As Life in Laytonia hits double figures, I have a confession to make: I don’t have a clue where to start.

That’s nothing new.  Every week, until my aimless staring out of the window is interrupted by some eureka moment, I never know where to start!

This week, however, is different: I have so many issues/nonsense/irritations/thoughts – many useless – buzzing round this ageing head of mine, I really don’t know where to begin.

I blame myself.  My brain is not functioning and I think I know why.

Some weeks into lockdown, whilst chatting on the ‘phone to a friend, I jokingly announced that I was not going to get a haircut until a vaccine had been discovered. 

The bet was made!

I have made numerous wagers with this particular chum and I have invariably lost.  This time, I am determined to collect the fiver.

The trouble is, that the above-mentioned ageing head is now so weighed down by what can only be described as an abundant haystack of silver-grey hair, I truly believe it is hindering my thought processes.

We are all praying that a Covid 19 vaccine will be discovered soon.  I have no wish to be pessimistic, but I fear that by the time it comes, I’ll be ready and possibly the right age to play the lead in “Methusela – the Musical”.

Hey, that is not a half bad idea!  (Memo to self: “Methusela – the Musical”, pitch to Cameron Mackintosh).

I like to flatter myself that these flowing locks are admired as a steel-grey leonine mane, but when I look in the mirror, what I see is a lady from the shires, coming out of the hairdressers having had a shampoo and set, heading for the Conservative Party conference!

Where to begin?  A rant or an indulgent George Layton moan about something that has irritated me this week?

Come to think of it, what is the difference between a rant and a moan?

RANT:    ‘hold forth, deliver a tirade, fulminate, pontificate, sound off’ etc…

MOAN:  ‘whine, carp, bellyache, whinge, complain or grumble, typically about something trivial’ – that’s what I said, ‘an indulgent George Layton moan’!

Let’s kick off with a moan.  You may remember a couple of weeks ago I banged on about the perils of replying to unsolicited emails?  (Life in Laytonia – 8).

A brief précis if you didn’t read it: a company called Look After My Bills switched me to a new energy supplier and authorised a new Direct Debit mandate without my knowledge. As I was tied to a contract, this would have incurred financial penalties.

After spending an inordinate amount of time emailing robots, speaking with what might as well have been robots- I can’t believe I’m writing about this again, so effing boring – I thought that I had sorted the whole thing out.

I am such an innocent.  Look what pinged up in my inbox on the 14th July:

From: Customer Service PfP Energydo-not-reply@pfpenergy.co.uk>

Subject: We’re sorry you’re thinking of switching supplier

Date: 14 July 2020 at 20:23:34 BST

To: <my email address>

Dear George Layton,

We’re sorry you’re thinking of switching supplier

Thanks for being a loyal PFP Energy customer since 25 Mar 2016….

I give up!! I know when I’m beaten.  And apologies, that moan morphed into a rant.  So easy to do.

There is good news!  Boris Johnson failed to get his stooge, Chris Grayling – oops, his ‘preferred candidate’, Chris Grayling – installed as chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. 

The new chairman, democratically voted in, was promptly shown the door and booted out of the Conservative Party for having the audacity to stand.

Bit petulant wouldn’t you say?  Smacks to me of throwing your toys out of the pram when you don’t get your own way.  But when you have a majority of 80 and you are used to getting your own way…

Scanning the newspaper last week, I was stunned to read that Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been off the FBI radar for the best part of a year, was arrested in Bradford.

Bradford!!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the place, I grew up there.  I still call it home even though I left in 1960.  Baildon Moor and Ilkley Moor – a cycle-ride away.  The best fish and chips money can buy.  For me it was idyllic.  God’s own country.

But what on earth would possess socialite Ghislaine Maxwell to choose Bradford (pronounced Brat-ford) as a hiding place from the FBI and the world’s press?

The clue is in the phrase ‘scanning the newspaper’.   Closer reading clarified the story. She was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire.  A different kettle of fish (and chips).

I found myself thinking that M/s Maxwell might have been better off if she’d opted for ‘my’ Bradford.  You don’t get many FBI agents up there.

Sometimes, when I’m watching television and I see a famous face, I get this niggling feeling that I know them, and not just as a face ‘off the telly’.  After almost 60 years as actor and writer, it’s not surprising; I’ve worked with a lot of people.

But why Monty Don?  I have a very good memory and I know for certain that we have never worked together. 

Every time I see ‘Gardeners’ World’, that wonderful programme that I only began watching to humour my gardener wife and to which I am now addicted, I invariably say the same thing:

‘Do you know, Moya, I’m sure I’ve met Monty Don.’

‘You’ve been saying that for years.’

‘Yes, it’s been bugging me for years.’

‘Well, it’s bugging me now.’

‘Really?  Do you think you’ve met him?’

‘No, your prattling on that you think you know Monty Don is what’s bugging me!  You say it every time he’s on TV.  Now shush!’

Fair point, I concede.  But, it niggles me.  I know that I’ve been close to that friendly, handsome face…

It came to me in the middle of last night.  It was an epiphany.

‘Joe Allen!’ I shouted, waking the dog.  He wasn’t pleased.  Neither was Moya.

‘Why are you dreaming about Joe Allen?’

Joe Allen was – and still is – an American restaurant that opened in Covent Garden in the late 70’s.  It was hugely popular with actors, writers, singers, musicians; it was the go to place for the show-biz fraternity. 

That’s where I knew Monty Don from.  He was a waiter there!  I think…

If anybody out there can put me out of my misery, I would be ever so grateful.

I have only now realised what this week’s Life in Laytonia is.  It’s a pot pourri.

I don’t mean a bowl of dried petals and spices that I always munch a handful of, thinking I’m eating healthy vegetable crisps. 

No.  POT POURRI:  – ‘a mixture or medley of things’. 

Well, let’s round off this medley of things on an uplifting note.   For many years, I have been a member of a Saturday morning Boys Breakfast Club.  We convene every week to put the world to rights.  Rather too noisily for some patrons of the café we frequent, but over the years they have kindly learned to tolerate us.

You may recall that last week I wrote about my dear friend, the actor David Graham, the voice of ‘Parker’ in ‘Thunderbirds’, ‘Grandpa Pig’ in ‘Peppa Pig’ and an original Dalek voice, celebrating his 95th Birthday!

During the run of ‘The Bespoke Overcoat’, a play we did together 10 years ago, I introduced David to this motley coffee morning crew and he has become our treasured and much-loved senior member.

With his rapier-like wit and quicksilver brain, he is known as ‘The Pun Meister’.  During lockdown, the Breakfast Club has continued on Zoom.

Last weekend, however, the intrepid 6 met up in the garden of our founder member, Mad Larry, who hosted the most wonderful, uplifting, socially distanced birthday breakfast for dear David. 

How we all adhered to the recommended social distance was nothing less than a miracle, since we all wanted to give the man of the moment a big hug!