As a leopard never changes its spots, so a tan never fades …  Well, when it’s fake!

May has arrived and the heavens have opened.  Not only do the days merge into one but so, too, the seasons, the unpredictability of the weather mirroring the loss of so much that was, once, certain in life.  How precious is the imagination as, in my mind, I am sitting at the top of the Spanish Steps looking out across the rooftops of the Eternal City, a glass of Cervaro in hand.  In reality, that would be prosecco as, sadly, Cervaro has never been on the menu there.  Perhaps, I shall just pop into the Hassler …

It is two years, now, since we were last in Rome.  We should have been back last June to see Andrea Bocelli, live, at the Baths of Caracalla on the evening of the summer solstice – now, that would have been up there with riding down the Appian Way!  Of course, that was not to be with the concert postponed until 21st June, 2021.  Somehow, it would seem that it is still expected to go ahead.  Somehow, I doubt that.  Somehow though, if it does, that will be one heck of an expensive night requiring one hell of an imagination!

Perhaps that is what I miss most – travel.  Something to look forward to; a change of scene; variety; excitement … need I go on?  In its place, monotony; the mundane, the only escapism courtesy of one’s imagination.  Yes, we can await instruction as to when we are permitted to travel – and to where; we can, obediently, step forward for the ‘experimental’ vaccine – for which, I was interested to learn, one need sign no consent form – enabling the issue of the inevitable COVID passport.  Then?  Await further instruction?  Those who are sufficiently courageous to venture beyond their front door having been convinced that the virus is waiting round every corner, every other being a potential carrier, may make it to Spain or the Canary Islands in a bid for that sunbed and the all-inclusive booze and British ‘delicacies’.  Regardless, spontaneity has gone, replaced by suspicion and fear.  No more the magic of anticipation affording perspective to the joys of everyday life.  No more the prospect of that carefree holiday, a chance to totally relax.  Oh, no.  Rather, once bitten twice shy.  There is always the possibility that …  The indoctrination was too successful.  The bars may never fade.

Help!  On a lighter note, Linkedin.  Encouraged to join, my account was activated – can’t help laughing as I type that – just after Christmas.  When I say ‘activated’, that means my name and profile photo, nothing else!  Even the photo fails to conform but, nonetheless, it is, somehow, fitting – me sitting in the garden of Shakespeare’s former home – New Place, Stratford – book in hand, on a school trip.  Not mine.  The photo isn’t that good!  On my list of ‘To dos’, ever since, I have yet to ‘sell’ myself in words.  No matter, it seems.  I receive emails almost daily congratulating me on my great profile, telling me I’m ‘being noticed’ and alerting me to writing jobs which may be of interest!  Who knew it was that simple?  Just wait until I expound upon my virtues …

Talking of talent – I was – brings me to David Bowie.  Well, in a minute.  Home alone on Saturday evening, I revelled in the chance to watch everything me!  I started with two Channel 5 programmes on Grace Kelly.  Having read many books about her life – and been lucky enough to see the Grace Kelly Exhibition of many of her clothes and personal belongings at the V&A in 2010 – I learnt nothing new but it was another chance to revel in the fashion and glamour of an era long gone and sorely missed – as is Cary Grant, I might add!  I, then, moved on to the last two episodes of Darcey Bussell’s Wild Coasts of Scotland recorded way back in February.  A beautiful series full of breath-taking scenery and heartfelt emotion as she visited, for the first time, all the places about which her grandfather had told her, as a child, and which were special to him.  I loved it!

How I went from that to David Bowie, I am not sure, but I happened upon a superb programme documenting his life and music.  Where to begin?  His music.  Growing up.  Unique.  Unforgettable.  What a legacy!  That guy was seriously clever but, looking back, he was/is the absolute epitome of cool.  I can still remember Pop aghast at his appearances on Top of the Pops in the 70s – who could blame him – but, at his most dapper in the 80s, who could resist?  Privileged to have shared his era, as it were, it is only when one registers that Paddington 2 has been hailed the greatest film of all time in a recent poll that one realises how lucky one was!

So, that was my night of pure indulgence ensuring an escape from our questionable reality; that in which each day is hailed as another cautious step towards freedom for which one is supposed to be very grateful.  A freedom, however, which was always ours, inherent in the right to choose.  Scaremongering plus the threat of police and ludicrous fines brought us here, to the day when it is deemed newsworthy that families be allowed to hug, for the first time, in Wales!  Read that back – families allowed to hug?  Seriously?   Who the hell says so?!

I spoke to a friend, last night, who admitted that she hadn’t been in a shop for thirteen months, too fearful to venture into the supermarket.  Job done!  I wonder what the great David Attenborough truly thinks?  Has he, in his twilight years, denied himself of family – and hugs?  He who has sat amongst mountain gorillas in Rwanda and virtually shared a camp bed with Elsa, the lioness of Born Free fame?  I was, actually, thinking about him last night as I took the recycling out to the cardboard bin.  Why?  Well, I found the lid completely covered in bird poo!  My question to him would be, ‘What could, possibly, be the diet of these birds to produce such a violent reaction?’.  Beats me!  Probably stress-related, let’s face it …

Tuesday, now, I was struggling to find a quote so went to bed.  Wakened by the news that Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing.  Age 65 and 56, respectively – and after 27 years of marriage – their statement reads: ‘We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple.’  Don’t you just feel their pain … to not be able to ‘grow together’?  That must be code à la Oprah, Gwyny and Meghan!  Anyway, also heard that they plan to offload their billions before they depart this planet leaving only £10million to each of their three children.  Bummer!  Oh, another interesting fact – in one of their properties worth £125million, guests are issued with some kind of brooch/sensor on arrival which ensures that, wherever they go in the house, each room will immediately adjust temperature, lighting etc according to his/her preference.  Well, at the very least …

Right, that’s me.  Suitably benign?  Scottish elections on Thursday.  Back to normal, then …  Oh, incoming newsflash: Tom Cruise is in town filming Mission Impossible Umpteen!  Mission Impossible?  In the words of Will Young – on the B side of Evergreen in 2002 – anything is possible!  Now, just a question of what to say?  ‘You had me at “Hello”!’?  No, too much punctuation!

Either I will find a way, or I will make one.’

Philip Sidney


This is Trish, signing off.