Haircuts, graffiti and hoping people manage a sensibly-distanced beverage

*Photo: Still no hairdresser’s appointment for Jane

First published in the Isle of Thanet News of Friday 3rd July 2020

SO TOMORROW  – coined by the actor Paul Clayton as National Re-infection Day – the pubs can re-open. Hats off to The Dolphin in Broadstairs for deciding against it, for a host of right reasons, but of course the majority of drinkeries are desperate to get some dosh in again. And who can blame them? They are expecting a bumper weekend and many pub-goers are chomping at the bit to make sure they get it.  Sensibly-distanced beverages with the friends you haven’t seen for weeks indeed sounds a thing of joy. If only one didn’t have the sinking feeling that it will all end in tears, an over-stretched A&E and a lot of vomit in the gutter.

The Government, with its stingy guidelines and lack of joie de vivre, is fond of tutting at us older wine-lovers and our insistence on our daily dose of Bordeaux or sauvignon, while experts – and the Daily Mail – shake their heads at habitual imbibers of a certain age who are storing up health problems for later. And maybe we are. But overall, when it comes to being a drain on resources, it’s not the routine drinkers who will be carted off by paramedics tomorrow evening because they’ve knocked themselves out on vodka shots or got into a fight and had their jaw broken.

Because those of us who drink regularly, rather than waiting for Saturday night and then going berserk, know how to do it.

We may talk rubbish with the best of them, but we don’t slur and stagger while we’re at it. We might have the odd domestic – it’s often the third glass, I find, that snaps the camel’s back – but we don’t go punching strangers because they looked at us the wrong way. Some of us – me for example – see getting overly drunk as an occasional occupational hazard of enjoying alcohol (one which is an irritant and sends me scuttling bed-wards like a highly-driven homing pigeon) rather than the raison d’etre of leaving the house.

I love a good pub and if you’d told me four months ago, I’d spend 15 weeks without stepping foot in one, I’d have laughed. Now, living with someone still shielding, I fully intend to last a lot longer.  Social distancing has already tailed off considerably. With crowds on the pavement six pints down, I don’t hold much hope for it at all. But all power to the landlords’ elbows in doing what they can.  And after all the NHS staff have already gone through, may our list of things to applaud them for on 5pm on Sunday, NOT include one beast of a Saturday night…

I AM not often lost for words but I came dangerously close when reading about the idiocy of Ian Driver. The one-time Thanet councillor who stood variously as an Independent, for Labour and for the Greens (are you getting the measure already?)  seems to think he has performed a public service by defacing the Dickens Museum.

Leaving aside what sort of example this sets the young, the “graffiti dad” –  so-named by the Sun to whom he has given an interview (not so worried about our left-wing principles now then!) –  has claimed to that paper that he is hoping to make us locals “a little bit more aware”. Thank you, I’m sure that many of us already knew that Dickens defended colonialism – he was of his time. He was also a huge champion of the poor, raising true awareness of what life was like for the impoverished in the workhouse, orphanages and debtors’ prisons. And I would hazard a guess that he did this, because he actually cared. Not because he wanted his name in the paper.

ALSO on the list of things I would not have believed in early March is that I would hand a pair of electric hair clippers to my son and instruct him casually to shave around my left ear.  “I think I’ve made rather a good job of that,” he says, stepping back to admire his handy work while I chop madly at my fringe. Since I’m unlikely to score a hair appointment for some weeks, I am glad to say I can sort of agree.

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