Note to self: try not to make people cry! I know my posts have been very heartfelt, recently, but the last few weeks have been nothing if not emotional, opening old wounds with an inevitable focus on the past. As I wrote to a dear friend last night, who, also, messaged me to say she had been moved to tears by my last soul-bearing effort, perhaps the greatest pain comes with accepting that families are just a collection of human beings – good and bad – and sharing blood is no guarantee of love …
Good to see that I pay heed to my own advice. No, I, too, have cried enough tears and I wrote the blooming words! No more pulling at the heart strings. No more tissues, for goodness sake! We may ‘live in a cynical world’ (thanks, as ever, Tom!), but stoicism is a must as is the ability to stand back, observe – and mock, when necessary; necessarily, often, I might add. I mean, my brain is struggling to accommodate the ridiculous, here and now. For example, today, the news – as ever – is full of the latest easing of lockdown, the latest regulations but there is no chance in hell that one could be any the wiser as to the Scottish version! Now, this may be entirely scrambled – and I have no inclination to look it up to confirm – but, apparently, in Scotland, one is allowed to meet up with people from another two households, outside, up to a maximum of eight people and only two lots in a day! However – I have just looked it up – further down the page (the Scottish Government’s own ‘route map’), in answer to the question, ‘Can I have friends or family visit in my garden?’, it states that up to three households can meet in a garden with up to a recommended eight people at once. So is that two households or three? Three including oneself? Ah, I see. Or do I? Am I even listening or do I prefer to use my brain and make my own judgement. The latter, of course, and, let’s face it, there is no way of policing these regulations anyway. Own judgement. Relied upon to act responsibly. Look around. That may be asking too much of too many. Better to keep issuing regulations for those ‘programmed to receive’. I, for one, seem to be without signal.
Actually, before I move on, reading the Scottish Government ‘route map’, I was interested in the rules with regard to bathroom use. Apparently, if one is entertaining two – not three – other households in one’s garden, one’s guests can use the loo as long as they touch nothing en route and they use the cleaning materials provided in said loo. Yep! That’s going to happen. “Excuse me, just nipping to the bathroom. I may be some time while I pop on the marigolds and give it a good scrub!”.
On the subject of comedy material, yesterday was momentous for me as, for the first time since lockdown, I boldly went where I used to go. Driving to Edinburgh, we met Manny and headed for lunch at a bar up in the Old Town, in the heart of the university. Ghosts? Old haunts? Yes, but I promised … Only permitted to sit outside, Manny had booked a table and, as luck would have it, George Ezra was on waiter duty! No, I didn’t have my glasses with me but … The whole thing felt weird. Back amongst the public! Not sure I want to be. Only half a dozen tables, that behind ours was occupied by a bunch of loud, uncouth, foul-mouthed, well-oiled middle-aged men while to the right was a group of young guys – checking their hair and phones – who were, sadly, equally fluent in the same language. No. No desire. The food was excellent and we were in prime position for our favourite hobby, people watching, but, in truth, it only made us feel increasingly detached.
The menus had to be accessed online, although orders were taken by George and his band – some wearing masks – and both food and drink served to the table. On arrival, we were given instructions about the loos but I didn’t get past the mention of buckets of disinfectant – one silver, one black – denoting women and men. God help you, George, when you offer that spiel to the ‘wrong’ person. I think you’re going to have to get another bucket!
Bravely, we ventured along Princes Street to change some items which had been ordered online. Admittedly, it was quieter than normal but that only meant one was more aware of the hideous, tacky shops which dominate one of the most beautiful streets in the world. I never tire of the backdrop of the castle, the Mound, the galleries and the gardens but I despair of any council responsible for the demise of shops worthy of such a coveted site. Quite frankly, Edinburgh is a mess! While the beautiful architecture remains, the heart of the city is being dismantled with ever increasing pace. I remember the halcyon days of R W Forsyth, the department store from which we used to procure our school uniform – mine being specially made for me, aged four! Does the smell of new uniform, new shoes ever leave you? The tradition? The respect? No more, Top Shop occupies the site of its former glory. Says it all, really.
Whoops! Took a wrong turn off Nostalgia Street down Maudlin Road. Do I own a Sat Nav? What do you think? I can, however, read a map! Do seem stuck in the city of Lockdown, though, so what else can I rant about? Masks! Compulsory in Scotland, as from today, what to do? Go large! (Don’t ask me where that came from but sufficiently evocative, methinks.). So it was, that, yesterday, we received a delivery from Liberty. So pretty and a nod to a bygone era. Perfect. Never lose one’s individuality! Will I wear one? No choice if I wish to avoid starvation. Do I agree with them? Absolutely not. Laughable. What is the point? Worn once, they should be washed at 60 degrees. Anybody going to do that? Rhetorical question.
I know this virus has wreaked havoc and all but brought the world to a standstill but, along with the misery, there has been humour and thank goodness for it. Ironically, one need only look at the ineptitude with which this pandemic has been handled for the prime cut! For example, with the easing of lockdown, one can, now, have a driving lesson. Excellent. However, a father – of the same household (well, in the olden days!) – cannot walk his daughter down the aisle. Of course! That makes perfect sense to … has anyone, actually, read the side-effects of these pills?!
Finally – and, obviously, most importantly – how does one come to terms with the fact that the easing of lockdown has been so blatantly sexist? I, for one, am going to struggle. Football back on the screen, pubs opened but no mention of nail or tanning salons; not a word of beauty parlours. How does one live without having one’s eyebrows threaded? Gosh, that’s a difficult one. Therapy!
No better way to end than Prince Philip telling it how it is! When asked, in 1992, what he felt about his life, his reply?
‘I’d much rather have stayed in the Navy, frankly.’
The Wisdom of Prince Philip, Antony A. Butt.
Stay with us, please!
This is Trish, signing off.