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Life in Solitary: If You Like It, Stick With It

Published on: 24 Jul, 2020
Updated on: 26 Jul, 2020

Tony Edwards

The Lockdown Diary of Tony Edwards

Groundhog Wisdom

I’ve just worked it out,  “Lockdown Grub” is an anagram of “Groundhog Day”. Trust me – it is.  And even if it isn’t, it should be.

I usually like experimenting in the kitchen, with variety the spice of my culinary life. But not lately. These days I seem to be in a bit of a rut – especially with breakfast – and I blame it all on the enforced monotony of four months in lockdown.

Every morning since March, I’ve breakfasted on a couple of Weetabix, followed by a boiled egg, finished-off with sourdough toast and honey.  And that’s kinda worrying, don’t you think?

Fortunately, I consider myself to be in good company.  Comedy legend Norman Wisdom was a great advocate of routine and always insisted on the same lunch menu every day – fried egg and chips, with tomato sauce, and a bottle of ginger beer.

With Norman Wisdom

I once took him to lunch at the St James’s Club in London where their gourmet chef was happy to oblige Sir Norman with egg, chips and up-market ginger beer – a la St James’s Club.  After lunch, I asked him why he insisted on eating the same thing every day.

“Cos I like egg, chips and ginger beer,” he said with that famous half-grin.

He lived to be 95 so the egg, chips and ginger beer diet may be worth a try.

Do you have an every day meal like Norman? Use the “Leave a reply feature below to let me know.

What’s in a Name?

A poll of 6,000 parents has just revealed that Boris is top of a list of names they would never give their son.  Next came Donald, Manson and Andrew.  Karen topped the girl’s list, with Meghan in there somewhere.

Life in solitary

This implied rejection of our PM’s Christian name is a misnomer, of course, because Boris’s real name is Alexander. But he’s not the first Boris to change his handle.

The famously frightening horror film star Boris Karloff was originally Christened William Henry Pratt – honest. He lived just outside Guildford in Midhurst until he left us for that big film set in the sky in 1969.

Other stars who changed their names include Harry Webb who became Cliff Richard, Issur Dersky who switched to Kirk Douglas, Frances Gumm who morphed into Judy Garland and Lady Gaga, who took her name from the Queen song “Radio Ga Ga”, was Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.  Movie idol Cary Grant was previously stilt walker Archie Leech and Fred Astaire was Frederick Austeritz until he put on his top hat and tails, while national treasure Helen Mirren was born Ilyena Lydia Mironoff.

You can understand why actor Joaquin Phoenix switched from Joaquin Bottom, but I wonder how many of us would be proud to wear Ralph Lauren’s high fashion logo if he’d kept his real name –  Ralph Lifshitz?


If you’re sporting a beard it probably won’t be an issue, but new coronavirus guidelines from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTCC) could give the rest of us two-tone faces this summer.

The coalition of the world’s biggest travel companies are urging us to beat the virus by wearing face masks all the time – wherever we are – but especially if we are sunbathing on the beach or by the pool, where social distancing could be a problem.

So if you are hoping to get an all-over, Mediterranean tan this year, it might be a good idea to stock up on fake tan for the lower half of your face.

Oh to be an Eloi.

In his book The Time Machine, HG Wells described a future world 800,000 years from now when, following an unspecified glogal catastrophe, humans had evolved into two sub-species. The “Morlocks” opted for the protection of an underground existence while the “Eloi” stayed on the surface and spent their time lazing around in the sunshine.

The author, who wrote his famous time travel tale 125 years ago, in 1895, also mentions that there are no old people living among the Eloi.  They are all vibrant, young and happy with, seemingly, no real sense of danger and even less sense of responsibility. The Morlocks, on the other hand, are portrayed as pale and grey after generations in the relative safety of a subterranean world.

As the coronavirus lockdown starts to open-up and Boris urges us to resume normal life in the outside world, I find myself hoping that I will emerge as an Eloi – happy to brave the potential danger that still lurks just beyond my front door.   But I wonder if I might become part of a generation of more cautious Morlocks who will rarely venture outside and rely on the Eloi to deliver food and consumables to their doorstep.

Nah, I think I’ll go for the Eloi option… probably.

To Catch a Thief

With a dramatic increase in car thefts in the news this week, I was reminded that I once advertised in The Times for a top-notch car thief who’d be prepared to turn his back on a life of crime and advise a car security company called Toad instead.  It seemed the logical thing to do, back then, when car crime was totally out of control.  And, besides, the story had great PR potential.

The crème de la crème car thief duly joined my client’s R&D team and set to work – incognito – designing a range of car security devices which, for many years, stumped even the best of the nation’s auto criminals. He hit the national press headlines in the process with full pages in The Times and The Guardian.

Technology has, of course, advanced since then but a new breed of car thief seems to have evolved to beat even the most sophisticated systems –  stealing cars in under 60 seconds.  The Office for National Statistics has just confirmed that over 106,000 vehicles were taken in Britain last year – a rise of 50% in six years – and while at least 300 cars are stolen every day, only 6% of thefts end in a conviction.

So it may be time for another classified ad to recruit a hi-tech, 21st-century car thief capable of designing a device to keep our cars safe. But, this time, I’ll make sure he is happy to be interviewed by the media.  Last time my “master thief” simply clammed-up every time journalists asked him a question.  He later explained that he’d spent so long refusing to answer questions from the police it had become second nature to shut-up and say nowt. Not great for PR.

The Hand of Friendship

Judging by his generally placid demeanour, I’d always imagined that Dominic Raab was a black belt in Wado Ryu (Way of Peace) karate. But his performance in the Commons this week, laying down the law to the Chinese in no uncertain terms, rather suggested he was an exponent of Shotokan – a style of karate I’ve always considered to be rather more aggressive.

The word Karate means Open Hand so we can only hope that both countries will soon be able to extend an open hand in friendship – rather than a tightly clenched fist.

Climbing to the Top

There’s been a recent spate of TV interviews with harassed mums, desperate for ideas and suggestions on how to “entertain” their children during the fast-approaching end of term school holidays.

Mums didn’t have that problem when I was a kid, mainly because they had no idea where we were most of the time. We were a gang of five who regularly looked to our leader Edwin Hubble to find suitable trees in the nearby fields for the rest of us to climb.

Edwin was always the first to scramble up to the higher branches and then, with the precision of Sherpa Tenzing plotting a route up a Himalayan mountain, would guide us to the lofty heights of great oaks.  But then we’d jump out of the tree because it was considered cissy to climb back down the way we’d climbed up.

None of us ever broke any bones and mums who asked where we’d been and what we’d been doing all afternoon were usually given the standard answer.  “Oh, nothing much. What’s for tea?”

P4 KGBSticking with the KGB

Following this week’s report into Russian interference in UK business and politics by Parliament’s intelligence and security committee, I wondered if Cllr Paul Spooner might think it was time to sell his P4 KGB car registration.

The former leader of Guildford Council, who bought the cherished number in 1996 but apparently severed his business links with Russia in 2024, told me he had no plans to dispose of the KGB plate and that it would remain on his red mini.

If Guildford’s controversial Local Plan is an indicator, KGB probably stands for “Killing Green Belt”.

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Responses to Life in Solitary: If You Like It, Stick With It

  1. Julian Cranwell Reply

    July 24, 2020 at 10:29 am

    Most enjoyable, as ever from Tony. Particularly enjoyed the KGB explanation.

    As to repetitive meals, I have for several years greeted the day with only a smoothie, usually consisting of: Almond milk, zero fat yoghurt, blueberries, nuts, seeds, kale, and a dash of cinnamon. I can highly recommend it to anyone wishing to keep their weight under control under prevailing conditions.

  2. Carol Maidlow Reply

    July 24, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    Yes Tony, for the past 45+ years, my breakfast at home is always cottage cheese on a slice of toast. I feel deprived if I run out of cottage cheese, and it has happened a few times. Love your columns.

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