Fringe Box



Life in Solitary: Reasons to be Cheerful – Part 2

Published on: 13 Nov, 2020
Updated on: 17 Nov, 2020

Tony Edwards

The Lockdown Diary of Tony Edwards

Reasons to be Cheerful – Part 2

It’s Friday the 13th but I definitely won’t be walking under any ladders, tripping over black cats, treading on the cracks in the pavement, holding a dinner party for 13, or falling victim to a rampaging werewolf – because I’m legally locked-down at home until December 2nd.

‘Lock-Down’ Friday the 13th is number one on my new list of ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’.  Others include:

  • I’m now shaving twice a day in lock-down in case I’m unexpectedly invited to a Zoom meeting.
  • Other “pop” stars will, hopefully, follow James Blunt’s excellent lead and do us all a favour by not doing a “mini-concert” from home to “cheer us up”.
  • I can take a bit more time deciding which outfit to wear to take out the wheelie bins on Wednesday evenings.
  • The unusually mild November weather means my specs don’t steam up quite so much when I’m wearing a face mask.
  • The upcoming season of the Donald Trump Show” promises to be even more entertaining than when he was president.
  • “Lock-down 2” gives us all another chance to save the human race by lazing around at home all day doing nothing.
  • Looks like it’s OK to ignore social distancing if you’re Lycra-clad cyclists having a chat while zipping down country lanes three-abreast.
  • Jeremy Corbyn’s face is starting to fade from memory and I’ve almost totally forgotten pip squeaker John Bercow’s cynical smile.
  • I’m helping a Nigerian prince sort out a pretty serious money matter involving a distant relative I didn’t realise I had.
  • John Major says Britain will never be a great power again which, if his judgement is running true to form, means our return to greatness is just around the corner.
  • I finished Netflix today.
  • Now on sale, the Eton-themed advent calendar  – where all the doors are opened for you by your dad’s pals.

Strictly Judge Craig Revel Horwood

Not Everything is ‘Amazing Dahling’

I don’t doubt, for a moment, that the Great Wall of China is amazing.  The Colossus of Rhodes and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are probably quite amazing too.  But doing a passable Paso Doble on Strictly is definitely not amazing – it’s a pseudo-Spanish dance, not the eighth wonder of the world.  Could somebody please inform the judges?

Scouting Around for a few Bob

A 12-year-old Edwards polishing some window panes for a ‘Bob’.

They bought my corduroy shorts a few sizes too big because I’d “grow into them”.  And I assume the Baden Powell hat slipped down over my eyes for much the same reason.  But, despite my unflattering, over-sized khaki scout uniform, I became an enthusiastic patrol leader in the 2nd Sudbury Scout Troop when I was about twelve.  So I was sorry to hear this week that more than 500 Scout groups are today at risk of closure due to the pandemic and Social Distancing, which have, it seems, wiped out most of their normal fund-raising activities, according to the Scout Association.

In my scouting days, fundraising meant “Bob-A-Job Week” – seven days when we were encouraged to knock on the doors of complete strangers and offer to mow their lawns, clean their windows, trim their hedges, polish the family shoes, chop wood or any other odd job which came to mind.  In return, we’d be paid at least a ‘Bob’ – one shilling in old money (5p today).  We’d probably have cleaned cars too but less than a handful of people in our neighbourhood even owned a car in those far off days.

Bob-a-Job Stickers. Those who had had a job done could stick to their front door to prevent repeat calls.

It was, of course, nothing short of child exploitation on a Dickensian scale, but we were more than happy to work for a few pennies to help fund repairs to our leaking Nissen hut, paint the trek cart or maybe even buy a new “bivvy” tent or two.

Nobody in the Kestrels patrol ever complained and, give or take the odd bruise, graze and blister, none of us came to any serious harm.  But, by 1992, the health and safety brigade had abolished Bob-A-Job and, while it was half-heartedly reintroduced in 2011 as more genteel-sounding “Scout Community Week”, it’s now more about scouts being sponsored to work in supervised groups in local hospitals and care homes –  so not such a great idea with a deadly virus rampaging around the world.

Allowing for inflation, I reckon the reintroduction of Bob-A-Job Week as an up-dated and shorter-term Tenner-A-Task Saturday” (£10) might go down well, get the scouts smiling and keep them socially distanced.  Sadly, in this “Elf & safety” era, they’d never allow it.

Old Lags Together – Doing Time

I’m not sure there’s much difference between being locked down and locked up.  In both scenarios you find yourself legally detained inside a specific building for a pre-determined period of time, with a brief break for outdoor exercise.

The advantage of being locked-up in one of Her Majesty’s prisons is that you’d probably be released early for good behaviour.  But no matter how well you behave in lockdown, not even the Queen can shorten the sentence.  In fact, Prime Minister Boris is quite likely to add on a few extra weeks as he hand-brakes into yet another of his now-familiar U-turns.

So, one way or another, most of us have already served around eight months in stir since the first lockdown –  which, you might like to know, is not far off the official sentence they hand you for theft or possession of a deadly weapon.  Criminals all.

Not So Smart Energy Deal

There was yet another letter from e.on yesterday – my tenth in the past few months.   This time it was a “reminder” that they’re ready to fit my Smart Meters, despite the new lockdown.  Their operators would be wearing PPE and would sanitise any surface they touched and would always keep a social distance while they made the switch.   It’s all part of the campaign to help Britain become cleaner and greener, and to save me money, they said.

But it’s a curious claim since smart meters use additional energy to function – roughly the same amount as a TV on permanent standby.  Rather too many of them go “dumb” and lose their smart functionality, and they make it difficult to switch to another supplier.  Apparently they also emit electromagnetic radiation.

I think I’ll pass on e.on’s  kind offer for the moment.

A Lesson in Young Thinking

Once, when I was four or five, I fancied I saw a very tiny man, dressed in pale green clothes, ambling slowly across the lawn at the end of our back garden. He was only slightly taller than the grass itself and seemed to be bent forward as if he might be looking for something.  But I was pretty sure he smiled before hurrying off towards our neighbour’s hedge.

I told my parents about the little green man but my mother said I was mistaken and that I’d probably seen a grasshopper or a beetle of some kind.  My father slowly lowered his newspaper and stared quizzically at me for a moment – but said nothing.  When I persisted with my story they told me not to be so silly and that I shouldn’t let my imagination run away with itself.

I didn’t see little green men after that but I made a mental note that grown-ups don’t see things in quite the  same way as children because they’re too busy dealing with “more important matters”.

I still feel much the same way a life-time later, which is why I occasionally reach for Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s amazing little book The Little Prince.  It’s just 96 pages long but remains one of the most read books in the world, translated into 300 languages and, if you haven’t already yet read it, I urge you to grab a copy.  It may help you to keep life in perspective during the new lockdown.

I read the book again this week and reproduce, below, an important drawing by the author when he was still a small child.  He regularly showed it to the grown-ups and asked if it frightened them.

The “hat”

“Why would we be frightened by a hat?” they’d ask, unable to comprehend that it wasn’t a hat but a boa constrictor digesting an elephant.  So he drew it again – simplified this time to accommodate the limited perception of adults.

The elephant in the boa constrictor

If there’s a child somewhere in your life, you’ll undoubtedly benefit from their innocent truth and unadulterated logic during the madness of life in ‘Lock-Down’ 2.   Or you could try reading [or re-reading] ‘The Little Prince’ which may help you to recapture the simplicity of childhood.

Joe Biden – a youthful facade?

Slow Down Joe

Someone might mention to president-elect Joe Biden that jogging across the stage to the rostrum at public meetings and speaking in a painfully loud voice only serve to highlight that he’s no longer the spritely young man he’s pretending to be.

Keep Taking the Tablets

Two news items caught my eye on Tuesday.  The first was a claim by scientists at Harvard University that vitamin pills have no positive benefits whatsoever.  The second was the British Medical Journal’s claim that vitamin D3 can boost the immune system and could combat Covid 19 symptoms.  The BMJ added that around half of the UK population has a vitamin D deficiency.

I’d just like to add that the next time there’s a human disaster, anywhere in the world, you can bet that Britain will immediately send off a load of vitamin supplements for the victims.

Remember when…?

Yesterday’s Normal

Remember, when we blew out all the candles on our birthday cake, shared our germs with everyone else and nobody thought twice about it? They were the good old days, eh?

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