In some ways ‘it’s a long time no speak’. Obviously my recent bike ride up Australia was followed by many of you but I suspect the majority didn’t follow my restless and fruitless search for a koala or (live) kangaroo on two wheels. I really not sure what to think about the four weeks after it’s premature end. Some great scenery, interesting communities, banter and the childish joy of riding a bike to come to mind but something was missing.
Since my evacuation from Down Under and re-integration into ‘lock down’ Britain it has been a mixture of experiences. The first was the reality that it hasn’t affected my diet, exercise regime, opportunity to listen to music or write.
However the limits on movement and the continued close supervisory presence of the first wife has been different. Evasion of various stipulated outstanding tasks, by her having better things to do with her talents, has been difficult. A protestation that glossing some yellow skirting boards due to a lack of masking tape saw her texting a neighbour who (at a discreet distance) turned up at the door with said product. I never did like him…
It was a blow to my tactics. Other things on the list included turning over the flower beds and weeding. Frankly, any budding fundamentalist terrorist flirting with the idea of Western destruction could have his fervour nipped in the bud with the threat of several days of standing, with a spade, on a hard clay soil complete with hiding toads to first dig into it and then remove various roots and weeds.
Other things that have filled time include some walks near the house. New life, despite our challenges, abounds with lots of lambs. Old friends have been spoken to after, in one case after a silence for many years. Cupboards have been emptied and difficult decisions made. An old PC I replaced 9 years ago was one of four computers I own: it’s now destined for the tip. Added to that is the use of Ebay to sell a folding chair. Oh yes, it’s all happening in Acaster Malbis.
Other pleasures include taking an abnormal interest in the progress of deliveries to the house (see the image). The DHL chap, when he got here, advised that he was not usually on this ‘run’ but due to phenomenal demand he was working six days a week. Clearly we’re all on the internet.
Social media has been a constant companion. Adding to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp have been Houseparty and Zoom. The circulation of amusing videos has got to the point where you receive it from several sources. We’ve all got too much time on our hands.
As I write the Prime Minister appears to be fighting for his life. If there was ever an event that reinforced social distancing and self-isolation then this is it. Most forays into a retail experience have been delegated to my younger partner. I’ve consciously attempted to keep a low profile. Despite my impressive youthful looks and fitness you can’t escape your age and I’m mindful to accept all the advice I’ve received.
I’ve vented about the problem with 24/7 news coverage and the pandemic has enabled the same old weary journalists to have something to digest, cogitate over and then ask pointed and unhelpful questions about. When did a journalist specialising in Westminster politics ever have an informed or useful point of view on something as complex as coping with a pandemic of a respiratory infection that leads to pneumonia? However, the airwaves have virtually abandoned talking about anything other Covid-19. Just what we needed?
Before my trip to Australia I contacted BBC Radio York to advise them that I was on another cycling trip and were they interested to speak to me? Oh absolutely! I was invited into the studio and we recorded an interview, which went out. On my exit from the studio the presenter asked if I’d record a 2 or 3 minute clip weekly of my progress and he’d add it to the show. No problem.
After the first one I got an ecstatic response about my clip from him. I did another couple and never heard anything. Bemused I was wasting my time I sent an email enquiring if the content was okay? I got an email back, from the presenter, advising that he had an elderly relative pass and this event had left him at ‘sixes and sevens’. Naturally I sent my condolences and left matters as they were.
I never heard from him again and his appearance on the show resumed. I imagine the BBC focus turned to the virus and anything else was cast aside including advising a bloke wending their way up Australia on a bike that their services were no longer needed. It matters not a jot about my being discarded as regards the well being of the nation or my making a living or whatever but it made me reflect on how the media have enjoyed the crisis and swept everything else aside.
Lastly as we dwell on the threat of catching the virus I have to admit to another anxiety. Eventually my hair will need trimming. Logically this should fall to Anna. Would you trust your partner near your head with a sharp implement? I think not.