Bad Pennies

…the return of Peregrine Spode.

Oh, how awfully nice it is to be back with you all again, rolling up like a bad stotinka. I know, using the word ‘nice’ is meaningless, non-comparative and the last refuge of the linguistically challenged, but there you go. Old Perry has put on a few ounces of avoirdupois since our last meeting, trouser waistbands have rolled inexorably southward and hair, once luxuriant and Adonis-like, has lengthened, thinned out and now looks, well, a bit on the mangy side. This, in addition to the fact that his being – as we all know, a little bit challenged dentally – breath still curdles goats’ milk and so forth – Spode is still sans partenaire and as time goes on, the probability of finding a woman olfactorily challenged, half-blind and with a decent upper superstructure seems, like a long straight American road, to be vanishing into the wide blue yonder.

Nevertheless, what with the Internet and a vast and constantly changing panorama of images (I should never have signed up to Big Black Mamas) life is if not altogether unbearable, is at least tolerable.

Why then this resurfacing, like a long-dead marmoset? Perhaps because the world has seen a few huge paradigm shifts in the last little while (stoppit now. Using words you don’t know the meaning of. Ed) I do apologise for my editor’s frequent, ungrammatical and unnecessary interruptions, he wouldn’t know a past participle if struck on the head by one. So back to looking down the wrong end of the telescope. Since we last met – I’ll make this as brief as possible – there’s been a hiatus; the sandwich of Old Etonians at the Great British Helm was briefly interrupted by a geography graduate who wore expensive shoes and didn’t have a sense of humour. The latter, or most recent incumbent of the tumbling Georgian pile, the rather roly-poly Boris, or, as I and other friends call him, Al, got himself hauled off to Tommy’s, wheezing a bit, and was befriended by both a Commonwealth nurse and another from the EU, thus satisfactorily ticking all the political boxes. I do quite enjoy reading old Boris – he used to be a journalist before becoming Prime Minister, a career path which, I have to say, I quite envy. I might send him some of my stuff. He might pick up a few tips.

Astute readers will have perceived that old P, despite being in the ‘at risk’ category, is bravely trying to get round to the subject of tiny crowns. No, not the dental kind, the kind which would have to navigate my own natural lizard-breath defences in order to set up shop in the Spode alveoli. On the whole, I think a mask is essential for me, not because I am in danger of infection – it’d be a virus with the bravery of an Achilles that would dare to breach my personal defences – but, indeed for the sake of the rest of the population. Socially distancing myself in the pharmacy queue for Listerine is no defence for the innocent populace in front of me in the queue who can’t wait for their Cialis prescription so they can return to bed with their inamorata. All I have is a forlorn blue hippo for company.

It’s been so long, hasn’t it? Our friends over the water have invited a certifiable, near drooling Quasimodo to waddle about over the South Lawn, leaving Big Mac packaging everywhere for the Secret Service to pick up and tidily dispose of. In some ways, he’s a bit like me – that instant sense of revulsion by normal human beings when passing him is a bit like me at Ladies Night at the dance school. He’s trying to make friends with his alter ego in North Korea which does have a certain grim logic about it, except for the fact that the little fat guy in the tight suit keeps letting off fireworks in his back garden, to the delight of all the other fat guys who’ve learned to clap and sometimes smile in unison. Ah, yes, two Dear Leaders. How fortunate we all are to have at least one of them as the leader of the free world.

The last time we all gathered for a little fireside chat like this, I was, er, elsewhere. You’ll all instantly recall that there was talk of swimming pools and wild boar. These days, it’s a little different. Having shaken the dust of Paris from my sandals, I did, I have to say, get a little festive with some pilots in the bar at Charles de Gaulle. After the sixth G&T (or seventh, I can’t quite recall) they rather sportingly invited me to go to Greenland with them. I almost agreed, then remembered that Thule Airport plus environs was either cold, unrelentingly rain-sodden or both, full of hairy cattle, smelly sheep and they didn’t have a duty free. So, two hours in the air brought me to Eastern Europe, where women don’t smile, and men have no neck. There will be more about this alien, savage place in the fullness, but, for now, I shall huddle a bit with my baby hippo – fortunately it doesn’t speak much – and try to remember where I hid the last bottle of Glenlivet.

Party Time

With all the fake news, propaganda and what not that’s floating around social media, it being Pesach and all, I thought a little clarity might help us all as we struggle with virtual seder and Easter egg hunts, social distancing and homicidal rage in a flat no larger than a garden shed. Furthermore, such shared space is shoehorned in with toddlers, adolescents and a menagerie of assorted mammals who breeze around the place as if it’s they who pay the electricity bill, leaving small but slippery presents on the parquet. So, time to cut through the crapola and get to the heart of things. The white-suited Ken Copeland, who has a habit of, well, being a bit Texan when it comes to talking about the Corona thingy that is dropping people like flies, addressed it personally the other day, as if the collective noun for the nasty wee things was “a Beelzebub of viruses”. Sometimes I feel like the ancient Antiochans who first came up with the derogatory term ‘Christians’ as I squirmed in some discomfort, while debating whether he might give me the address of his tailor, or, perhaps, a lend of his private jet. In contrast, the Good Friday live video from CC in Jerusalem was dignified and exceptionally well done. I almost felt at home there again.

News from the periphery is always worth reading, since its grip on reality is frequently gossamer thin. Like this, for example from a well-placed but mercifully anonymous source. I have edited it for brevity and, indeed, intelligibility. 

‘An intersectional coalition of leftists’ movements in the US has announced they will stop social distancing because it is a “sexist, racist, colonialist, imperialist, abusive, and extractive appropriation of the culture of the people of the world.”’

Quite right. Well said.  The call to action was announced Thursday on social media. The unnecessarily long and frankly yawn-inducing post explained that social interaction and huddling with bottles of beer is an ancient practice, dating all the way back to 2010. “For us to all-of-a-sudden pick up this habit of staying quarantined at home just because it is convenient at the moment, well, that is a gross misappropriation of our culture” trumpeted the post, probably authored by a cabal of neo-feminist post-adolescents in their first year of a political science course. The Machiavellian contradiction is, no doubt, evident.

Since the call to action, leftists have been leaving their quarantines in droves, and brazenly hanging out in crowds in public spaces. The result is a music festivalesque vibe taking over parks in urban areas. Apparently, police have given up the unequal struggle and are joining in, to the extent of swapping their uniforms for the batik T shirts of the revellers.

The crowds of exuberant hacky sackers, baton twirlers, tree-huggers and anti-vax-vegan-picnickers have been celebrated by an unlikely source. A group of right-wingers comprised of libertarians, bikers, and people from Ohio, has celebrated the leftists’ defiance against the shelter-in-place orders. “I don’t agree with these America-hating socialist hippies on much, but I support them on this,” said Chuck, who drove to Central Park from upstate New York in his custom lifted Ford truck. “When I heard about this, I just had to practise my God-given right and come show support in person. These weirdos have a point. This isn’t some A-rab dictatorship where you can just tell the people to stay at home.” Spoken like a Protestant.

In other news; oh, yeah, we’re still gonna blame the Jews for the outbreak. C’m on! Why not? Everybody else does.

Finally, the East Sussex police moved a solitary couple on as they sat on Hove beach, two metres apart. With a small, well-behaved dachshund. The dog is now in therapy.

Masks Prophylactic

Not bad. Nasal seal a bit duff.

The last time I wore a mask was in an operating theatre. Everyone here is wearing them, some properly, most not. And no, this isn’t Meghan DoS, although the resemblance is uncanny…

Here’s how to use a mask:

Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. I sing “Oh Flower of Scotland”. Or “For those in Peril on the Sea” as if I’m travelling on Titanic. Others’ preferences differ, but “Nessun Dorma” is unnecessarily long. Unless you have access to at least 120 proof Polish vodka, rinsing the hands with cheap gin won’t work.

Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask. If you must, and the thing has a wire, press down on the bridge of the nose to better seal it. My nose is, er, a bit on the flat side, so I could press away till Kingdom Come and it wouldn’t make a decent seal, but, if you gotta big hooter it might work.

Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with – here we go again – alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. I did exactly that and the surgeon supervisor I was with made me scrub up again from scratch. Nobody died, fortunately. 

Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks. Which means usually about ten minutes otherwise with the crappy Chinese stuff you feel like you’re inhaling wet toilet paper.

If you’re using a proper European or American made hazard product, they last rather longer. Like lawnmowers.  Racist? Moi?

To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub (do not swig from the bottle, it isn’t mouthwash) or soap and water. More flowers of Scotland, especially if you forget and just screw the sodden article up and lob it bin-wards.

The whole mask thing has become a political football. If where you live doesn’t have many, they’re saying you don’t need them. If there’s plenty, everybody panic buys. As of 3 April, the general consensus seems to be to use a mask outside a medical facility only if you are infected – so what are you doing out and about; you should be tucked up in bed watching Netflix – or you come or may come into contact (<1m) with known infections. Social distancing, yes six feet, two metres, ‘get the f*** out of my way’ is the best protection. French people stop kissing strangers, politicians, no kissing babies, everybody else just steer away from absolutely everybody, especially if they look ill. I’m thinking of getting hold of a greenish makeup to keep people away from me. The alternative is no showers for a week, but even I think that’s a bit extreme since the only sentient life to come near me will be the dog. Oh, finally, from the WHO, hot baths and gin will neither terminate a pregnancy nor protect you against COVID-19, eating garlic doesn’t work, drowning your torso in bleach or hydrogen peroxide will damage your skin, naked sunbathing might do wonders for your vitamin D levels but not much else, apart from the antibiotic effect of a bit of fresh air. Do not try this if you live in northern Finland. Frostbite isn’t nice.

And finally, it isn’t a Jewish conspiracy, Bill Gates didn’t do it and Chinese people don’t make a habit of eating bats. Stay well.