitrose and sat with the Harry-Ramps (and the shaven-headed bell-end encountered earlier) in the painted circles within Old Eldon Square. the nippers soon get bored with shopping trips, and so we headed back to the car and drove north through the awful roadworks to the calm sanctity of home - vowing not to return to the city for the foreseeable future.

The coming week has a manageable, but varied workload, with coastal properties, urban getaways, and country pads being part of the shoot list. Hopefully I'll be able to share some of those images with you. I'm trying to keep a bit of time-off so I can catch up with marketing, kit-maintenance, and accounts stuff. Will see thee then!

Brian Young shoots all aspects of the built environment for a range of clients throughout Northern England and the Borders.


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