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Corona Diaries: dyspepsia unchained

July 5, 2020

I’m going to stop writing about lockdown as a current reality. I don’t live in Leicester, or Dallas or Miami. The shops are open, the pubs and their pavements are crowded with people guzzling away at their Stella and their Prosecco as though they’ve been on a long voyage where intoxicants have not been available. Such as in a slave galley.

I, on the other hand, am still locked down after a fashion, since I can’t walk for more than three minutes without a stabbing pain down my right thigh, a consequence of an overzealous attempt to out-drive Tiger Woods at my local golf course. So now I sit in my castle looking out on the garden, browsing on the web or casting a jaundiced eye on the daily newspapers.

Yesterday’s Times makes me wonder why I bother to read such crap. The Weekend section features batty article about a journalist who writes about online dating when you’re over 45, followed by something about missing G-spots. Since I’ve never gone in for online dating for fear of what my beloved might say, and I’ve had plenty of spots in my life but never one shaped like a G, not much of interest there.

Then there are the usual features. A four-page pullout on wine which is really useful given that I don’t drink wine. Something on staycations, with lots of little articles on places in the UK to share with millions of ice-cream slurping, virus-spewing compatriots for the remainder of the summer. And, of course, the property section, which never fails to educate me on the stupidity of those who would pay £25 million for some nondescript town house in North London. Not to mention the foreign properties, which get me spluttering with disgust at the thought that there are people in my country who can afford to buy such sublimely beautiful places in the Greek Islands, Tuscany or Provence that are utterly beyond my budget. Bastards. They must be hedge fund owners or money launderers. Come the revolution, and all that.

And what the hell does “sympathetically renovated” mean anyway? Not turned into a rural version of Trump Tower, presumably. Mind you, most of us could do with a bit of sympathetic renovation after three months of cave dwelling. But I would prefer not to look like Donald Trump afterwards.

The real pits of the world, as John McEnroe might say, are the ads. Pages of cruises. What person in their right mind would book a cruise, even for a year ahead, with the distinct possibility that they’d end up confined in a metal chamber in the bowels of their floating paradise parked up outside Vladivostok? Or, worse still, spend most of their dream holiday frozen in a morgue?

And why would I be interested in magnesium, like the old biddy in the ad? Or a pair of cotton chino shorts, when you could get two of the model’s legs into one of mine? Cordless cleaners, garden furniture and men’s boxer shorts that are supposed to increase your sperm count, with the name emblazoned on the waist elastic: comfyballs, for God’s sake. Oh, and you can get a COVID antibody test and herbal medicine for your cystitis. And facemasks, naturally.

Clearly I only have myself to blame for reading this stuff. Online advertising is so precise because of all the data the advertisers have on you. But you forget that the print media have to take a punt on who you, the reader, are likely to be. And the Times, on the evidence of the editorial stuff, has concluded that the readers of this particular section are wealthy middle-aged sex obsessives who drink like fish and like doing unspeakable things in beautiful properties. But those who skip the editorial puff and go to the ads are semi-geriatric, wealthy men and women. The men with handsome manes of silver hair, and the women with bright smiles despite their cystitis and lack of ability to get up stairs on their own.

Having said all that, there’s one thing that the Times Weekend supplement has going for it. It provides a great opportunity to have a decent rant without even having to think about Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and all the other fools who dominate the front pages.

And for that I’m profoundly grateful, while remaining delightfully enraged. Oh, and one more thing: at least the section isn’t called Lifestyle.

From → Media, Social, UK

  1. Andrew Robinson permalink

    Re: “sympathetically renovated” – this is a French false friend….meaning “nicely”. “Sympathie” means “of a nice demeanour” in French whilst “empathie” means “sympathy”, sometimes with tea….. Not the sort of confusion you need when browsing for “comfyballs”, I grant you.

    • No indeed. Sympathetic builders are hard to find, be they sympathique or not.

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