Tuesday 5 January 2021

Now we are all in the Big Brother household!

 A strange thought occurred to me as I was tucking into my rather tasty lunch, made from the leftovers of my Sunday lunch. As  a blogger, I feel obliged to record the world we live  in through my eyes. The very best bloggers, ones that I enjoy most, write about the most mundane things, but point out angles that you'd never have thought of. To me a good blogger is like a prism on life. They take the bland white light of life and transform it into all of the colours of the rainbow. When I started writing this blog, there were many excellent bloggers, who's observations fascinated me. Many have given up, many have tired of the process and lost their spark. It is hard to keep up a blog and even harder to see new and interesting angles. If you try and force it, you end up with something rather dull and bland. My 'stream of consciousness' blogs really need a spark. Something to start the stream flowing. Today I felt very uninspired. I've spent the morning locking down the studios. It was a sad and very difficult time. The one thing that kept me positive was my plans for lunch. 

As I say down, I got to thinking of lockdown. It is a time of little inspiration. Not only that, but it's freezing cold, it's the middle of winter and I am stuck in the house with my wife and three adults children, all of whom are fed up to the teeth with being stuck. My eldest was meant to be in Mexico some time around now. My middle daughter wanted to do a TEFAL course and teach English in the Far East. My son has just started a degree at UCL. None are in a good place. Both my wife and myself have a busy calendar and miss seeing friends and getting out and about. This is now the third time we've been through this.

As I thought about the coming weeks, it occurred to me that for many of us, it is like being in a series of Big Brother. As I found the programme boring beyond belief, this is not a scenario I particularly savour. A friend of mine is one of the scouts who finds candidates for Big Brother and once suggested that I 'give it a go', assuring me that it would be a shoe in. The thought horrified me. I explained to her "There is nothing I'd less rather do than be stuck with a bunch of people I couldn't escape from, being dictated to and having my movements constrained and having to pretend to be having a good time". As I scoffed my tasty plate of leftovers, I realised that this is exactly how I feel about lockdown. We are cut off from friends, we have all manner of odd and arbitary rules. It seems to me that many of the rules are dreamed up by recently recruited graduates with little concept of adult life. Take for instance when Boris commanded the pubs to close at 10pm. Now if you are a student, new to alcohol and with abundant chances for sexual romps, then this may constrain you (although I always thought students would prefer a bottle of Thunderbird and a party back at the flat), but if you are an old bloke who likes to discuss dog racing with his mates in the Bridge, social distancing is something you've been doing for years. Blokes say hello but keep their distance. Hardened drinkers do not get touchy feely with each other in suburban  boozers on  a cold Tuesday night. 

With this new lockdown, even a swift pint in the Bridge at 7pm is banned. The reason? The same bunch who think banning a pint in the Bridge will halt a plague, didn't spot the fact that classrooms full of toddlers, with parents chatting away as they arrive and depart would act like a covid bomb. They only cancelled Christmas after everyone had made plans. I know many people who made their own rules, some of whom who now have covid. The sad truth is that people concluded long ago that Boris hadn't got a clue what he was doing and his army of teenage advisers even less. Whereas the Big Brother contestants wait for instructions from Big Brother, we await the conference from Boris. If we've been a 'good population' we get some easing. If we are naughty and the rate goes up, we get privileges removed. 

Just to make matters even worse, the government have been promoting a dry and vegan January. What could possibly be a worse time to get this message over. I eat semi vegan three or four days a week (by semi vegan, I mean that I avoid fish/meat/dairy but not totally religiously). It's not a hardship and by buying good quality free range meat from an independent butcher, I feel I am being responsible. Meat is a treat. Generally I have a fry up on a Saturday, a Roast on a Sunday and something with leftovers on a Monday. As Clare eats fish but not meat so Friday we have a seafood curry and maybe another fish dish or two in the week. This cycle gives me something to look forward to most days. I love a good homemade Penne Arrabiata, so that's no hardship. But if I had to remove the things I enjoy in a lockdown, it would be almost impossible. 

As to the dry January. I decided to not drink until the 14th. As  I don't drink for three days of the week, this has not been a hardship yet, but I suspect the weekend will be very hard. There is nothing more pleasant than a nice bottle of wine and a good film. I rarely watched Big Brother, but I have to say I don't like drinking in the company of people I don't like. There is always the temptation to tell people the truth, which is the worst thing you can say. It is interesting that we are brought up to believe that telling lies is a bad thing, but in my experience, telling the truth is what really hurts people. In my job, I often get played the most awful music by wannabe performers. They ask for advice. Sober, I will look for some element of what they've done that is positive and worthy of encouragement. If I was drunk, God knows what I'd say, but it would be very harsh truths and I'd I'd regret it. I recall about 20 years ago a young lady turning up for a rehearsal who had a very strong voice. She came into the shop and played a song to us. She'd just written it and wanted our 'professional ear'. On first play, she was a bit nervous, didn't play it well and didn't sing it too well. I didn't know what to say, so I said "Try it again but sing it like you really mean it and don't worry if you miss a chord on the guitar, don't be shy".  She did just that and our jaws nearly hit the floor. I simply said "If you can sing like that, you don't need to worry too much". That was Amy Winehouse. Whenever I hear an artist sounding a bit nervous, I think of that moment with Amy. You need to give people a chance. That is why you should never make and  important decision when you've had a drink. But we are in lockdown. Are we making any decisions for ourselves? Big brother is telling us who we can see, who we can't. Just suppose that two years ago, I'd have said to you "In two years time Boris Johnson will be PM and he'll ban you from seeing your mum, your dad and your girlfiend/boyfriend and you won't say a dickybird" You'd think I was bonkers. 

But that is just where we are. Big Brother was originally a creation of George Orwell, based on his opinion of repression in the Soviet Union. I wonder what he'd have made of the covid crisis. Don't get me wrong, I see little alternative to all of this. I am not a covid denier or a believer in a conspiracy theories. I am just thoroughly sick of it all and rather hope that people do things to do to secure us all an eviction from this horrible situation. 

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