Mixed Media, Saturday 23 November 2019

So when my cough didn’t go away or improve at all after a couple of weeks, I went back to see my doctor, and almost collapsed in a coughing fit at his feet. “Ohhhh,” he said. “I recognize that. You’ve got whooping cough.” Huh.

Because I’d been suffering for a few weeks already, I was beyond the point where antibiotics would have made a difference, and also beyond the main point of contagion (good). My doctor ordered some blood tests and a chest X-ray to rule out further infections (they were clear), but the prognosis and his recommended treatment was the same as for bronchitis: rest, plenty of fluids, paracetamol and/or ibuprofen for any fever or pain.

I held off on travelling for a few weeks, but figured I was “well enough” to go back over to Edinburgh for a few days at the beginning of November. This was a mistake. I was still having coughing fits where something (a tickle in my throat, a laugh, a deep breath) would trigger me and I’d spend the next thirty seconds evacuating my lungs and gasping for air while my ears rang and my vision closed in from lack of oxygen. I tried to be unobtrusive about it, but my colleagues picked up on it anyway. Slack channels started featuring subtle messages of gentle concern like, “will people who are sick please go home and not infect the rest of us.”

On the Thursday afternoon I pulled a muscle in my belly during one fit, and found it painful to breathe and move for the rest of the day. That was the last straw. Rather than struggling through Friday like I had something to prove, I headed out to the airport in the morning to get the early flight home…only to find out it was full and I couldn’t get a seat. This is where a lounge pass comes in handy.

Edinburgh Airport – Lounge Life

“But I’m a knowledge worker!” I kept thinking. I just sit in a chair all day and type and talk to people on video calls. It’s not like I’m lifting bricks or climbing scaffolding. Turns out there’s a link between mind and body, though. And when I’m coughing so hard that I’m pulling muscles in my neck, back, belly, and chest (and once even in my eye), even sitting upright a nicely ergonomic chair all day long isn’t quite the medical definition of “rest”.

So I’ve taken some more time off work, and I think it’s working. I woke up yesterday morning not feeling like my lungs were about to ambush me. I’m still coughing hard, and I still ache all over with sore muscles, but I haven’t any uncontrollable fits for a few days now. My resting heart rate is down by 10% from a peak in October. It feels like I’m in control of the cough now, rather than it being in control of me.


  • 💩 Olympus Has Fallen Die Hard in the White House, but with no sense of humour.
  • 💩 London Has Fallen The producers abandoned movie-making for this sequel in favour of videogames. It’s basically a tactical shooter, split between cut-scenes, elaborately staged quick time events, and run-and-gun sequences. Watch it with a game controller in your hands!
  • ⭐️ Mindhorn Comedy about a washed-up actor who played the TV show detective Mindhorn in the 1980s, who gets involved in a real case when a deluded criminal thinks it was all real. Given the premise, I was surprised and impressed by how deftly this came off. The film doesn’t rely on slapstick and cringe-worthy moments, and is much more subtle and in the end much more empathic than I’d anticipated.
  • I, Tonya Strong script! Weak special effects. The face replacement they did for the skating scenes was really bad. Didn’t even make it all the way down into the uncanny valley.
  • ⭐️ Parker For all the detective fiction I’ve read, I’ve never read any of Richard Stark’s Parker series, so I went into this film without any preconceptions about the protagonist. I just wanted to watch some Jason Statham. And it was really good! Where’s the sequel?
  • Ad Astra Grrr. Such mixed feelings about this. Lovingly filmed; moody, mysterious, seat-grippingly exciting in parts… But every fantastically realistic element (the washed out colours and stark atmosphere-free shadows on the moon) was let down by an equal and opposite and element of physical implausibility (Earth gravity on the moon when they’re not involved in a vehicle chase). The filmmakers set themselves such high standards that I can’t forgive them their failures.
  • The Laundromat Steven Soderbergh’s stab at the Panama Papers. Ends with a fabulous single-take Meryl Streep monologue, but the rest of the film is more of a series of (amusing) vignettes than a coherent story. Alex Winters’ The Panama Papers is a better film (documentary) about the journalists who revealed the story. I’m looking for a better documentary about the underlying fraud.
  • ⭐️ Zombieland Fun zom-com.
  • Terminator: Dark Fate I thought this was a lot better than people gave it credit for. It’s not a great film – but what it sets out to do, it achieves. T2 took the hunt & chase elements from the original, and added a time-bending element that allowed the humans a chance to strike back. Dark Fate goes back to a simple hunt & chase. The victory condition is nothing more than escape and survive. The action sequences are amazing, and it’s great to pick up with Sarah Connor again. Ultimately it’s “just” a good action movie, though.
  • ⭐️ Maleficent Excellent, sweet fairy tale retelling.
  • 💩💩 Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Way more murder, genocide, and holocaust imagery than you expect to see in an all-ages Disney fairytale film. (There’s a literal gas chamber sequence.) And some of those scenes showing the brutality and horror of war are genuinely weighty and impactful. What kills the film stone dead, though, is how little it cares about about the consequences of its own actions. Moments after the humans fall short of brutally wiping out their neighbours, everyone is holding hands and singing songs. It’s shockingly ugly, reeking of whitewashing propaganda to deny the events that just occurred under everyone’s noses. Or is that the real message of this film? Fiona and I saw this at the cinema, and I walked out feeling legit shook.


  • Breaking Bad seasons 3-5 Finally caught up on this! It’s really good.
  • Better Call Saul seasons 1-4 Enjoying this as well. Masterful manipulation of sympathies. Everyone is compromised.