Hallelujah!  Made it to March.  Spring?  Once upon a time but not anymore.  Bitterly cold, it seems one is only afforded brief respite from the rain and wind which has characterised the last – forever!  Misery and gloom abound, as does the increasing level of panic with regard to the Coronavirus.  I find the whole thing bewildering.  With reported cases producing mild symptoms replicating a bad cold in the majority of those infected, is there any need for this controlled bid toward hysteria?  Every year, the strain of flu becomes more potent and more elusive in terms of preventative immunisation leading to thousands of deaths worldwide.  So far, according to the CDC in America, preliminary estimates suggest that as many as 14,000 people have died during the 2019/20 flu season.  Surely the Coronavirus pales into insignificance by comparison?  Or are we being kept in the dark?  The full body protective suits, masks, isolation … the footage reminds me of that in ET just before he comes back to life!

Large-scale events are to be cancelled, schools are closing and offices are sure to follow.  I know of someone who was sent home from work to self-quarantine having been to the rugby in Rome, last weekend, and flown home from Milan.  Such is the climate that all it takes is some whispering in the corridor, or at the coffee machine, and unexpected leave is granted to he who may – just may – be infected!  Somehow that YouTube footage of Naomi Campbell  masquerading as a cleaner, wiping down what would appear to be the entire First Class on a plane with anti-bacterial wipes prior to taking her seat, no longer seems so ridiculous.  To be honest, I have long been fastidious about what I touch on any mode of public transport – and meticulous about washing my hands immediately afterwards.  Think of the germs!  I can still hear a one-time flatmate of ours, James, uttering these words in his inimitable Scottish twang – his very own catch phrase.

Sceptical I may be, as of now, but one cannot escape that nagging fear at the back of one’s mind when bombarded with updates and figures through every media channel.  Who knows how this will unfold but I hope to God that normal service is resumed before June when we have tickets to see Andrea Bocelli performing – for one night only – in the Baths of Caracalla in the heart of Rome.  Tom Cruise?  Private jet?  He’s been in Monti for the past month or so filming the latest Mission Impossible film which has, since, been postponed.  Could all work in our favour…  June would be the perfect time to return and I am quite partial to the Hassler …  Who was I in a previous life?!

Meantime, Becca and Manny have been in London since Wednesday weighed down with enough anti-bacterial wipes to secure them in a hurricane and subject to advisory warnings regarding the partaking of ice, salad or anything free in a bowl!  Sage to the end.  On their return?  A balaclava and a Santa onesie?!

To think I have been posting – as in writing, not riding – since 2015 and some of it even used to be humorous!  What has happened to the world in the last five years?  It would seem the laughter has died.  People are lost, isolated and stressed; the climate is unpredictable and extreme as Mother Nature expresses her anger and disgust and the world is a scary, dark place.  Thank goodness for the Sony Channel, that’s all I can say!  I happened to catch an old episode of Starsky & Hutch, last night, and revelled in 70s nostalgia; a time when the sun shone and the good guys always won.  A happy ending was a given – well, excepting in Old Yeller!   Talking of Starsky & Hutch, David Soul was on the Steve Wright show on Friday afternoon promoting a collection of his hits on a new CD.  Classics!  Only thing is, my old car’s CD player tends to take hostage certain discs, giving them up for no one.  Jack Savoretti is the latest victim – can’t fault the taste – but, hopefully, I may secure his release, enabling me to listen, once more, to ‘Don’t Give Up On Us, Baby’ and ‘Going In With My Eyes Open’.  Now, there’s a title!  Anyway, not only was I reminded of David Soul’s delicious voice but it was nothing short of heart-warming to hear him say that, more than 40 years on, Paul Michael Glaser – aka Starsky – remains his best friend!  One of those happy endings.   (Actually, as a postscript, I still have a faded piece of yellow paper which he autographed for me with the words ‘Be happy!’ when accosted at Edinburgh airport many years ago.  This time, it wasn’t me who did the accosting – sadly – but, apparently, he was the perfect gentleman and even went into his own briefcase to procure paper and pen.  Nice guy.)

You know, my plan was to write about Harvey Weinstein this week.  The embodiment of human depravity, he is somewhat grotesque-looking but, then, that’s the thing about looks, they don’t lie.  Found guilty of third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sexual act, Weinstein faces up to 25 years behind bars when sentenced on 11th March (auspicious date!).  A monster, he most definitely is but this monumental case has flagged up certain things which bother me.  Centred on the testimonies of two women, the detail was not only historic but, apparently, these women maintained a relationship with Weinstein following – and regardless of – these criminal acts!  Why?  Ambition?  Granted, they must have been scared of the man and his power but, ultimately, were they really prepared to prostitute themselves for the sake of a career?!  The gagging order, a legal document forbidding disclosure.  Does that supersede rape?

Prompting hordes of other women to come forward, historically, there is, obviously, safety in numbers but I cannot believe such numbers; all these women willing to be silenced?  To use the colloquial term, I don’t get it!  Whatever happened to self-respect?  Then again, one must, first, walk in the shoes of another in order to understand.

#MeToo.  A movement whose purpose is to empower women through empathy and strength in numbers and which spread, virally, on social media following the exposure of the widespread sexual allegations against Harvey Weinstein in October 2017.  A force for good, then, and one which recognises a great victory in the conviction of Weinstein but one which, by its very nature, encourages crowd mentality.  The sheep syndrome.  Are all these historic allegations to be believed?  One need only look to Operation Yewtree, the investigation centred on the sexual abuse allegations against Jimmy Savile and other media personalities, to see the potential for flaw.  Always suspicious of those whose courage is only manifest in numbers …

It’s easy to stand with the crowd.  It takes courage to stand alone.’      Mahatma Gandhi

This is Trish, signing off.