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A Local’s View of…Looking back over the last three months

Personal protection equipment was not delivered to chez Shepley. At least not any from parochial or government stock. I put this neglect down to my loudly voiced political views. Being extremely aged and owning the essential underlying conditions I felt keeping me away from needing the care of our stretched medical resources would be a priority. The initiative was left to me, like most pensioners, to improvise my safety equipment.

A fetching Scandinavian lady demonstrated on Facebook how to turn odd socks into face masks. I cut up a dozen odd socks and started on paired socks before mastering the art (I think I just enjoyed too much watching and hearing my blonde instructress). When I ventured into M&S wearing a sock on my schnozzle, no one laughed, but as my glasses steamed up when wearing the sock indoors I may have missed any hilarity caused. The main problem was falling over shelf stackers bent below my sight line, a hazard of visiting supermarkets in the evening. Another problem initially was wearing winter gloves instead of the disposable plastic type. After having the debit card turned down for repeatedly hitting two numbers together I fell back on bare fingers for another card.

Back at home the squirting of all purchases with antiseptic spray became a ritual. In fact I would spray anything delivered, newspapers, all mail, wine cases, frozen foods and anybody coming to the door unexpectedly risked a squirt.

Off to Ascot, a home photo shoot

I abandoned my sock mask for one my granddaughter Polly had made (she runs an online business which offers imaginative, economic items for millennials, plus culinary suggestions for limited wallets). I looked more smartly attired but the size was suited to the head of a twenty year old damsel. My lock down beard, hearing aids, on a big head (no jokes please) meant I either wore it lop sided or took out the hearing aids. For my visit to the bank I dispensed with the hearing aids and shouted my requirements to a lady banker sitting 10 feet away. The line of waiting customers on Godalming High Street could hear my negotiations clearly.

I know I can buy anything on line and need not hazard in store shopping. But after my banking session I could not resist a visit to Waitrose. It was like putting a child in a sweets shop. There were the things I had avoided asking my personal shopping lady to find. Terrines, artichoke hearts, choosing from a huge selection of French cheeses, every kind of olives, and a good fresh fish section where a nice man cuts to your spec and seals in bags. After three months lock down, a food shopping Nirvana. The current bank balance went down sharply but you only live twice- before and after lock down.

I enjoyed Royal Ascot without the prats in hats. I did not miss betting on what colour the Queen’s hat would be each day. I have been watching this greatest flat racing week self isolated for several years, often in my underwear whilst sporting a top hat which would be thrown in the air if the Queen’s horse was beaten (my late wife disapproved of this, being the resident royalist). One big advantage now is hearing the commentary with the absence of crowd noise which normally represents how much alcohol has been consumed more than pinpointing where a horse is.

My late wife meeting Frankie Dettori at Ascot

As always the objective is at least breaking even over the five days whilst remembering that at the turn of the century a four day Royal Ascot would cost my wife and I, without placing a single bet, £1000 in the Royal Enclosure (and that did not include any new wardrobe items for her). When I lose a bit now whilst wagering during this highly competitive, unequalled racing week, I know I am still well ahead in theory. Perhaps the government could follow my thinking?

To finance World War II expenditure Mr Churchill’s Government borrowed twice the country’s total GDP and then Mr Atlee’s great reform government that followed borrowed that again to set up our welfare state and NHS which put us on the road to having a land fit for heroes. Perhaps our current borrowing, the equivalent of the national GDP, in order to ease the economic pain of the effect of Covid-19, is not much to worry about? It’s all relative.

Last month many celebrated Father’s Day. Being a professional marketing man I am baffled by how we came to accept this American import to help sell greeting cards with jokes about unnecessary longevity, and gifts like “male perfumes”, sweaters the dads will never wear and DVDs of old British comedies the fathers did not find funny the first time round. If this sounds a bit like Victor Meldrew then it may reflect a bit more than just one foot in the grave. It could just be I think the main thing that’s wrong with the younger generation is that I’m not in it. These days Happy Hour is a nap.

My late wife and I celebrating a family wedding

My favourite adage from the greeting cards aimed at the aged is : “A sure sign of old age is waking up feeling like the morning after the night before and realising you haven’t been anywhere”.

If the above sounds lacking in nostalgia, don’t blame me I have already forgotten what I wrote. My son and I can now meet another couple in my home, or theirs, as long as it’s not a care home. Very strange; the other main advice I remembered on Father’s Day was: “be kind to your children, remember they get to choose your care home”.

That advice now has a special significance. I opened a good bottle of fizzy stuff when my daughter came with my granddaughters.

Stewart Shepley

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