LONG LIVE THE SEVENTEENIES!
Doom and gloom wherever you look. That's usually this column's job, now everybody is at it. Some "expert" telling us facemasks work, another telling us they don't. Social distancing? Is it 3ft apart, 6ft or 12? Confused? I don't blame you. Let's try to cheer you up.
We can escape all of this, even as lockdown eases, without breaking the rules. For instance, expatriate gardens have never looked so good. Kew Gardens, eat your heart out. I've even remembered what those hedge trimmers are for! The only thing missing is the ex-wife nagging me to do it, (bless her).
Look on the Monty Python bright side, for goodness sake. We might not be able to go to the local bar, but we can shout at the telly, instead of our pals, still with glass in hand, and nobody answers back. Brilliant! As my reader can imagine, that's a big bonus for me. Yes, we Old Gits are in lockdown (or is it "locked up"?) but we are still 17 at heart, although asking your mistress round is definitely out. Look what happened to Professor Neil Ferguson (one of the architects of UK's lockdown) when he did! Saucy blighter!
Music - now that's a good spirit lifter! Most people suspect my greatest interest is politics. Wrong! Music has been with me all my life, from my Dad playing the piano at home when I was a kid. It's my passion. Blues, Rock, Soul, Tamla Motown, Jazz, Opera (especially Puccini), Bach, Handel, Mozart and the like. Most of those great classical composers were the rock stars of their age. Sex, drugs and rock n' roll was invented by them. The rock stars we grew up listening to merely followed their example (see, you're feeling better already, aren't you?).
Take Little Richard for instance, (actually Richard Wayne Penniman) who at the grand old age of 87, has just passed on to be "Tuttie Frutti" at the great rock concert in the sky, no doubt with a bible in one hand and an outrageous commitment to excess in the other. His greatest line was "wop-bop-a-loo-bop, a-wop-bam boom". Says it all.
We oldies are merely a reflection of all that (on a more modest basis, of course). We had our moments though, boy did we. I remember going to see the Rolling Stones in Bradford in 1966. Ike & Tina Turner were supporting act. "Seeing" them is the right word. I could hardly hear a note because of the screaming! Home on the last bus - high living incarnate (well, it was if you lived in Otley).
Then we have the Stones (the rolling kind). Aren't they great? Who would believe it? 70+ and still going strong! Mick Jagger, Jumping Jack Flash himself, still bouncing around on stage, doing his epileptic duck impersonation. Keith Richard, the most elegantly wasted man in the world, who, with ex-Faces member, Ronnie Wood, shares a deeply winning sloppiness and keeps the Stones’ unique two lead guitarists sound belting out. Then we have the laconic Charlie Watts at the back, the man, who when asked on the Stones 25th Anniversary, how he had spent his time in the band, simply said "Five years playing drums and 20 years hanging around." Wonderful.
If you went to a 1960's/70's house party, you couldn't escape "Brown Sugar" or even the fantastic Faces' "Maggie May". They got the lounge floorboards bouncing. I remember my parents going away overnight when I was 17. Party time. Two hours after they had gone, the house was bouncing. My mother always worried some girl would lead me astray and there I was hoping one of them would. Jennifer Payne especially. Next morning, the house looked like Hurricane Louise had just passed through. Panic stations - phone big sister (from the phone box, down the road). When Mum came back, not a thing out of place. How would 1960's teenagers have coped without big sisters?
I even played the drums in my teens (after a fashion) in my mate Chris Smith's band. We even made a recording (on a reel to reel tape recorder in my Mum's front room). At the time I'd grown my hair long for a part in a school play. When I later enquired why he had picked me to drum, he replied "your drumming was lousy, but you looked the part" (oh dear!). Chris is still professionally rocking and recording, as enthusiastically as ever.
And the younger ones amongst you still think we locked down oldies are a bit staid? Think again son. In 1967 I was off to Blackpool with "Twiggy style" haircut Carolyn, my "bird" at the time. After fish & chips (I knew how to treat a girl) we went to a pop concert. Top of the bill, the "Hey Joe" Jimmy Hendrix Experience, supported by "See Emily play" Pink Floyd, "Flowers in the rain" The Move, "Gin House" Amen Corner and the Nice, including keyboard wizard, Keith Emerson, of future Emerson, Lake & Palmer fame. All on one show, on a theatre stage, watching from comfy seats, with the lovely Carolyn by my side. Definitely not in a cavernous exhibition "Centre" holding tens of thousands, where you end up so far back you have to watch the artist on a big screen, instead of the unidentifiable dot performing half a mile way. You might as well stay at home and watch it on dvd, for goodness sake (it's cheaper too).
So, the idea those of an older generation are "past it" is total nonsense. We still have that 1960's spark, that get up and go (even in lockdown). That folks, is why I believe we cope with the present restrictions on life so much better than many. We do not expect our every wish to be granted instantly. It's as simple as that. "Rock on Tommy" - it helps. Long live the 70+teenies!
Using common sense
We shouldn't be surprised if Boris bumbles a bit, he always has, especially after him experiencing his personal, traumatic brush with the Grim Reaper. In any case, he saw the scythe carrying, misery guts off (and I don't mean Jeremy Corbyn).
Boris is a fighter. It's perhaps best, given that getting UK back to work will prove more troublesome than introducing the lockdown (a bit late). Every Tom, Dick and Harry will have a view on how he could be doing it better, or whether he should be doing it at all! On that point, I'm clear, he has no choice.
His message has changed from "stay at home" to "stay alert and get back to work, but not on public transport, if you can avoid it" and "work from home if you can". He also urges folk to "maintain social distancing". All clear to me. What he means is take responsibility for yourself and for others, in other words, "use your common sense". Sadly, it appears that the "nanny state" UK has become, has eroded all that from the national character. One question being asked is: "What should I do if I bump into friends in the park?" Look, in the free society UK is trying to become again, government is our servant, not our masters. Got that? The fact that has to be said terrifies me more than anything.
Boris has other worries. Labour Leader Sir Kier Starmer, is proving a bit of a star. Responsible, calm, constructive opposition is back. He's a breath of fresh air. He's also a threat to the Tories, so neuter him. If I were Boris, I'd get him on board and involve him as closely in crisis decision making as possible. It would be good for the country and good for Boris. Cynical? May be, but it also happens to be necessary.
A DAY IN THIS LIFE
Well done TRNC
The TRNC government has proved more than a match for the virus. No new cases in over three weeks. Only 108 cases and 4 deaths. Immediate lockdown has worked. One estimate says 4per cent of the UK population has caught it. If TRNC had matched that, we would have had roughly 14,000 cases to deal with (4 per cent of 350,000 people). Well done TRNC (and thanks).
Give it a rest
The UK assessment mentioned above, states that 1.7 per cent of those catching the virus have died. One "expert" says that could mean an eventual total UK death toll of (wait for it) 560,000 deaths. Yes, and it might not, as well. Don't you just hate these scaremongering know it alls, and those who give such "educated" guesses prominent media coverage? Are they trying to scare us all to death? Give it a rest!
Tik Tok pie
I read in one UK paper that a "Tik Tok user" (pardon?) has revealed "how to create a McDonalds apple pie in three simple steps". I've just two questions. "What is Tik Tok"? and "why would you want to"?
What? No Oscars?
I see the lack of film production could mean no Oscars this year. How will the luvvies survive? No tearful acceptance speeches, no mutual back slapping, no air kisses for everyone within reach, no chances to tell the ordinary mortals how horrible they are. "My God, Dickie darling, it's the end of life as we know it"!