Monday, 14 September 2020


This 1965 Lesley Gore song kept on coming into my head this week on my relentless crusade to cheerfulness. But even I have to admit the next line was rather cheesy

“Everything that's wonderful is what I feel when we're together.”

Provided, that is, there aren’t more than six of us. I thought this rule of six was sensible by the way – six is the perfect number for a supper. But…big but… we have a daughter and son in law with three children. I plan on sitting in the car outside their house waiting for my wife (or Number Six as she is now known). 

We had a glorious week. I’m reading again, at last – John Le CarrĂ©’s latest ‘Agent Running in the Field’ and ‘Hamnet’ the prize winning novel about Shakespeare’s son who dies when he was 11 by Maggie O’Farrell. 

I’ve walked – not much but the armchair is beginning to regard me now as something of a stranger. We’ve flirted with the idea of a lightning visit to Venice but the risks, as Covid spikes suddenly all over Europe, just seem too great and too unfair. Anyway what’s Venice like right now? 

Clear water in the  canals, emptyish squares. Venice as it was 50 years ago. But public feelings are running high. We read about a young German tourist who tried to board a vaporetto at San Zaccaria near San Marco…without a mask. Here are the rules in Venice and all Italy: “In Italy, masks are mandatory on all public transport, as well as in enclosed spaces. They must also be worn in outdoor spaces between the hours of 6pm and 6am.”

He was seized by outraged passengers and thrown off. Three times he tried to board and was beaten up each time until, bewildered, he fled. 

So instead of us going to Venice, Venice came to us. I decided we should have Fegato alla Veneziano – Venetian style calves liver strips in onions. If you don’t like liver you just won’t understand. Cin Cin. Yum Yum.

We also went to the glorious Leonardslee at Lower Beeding and drank in the tranquillity and glory of their trees especially those glorious Redwoods. So tall they put everything into perspective. It was like giving your soul a languorous, hot, soapy bath I suggested. My wife eyed me suspiciously at this with a “have you been drinking again?” look. So I modified it to “Pleasant here isn’t it?” Suspicion allayed.

My joys of the week were, first of all, the threatened prospect of the Shetland Islands declaring UDI and leaving Scotland. With a population of just 22,000, GDP over £1 billion, per capita income over £38k, rated the 3rd most desirable tourist destination by National Geographic Magazine, having a huge fishing industry and oil reserves shoving it up alongside Norway this is such a great story. Not for Nicola though.

My second was to learn very belatedly that John Lennon had a lengthy affair with Alma Cogan singer of songs like ‘You must never do a Tango with an Eskimo.’ Imagine! 

My week like all weeks had its lows as well as highs. The first was the reaction to the US election with so many people lamenting even the possibility of Trump winning again.  Why I asked if you all cared so much did you end up with a potential loser like Joe Boden, nice man as he may be? I felt vindicated as, in the polls the Latino vote in Florida seemed to be slipping to Trump. But I also felt sad and irritated. With the lead they had months ago this is the Democrats election to lose. And it’s getting closer.

Secondly it was the horror show of Philip Green in shorts on his monster yacht. Men in shorts seldom please the eye. Philip least of all. 

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