Vallance & Whitty – the two Ronnies?
It’s been another odd week, starting last weekend with the usual raft of ministerial decrees and announcements to the nation in the now usual format of the bought and paid for print and broadcast media. I suppose that it’s a lot cheaper and more convenient than having to face Parliament, and all those back-bench MPs now demanding the scrutiny that we heard so much of last year. Not that many have done much scrutiny or anything else as the nation descended from fearful hysteria into what looks like a coming economic collapse.
Monday saw the re-make of the ‘Two Ronnies’ comedy show; the format was the same but the presentation and timing was more than a bit off, neither was there much to laugh about. The reviews in the major press were not enthusiastic either, with thousands upon thousands of down ticks being registered. The later Boris Johnson cameo, in its new and invigorated format, failed dismally, even though the style and presentation had been borrowed from ‘Futtocks End’ with Boris as the stumbling hand-waving and tub-thumping star. It did little to enthuse the audience or the now massed ranks of critics.
It’s a good job that this whole epic is not a Netflix production as we all know what happens to a production which fails to cut the mustard. Which, it seems will be the fate of the latest restrictions on gatherings of more than six people. A lively discussion took place in town the other morning at the unlikely venue of the pelican pedestrian crossing, as more than six – well 10 people actually, including me – gathered, presumably illegally, while waiting for the signal to cross.
One lady became quite animated and shouted something about your cough could be somebody’s death warrant. I’m not sure exactly what she was shouting as the large face muzzle and face shield she was wearing over a full white face mask of the Guy Fawkes design made it difficult to actually hear what she was saying.
Anyway she eventually walked off and joined another gathering of people all wearing similar white face masks, or face coverings and sunglasses, rather like a uniform, quite unnerving actually as they reminded me of another organisation that wore similar uniforms during the Northern Ireland troubles. It must have been legal even though they were not socially distancing as a police community support ‘womble’ was standing looking on. I still have no idea why these people were wearing white full face masks as I had been led to understand by other ‘movements’ that white was not a colour that should be used for more or less anything these days.
Making our way into town, we remarked how many people did not seem to be taking much notice of the new restrictions and most were acting reasonably normally but not standing too closely together, although most seemed subdued, quiet even. Perhaps that was because it was mid-morning. Even the local pubs did not have queues of people waiting to get in for their full English and a pint.
That is one noticeable effect of the completion of part one of Dishi Rishi’s ‘eat out to help out’ policy. When it stopped so did many of the customers, and for many of the smaller cafes and restaurants who, having struggled through the last few months, now find that a combination of compulsory mask wearing, social distancing, and colder weather has further reduced customers and takings.
Following the rules to the letter, I was approached on entering one such small establishment by an attractive young lady, (well I think she was as it’s difficult to tell when somebody is wearing a muzzle), who mumbled something about could she have my number. I was momentarily stunned by this rather forward behaviour as this had not happened to me for over 40 years and then only in the dim interior of what in my day was called a discotheque, but she quickly explained that it was not her, it was new rules. Not since I inadvertently stood under the sign in the supermarket which proclaimed ‘Pick-up point’ have I been so disappointed.
Happily there are still people alive and willing to have a laugh, which is just as well in this dystopian nightmare we call England. Outside one establishment, a hairdressers, the staff in a variety of protective gear were having their photographs, sorry ‘pics’, taken hugging a lifestyle cardboard cut-out of someone called Tom Harding, the latest soon-to-be James Bond.
I casually asked the ladies if they would care to have their pic taken with a live substitute, but for some reason they said it wouldn’t be the same, which was a shame really as I was wearing my pink slacks and ‘Old guy rules’ T shirt together with my studded Hells Angels-style leather jacket.
After the usual shopping was completed, we walked, as is now our habit, through the park and alongside the river to feed the ducks and swans. It’s a pleasant experience and one of the reasons that we have not followed the hordes to our coastal resorts this year. St. Mary in the Wold is in the middle of beautiful, if diminishing, countryside and there is nothing nicer than a walk along the riverside, something also enjoyed by countless tourists who visit the historical sites and, more importantly, spend in the local shops and businesses. Numbers are increasing but in nothing like the numbers to make many visitor attractions and the local economy viable.
As we walked by the river, one of the long-established pleasure craft came our way, about half full of passengers, hopefully enjoying their river trip. ‘Hopefully’ I suggest because they all looked rather glum, some even wearing muzzles. In the past as the crafts floated by most people would smile or wave, but not now. Everyone sits staring into the distance rather like Jeremy Hunt on a TV interview, not a smile or a laugh to be heard.
The boat master, seeing us and obviously trying to lighten the mood, shouted ‘Ahoy’ and waved. I waved back and shouted: “Ahoy to you too. Can you help us? We are wanting to get to France!” which at least gave a few people a smile as on that day another flotilla of dinghies from France had arrived on the Kent coast.
Can somebody please tell me what happens to all the abandoned life jackets and dinghies? Will the ‘authorities’ be selling them on a well-known auction site or something? One has heard rumours that life jackets bearing French Navy markings have been returned to them, is that true? Probably not as it hasn’t been reported on the BBC or Sky News, both august organisations in which, like many people, I have full confidence and ‘trust’ – not.
Talking of ‘trust’, somebody will have to come up with a replacement word. Millions apparently are no longer content to ‘trust’ the medical profession in the shape of much of the NHS, the Police Service, scientific advisers, education establishments or the political class, all of whom in various shapes or forms seem to have either been hijacked by some sort of common purpose drone or taken leave of their collective senses, if, judging by the decline in educational and professional standards over the last few years, they had any intelligence or indeed standards to start with. Certainly the emergency services when they are not all talking about ‘colleagues in other services’ by which they mean any public sector worker, seem to be more interested in prattling on Twitter, flying flags or bending knees than actually doing the jobs that, even to the most casual observer, they are surely paid to do.
Part 2 of ‘Just a walk in the park’ will be published here tomorrow.