As I stare at my blank computer screen, I can’t help thinking that it’s been a funny old week.
Lockdown is easing by the minute. I’m beginning to wonder if the heat has gone to the Government’s head; street parties, crowded beaches, raves – albeit illegal – and Boris is bent on encouraging it all.
There’s a cavalier ‘lockdown’s over’ mood pervading. A sort of Coronavirus VE Day party atmosphere. All very worrying.
Talking of VE Day, I’m still very sad about Vera Lynn.
Mind you, the loss of Dame Vera resulted in a very nice Father’s Day pressie from my wife, Moya: a vintage radio, complete with an old-fashioned dial to pick up the stations.
To be honest, I felt it was a bit over the top and I asked Moya, what made her think of such a generous Father’s Day present.
‘It was seeing you crying every time “We’ll Meet Again” was being played’.
Who can blame me? It’s the end of an era. Makes me think of my late dad, he loved Vera Lynn. Oh, Lord, I’m filling up again…
I’m still staring at the blank screen, wondering what to write about, when I realise what the date is. Had Covid 19/Coronavirus/Lockdown never happened, I know with 99.9% certainty, where I would be right now.
I would be sitting with Moya, at a table for 6, in Ristorante Patrizia, a restaurant on the beach in Lido di Camaiore in Tuscany. A mere 40-minute hire car ride from Pisa Airport, having flown from Heathrow on BA 0604.
I say with ‘99.9% certainty’ because when we and the other 2 couples, four of our dearest friends, book this annual trip, I always say, with irritating regularity, ‘Of course if Steven Spielberg calls, I may have to pull out!’
This would have been our 7th, possibly our 8th, visit to Lido di Camaiore, and he’s never called yet.
We fly every year on BA 0604, scheduled to depart at 08.25. This would have meant checking in around 6am, leaving Laytonia around 5am, setting the alarm for 4am. No – let’s be on the safe side – 03.45 for the first alarm, 4am for the second.
If form were anything to go by, neither alarm would have been needed; I would have been lying awake for hours, got up around 3.30am, made a pot of tea, started running the bath en route to the bedroom, all the while chuntering that ‘this is bloody ridiculous, bloody uncivilized, why do we have to travel so early? What difference does it make if we get there in the evening? Chunter, chunter, chunter…’
And as we sit there in Patrizia’s, with our lovely friends, clinking glasses of Scalabrone, our favourite Tuscan rosé, I know what we would all be saying, led of course by myself, old Grumpy Bollocks:
‘Isn’t it worth getting the early flight to be here in time for lunch?’
Cheers, chin-chin, saluti!!’ And already, Moya and I would have broken the ‘no drinking at lunchtime’ rule. As we do every year!
I know exactly what food we would have ordered; the yummiest Parma ham with the sweetest melon you’ll find, not just in Tuscany, possibly in the whole of Italy. Mmm, yummy…followed by Spaghetti Vongole and no doubt a portion (or two?) of seafood salad to keep us going between those 2 courses.
God, I’m salivating as I’m writing…
I sit at my desk thinking about this week’s Life in Laytonia. A different kind of pleasure to a long lazy lunch on a beach in Tuscany, but a pleasure nonetheless. And more conducive to a healthier waistline.
Yes, it’s been a funny old week…
I see our old friend, Robert Jenrick, the Government Minister for Housing, is in the news again. Something to do with over-ruling civil servants to push through Richard Desmond’s multi (multi) million pound housing plan.
But Boris Johnson says the matter is now closed. No point writing about that then!
Anyway, Mr Jenrick should have stepped down weeks ago, when he flouted lockdown rules by travelling from London, where his kids go to school, to his ‘main family residence’ in Herefordshire.
That’s some school run. I suppose Mum drops them off on her way to her job in Canary Wharf and picks them up from school on her way home to Herefordshire.
How about Track and Trace? I have to say, seeing Baroness Harding, formerly the Chief Executive of TalkTalk, heading Track and Trace doesn’t fill me with confidence.
TalkTalk is a communications company who can’t communicate, especially with customers who have a problem. They can, however, communicate (relentlessly) when they’re marketing and up-selling.
Baroness Harding has now moved on, as have I thank goodness, having managed to extricate myself from TalkTalk’s ‘got you by the short and curlies’ contract.
According to Boris, “Track and Trace is world class and Dido is doing a great job!”
So, nothing more to be said there then, either!
I continue staring at the blank screen. I drift back to Lido di Camaiore. To Patrizia’s. To Spaghetti Vongole. And another bottle of delicious Scalabrone…
The trip was booked last December, around the time we were watching news reports from a place in China called Wuhan.
‘Never heard of Wuhan,’ I remember saying to Moya. ‘It looks like a big city.’
The news reports were about a horrible virus that was hitting the place. The footage was graphic. Locals being dragged out of their homes, bundled into trucks and being carted off to be isolated. It was alarming to watch.
‘I’m glad that’s happening over there and not over here,’ I added selfishly, as I headed for the computer to book the hotel in Lido di Camaiore.
Our leader, namely the only Italian speaker in our group, always gets us a great deal. An upgrade to a suite for the price of a double room!! Stupendo, eh? Fantastico!
As it’s a special rate, it all has to be paid for upfront. I don’t mind. By the time we go, the best part of seven months later, I always think of it as free holiday! Odd Layton logic, I know.
I should also mention that because we’ve negotiated ‘our special rate’, should we have to cancel, our upfront payment is “non-returnable.”
No problemo! Why would we cancel? It’s not as if Steven Spielberg is going to call me.
So, not all quite as ‘fantastico’ as in previous years. Who reckoned on a pandemic?
Yes, it’s been a funny old week…it’s been a funny old 14 weeks!