Fringe Box



Life in Solitary: A Wee Horticultural Problem

Published on: 12 Jun, 2020
Updated on: 23 Jul, 2020

Tony Edwards

The Lockdown Diary of Tony Edwards

Open toilets?

I’ve been getting strange telephone calls lately from people I don’t know and have never met, asking if my “toilet facilities” will be open as they are planning to pay me a visit.

Now while Chez Edwards boasts three perfectly adequate loos with a hard-won supply of “post-panic buying” loo paper in each, none of them has ever been designated a public toilet – as far as I know. And I’m in strict lock-down, so queues of casual visitors might worry the neighbours.

I’ve answered with a firm but polite “certainly not” before asking why anyone would want to visit a complete stranger for their ablutions in the first place.  Some callers have quickly hung-up in a huff but I soon discovered the problem.  My home telephone number is just one digit away from the Wisley Gardens’ number, which is, it seems, receiving a particularly high volume of calls as they re-open some of their facilities to the public.

So, instead of calling me, would-be visitors to Wisley might like to know that their toilets are open for business but that, unfortunately, “capacity has been reduced” due to social distancing.

And my three loos will remain closed to the general public until further notice.

Hay Fever & The Virus

The peak of the grass pollen season is with us and I’m victim to the usual symptoms of hay fever, non-stop sneezing and sore, watery eyes.  So, along with my fashionably black Coronavirus face mask, I’m now wearing dark glasses too so I’m totally unrecognisable and looking a bit like the invisible man.

I mention this only because my window cleaner passed me in his van as I headed for the post box.  “Afternoon Mr Edwards,” he called out without hesitation.  Perhaps it’s the way I walk…

Mr Edwards – obviously

Well Suited to Lock-Down

Founded in the 1800s, Henry Poole is Savile Row’s oldest bespoke tailoring company, making suits in the £4k price bracket.  I numbered Poole among my PR clients for many years, enjoying a substantial “trade” discount on my personal “whistles”.

So it was with considerable trepidation that I recently ordered my first lock-down, “budget bespoke” suit, on-line from a company with offices in London, Barcelona, and Zurich – at a bargain price of just under £200.

It turned up in a brown paper parcel with a Shanghai postmark, since when it’s been quarantined in my garden shed.

Heading Back to “Normal”?

Signs that we are starting to drift back to ‘normal’ life in Britain…

  • The pandemic has been pushed off the front pages by the long-running issues of the day.
  • The EU has re-launched its Stop BREXIT campaign.
  • Meghan Markle is once again giving the world the benefit of her heartfelt insight and advice.
  • Theresa May is wearing those leopard print, kitten heels again.
  • Ed Milliband is being invited to comment on just about anything nobody else wants to talk about.
  • Non-essential retailers will re-open their shops and stores to us next Monday (June 15th), when they can once again explain how the item you want is not in stock but they can probably order one for next week.
  • Gary Lineker’s talking about a “kick-off” date for football.
  • NHS concerns about why there are so few people attending A&E will be answered shortly – when the pubs re-open.

The Trouble with 2020

Remember when we were worried about the Millenium bug? The doom-mongers obviously misread the runes. It was 2020 they should have worried about.
As we have now discovered it is a “Unique Leap Year” – February had 29 days, March had 250 days and April and May had 500 days each, while June feels like it’ll top 1,000. Perhaps we should uninstall 2020 and then reinstall it to get rid of the virus?

Sir Keir “Carman” QC

Could it be that Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer QC has adopted the style and mannerisms of master inquisitor “Gorgeous” George Carman QC when confronting Boris at the despatch box? Looks that way to me, judging by his recent performances at PMQs.

Starmer speaks with the same measured pace and seems to have mastered Carman’s calm and well-rehearsed gaze into middle distance  – as if he might be addressing a higher, more spiritual authority.  But I’m not yet convinced he’s a match for boisterous, blustering Boris.

Yes, he has the legal pedigree, having previously held the posts of both Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service.  But he lacks the witty but scathing turn of phrase which so typified “I put it to you” Carman.

On David Mellor.  “He behaved like an ostrich, put his head in the sand, thereby exposing his thinking parts.”

On Ken Dodd (who he defended on a charge of tax evasion). “Some accountants are comedians, but comedians are never accountants.”

Boris may not be our wittiest PM but he does sometimes say things which can either raise a smile or start a riot –  like:

“The dreadful truth is that when people come to see their MP, they have run out of better ideas.”

“My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars or my being reincarnated as an olive.”

“Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW.”

I rest my case, m’lud.

Mixed Messages

I must have missed the public health announcement about it being OK for thousands of people to gather in close proximity in Whitehall and Parliament Square last weekend, ignoring social distancing advice.  Didn’t it rather send the message that nobody’s lives matter?

Painting of ‘A Confusion of Guinea Fowl’ by Colette Clegg

The Art of Saving Wildlife

Local artist Colette Clegg’s painting A Confusion of Guinea Fowl was one of 159 works chosen for the “Wildlife Artist of the Year” on-line exhibition organised by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation which attracted 1,200 entries from 52 countries.  The oil painting also won a special award from Artist magazine and has since sold for £895 to benefit the charity.

Colette tells me the Guinea Fowl were hatched at her farm in Ockham. “We simply put some guinea fowl eggs under one of our chickens,” she said. “I painted them from both life and photographs.” Presumably, the confused chickens are out of frame.

The late, great David Shepherd would have approved. He too painted from life and photographs.

“Elephants don’t stand still for very long, so a few snapshots can be helpful,” he once told me when I worked with him on a couple of PR projects.

He also believed that world-wide conservation and preservation should begin at home, saying; “If we fail to protect the green fields of Guildford, how can we hope to save the animals in Africa?”

Social Spacing

Mysterious radio waves from outside our galaxy have been detected by Jodrell Bank, according to newspaper reports this week. Apparently they are repeated on a 16-day cycle and scientists, world-wide, are speculating that they could be messages from an advanced alien civilisation on a far-off planet.

It’s probably a tit-for-tat warning that visitors from Earth will have to self-isolate for a period of 14 days on arrival.

Learning a Lock-Down Lesson

I’ve just received an invitation from Zoopla to take part in an online survey asking how the lock-down may have changed our priorities when choosing a new home.    Increased storage space for tinned food and toilet rolls would be on my list, along with a self-sanitizing letterbox and fridge, and a ‘wardrobe’ of assorted face masks and gloves.

But a dedicated “Learning Room” with a state-sponsored, jumbo-sized, built-in, national curriculum, home education screen, for all primary and secondary pupils looks like it could become an essential on the nation’s list if the current ‘back to school’ educational chaos is anything to go by.  Enhanced, expanded, zero fees, Open University student programmes would also make sense.

Every Cloud

At least the stay-at-home Lock-Down has been good for Jehovah’ Witnesses.

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