Why Do You (Still) Pretend To Be Normal?

In these strange days of pandemic and lockdowns, many articles have been written about what life may be like when it is all over. Will we ever go back to being as we were, or will we have adapted into a ‘new normal?’ It was therefore a bit of a coincidence to see that I had posted this a year ago today, and I thought it worth sharing again for newer readers, or for those who might have enjoyed it so much the first time round and might be so bored in lockdown that they would welcome a chance to see it again.

As you will see, the main part of this is a reworked version of a post I originally wrote in 2013, but I haven’t really changed my view in the intervening seven years. Normal, for me, may still very well be different from what passes for normal for you or others: I’m pretty certain that Numpty Trumpty’s version of normality is miles away from mine, for example! Whatever (to get in a plug for my WOTY), it is a concept that I think we might all be revisiting in the months and years to come: “do you remember what life BC was like?” Let’s revisit this in a year’s time and see what we think then!

A couple of footnotes:
1. Mention is made in the previous posts of Men’s Health Week – it is coming around again, this year from 15-21 June.
2. BC, in case you needed reminding, stands for ‘Before Coronavirus.’

Take It Easy

A fellow blogger – Stevie Turner – published a post on Monday about the odd phrases that people have entered into search engines as a result of which they have landed on her blog. Her post is called ‘WordPress Search Terms,’ and can be found here – as with all her posts, I recommend it. I’ve often marvelled at some of the weird and wonderful things people search for. In my case, I once wrote a post for Think About Sex Day – yes, it really does exist – which gave me the opportunity to use the word ‘sex’ in the post’s tags, giving rise (or not, ahem) to countless disappointed people since then. I commented on Stevie’s post that my all time favourite was someone who had found my blog by asking ‘why do you pretend to be normal?’ I’ve always hoped that wasn’t aimed specifically at me, but…

View original post 1,050 more words

Tuesday Tunes 7: Escape

As the clue in the title shows, we are now entering week 7 of the lockdown here in the UK. Perhaps surprisingly, a recent survey showed that this was supported by 77% of the population, and opposed by only 15%. It would appear that after our recent spell of collective stupidity in elections we are beginning to develop a herd common sense at last. Sadly, it is no surprise to me that most of the noises against the lockdown seem to be coming from the wealthy and big business owners – money always talks, doesn’t it? I found it particularly offensive that one of the pleas for a government handout came from Richard Branson, whose behaviour towards his Virgin Airline staff has been atrocious, and who last year had the gall to sue the NHS for not awarding a contract to another one of his companies. I have always held that profit has no place in healthcare, and vultures like him re-emphasise the point for me. Hopefully his staff will be supported financially by the government, even if he refuses to use any of his personal fortune to do it. He can at least sit this all out from the comfort of his tropical island!

As we go into our seventh week of lockdown we are beginning to see signs of the way out. Last weekend our esteemed Prime Minister said that he would be announcing the exit plan on Thursday, only to change this to ‘next weekend’ when it became clear that new scientific advice wouldn’t be ready by Thursday. I don’t know about you, but his planning skills wouldn’t encourage me to employ him to arrange a booze up in brewery. But, on the positive side, we may just be given some clues about what needs to happen for the lockdown to be relaxed, which has to be a good thing, right? Trusting the government to get the decisions about it correct, on the other hand – not something that comes easily, given their record to date. Similarities between Johnson and Trump are often drawn: their initial inactivity in tackling the coronavirus was equally inept, and we are paying the price for that now. But I remain hopeful that signs that we have passed the peak are proved right, and that the lockdown relaxation doesn’t come too soon or too rapidly for it to be effective. Fingers crossed.

But let’s be positive! Thoughts of people on tropical islands have given me this week’s theme. Many of us will of late have been spending much more time than usual reflecting on our lives, and building up hopes and dreams – but probably not plans, as yet – for what we will do when this is all over. I’m not a traveller myself – medical conditions militate against that – but many are, and I would imagine that their thoughts will have been turning towards….escape. I promised last week that I would give you an upbeat selection and, whilst neither of this week’s tunes is a belting rocker they do, I think, capture the spirit of how we can ‘escape’ in our thoughts and songs.

The first tune is actually called Escape, though I would imagine that most will know it by the subtitle in brackets:

I hadn’t realised before that Rupert Holmes was actually born as David Goldstein here in the UK, to an American father and British mother: I’d always thought he was American. That song was no.1 in the US and several other countries, though I was surprised to see that it only got as far as no.23 in the UK: the amount of radio coverage it received at the time had left me with the feeling that it reached much higher. He was even on Top Of The Pops with it – the ultimate accolade here for a pop song. After last week’s Stephen Stills song it may appear that I’m encouraging infidelity. I can assure you that I’m not, and in any case the couple in this song couldn’t meet up at present without breaking lockdown and social distancing rules. But as escapes go, it has a nice twist to it, even if they didn’t have to travel far in his imagination to make it happen.

This week’s second song is from a singer/songwriter of whom I’ve been a fan ever since her first album, a mere 33 years ago: Mary Chapin Carpenter. I’ve featured her songs before, but not this one. This is a piece of wishful thinking taken to perfection:

The beauty of the tune is matched by the lyrics, which evoke thoughts of creative beauty in bygone days. Of course, music isn’t the only one of the arts to share in that but, as the meme at the top of the post says, it can certainly play its part! The images that MCC creates are beautiful, as is the whole feel of the song: her warm voice is so soothing, the music is understated, with the mandolin subtly underscoring the lyrics, and that accordion gets me every time! As I said: perfection. If you want to hear more of her she is one of the many artists doing lockdown performance on Facebook which, as well as herself, feature roles for her pets too – they are adorable, especially Angus.

As always, I hope you’re keeping safe and well and doing what your government is telling you to do. I know they are an easy target but despite my criticism of them I know that they are trying to find solutions to all of this, and we don’t help if we ignore their advice! Take care, and I’ll see you next Tuesday.


Tuesday Tunes 6: Being Apart

I was looking back at the posts so far in this series and realised that one of last week’s songs had already been featured. Oops! But thank you for not pointing it out if you noticed – I think I got away with it though. Neither of this week’s pair has been seen here before – it’s ok, I double checked!

I don’t know about your country, but here in the UK some members of the government have been making tentative suggestions about the possibility of ending the lockdown. And then others say it’s too soon. That could be viewed as different people having different views on a topic, which is perfectly normal. But I wonder if I’m alone in finding it scary when it is being said in the context of saving lives? Yes, I know the economy is tanking – like it is everywhere – and that is important for people’s livelihoods, but ours would have tanked anyway with Brexit, so I’d prefer it if the people allegedly leading the country put lives before profits. And it would be good if they could at least present a united face in public – the problem, I guess, is for them to decide which of their double faces to show. (And if you think that paragraph was stupid, I was just being sarcastic while awaiting the delivery of my Noble Prize).

We are seeing newspaper reports of a growing disaffection and impatience with the lockdown, such as increased traffic levels. But, this being Britain, our pea-brainers can’t arm themselves to the hilt and go out demanding that they can get a haircut. There was, apparently, a protest at the weekend, but the police outnumbered the seven protesters who turned up. The serious side to this is that we are unable to visit friends and family, or have them come to us. I’m feeling that particularly keenly: it was my elder daughter’s birthday just before the lockdown began and we hadn’t been able to see each other in time for her card and gifts to be shared. Then there was Easter, which has left me with some chocolate eggs whose sell-by dates are in early June. If the curfew isn’t lifted by then, I may have to eat them myself. Well, they would only go to waste otherwise….

There is also my granddaughter’s birthday on 6 June. She will be 2, and I really hope to be able to see her, my daughters and son-in-law, but that is beginning to look unlikely. It has, however given me this week’s theme: being apart. Not that either tune is about seeing a 2 year old, but they are both about coping with distance. When all this is over, and queuing online at midnight to get a grocery delivery slot has become a thing of the past, I suspect that for many of us the abiding memory will be the pain of being apart from loved ones. Not that this is anything to do with children and grandchildren, but I’ve always thought that Stephen Stills gave us good advice in this one:

As I live alone that advice isn’t much use to me, though, and I won’t be taking that thought any further: this isn’t that kind of blog!

This week’s second song is also from the 1970s. Music can be a comfort blanket for us, and I guess that going back to the music of my youth – I was 22 when this was released – is a way of coping with the necessity of lockdown. Again, the lyrics aren’t really much about the current situation, but I would imagine that many of us have thought this about someone recently:

As you will no doubt have noticed, that version is from the Live 8 concert in 2005. I am a long-term Floyd fan, so it was particularly emotional for me to see them all on the same stage again for the first time in 24 years, no doubt as the result of Bob Geldof’s unique style of (expletive deleted) persuasion. I remember it to this day: it was a hot July Saturday evening, I was still married and living with my wife and daughters. I was washing up the dinner stuff and watching it on the portable tv in the kitchen. I suddenly became aware of two things: that I had tears running down my face, and that one of the girls was watching me, not knowing why, or what she should do. A quick explanation persuaded her that Dad was really ok, and nothing more was said. But when I think back to that it brings home to me with some force the feelings engendered from being required not to see those that we love. It also emphasises for me the power of music and its importance to me: if you’ve ever wondered why I often post about music, there’s your answer!

This may not have been the most uplifting piece in this series so far, but it is consistent with my ongoing approach of focusing on something which is important for us all at present. At least I didn’t include the Smith’s Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now! Actually, I never would, as I can’t stand them or that song! I said at the outset that these posts were intended to entertain you and maybe make you reflect on our current shared situation, and this one is definitely in that second category (in case you hadn’t noticed). We’re in lockdown here at least until 7 May and, I suspect, for a good deal longer than that, so there are plenty more of these to come. I already have next week’s theme in mind and I promise it is more upbeat! Till then, be safe, follow the rules, and stay well.