Fringe Box



Life in Solitary: Bad News, Funny News, Dracula, and Too Many Hats…

Published on: 10 Jul, 2020
Updated on: 23 Jul, 2020

Tony Edwards

The Lockdown Diary of Tony Edwards

Giving Bad News the Bird

There’s a sense of déjà vu about the news lately.  Tonight’s News at Ten will probably sound very much like a re-run of last night’s – give or take a revised statistic or two, plans to topple another “inappropriate” statue,  and a couple of government U-turns?

If you’re beginning to prefer washing-up the dinner plates to watching the evening news, you may be displaying the symptoms of Virus News Attention Deficiency (VNAD) – a potentially dangerous condition which suppresses the attention span and can lead to a sudden and persistent craving for fermented grape juice.

The problem is that while Fiona Bruce, Jon Snow, Hugh Edwards, Tom Bradby and the rest of them do their job well enough, they are familiar faces – perhaps a bit too familiar, too predictable, dull even – so we don’t really pay proper attention anymore.  What’s needed to reverse the effects of VNAD is a presenter who can grab the attention and focus the mind on the important issues of the day.

Click to enlarge.

One solution to the problem could be an African Blue parrot called Chicken. She’s a dab hand at presenting the news.   I gave Chicken her big break about 20 years ago when, as part of a slightly off-beat PR stunt, I signed her up to host the breakfast show on Guildford’s local radio station ‘The Eagle’.  The aspiring young parrot made page 3 of ‘The Sun’ newspaper, temporarily ousting the usual page 3 girls from the prized spot in the paper.

Parrots often live well into their 50’s so Chicken would still be young enough to make a switch from radio to TV – bringing a unique touch of feathered glamour to our screens.  I’ll have a word with some of the TV bosses to see how they feel about it.  Let’s face it, newscasters merely read things off cue cards, er… parrot-fashion.

Odd Man Out

I once went to a fancy dress party dressed as a vampire, only to discover that nobody else had bothered so my Count Dracula outfit rather stood out from the rest of the crowd.  Embarrassing.

Life in solitary

I had a similar experience last week when I went to the shops wearing a face mask and rubber gloves.  Once again, nobody else seemed to have bothered.  In fact, people peered at me with the look of mild curiosity usually reserved for rear-end car shunts and street buskers.

I think I’ll hire another Dracula outfit next time. At least I can be sure people will give me a wide berth.

The Small Print…

If you had to reach for your specs to read the ‘Community Newsletter’ from housebuilders Taylor Wimpey which dropped through some letterboxes last week, you’re not alone. The four-page, colour leaflet apparently forms part of the company’s community engagement programme to transform the former Wisley airfield into a “new settlement”.

Unfortunately, the words are in ‘tiddly-print’ – a 6 point typeface at most – legible only to those with 20/20 vision or a handy magnifying glass.  But one word stood out above the rest – ‘disused’.   So I zapped over a quick note to project manager, Antonis Pazourou, pointing out that perhaps he chose the wrong word to describe top-grade farmland which has been highly productive for decades.   It’s even known locally as ‘Three Farms Meadows’, I pointed out, so did he feel that a correction was in order?

He hasn’t answered my question yet but he’s probably very busy.

If You Want to Get Ahead…

As the PM prepared to hand David Frost the post of National Security Adviser – in addition to his existing job as Britain’s chief BREXIT negotiator – I was reminded of something Ken Livingstone told me many moons ago.  I’d invited him and some other well-known faces to help promote the British clothing industry by “modelling” the latest menswear styles at a press photo-call in London.

Ken Livingstone – a man of many hats

Some wag of a photographer (I think it was Kent Gavin of The Mirror) asked him to pile half a dozen hats on his head and Ken duly obliged. He smiled for the “snappers” then turned to me and confided that he’d just broken a cardinal rule of politics – never try to wear too many hats at the same time.

But Ken, who also famously said; “Anybody who enjoys being in the House of Commons probably needs psychiatric help,” took it in his stride and smiled for the cameras throughout the two-hour session.

I just hope Boris and the multi-tasking David Frost are still smiling by the end of the year.

Concreting the Countryside

And Boris the Builder donned his hard hat last week – to trumpet the news of his ‘Build, Build, Build’ campaign.  He told the media that his plans were to “build back better, build back faster, and build back greener”.

Unfortunately, and as witnessed by Guildford’s controversial Local Plan, some politicians still seem to think the green belt is an elementary grade in Karate.

Independent Decisions

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon, to use her full name, continues her less than subtle campaign towards Scottish independence and separation from the UK by ignoring Boris Johnson’s lead in opening-up after the “lock-down”.

Nicola declared a decisive “nay” to Boris’s plan to open English pubs and beer gardens last Saturday. Instead, the Scots did their own thing and opened-up their beer gardens, er… two days later on Monday.

Cheers Nicola, and happy 50th birthday on July 19 – exactly one month after Boris’s June 19 birthday.

Tweeting out of Hours

Kanye West took to Twitter on Sunday to announce that he will run for President of the United States in four months’ time, going head-to-head with his old mate Donald Trump.

I’m unsurprised that the American rapper, who is married to Kim Kardashian, hasn’t yet taken any positive steps towards his political ambitions other than his late-night message.    Inspired, no doubt, by “The Donald”, who regularly tweets his thoughts late into the night, Kanye tweeted just after midnight, at 12.38am.

Call me old fashioned, but I don’t believe anything anyone tweets out of office hours. My rule is, if it wasn’t tweeted nine-to-five, Monday to Friday, it has no more integrity than schoolboy scribbles on the walls of a public loo.

Light Headed

I‘ve lost weight and I’m feeling a bit light-headed.  Nothing serious – just the result of a long-overdue hair cut which, finally, took place  – al fresco style –  in my garden.  James, a stylist from Clay in Oxshott, did the honours in between the showers but I missed the usual head massage and the top-notch coffee and biccies.  There was also the indignity of having to sweep up my own hair after he’d gone.  I think I prefer the salon – but not just yet awhile.

The Funny Side of the News

With so much depressing news about, I decided to fabricate a few light-hearted news items of my own to round off this week’s column – with a nostalgic nod to the Two Ronnies:

  • A motorist who drove backwards from Glasgow to Guildford in under two hours was today convicted of ‘Limit Speed The Exceeding’ and awarded the land speed record.
  • A Guildford vicar who performed a marriage ceremony wearing a face mask and PPE visor, ended the proceedings by giving a blessing in disguise.
  • Gangsters escaped today when their prison van collided with a concrete mixer and crashed into a flower stall in North Street market.  Police said they were on the look-out for a bunch of hardened criminals.
  • A man who left the Friary Street branch of Specsavers wearing his new prescription glass on his arm, later admitted he couldn’t tell his eyes from his elbow.
  • Asked how he’d been spending his time during lock-down, the owner of an Italian restaurant in Ripley says he busied himself making a model of the Leaning Tower of Pizza.
  • Hopes of averting an all-out strike by the militant Calendar Printers’ Union were dashed this week when they refused to print a date for the next round of talks.  A spokesman said that time was running out and 2021 might not begin until March.
  • A lorry transporting blue paint collided with another lorry carrying red paint today on the Portsmouth Road near Esher.  Both drivers were later found marooned on the Scilly Isles roundabout.

All Change

Reading the Prince of Woke’s outburst about the Commonwealth and the need for Britain to atone for its past, I was reminded of Meghan’s £100k Givenchy wedding dress, embroidered with 53 flowers – one for each Commonwealth country.  Doncha just lurv couples with conviction?

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Responses to Life in Solitary: Bad News, Funny News, Dracula, and Too Many Hats…

  1. Harry Eve Reply

    July 14, 2020 at 9:51 am

    Burglary continues to be an issue and someone even stole a guard dog recently. The police are on the look-out for a Doberman Pinscher.

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