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Ockhamite Diary: Paint It Black

Published on: 7 Oct, 2022
Updated on: 3 Nov, 2022

A sidelong glance at the world from Tony Edwards…

A subliminal colour choice

The hottest summer on record and recent to’ings and fro’ings at Number 10 have dramatically affected my front door. First, the blistering sun transformed its high gloss, sunflower-yellow paintwork into a sheet of bubble wrap.

Then the bubbles started to burst – around about the same time as Boris Johnson’s premiership bubble burst in Downing Street. Something had to be done.

The country needed a new Prime Minister and my front door needed a paint job. And if you’ve ever tried to get a professional painter and decorator in the middle of summer, you’ll know why it took until last week for Justin the painter to start the rubbing down and glossing over.

Downing Street inspired black door?

But, of course, we waited nearly as long to find a new tenant for number 10 – a tedious election process culminating in equally tedious speeches by outgoing and incoming Prime Ministers, and all delivered against a backdrop of the famous front door at 10 Downing Street. And that’s when I reckon I was subliminally bamboozled into asking Justin to buy black gloss paint for my sunflower-yellow front door in Ockham.

The experts say that if your eyes are subjected to a specific image for long enough it will affect your mind without you ever being aware of it. And that’s what seems to have happened here, and why my front door is now jet black instead of sunflower yellow.

Mind you, my door’s made of wood rather than the bomb-proof metal they used on the new door at No 10 after the oak door was replaced, in 1991, following an IRA mortar attack from a van parked in Whitehall. We haven’t had many mortar attacks in Ockham lately but there are regular bombardments on the local countryside by developers with ambitions for many thousands of new front doors – and the not-so-affordable houses they’ll plonk behind them.

Gone tomorrow?

Something about the lighting at my hairdressers makes my hair look like it’s having a worse recession than the UK economy. I think it’s the “warm white” light bulbs which are meant to be soft, flattering and relaxing, but act like a searchlight in a Nazi POW camp on my thinning hair as it makes its great escape.

To be brutally honest, it’s not so much thinning as on a crash diet and as I watched James snip away at what remains of my greying locks on Tuesday, I thought of my friend Andy Bryant and his book The Baldness Cure.

Not a homesick Aussie but Andy in upside down mode

Andy blamed the stress of life as a City whizz kid for the small bald patch on the back of his head and, one fateful day, chucked his job and began a search for the cure for male pattern baldness. I should add, at this point, that Andy is a master of self-hypnosis and once had a vasectomy at the Marie Stopes clinic in London without anaesthetic or blood loss.

Not even the operating surgeon believed it but I handled the publicity so I know it’s 100 per cent true. Cross my heart.

Anyway, Andy figured that getting maximum blood flow into the top of your head was the key to reversing baldness. So he bought himself a “back swing” inverter device – a flat bed on an axis which zaps you upside-down before you can say Spanish Inquisition. (See picture)

And it worked. Andy’s bald spot disappeared and he went on to write his book, which is still available on Amazon if you fancy having a go at reversing hair loss. I’m not sure I can be bothered to hang around upside down in the cause of healthy follicles anymore, especially when it could be reasonably argued that I’m not losing my hair at all – merely growing a bit more head.

Brain fog

Stop me if I’ve already told you this but I poured prune juice on my Weetabix last Wednesday morning. OK, the prune juice was standing right next to the Alpro almond milk so it was an easy mistake to make.

But it’s not something normal folk usually do, is it? And it’s doubly worrying so soon after the incident with the coffee percolator. But let’s not go there.

The good news is I’m not alone. Hundreds of people have apparently been struck by what doctors have labelled “Brain Fog”. In simple terms that’s when your brain feels like it’s been stuffed with old socks and you have trouble remembering that you’ve left the toast under the grill until the smoke alarm interrupts what’s-her-name on that breakfast TV programme; the one who’s always reminding us how she gets up for work at 3-45 am – and probably votes Labour.

Doctors reckon the boredom of multiple lock-downs could have all but wiped out parts of our memory banks. A new Cambridge University study discovered that brain volume, in areas associated with learning and memory, shrank in people affected by isolation during lock-down.

Now, it seems, some people will need to give their brains a bit of a re-boot. A sure indicator that you may be one of those people is if you find yourself regularly saying: “Stop me if I’ve already told you this but…”

Saying what you mean

As a young, aspiring reporter I once wrote to veteran journalist Theo Lang asking for advice on how to get a job in Fleet Street. I used some very flowery, pompous phrases and can recall apologising for “this documentary intrusion” in a juvenile attempt to demonstrate my imagined literary talent.

A book to avoid at all costs.

The newspaper legend sent me a book on jargon in return. I’ve tried to avoid using jargon since that wounding lesson but have noticed that Kier Starmer seems to have no such qualms, especially during last week’s party conference where he was in full Sunday Pulpit mode.

But here’s a few newish Jargonisms – with translations. Agile Ceremonies (Meetings with objectives) Composite Motion (Working together) Constitutional Amendments (Rule changes) Autonomous Evaluation (My opinion) Designated Pre-eminence. (I’m in charge)

Jargon seems to be everywhere these days, not least in the definition of Jargon itself which, according to Wikipedia, is – The technical terminology or characteristics idiom of a special activity or group. And the author of that little mouthful probably deserves a book on jargon too.

King Charles ill?

I was a bit concerned on Monday to see a rolling news line at the bottom of my TV screen suggesting that our new king might be unwell. I thought it said King Charles ill. Must get my eyes tested.

Being the best

“I get punched in the head for a living and it’s not particularly pleasant,” boxer Chris Eubank once told me in that famous lispy voice.

Chris Eubank – Fashion icon with a black left eye

These days life is less painful for Chris now that his son gets punched in the head for a living instead. Indeed Chris Eubank Jnr will have the fight of his life tomorrow evening (October 8) when he meets Conor Benn for a twelve-round Super Welterweight contest at the O2 arena. And it’s deadly serious.

The younger Eubank says; “I can’t lose this fight. If I do I’ll have to retire.”

The rivalry runs deep. Chris Eubank senior and Conor Benn’s dad, Nigel, had an epic duo of fights in the early 1990’s and their sons share the same rivalry nearly thirty years later.

But Eubank senior had a reputation for being both flamboyant and arrogant in equal measure. He would vault the ropes into the ring to the sound of Tina Turner’s Simply the Best so the launch of a Chris Eubank men’s fashion collection, with the Simply the Best label, seemed to me to be a logical career change when he finally stopped getting punched in the head for a living.

When all is said and done, Chis was and remains a very natty dresser with Savile Row elegance. We planned and discussed the launch of a fashion range at length but he finally shelved the idea, admitting he wasn’t the boastful, arrogant bruiser everyone imagined him to be – despite all the showmanship in the ring. And a move into fashion might sound a tad pompous.

These days he’s a more spiritual, emotional man with a talent for writing poetry. But he’ll no doubt be at the ringside at the O2 tomorrow evening at ten o’clock, watching two heads getting punched for a rumoured £3.5 million purse each. And that’s not such a bad living is it?

BREAKING NEWS – FIGHT POSTPONED.

Naughty name?

I was surprised to see a red “Profanity” warning on my computer screen while completing a form on a Yell business website this week. So I scrolled back to see what I’d written to trigger the red alert.

The offending word turned out to be Ockham and, no, I don’t get it either.

After a few tries, I managed to reach a compromise with the robot guardians of online integrity at Yell by switching Ockham for Near Horsley. But if the word Ockham qualifies as profanity, I dread to think how the residents of Twatt in the Orkneys deal with their Yell online form filling. And where do their Amazon orders get delivered?

Su Pollard shares a joke

Hi-de-Hi hogwash

And talking of naughty words, I hear that the 1980s TV comedy Hi-de-Hi now qualifies for a trigger warning on Britbox about “language and attitudes of an era which may offend”. As one TV insider commented: “This marks a new low for ordinary people who are fed up with being warned about upsetting language in shows which couldn’t be more gentle.

Viewers will struggle to recall any offensive language in Hi-de-HI. The popular sitcom starred Su Pollard and Ruth Madoc and followed the ups and downs of workers at a holiday camp. I can’t say I ever watched it but, knowing Su Pollard, I’d bet it was all good, clean fun.

She’s playing the fairy in Jack & The Beanstalk this Christmas but, in this politically correct era, fairies will probably be replaced by diminutive, gender-neutral, winged beings with wands and magical powers.

A political ear

After booting out the man who gave them a whopping 40-seat majority in 2019, the Tories may be wondering why they elected Liz Truss to the top job just a few weeks later.

Can this be the discerning, dedicated, decisive, and determined woman we were promised, or is she the pompous, punitive, pig-headed person portrayed by Saint Starmer of Smug?

Liz Truss with fingers extracted from her ears for the cameras

Judging by her party conference speech on Wednesday, I’d say Lady Liz of Laid Back has a finger wedged firmly in each ear while la la la’ing her party towards political oblivion.

Allies claim she models herself on Maggie Thatcher and her defiant “The lady’s not for turning” speech. But “The lady’s not listening” doesn’t have quite the same appeal. And a U-turn came immediately she was out of the starting blocks.

Thought for the day

When a new generation re-writes history it’ll be misspelt, have no punctuation, will be littered with words such as ‘like’ or ‘kind of’ and the letter T will be totally absent, so most of us won’t understand it anyway.

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