Drinking Through the Crisis

I cannot lie. I was so relieved when off licences were added to the list of essential retailers. A dry lockdown would be way beyond the pale ale and, thankfully, local shops are well-stocked with the hard stuff, helping to tranquilise us through the coronavirus crisis.

We’re creatures of habit, Liam and I. And touring the village watering holes for a few bevvies is one of them. We call it doing our bit for the local economy. As they’re all shut up for the time being, we get our fix by cracking open a bottle and joining in the White Horse virtual pub quiz on Facebook every Monday at 8pm. It’s not quite the same as the real thing and it’s too easy to cheat – not that we do, of course – but it’s as good as it gets right now.

Simon, Chedgrave’s very own jolly landlord, is doing his bit to keep community peckers up and the virtual quiz really helps. He also does a nice line in colourful shirts to brighten up the dullest of days – always a talking point. Sartorially, though, he’s got a long way to go before he can compete with the nation’s all-time favourite pub landlady – bottle-blond, chain-smoker, Bet Lynch (AKA Julie Goodyear). Bet’s signature look was leopard skin. She covered everything in it, even her chest exerciser.

Brassy Bet’s tenure behind the bar at the Rovers Return on Coronation Street may be long over but you can catch her glory days weekday afternoons on ITV3. That’s what I do.

You Gotta Roll With It

With much of the planet in the grip of a coronavirus, we’re social distancing by buckling down watching the Chase on the box with our feet up. We venture out only when absolutely necessary – usually when the booze runs low. Unlike the stupid and the selfish, we haven’t raided the local shops for loo roll. If we do run out, we’ll fall back on the pile of old newspapers we’ve set aside for the log burner. With all this enforced intimacy, expect a global baby boom and a rocketing divorce rate.

Hotpot, Ken?

Now we’ve moved on to fresh fields, my five-day-a-week gym routine is no more. Whereas I was once able to stroll to my city centre torture chamber, I’d now have to bus it – so that’s that. But, I still need to help my circulation by power-pushing my ageing legs, and avoid diabetes by keeping the pounds off. So we’ve invested in this monster.

No longer am I able to leer discretely (or not so discretely) at the sweaty fellas squatting and pressing around me. No. My view has been replaced by classic episodes of Coronation Street from the eighties, weekdays on ITV3. The tattooed talent in tight togs have given way to dreary Deirdre’s dreadful perm, wooden Ken’s unlikely sexual prowess, bottle-blonde Bet’s gravity-defying hair do, blue-rinsed Phyllis’ hopeless pursuit of flat-capped miserable old fart, Percy Sugden, Jack and Vera’s endless bickering and Betty’s nuked hotpot. I love it. The script is glorious and my guilty secret is out.

The End of the Yellow Brick Road

Our move date from city to country coincided with tickets to see Armistead Maupin’s one-man show at Norwich’s Theatre Royal. Maupin is the author of the Tales of the City series of novels set in San Francisco which chronicle the lives and times of an eclectic group of residents passing through the Barbary Lane boarding house turned apartments owned by Anna Madrigal. We love the books (and subsequent TV serialisations) so it was with heavy hearts we had to give Maupin a miss.

Liam was determined not to miss the next big thing – gay icon-wise – to come along. And they don’t get bigger than the late, great Judy Garland. Liam is a BIG fan and was virtually hyperventilating as we took our seats at Norwich’s Cinema City for ‘Judy’, staring the wonderful Renée Zellweger in the title role. Liam loves a dead diva.

Covering the brief period when the down-at-heel legend arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of last-chance concerts, ‘Judy’ is not exactly a feel-good film. We all know what happens in the end and watching Judy’s descent into drug and drink-fuelled hell makes grim viewing. But the film is strangely compelling and Ms Zellweger is mesmerising – interpreting rather than parodying Judy’s magical stage presence –  and all in her own voice. No miming needed.  I hear Oscar knocking.

Carnal Knowledge

Carnal Knowledge

Following bountiful Christmas fare, and with emotions loosened by the Malbec, we plopped onto the sofa and cried our way through Mama Mia, Here We Go Again on DVD and Call the Midwife on the Beeb. Others, meanwhile, took to Google in search of something altogether less wholesome and more carnal. I do hope those dropping into pansyland looking for ‘pussy lovers’, ‘pussy galore’, ‘sticky knickers’ and ‘sex emporium’ weren’t too deflated to read about cats, Bond girls, a heat-wave and two old poofs on holiday.

Perfect Day

Perfect Day

Christmas comes but once a year, thank the Lord. You can almost taste the stress in the high street from the world-weary shoppers to the fixed-grin workers with tired old tinsel in their hair. I shop early to avoid the hurly-burly. We do, though, always look forward to the John Lewis festive TV ad, and this year’s offering featuring Elton John is a cracker. But then, I’ve always had a soft spot for Captain Fantastic. Predictably, a few scrooges got all bah humbug about the extravagance in these austere times; the moral high ground can be a joyless place. Besides, it’s our job to fix the ills of society, not a shop.

This year, Liam and I are having a quiet one in the microloft. The calorific grub will come courtesy of Mr Marks and Mr Spencer and the quality of the vino will go up a notch or two. Then we’ll drop onto the sofa to foot-tap our way through Mama Mia – Here We Go Again! Out on DVD just in time for Christmas. A perfect day.

Seasons Greetings

Seasons greetings to one and all. Whatever Christmas means to you, may your day be peaceful.

Give Us a Twirl

My poor Liam fell badly and broke a couple of ribs. Naturally, most people assume he was a little worse for wear after a few sherries. In that case, he would have bounced. No, he slipped on some icy decking in broad daylight and cracked his back on a wooden planter – big ouch! Attractive it may be but decking can be treacherous at this time of year. Despite the cocktail of painkillers prescribed by the quack, Liam’s still in considerable discomfort, though it’s slowly easing.

I feel his pain. Many years ago, I broke a rib falling off a ladder. I wasn’t pissed either but, I confess, my wobbly ascent, rooted as it was in shingle, was an accident waiting to happen. It didn’t have to wait for long.

Cadbury Twirl

In the meantime, Liam is confined to the sofa, propped up with some pillows, popping pills and bored silly by a daytime diet of quiz shows and ‘classic’ episodes of Coronation Street. For my sins, I’m acting as good nurse, dispensing TLC and peeling grapes as required. As I dance in attendance I’m trying not to make him laugh because it hurts. Liam’s developed a taste for Cadbury’s Twirl and sends me out into the cold to feed his new addiction.