• Alastair Blair

Go placidly amid the …

Updated: Apr 1


How are you getting on with this? If it makes you feel any better, here’s an extract from an email from a friend who lives in Milan with her Italian family…

“I can't remember what it was like to have a life - it's shocking how quickly we've all slipped into complete apathy and laziness.  Even the boys - they don't moan at all about not going out, just play with their Playstations and fester away...  I'm now looking forward to the taking the rubbish down - 8 floors - may even meet some-one in the process although we are not allowed to share the lift and I may walk back up as my daily exercise.”

Given that we have only had a couple of weeks of this, while the Italians have had a lot longer, it doesn’t look great, does it? Perhaps soon putting out the rubbish will look the most exciting thing we are going to do all day.

With that cheery thought in mind, here’s my guide to staying sane over the next three (or more) months.

Enjoy the adverts.

Marvel at the fact that Jack Whitehall and some other celeb whose name I don’t know, appear in a Google ad wandering around the middle of the countryside being frightened by sheep. Clearly, if this was made now, a couple of rozzers would be piloting a drone overhead and a man with a megaphone would be shouting “Not essential travel” at 30 second intervals.

Of course, the Google ad was made in the year BCE (before closure of the economy). Similarly, I did feel sorry for the company that had gone to inordinate lengths (and doubtless expense) to create the beautiful, full-colour, multi-page mini magazine that came with my Amex quarterly magazine in mid-March. The only problem with this additional, paid-for supplement to the main mag was the country it was promoting – Italy.

Don’t get upset by the wall-to-wall coverage, speculation and opinion masquerading as fact in the national media.

By all means enjoy your Grauniad, Torygraph or whatever, but realise that there are only so many ways they can spin their prejudices and recyle their theories about whichever research takes their fancy before your immune system kicks in and you close down your iPad. Most of the population, at least outside that strange land that is London, seems to realise this and cope perfectly well with Talksport (or the Perthshire Advertiser).

Don’t panic buy.

There is more than enough to go round. If you have a couple of teenage sons then it’s permissible to buy one additional toilet roll for their nocturnal activities, but nothing else.

Realise that for all the errors and faults they make, our politicians are actually trying very hard indeed to make the best they can of this impossible situation.

We can investigate matters fully later and we should certainly question them now about failings that can be put right, but some of the journalists, of left and right seem to have other agendas that are quite frankly pathetic. Talksport is a good antidote.


Rejoice in the fact that a lot of political correctnesss and wokeness is being totally ignored.

Who gives a flying wotsit about that celebrity tosser who posted photos of himself crying about himself in his (I refuse to use his "preferred” pronoun) multi-million mansion house in London? No, thought so. No-one who really matters.

Don’t shout at the TV/radio

Especially when some idiot is explaining for the nth time why his/her line of work deserves special treatment. And when the footballers don’t realise that this season is not going to finish and there is no point pretending that it will.

We might get rid of Trump.

That is a consummation devoutely to be wished for… OK, Biden doesn’t look much cop, but let’s face it, a mentally retarded bog brush would be better than the Donald (and would have better hair).

Use contraception

The NHS does not need to care for more pregnancies than normal thank you very much. Nor do you.

Realise how much more fortunate we are than the Chinese.

In this country, our doctors complain about problems and the press report them. In China recently (as reported in The Times of 31 March) a doctor who was calling out the country’s leaders for their cover-up of the virus, has “disappeared.”

Also, realise we are not at war.

My mum didn’t talk much about the war, but she did once mention lying in the Anderson Shelter feeling the ground shake as the bombs fell on Clydebank, about a mile away. In those days, death could come in seconds, but at least they could get out to the pub or cinema. However, they were fighting a battle for national survival, which if they’d lost then God knows what would have happened. We know our fight is highly unlikely to last as long as the war, and we also know the likely outcome.

If you have a dog/garden/greenhouse.

Thank your lucky stars. We do and we are making use of all three. By July, we’ll have enough tomatoes to feed an army, and about five stringy green beans and a courgette that’s either dying or is producing marrows that could be used as railway sleepers. Admittedly, the dog is well over 100 and doesn’t like going for walks of over five minutes, but we live in the west of Scotland where it rains all the time so that’s fine.

Try and help someone who needs it.

It doesn’t matter who. Be like the Boy Scouts and do a daily act of kindness. It might just be phoning a friend but it can make a huge difference.

And on the subject of US Presidents…

Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country, said JFK. He wasn’t wrong.

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