The world has gone mad

The day has finally arrived that everyone thought wouldn’t. This afternoon, at the nightly news conference, our prime minister announced that the government wanted all cafes, pubs, clubs and restaurants to close. Also theatres and gyms. And anywhere else the masses congregate. It was a hard statement to make. It was almost dragged out of him.

According to Twitter, the pubs in London instantly filled up for the Last Hurrah. It reminded me of old Fred and the six o’clock swill.

Old Fred was chap I worked with in the building trade long, long ago. He used to regularly drink at a pub in The Rocks. One day a film producer came in and chatted to the regulars. They wanted to use the pub in a film and needed a load of ‘real’ people as extras.

They were paying a bit of pocket money so Fred happily agreed.

The film was Caddie (1976) and was set in the 1920’s when pubs closed at 6pm. The bit that included Fred was the memorable six o’clock swill. This was the reaction by serious drinkers at the bell signalling last orders. They would down as much cold, fizzy beer as they possibly could before one of two things happened. They were thrown out or they threw up.

Fred, notably, was sat at the bar when the clock approached the hour. He ordered another schooner and knocked it back. As the bell started he threw up the beer and then, recovering, ordered another.

Caddie was also memorable for Jacki Weaver (as Caddie) saying “Life’s a bugger!” which is something I often quote in my head when I see bad things happening but want to be all philosophical about it.

Like the closure of cafes, pubs, clubs and restaurants. And gyms. Which makes me very glad I decided to go to the gym this morning. I almost didn’t but something alerted me to the ill wind approaching. So I did.

And, being a Friday, the Noizee Boyzz were there. This is a group of four mid twenties lads who don’t seem able to speak below a shout. They encourage each other on a machine then swap around. They also yell and shout about sport though not so much sport today.

Nero’s was quite full this morning because both Starbucks and Costa have decided to have only a take away service. After this afternoon’s announcement, Nero’s will be the same. Therefore, this may be the final photo of the footpath in progress.

An old couple sitting behind me were complaining that the Poundshop has stopped taking cash. The woman then suddenly started coughing and complaining at the same time. Lots of people stopped whatever they were doing to watch, deciding whether they should run out of the cafe. There was a mass intake of breath.

The old couple must have felt the mood in the room as they left soon after.

After a coffee (or two) I had an optician’s appointment and went along half expecting it to be cancelled. They were just very, very careful.

My vision hasn’t changed and the super hi-tech scan shows the progress over the last four years has not shown anything to be too concerned about. I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love the scanning equipment. The results are amazing.

Waitrose was pretty amazing as well. Because I was later than usual, I was astonished at the empty fruit and veg aisles. It was like the locusts had been in and eaten everything in their path. There was still isolated shoppers, looking to buy anything they could.

In saying that, the fish counter was fine and Debbie served me some delicious cod loin for tonight’s dinner. I also managed to score the last fennel bulb. How bad is it when there’s only one fennel bulb left? I thought I was one of the few people who buy them.

I do wonder if the panic buyers know what to do with some of the stuff they are shoving into their trolleys. I fear there may be lots of rotting fennel in the weeks to come.

As I wandered around Waitrose, a lot of conversations I overheard were mostly to do with the world having gone mad. I doubt any of them really remember the war so this is all as new to them as it is to me. The world is ill prepared and is, I fear, skirting the edges of insanity. I do worry about the Americans panic buying guns.

In the lane I walk through from the gym to Castle Street, there stands a lone magnolia. It is surrounded by small businesses and looks glorious for the many people who pass it each day. Like ours, it is out now in all its glory. Sadly there’s not so many people to see it.

In this time of craziness, it’s important to take note of the beauty that remains and continues to brighten random corners of the world. It’s a reminder that everything isn’t completely mad.

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