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Corona Diaries: Oh to be in England, especially when you’re off games

June 14, 2020

Your correspondent from leafy Surrey is off games. Not off eating, sleeping, watching TV and writing, fortunately. Just off any activity that involves exacerbating a busted back.

This is good news in one sense. It meant that I couldn’t do the barbecue to celebrate our son-in-law’s birthday. He had to do it. I’m OK standing up, so I did the cake. But shifting burgers round the grill? Not advisable.

Even if I wanted to, I would not have been able to participate in the frivolities indulged in by the shaven-headed pork pies assembled yesterday in Westminster to protest against I know not what. Well, I know what was reported. It was the far right, whoever they are. The mission: to defend the statue of Winston. Unfortunately, he was boarded up, so no doubt they would have also formed a protective ring around those little known statues of Hitler and Goebbels that lurk in the nether reaches of Parliament Square, but they couldn’t find them.

To their great frustration, they also couldn’t find any statue desecrators to engage in battle. But the law of Stella Artois dictates that in the absence of a wife to beat up, they had to find someone to attack. So they went after picnickers in Hyde Park and then turned their attention to the police. Who responded accordingly.

On the evidence of the videos that went around the social media, these lads – for there were no ladettes – were of various ages from twentysomethings, who had never known the joy of a giving people a good kicking on the terraces of Millwall and various other football clubs, to older guys who could tell you stories of their exploits before mass deaths at the Hillsborough and Hesysel stadia brought the era of standing-only terraces to an end.

Pretexts are irrelevant. All you can say is that the British love a good riot now and again, and this one was a long time coming.

Anyway, I won’t be able to riot for a while, either in defence of statues or to attack them. And the police are safe from me. More importantly, I can’t swing a golf club, which might come as a relief to all those who have to suffer a round with me but definitely not to my wife, who lives for those mornings when I venture out to hit the fairways – with the force of a JCB.

In fact it was in the middle of my best round of the year that my back went, which was exactly what happened five years ago when we were about to fly to Bali. We did fly to Bali, and I spent three weeks in a wheelchair, which was fun for me, but not for my wife, who had to push me around in it. I documented that saga in a piece called Crippled in Bali.

This time it’s not so bad. I can walk, as Dr Strangelove said, but not bend. In the absence of the NHS staff who came to my rescue then, I have self-diagnosed my condition as another bulging vertebra, also known as a slipped disc. It took six months to get back to normal then. Now I reckon three to six weeks should do the trick. Some painkillers, stretching exercises and a bit of TLC from my beloved should restore my usual riotous vigour in no time.

But in the meanwhile she will have to go without her daily cup of tea which I bring her in the morning (this is my Alzheimers test – can I get it up the stairs without spillage?), and I won’t be able to empty the dishwasher. I also won’t be able to remove dandelions from my lawn with the new toy she bought me, and changing light bulbs in the ceiling might be a risky venture.

Another positive aspect of my condition is that I can still appreciate my five patio roses, about which I’ve written recently, and which I have named after prominent British politicians. At the moment Boris has no flowers and nor has Matt. Theresa is encroaching on Dominic, which is a bit of a turnaround. But the current leader in the flowery stakes continues to be Keir, whose dark red blooms are in fine fettle. I’m thinking about re-naming Theresa, since she’s fast becoming an irrelevance. Priti would perhaps be an appropriate replacement. I watch them with interest, though I’m wondering at what stage I’ll have to board them up.

The roses don’t know it, but today is Sunday in this locked-down-but-not-quite-locked-down country. It feels like we’re in some sort of strange limbo. Like being in an open prison from which it’s easy to abscond and then return without anyone noticing or caring.

The shops are due to open tomorrow, but I’m delighted to have an excuse not to visit them even if I’m pleased for the owners who are desperate to keep their businesses going.

Unlike Donald Trump, I’m still capable of drinking a glass of water with one hand, and I reckon I’d do a good job of walking down a ramp without looking as though I’m about to tumble arse over elbow.

So all is good, in this house at least. There are plenty of strawberries to guzzle, since the patrons of Wimbledon will not be requiring them. Everyone we know is still alive, and there aren’t any statues in my little town.

Oh to be in England now the shops are here!

From → Social, Sport, Travel, UK

  1. Great post 😁

  2. Andrew Robinson permalink

    Sorry to hear about your back, but glad to hear that you can write your own “off games” letter. I might borrow that piece of European law before it’s rescinded.

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