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Column: Life in Solitary

Published on: 30 Apr, 2020
Updated on: 23 Jul, 2020

Tony Edwards

The lighthearted Lock-Down Diary of Tony Edwards

Channel Swim
I’ve decided to swim the English Channel.

Not literally, you understand. In line with present restrictions, I’m doing it “virtually”. Following in the footsteps of a host of lockdown athletes who have run the equivalent of a marathon in their back garden, climbed the dizzy heights of Everest on their stairs, and completed the exhausting Tour de France on an exercise bike in the attic, I plan to swim the Channel in my bath.

I’m fairly confident of breaking the present world record of just under seven hours for the 21-mile Dover to Calais marathon by swimming 18,500 lengths of my two-yard long [in old money] bath, equalling 36,960 yards or 21 miles. But I won’t be covered in goose fat, or whatever those Channel swimmers slap all over themselves, opting instead for Dove shower mousse.

And, because of space limitations in the bath, I won’t actually be doing the crawl or the breaststroke but will, instead, kick my legs up and down while splashing my arms about for half an hour each evening before bed. I plan to pull the plug on my attempt just before the end of my 14th bath, when I’ll have shattered the seven-hour record. Wish me luck.

And the Answer Isn’t…
I sympathise with government ministers who daily walk a difficult path between answering media questions honestly, and putting their foot in it. But all too often they simply side-step the question altogether, blurting out a meaningless response instead. I’ve jotted down my Top Ten non-answers [in no particular order] which I use to play Bluster Bingo while watching TV news.

Any three non-answers from the following list is an average score.

  • It’s too early to speculate.
  • We are following the science.
  • We don’t know what a post lockdown world will look like.
  • We are all working really, really hard, 24 hours a day.
  • We must adhere to Government guidelines.
  • We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to ….
  • It’s important to understand that ….
  • I’d like to express my thanks to all front-line workers.
  • These will be uncharted waters in a post lockdown world.
  • We are living in unprecedented times.

Where’s the Rest of the News?
Talking of TV news, I’m beginning to wonder if the news desks have put all their reporters on furlough because non-Covid news seems conspicuously absent from our TV screens. Perhaps, with the world in lockdown, there is no news to report but I can’t believe nobody has used “inappropriate” language and “traumatised” some B-list celebrity or another in the past few weeks. I think we should be told.

Changing the Tune
As we are no longer reminded to sing the Happy Birthday song while we wash our hands, it might be a good time to launch a new hand-wash tune. My vote goes to Staying Alive, already a firm favourite for heart resuscitation.

Secret Scissors
Burning question of the day. Who is cutting the hair of our male MPs, newscasters, health experts and boffins we see each day on TV? Their elegantly coiffured hair is in marked contrast to the rest of us chaps who are now looking a bit ragged around the collar after weeks in lockdown.

Trump – He’s a Card
As a former contributor to both ‘Dave Allen at Large’ and ‘The Two Ronnies’ shows on 1970’s BBC TV, I’m well aware of the pressure to come up with comedy sketches and one-liners to order. So may I congratulate Donald Trump’s team of comedy writers on maintaining a steady flow of gags for the President during the pandemic crisis.

The quip about injecting or ingesting bleach to “knock out the virus in a minute” was comedy gold. Like the late, great Frank Carson, it’s probably the way he tells ‘em.

007 – the Model
Trawling through some old files this week, I was reminded of a time nearly 60 years ago when I first wrote for a diary column like this one.

In 1964, I unearthed a 1957 men’s fashion brochure which featured the then unknown model Tom Connery on the front cover. He’d previously been a milkman, coffin polisher, and chorus boy in the musical South Pacific

Now, of course, we know him as Sean Connery, actor and former James Bond, 007. The diary story appeared in the Daily Sketch, a national newspaper which merged with the Daily Mail in 1971. Vince Green, who ran the Vince man’s shop just off Regent Street, forerunner of Carnaby Street, said he never employed his models once their faces had become known, a sentiment M would no doubt have endorsed.

Changing World
I’ve recently noticed an increase in traffic on the road during my occasional 15-minute there-and-back walk to the post box. Despite official confirmation that the lockdown cannot yet be lifted, I’d guess there has been a 30 per cent increase in cars and vans in recent days. And they seem to be ignoring the speed limit too.

But, for the moment, the skies are a more vivid blue without the haze of traffic fumes, the air we breathe is less polluted, and we enjoy a more peaceful world without the noise of cars, helicopters and airplanes, with birds and other wildlife breaking cover in our gardens.

While these are dangerous and frightening times, we shall miss our new peaceful world when restrictions are finally lifted.

Boris’s Baby ‘Bull’
With supreme political timing, the bouncing Boris baby boy turned-up on cue just before Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday (Wednesday, April 29).

Until the mid-morning announcement, political commentators were predicting a “no show” by Boris at PMQs due to the likelihood of post-Corona virus fatigue following his close shave with death.   Instead, it turns out it was all about a new life.  Congratulations to Boris and Carrie on the birth of their son – born under the sign of Taurus the bull with its prime characteristic of determination. Chip off the old block.

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test One Response to Column: Life in Solitary

  1. Harry Eve Reply

    April 30, 2020 at 11:35 am

    Regarding “And the answer isn’t”, these are frequently preceded by “Let me make this absolutely clear….”, or similar, and it is possible that this has some hypnotic effect that makes us switch off hearing what follows because we have heard that phrase so many times.

    “Rest of the News” – HIGNFY has improved considerably in my opinion – clearly trying hard to adapt.

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