Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

December 2020

GeneralThursday, December 24th, 2020, (4:00 pm)

As Santa embarks on another trans-global excursion to every dwelling on the planet, details are emerging that the lovable bearded old man may have been ‘patient zero’ in the COVID19 pandemic.

North Pole Informant Elf

As the world continues to struggle with the pandemic, an Elf from the North Pole has broken the Elf code of silence to blow the whistle on a health emergency that swept through Santa’s little helpers in late 2019.

Speaking under the assurance of anonymity the Elf raised the possibility that Mr. Claus might have been ‘patient zero’ of COVID19, or at least the biggest single ‘super-spreader’ of the deadly virus. According to the unnamed Elf, working conditions in the North Pole have become increasingly difficult over the last few years due to the effects of climate change. Reduced Elf numbers and production capacity has forced Santa Claus to outsource more and more work to China.

Wrong bats ordered from ChinaIn late 2019 after the Doosan Bears won the Korean Baseball Series in a tense final against the Kiwoom Heroes, the North Pole saw early Christmas list projections which suggested baseball bats would be a popular item for the 2019 Christmas.

Such items can be sourced from China at relatively low costs so a North Pole Christmas executive placed an order with a Chinese supplier for several thousand bats.

Unfortunately due to a clerical oversight the word ‘baseball’ was omitted from the order and as a result, the North Pole took delivery of several thousand live bats in early November 2019.

The North Pole is an inhospitable place for bats so the local department of Elf and Safety issued a directive for the bats to be housed in the same enclosures as Santa’s reindeer until they could be returned to the Chinese supplier.

Virologists studying COVID19 have speculated that the virus originated in bats and may have crossed over into humans at ‘wet markets’ in China. However, shortly after the bats were delivered to the North Pole the unnamed Elf informant reports that several Elves working in the reindeer stables fell sick with a mystery illness.

Sick ElfThe timing of the illness hit the North Pole at peak production time when output demands are at their highest. The North Pole’s own Department of Elf & Safety is now under scrutiny after they appeared to have ignored the rapid increase in the number of sick Elves, many of whom continued to work.

It’s unclear if Santa himself was made aware of the illness but it’s well known that absence from work in the peak production season is frowned upon by Mr. Claus who has, in the past, faced allegations of putting workers under ‘sweatshop’ conditions in the run-up to Christmas.

Given Mr. Claus’s close proximity to Elf workers at the Christmas headquarters, virologists suggest there would have been a very high chance Santa contracted the virus himself. However, given the secretive nature of Christmas operations, it’s not currently known if he showed symptoms or was treated for any illness before or after the holiday season.

Throughout 2019 China has faced criticism for its part in the COVID19 pandemic, not least from the President of the United States, Donald Trump, who used the term ‘Kung Flu’ and ‘China Virus’ to describe COVID19. He blamed the Pandemic on China while assuring Americans it would disappear “like a miracle” in April of this year.

What did Santa know, and when?That focus will now surely switch to everyone’s favorite bearded old man who traveled to every country in the world last Christmas, handling gifts, eating mince pies and cookies, and drinking glasses of milk left for him at thousands of fireplaces.

Attempts to reach Santa for comment have failed so far and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is already tracking his movement across the globe. If Santa was patient zero of the COVID19 outbreak then his lovable image will be tested in the coming weeks.

With at least two vaccines for COVID19 now available perhaps Mr. Claus may want to work with governments to restore his reputation by putting some of that logistical expertise to good use. Certainly, nobody else has such a wealth of global delivery experience, making Santa Claus ideally positioned to at least advise on the delivery of the vaccines, even if it means delivering to individuals previously on the ‘naughty list.’


Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you all stay safe and well.

General and PoliticalSaturday, December 12th, 2020, (8:02 am)

Hello blog. It’s been a while since I was last here; four years to be precise. I’ll be honest with you, after Brexit and Trump happened I needed some space. My liberal leanings were challenged, and with so much rage and vitriol around, I didn’t see the point of being one more voice shouting into the toxic void known as the internet. Four years later, my toxic shock is over.

Trump beheading liberty

Nobody reads blogs anymore. Facebook dealt a body blow to online journaling and the rest of social media swept it away in a tsunami of bite-sized bullshit anyone could read and share in seconds.

Our collective attention span was reduced to the length of a tweet. People stopped reading the news and instead read only the headlines. We shared for ‘likes’ and loved the affirmation those hearts and thumbs-up gave us.

When Edward Snowden told us we were being spied on, and Cambridge Analytica was revealed to be manipulating all of us, the world didn’t rise up and demand accountability. Instead, we raised little more than a collective eyebrow, then went back to thumbing through memes and Instagram posts from ‘influencers’ who exist in color-saturated worlds we browse with a hint of envy and maybe a side order of disdain.

So when Donald Trump became the President-elect in 2016, it didn’t come as a surprise to me. Just months earlier, amid a storm of misinformation, lies, and manipulation, the United Kingdom had ripped itself away from its nearest neighbors in an isolationist divorce they called ‘Brexit.’

President PussygrabberThe term ‘Brexit’ shortened the complexity of the choice voters had and gave it a clickable brand. You were either for or against ‘Brexit’ and it didn’t need to be any more complicated than that. People defined in their own minds what that word meant, irrespective of what the truth was.

Across the Atlantic, Americans had ‘MAGA’ and their red hat revolution that liberals thought could never happen. A ‘pussy-grabbing’ reality TV President was an absurd notion, impossible they thought.

Even Trump didn’t believe he would win, shouting from his campaign pulpit about how the election was rigged and victory would surely be stolen from him by an establishment of unrelatable elites, journalists, and experts.

The sweet joy of ‘owning the libs’ and the idea of building a wall to keep everyone you hate from crossing your path was a delicious idea that ignited citizens who had long felt like nobody in power was listening to them.

Complicated conversations were reduced to a word or a slogan that you could declare or decry then quickly thumb to the next meme or morsel of fast news served in the palm of your hand.

It seemed to me that nobody was listening anymore. Everyone had an opinion, and many were shouting it while others slung bar brawl punches that landed like a messy end to a good night out.

We awoke the next day with digital hangovers, our heads pounding while outside normality was ablaze. Networks created to connect us had done the opposite. Truth and the opportunity to pause for thought had been drowned in an epic flood of fear and fury.

So on that cold November morning in 2016, what was I to write that hadn’t already been written? What point was there to write anything when everything had been reduced to slogans and portamentos?

TsunamiI felt lost and deflated. How had it got to the point where we knew more about what the people around us hated than what they loved?

As 2016 came to an end I wrote the final post on my 366 Pictures blog. It was a glorious summer day in Melbourne, Australia, far from the Brexiteers and the red hat revolutionaries. I didn’t think it would be four years until I would publish another word.

I thought of writing, even if it were just something to say I’m still here, still loving life and seeing the world. But nobody reads blogs anymore. If you’ve made it this far then we’re probably friends, and if we’re not we probably should be.

Blogging as a form of communication is dead, and that’s why I haven’t written anything for four years. If you and I are friends then we’ve been in touch, haven’t we? And if not, then let’s fix that.

Let’s fix that because in this world of instant communication, communication itself is broken.

So maybe rather than watching another documentary telling us that, or posting something on social media lambasting this truth, we can take back a little control by reaching out to one another to start talking and maybe, more importantly, start listening.

As for my long-forgotten blog, dated and derelict as it is, perhaps I’ll return to writing here. Not because anyone is reading, but because writing itself takes time.

To sit and craft one sentence after another requires thought, meditation in a way. We consume so much, maybe taking the time to create something as simple as a sentence can slow our rush to judgment?

I’ll write like the child who waves at passing airplanes knowing that the passengers won’t see them. They don’t need to see. I’m not waving for them, I’m waving for me.

Illustrations by Edel Rodriguez and Lennart Gäbel