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Column: Life in Solitary 4 – Trimming The Locks Down At Home

Published on: 15 May, 2020
Updated on: 23 Jul, 2020

Tony Edwards

The Lockdown Diary of Tony Edwards

Forward Thinking
I don’t usually ask personal questions of people I don’t know but, ironically, social distancing seems to be breaking down my natural reserve. Standing in a mercifully short queue at the pharmacy this week I wondered how the chap in front of me had managed to keep his hair so immaculately trimmed.

So I asked him.  [Yeah, I know. You’d normally risk a punch in the mouth.]

“Foresight,” he said at once, as if it might be the name of his hairdresser, and went on to explain how he’d decided to have a really short haircut immediately before the lockdown was announced. “I could see the way things were going and so took precautions,” he added.

Suitably impressed by his clairvoyant skills, I asked if he’d taken any other pre-isolation precautions.  “Pilchards,” he snapped back. “I bought 45 tins as emergency rations in case food supplies failed.”

High Fashion Face-Masks
I managed to buy some black face-masks to coordinate with my black Armani T-shirts and sweaters, an opportunity to introduce a little bit of style if we’re all going to be wearing masks when they finally allow us to venture out of our homes for more than exercise.

I was thinking about alerting the fashion industry to the possibilities of haute couture face-masks when I discovered that Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry and Chanel were already marketing their own distinctive brands. And some have a £250 price tag.

Anti-virus face-masks are, it seems, likely to become something of a fashion statement in the months to come in the same way that specs have evolved from a medical necessity to high fashion.

Vera Lynn’s Guildford Connection
The national focus on Dame Vera Lynn during last week’s VE Day celebrations reminded me of the day, 20 years ago, when she officially opened (or should I say closed?) a Millennium Time Vault opposite the Millbrook car park in Guildford.

She’d been voted “The Spirit of the 20th Century” in a national poll, and I invited her to do the honours, sealing a 1960s Mini, paintings by David Shepherd, a couple of her own records, and a host of other 20th-century memorabilia in the huge, walk-in time capsule.

Dame Vera was then 83 and I was amazed at her energy in dealing with my 10am national press briefing and photo call at London’s Savoy Hotel, followed by lunch and another set of TV interviews and pictures I’d arranged at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre from 3pm. She left at about 6pm, after a near eight-hour media marathon, looking as fresh as ever.

Poetry & Planning
I was reminded this week how lucky we are to spend our lockdown isolation in leafy Guildford rather than the concrete jungle which covers most of neighbouring London.

The romantic poet John Keats penned a sonnet, To Isolation when he was just 19 which summed it up.
“O solitude! If I must with thee dwell
Let not it be among the jumbled heap of murky buildings.
Climb with me steep whence the dell,
Its flowing slopes, its rivers crystal swell…”

Guildford’s Local Plan, with its ambitions to build thousands of houses on our green fields could, of course, bring London’s “jumbled heap” to our villages and hamlets sooner than we think.

PS. Overheard by a reader. Loud and enthusiastic conversation by a young man on a smartphone on a country walk in East Shalford Lane. “Yeah, I’m walking there and I’m going through some of the most beautifullist countryside; I had no idea there was so much of it around Guildford.”

The Error of Love
Inviting your lover over to your house during the present lockdown isn’t an “error of judgement”, it’s a deliberate act of self –indulgence, flouting social distancing guidelines and potentially endangering others.  But as American poet Maya Angelou put it: “Love recognises no barriers.  It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination, full of hope.”  And long may it be so.

Independent Thinking
Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have been curiously subdued on the previously burning issue of Scottish independence since the post-Corvid price of crude oil fell through the floor.

And European Union member states have clearly dropped any pretence of a united front in defeating the virus, closing down borders and adopting independent national strategies.

How politics and policies change when the chips are down.

Time to fly?
I won’t be boarding an airplane to go anywhere, any time soon. Those cell-culture, Petro-dishes with wings have always been a source of potential infection via their highly inefficient air-filtration systems. I count myself lucky if I don’t catch a bug flying from London to Manchester and back.

No Need for Knee Slides
Good news for footballers’ knees. No point in all those egotistical, self-congratulatory knee slides across the grass after scoring a goal if there’s no applause from the empty stands when the Premier League finally kicks off again.

Boris’s New Message
If you’re confused by the Prime Minister’s new Stay Alert guidelines, which confirm that people who can’t work from home are now “actively encouraged” to return to their usual place of work, may I offer some clarification?  It’s pretty much the same message menacingly delivered by Clint Eastwood in the 1971 Dirty Harry, pointing his .44 Magnum revolver in the face of the baddie: “You’ve got to ask yourself one question, ‘Do I feel lucky?’”

Masked Musicians?
Nobody has mentioned the annual BBC Proms in all the talk about public gatherings being banned for the foreseeable future.  Social distancing for a 100-strong BBC Symphony Orchestra would present a logistical nightmare but the 125th anniversary of the Sir Henry Woods concerts may, perhaps, still go ahead in some form or another from July this year.

An announcement is expected before the end of the month but while the strings and percussion could readily wear face masks, the brass and woodwind sections might be faced with a bit of a problem.

Jackson and Joss Bigmore

Final Cut
I started so I’ll finish on the subject of lockdown haircuts.  If you’ve ever wondered who wields the scissors to create the super-short, “buzz cut” hair-style of expected-to-be council leader Joss Bigmore I can reveal that it is none other than his nine-year-old son Jackson. Joss apparently returns the favour with a similar close-shave style for his son.

I wonder how they’re fixed for tinned pilchards?

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test One Response to Column: Life in Solitary 4 – Trimming The Locks Down At Home

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    May 16, 2020 at 7:30 am

    This is excellent. Let’s see more from Tony. Cheered me up no end.

    Keats would surely be turning in his grave, at the plans GBC has for our green and pleasant land.

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