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Column: Life in Solitary 5 – Reasons To Be Cheerful 1,2,3

Published on: 29 May, 2020
Updated on: 23 Jul, 2020

Tony Edwards

The Lockdown Diary of Tony Edwards

Reasons to be Cheerful
I’m sure I’m not the only one to have noticed that the sun goes over the yardarm a full two hours earlier now we’re on “British Isolation Time” (BIT).

This phenomenon last occurred some 350 years ago at the outbreak of the Great Plague when demand pushed the price of Mead and Malmsey beyond three groats a firkin.  BIT tops my list of Reasons to be Cheerful in Lockdown.

Others  include:

  • I’m pleased I didn’t waste my money buying a 2020 Year Planner
  • No need to read my daily horoscope as I know today will be pretty much the same as yesterday and the day before, and the day before…
  • BBC Question Time no longer has a studio audience with a left-wing bias
  • If you keep a glass of wine in each hand, you can’t accidentally touch your face
  • I now realise that pre-lockdown TV wasn’t that bad after all –  compared with the new home-produced, Zoom alternative
  • I no longer worry if I can’t remember why I walked into a room or opened a cupboard door as, lately, I don’t even remember what day it is… this day, that day, someday, yesterday?
  • The income side of my next tax return won’t take anywhere near as long to complete as in previous years.
  • West African “benefactors” have stopped asking for my bank details to transfer unexpected, multi-million-pound inheritances and windfalls to my account
  • I’m saving a fortune on petrol
  • Those bogus embraces and fake “Mwah, Mwah” kisses from people we barely knew will be consigned to pre-social distancing history.

Advanced sun creaming – Wikihow

Just Out of Reach
The current hot spell brought with it a new conundrum for solo isolators –  how to apply sun lotion to your back.

Sun worshippers, like me, face the option of covering-up this summer or risking the dangers of sunburn unless we can find a way of slapping sunblock on the parts only other people can reach.

I’m currently experimenting with a kitchen sponge nailed to a stick but it’s not quite ready for a cash call in the Dragons’ Den at this stage of development.  More practical solutions gratefully received.

Please Keep Off the Grass
I’m worried about Humphrey.  It’s unclear if squirrels suffer from Alzheimer’s but Humphrey has become rather forgetful of late.

My manicured garden lawn was a vibrant green and smooth as a length of baize during the week before lockdown. But then Humphrey seemed to have forgotten where he’d buried last year’s conkers, excavating dozens of holes across the lawn with not a single horse chestnut to show for it.

Lately, two rooks in their black barrister robes have been strutting importantly through the scene of the crime in their own search for underground bugs, leaving tufts of turf in random piles.

A trim with the mower and a spell with the sprinkler returned a degree of order to the chaos – but it was short-lived. Standing back to admire my renovations this week, I noticed an all too familiar pile of soft, dark earth erupting slowly, like a mini volcano, near the middle of the lawn.

Marcus the mole catcher reckons it’s a male mole following a well-travelled, historic mole route which zig-zags under my lawn.  Marcus knows about these things but, unfortunately, he too leaves untidy piles of earth – with the added indignity of red marker flags on top.

After we’ve cured the annual attack of red thread in the lawn, I’m looking forward to autumn when sycamore, oak, and ash leaves will cover it in seasonal, soggy decay.   But that’s also, of course, when Humphrey will start burying conkers again for next spring’s “Hunt the Chestnut’ – assuming he remembers.

Critical Comment
Former Labour leader and PM Gordon Brown flashed his superior smile for Good Morning Britain TV viewers last week. Egged on by presenter Piers Morgan – in a patronising critique of the government’s handling of the pandemic.  Can this be the same Gordon Brown who sold-off half of Britain’s gold reserves at the bottom of the market 20 years ago this very month?

Back in the 1980s, he called it “diversifying the assets of the UK’s reserves”. Today we’d call it fiscal lunacy but then everything has so much more clarity with the benefit of hindsight, eh Gordon?

Dumbs the Word
My latest armchair survey reveals that it is now obligatory to use at least one of the following words and phrases in TV news interviews – particularly on breakfast TV programmes:

  • Awesome…Amazing…Brilliant…Fantastic… (As in Adequate, Acceptable, Average, Reasonable)
  • Kind of…Sort of…Like… (I can’t be bothered to describe it)
  • Obviously… (I’m not entirely sure of the facts)
  • Know what I mean?… (I don’t know what I mean)
  • Stuff… (Anything I can’t pronounce or understand)
  • Wha-ever… (I don’t understand the question)
  • Universi-ee… (As in I got a “first” at…)

Primary School Perils
As parents, teachers, unions and government ponder the problems of children returning to the classroom next week, I was reminded of an incident involving “social contact” in the classroom at a school in Claygate, many moons ago.

I’d been to see the headmistress to discuss entry for my young sons when we were interrupted by a knock on her study door. Two small boys were ushered into the room by a teacher who asked the first boy to explain what had happened.

“He bit me on my cheek,” he insisted, pointing to the other boy.

The headmistress looked suitably stern. “Is this true?” she asked the accused.

“No,” he replied indignantly.  “I was trying to kiss him – but my teeth slipped.”

I looked away, biting my lip, as the headmistress also fought to maintain a look of impartial calm while she ruled that perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to kiss your friends in the school playground.  Sage advice in 2020.

[At St Nicolas infant school in Guildford a school rule was “Keep your arms and legs to yourself.” It probably should be made a law, even in normal times. Ed]

Here’s a doodle I made earlier.

Telephone Doodles
Telephone conversations with relatives and friends seem to be getting longer as lock-down isolation lends a new importance to even the most mundane, everyday events.   But as my quick, five-minute calls often extend well into a second hour, I’ve found myself reaching for the felt tip pen and doing something I haven’t done in years – doodling.

I used to be a triangles and half-circles, geometric kind of a doodler but, lately, I’ve created haphazard mounds of assorted shapes – featuring, of all things, occasional collars, ties and waistcoats.  Sounds a bit odd I know, but this type of theme, say the experts, indicates patience and perseverance.   I guess we could all use a bit of that stuff at the moment.

What’s in a Name?
I‘ve been researching the origins of names so you might like to know that Cummings is a derivative from the Greek meaning “Deferential, Cooperative and Tolerant”.

Dominic, it seems, originates from the Latin, meaning “not at all”.

The Silent Spring
There are already clear indications of a gradual return to pre-lock-down activity.  The summer breeze once again carries the unmistakable hint of diesel fumes along with the distant growl of over-revved motorbikes and cars while large lorries rumble their way to recently re-opened building sites.

But as a degree of normality drifts slowly back into focus, I suspect that many of us may one day look back with fond memories and a tinge of regret on the quiet, “stop-at-home spring” of 2020.

Final Question
I’ve been following the government’s Coronavirus advice –  washing my hands frequently as instructed.    But does anyone know when it’ll be OK to take a shower?

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Responses to Column: Life in Solitary 5 – Reasons To Be Cheerful 1,2,3

  1. Fiona Applegarth Reply

    May 29, 2020 at 11:27 am

    I loved reading this. 😊👍

    Thank you Tony Edwards.

  2. Moira Macquaide Reply

    May 30, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    Fantastic! Tony Edwards has cheered me up. Thank you.

  3. Mike Murphy Reply

    May 30, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    Tony Edwards’ column was awesome, amazing, brilliant and fantastic. Well done.

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