We are back in a National Lockdown in England once again then. Although this one is slightly different with places of education remaining open. The second wave of this virus due to the timing of it was always going to potentially be worse than the first one sadly as was the case with the Spanish Flu of 1918. It is quite interesting the parallels between these two events just over one hundred years apart. Samuel Pepys Diary extracts about the Plague in London also make interesting reading and are strangely relatable to the situation we find ourselves in.
It is not an easy thing to cope with and it is something none of us wanted to happen. As far as I can see the major factor in the decision is not overwhelming the NHS. I think we can all agree we would like there to be enough beds and staff available if we require any urgent medical attention. I certainly would anyway. A very high number of people have sadly died due to the virus (far too many), happily many people do recover from it but a percentage of these require hospital treatment which is where the capacity issue might occur.
I am naturally a very positive person and I will look for the best in every situation. I appreciate that I am lucky in this respect and lots of people will find this enforced lockdown tough. What I would suggest though is find a daily routine you can stick to, it will give the day a bit of structure and give you some focus. If you are able to a little bit of exercise is good for the body and mind. Talk to people on the phone, video chat and email just keep engaging regularly with family and friends. Nobody is in this alone. We are all in this together going through more or less the same thing.
I know it may seem a little difficult at the minute but with a bit of luck and a social conscience approach from everyone we will get through it. Then we can once again meet mates down the pub, go to the football, a night at the theatre, a day at the races and do all the things I am missing. But unless you and your associates are healthy and well, you cannot do any of those things anyway. Therefore let us stay safe, be sensible and look after ourselves and each other. Please spare a thought for me as this weekend though, I should be relaxing at a wooden lodge with a hot tub and a wood burner for company. But obviously I am not. However that is fine I will do what I need to then enjoy that when I can as my reward.
Right then that is all the serious stuff out the way! For legal reasons I would like to state that everything else I mention took place before lockdown. Although I have not really ventured out much since the original version of it, so having to do it all again will not affect my week that much to be fair. I am actually getting quite used to having to socially distance from people and possibly I am now enjoying it way more than I should be. Plus wearing a mask means it is easier to avoid talking to people I do not want to. See always looking for the positives!
I have talked before about my slightly competitive nature. Recently my girlfriend purchased the game Jenga. I could not remember if I had ever played it before or not. I definitely used to play and was if I do say so myself quite good at Ker-Plunk as a kid. I figured that was a game with similar principals to this one. Therefore I thought I would be pretty good taming those wooden blocks. She challenged me to a game filled with confidence about my ability for this task I accepted.
I lost the first game after about three moves causing the whole of the tower to come crashing to the ground. To say I was annoyed is possibly an understatement. I cannot stress how much I do not like losing. Obviously I could not leave this battle here, so we rebuilt the blocks for another game. I was taking this second one much more seriously. In fact so much so that it was taking me up to five minutes to make one move, so great was my desire not to pick the wrong brick to remove.
Suddenly in my head this had turned into a game of Chess. It was also at this point that a bit of Cricket style sledging crept in with both sides giving as good as they got. It got quite tense and slightly brutal for a time. I did not consult The Guinness Book of World Records but I think this could have been the longest game of Jenga ever. I won it and was so happy and delighted that I broke into the Carlton victory dance from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which I will concede was not the coolest or most grown up way to react to my victory.
I should have quit when I was ahead or to be totally accurate when I was level. However against my better judgement we kept on playing. It was a disaster! I only won two out of the next five games. This crushing defeat means that I will never play Jenga again. She wants to buy the giant garden version. I am now worried that she is trying to bury me under a barrage of big wooden blocks. I have never been any good at DIY, which is why I am rubbish at this game I think. It is all construction and common sense. Those are very much not my department.
Once again I am massively behind the times when it comes to films. The other weekend I finally got around to watching “Walk the Line”. Only a mere fifteen years after it was originally released. I am a big fan of Country Music and like the music of Johnny Cash. Therefore you would have thought I would have caught it sooner but it shows how great my reluctance to see movies is, even when they are on subjects that I am interested in. Add to that the fact that its two main stars Joaquin Phoenix and Reece Witherspoon won Oscar’s for their performances in it. It is not as if I was not aware of it when it came out.
After waiting so long to see it I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did not know Johnny’s story that well so I found it very interesting. I kind of knew the main points but it filled in a lot of gaps for me. Joaquin and Reece were fantastic. I can see why they got their Academy Awards for their performances.
I have been to the historic Sun Studio’s in Memphis where Johnny Cash recorded a lot of his early hits. Up on the Studio wall they have a picture of him with Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley under the heading the Million Dollar Quartet. They were the four biggest stars under the guidance of Sam Phillips at his studios at that moment. I am pleased that I got round to watching it in the end.
I did manage to get my Contact Lens Annual Check Up and Eye Test in before the country shut back down. I have been going to the same Optician since I was five. I have been wearing glasses since then and have used contacts since I was thirteen years old. I think I might have been one of the youngest wearers of them back then. After begging people to have them so I could see properly to play football. Anyway I have to have my eyes and lenses looked at every year to make sure they are alright.
It was all done in a safe and as socially distanced way as possible. I was required to wear a mask which was fine with me. It was the contacts check first. That all went fine, my eyes and lenses were all good. I could see at an acceptable level. Although my long distance vision in them could have been slightly improved by upping my prescription but that would mean my short sighted vision would not be as good. As I do a lot of work on the computer I opted to keep them as they were. Therefore apologies if I do not spot you across the road from me but on the plus side I will still be able to read your social media comments clearly.
The eye test in the mask was slightly more challenging. It is hard enough sometimes to read those little letters on the chart as it is without having to do it through a fog, when your glasses steam up. The Staff there were all lovely and I did not need a new prescription for my eyes. Therefore I did not have to go through the stress of choosing new glasses. Especially at the moment as you have to thoroughly clean all the pairs before and after you try them on. It is bad enough picking ones that suit you when you cannot actually see without this distraction as well. When Covid is under control I might treat myself to a new pair of glasses to celebrate!
It was Fireworks Night, November 5th on Thursday. Obviously this year there were no big displays in the conventional way anyway. I used to be terrified of them as a child so I used to hate going to see them. But as I got older I began to really enjoy a nice display.
During my association with Mix 96 I went to their event at the Aylesbury Rugby Club lots of times. It was set to music and always fantastic. I have many memories from it over the years including carrying Kym Mazelle across the mud to the stage. Then one year having to stop the countdown midway through and then fill for ten minutes until they were actually ready to start it.
When I was at the BBC one year I ended up watching the New Year’s Eve Fireworks from the top of Broadcasting House, which was cool. Like most things that have not happened this year I am sure that Fireworks Night as we know it will return next year.
It is the only night during the winter months that I tend to stand outside for a couple of hours in a field while drinking beer out of plastic glasses. Well I say that but the way things are going that could be how I am celebrating Christmas this year I guess.
It has been quite a good couple of weeks for the “Quigley Stable”. I own a small amount of shares in a few race horses. I was delighted when one of them “Stage Star” won on his debut at Chepstow the other week. He performed perfectly bearing in mind it was his first ever race. Thanks to Paul Nicholls for getting him ready and Lorcan Williams for riding him to victory. He will have a well-earned rest for a bit then continue his training and education at Ditcheat.
Last Monday “Force Ten” had his first run over hurdles at Plumpton. It was his first outing this season after he made his racing debut last year. I have been luckily enough to visit and see both of these horses at their stables. It is great to see both of these young horses doing so well. Another one of my horses “Rock Legend” is due to start his race career tomorrow. As ever I hope he runs well and returns home safe.
Once again it has been a rollercoaster ride being a Spurs fan. We beat Burnley away in a tough game in the Premier League on the Monday night. Then three days later we were beaten away in the Europa League by Royal Antwerp. That was a disappointing defeat. Then in the next league game the following Sunday we just about managed to get the better of Brighton at home. Thanks to the first goal since his return from Gareth Bale.
Owing to the way the other results had gone somehow that win moved us up to second place in the Premier League despite giving away three points in the last minute of games against Newcastle United and West Ham United. This season will have many more twists and turns. However you cannot beat the feeling of your team sitting near the top of the table, so I am going to enjoy it for as long as it lasts, which will probably be until the end of this weekend if I am lucky. Come On You Spurs.
You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/
Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.