Plod Blog

Corona Lockdown Diary – Week 3

Sunday March 29th

I’m pleased to report that my wife’s ‘fear of running out of bread’ phobia has now been replaced with ‘fear of missing Tipping Point’

‘What time is Tipping Point on?’

‘The usual time’

‘Have you recorded Tipping Point?’

‘Yes’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Yes’

In less pressing news the police, so far, have been very tolerant of those failing to social distance. The official Coronavirus policing policy defined by the ‘Four E’s’:

  • Engage
  • Explain
  • Encourage
  • Enforce

Personally I think that it’s gone on long enough and if I stopped a driver who said: ‘I’m absolutely fine to travel 50 miles for a daily seaside walk because I’m not showing any symptoms.’ I’d be tempted to give them a three second blast of pepper spray and enquire: ‘What about now?’

I mean it must be annoying for the thin blue line when people are jamming their phone lines with sensible questions like: ‘Can I go out for a second walk if I’m dressed as a dog?’

I tuned in to the daily Coronavirus briefing to see that they’d wheeled out the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick. As usual, salivating number-hunting journos kept repeatedly asking: ‘how long will the lockdown last?’ His co-host Dr Jenny Harris momentarily let her guard slip and actually answered!

‘It might be 3 to 6 months’.…The journalists all responded with frenzied scribbling and you could see in her eyes the dawning realisation that she’d walked into the trap, especially as Jenrick could be seen in the background palm-slapping his own forehead!

Sure enough the very next day….

Monday March 30th

‘6 MONTHS OF LOCKDOWN!’ is the headline news. When did journalists decide their job was to ‘create the news’ rather than report the news?

And it was also time for the mainstream media to stick the boot into the police. It’s really not been too difficult to predict the news cycle:

  • Week 1: Print news about ‘idiots’ breaching social distancing rules
  • Week 2: Demand that the police take positive action
  • Week 3: Print stories about ‘draconian policing’ and/or ‘bungling cops’ (rinse and repeat)

The papers were full of stories of police drones pestering dog walkers and police searching people’s shopping bags for Easter Eggs. You should not be going out for Easter eggs as they are non-essential items.

Should you choose to defy these instructions can you pick me up one of those Cadbury Twirl ones?

Now I’m sure some of this stuff is fake news – although let me tell you that there are a sprinkling of ‘no common sense’ cops out there. Not so much on the streets, to be fair, because the really stupid ones tend to get promoted to senior management and put in offices with their name on the door.

Here’s the thing – coppers don’t want to be the shop police. They’re policing robustly because that’s the order from the Home Office. Instead of hanging our police out to dry let’s have the Home Secretary do today’s Corona briefing to give clarity to public and police. Not wishy washy terminology but clear instruction…

I switched on the Coronavirus briefing in eager anticipation but no Priti Patel, instead Dominic Raab. The most interesting thing was the sudden very abrupt end – he didn’t so much wrap it up seamlessly as suddenly swivel around on the spot and walk away…”hello, hello… Dominic… Dominic…where’s Dominic gone?”

How bizarre!

Tuesday March 31st

Had a nice early walk and returned to find the press still plod bashing for policing social distancing robustly. It seems the UK boys and girls in blue can’t win and they’ll be criticised either way, whilst in contrast social media is full of clips of Italian police singing merrily in the street.

I think that ‘Policing Coronavirus’ would make a great ‘It’s A Fair Cop’ show. It’s got all the required ingredients – everyone’s got a view, there are consequences for every decision and there’s no right answer!

The phone rang and it was the Home Secretary Priti Patel. She’d been made aware of my tweets challenging her to take some responsibility and ordered me to come and see her directly for a bollocking. Fortunately I’ve already had my daily walk and that would not be considered essential travel.

Time for the tea-time Coronavirus briefing and it’s okay – everyone can relax Michael Gove is back! And at this point can I say well done to Robert Peston for the longest question asked in the history of television broadcasts? I’ve had full tour shows that were shorter!

Tonight’s journos were interested in testing or rather lack of and the response was Gove using the term ‘ramping up’ like the needle was stuck.

I’d never heard the term ‘ramping up’ a fortnight ago. I’ve ‘stepped up’, ‘damped down’ and ‘rolled out’ before but I’ve never ‘ramped up’! But all of a sudden everybody seems to be ramping up all day every day!

It seems to be that if you’ve promised to deliver but you’re woefully short of where you need to be and the media are attacking you then you can just hide under the term ‘ramping up’ like it’s a Klingon cloaking shield.

The good news is that today’s Tipping Point was very exciting and a lady won the £10,000 jackpot on the very last counter.

Wednesday April 1st

An email lands from Scotland informing that the iconic Edinburgh Fringe Festival will not be going ahead this year. Great shame, including for me as I was booked to go up this year, but very sensible. Many comedians have been unexpectedly thrown into financial hardship recently and well done to the Fringe for refunding their application fees.

My income comes from tour shows and corporate work all of which has been postponed for the foreseeable future. Thank heavens that I kept my old police badge so I’ve been able to dish out on-the-spot social distancing fines. And for those of you worrying that I’ll be breaching any rules – it’s OK I’m using one of these to collect the cash.

The Coronavirus briefing was a bit of a damp squib with Alok Sharma unashamedly batting most of the questions off to Dr Yvonne Doyle and more of the same wishy washy waffle.

Conversely President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines was much more direct with his ‘ramping up’ policy – anyone in the Philippines that ignores social distancing rules will be shot dead in the street! Don’t panic though, the Philippines are a week ahead of us with the virus – rest assured this tactic will not be rolled-out in the UK for the next 7 days. I suppose we could tag that on as the fifth ‘E’?   

Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce … Execute.

Thursday April 2nd

I realise that it’s wrong for me to dish out unofficial on-the-spot social distancing fines to subsidise my income and so instead today I managed to find my old police jacket and decide to seize Easter eggs from anyone that looks a bit dodgy. (The uniform still just about fits but probably won’t do by the end of the day..)

The first grab went okay – once I’d explained the importance of ‘essential shopping only’ the 9-yr-old handed over his Smarties Egg – although his younger sister but up a bit of a fight…

Friday April 3rd 

Episode 2 of my BBC Radio 4 show, about privacy, aired. I can’t help but listen with a critical ear but I was pleased with it.

On television every man and his dog seem to be doing their own presenting from home. Although I’m tempted to start my own home online broadcast I can’t because I don’t have a bookcase to sit in front of…

In the interests of balance – given that I’ve been critical of some of the waffly rambling bollocks at UK Daily Coronavirus briefings, credit where it’s due, I thought Professor Jonathan Van Tam was superb tonight. Just tells it like it is. More of this please

Saturday March 4th

Today’s news theme is ‘face masks’. Should we? Shouldn’t we? I get the reluctance around advising people to wear them. You know what some folk are like – the sun will come out this weekend, they’ll grab a face-mask, head for the seaside and forget social distancing.

Donald Trump has said that he will not be following US medical advice to wear a face-mask as he thinks the tan lines would look ridiculous.

 

Congratulations to the new Labour Party leader. If the name Keir Starmer sounds familiar to you it’s because he was Luke Skywalker’s uncle in Star Wars.

 

One of the Coronavirus conspiracy theories is that 5G radio signals are spreading COVID-19 and consequently news breaks that 5G masks have been torched in Birmingham and Liverpool.

Can I ask for anyone who believes that 5G spreads Coronavirus to help social distancing measures by wearing this official believer ‘T-shirt’..

 

I switch on the daily briefing but just switched it off again – life’s too short for Michael Gove twice in one week.

And while we’re talking about dafties I think I’ve found someone dafter than Trump: The Belarusian football league has kicked off with more than 3,000 spectators. President Alexander Lukashenko labelled coronavirus ‘a psychosis that can be fought with vodka, saunas and driving tractors’.

Ridiculous! Everyone knows it’s vodka, saunas and Tipping Point!

Until next time… stay safe out there.

Alfie x

Alfie’s Corona Lockdown Diary – Week 2

Sunday 22nd March

My latest BBC Radio 4 series IT’S A FAIR COP re-starts later this week. Hard to believe that this is ‘Series 5’, although I might go all Americano and start saying ‘Season 5’ as that sounds really cool.

I discover that the show is Pick of the Week in the Mail on Sunday and the Times – these posh folk love a bit of rough don’t they? I have to admit in all those years rolling about the pavement with aggressive drunken types outside Club 2000 in Scunthorpe I occasionally doubted that one day I’d be the radio programme of choice in the Sunday Times Culture magazine.

In other news the Prime Minister tells me that I can only have one walk (or other outdoor exercise) a day.

Monday 23rd March

My wife and I start the day with a nice walk. By the afternoon I begin to think I may have a problem with authority as I never have more than one walk a day, but on the very first day the Prime Minister tells me that I can only have one walk a day I now want a second walk more than anything I’ve EVER wanted in my life!

My wife (who also has a problem with authority) and I discuss the pros and cons of flouting the law and going out in disguise for a second walk… (the rest of this paragraph has been shortened in order to avoid incriminating myself)

The PM has taken on board the fact that the daily Coronavirus briefings are getting a bit repetitive and so the rumour is that tonight Theresa May and Michael Gove will be paying tribute to the passing of Kenny Rogers by singing a duet of Islands in the Stream accompanied by Boris on spoons.

Sadly, these were just rumours as there was no singing, no spoons and no Boris…

Tuesday 24th March

People are handling social isolation in different ways and I’ve no idea what the specific phobia: ‘fear of running out of bread’ is called but my wife seems to have it pretty bad.

Consequently I find myself cutting large amounts of mould off the Paul Hollywood part-bake rolls (that I found on top of the kitchen cupboard) before slipping them in the oven – my standards may be deteriorating quicker than I’d anticipated…

I’m bored and so I put the following opinion poll out on Twitter:

‘I have a very energetic dog that insists on going for a walk twice a day – what should I do?’

1: Ignore Govt guidelines?

2: Take a longer daily walk?

3: Eat the dog?

I’m only joking (I think) but I’m contacted by a concerned lady who implores me not to eat the dog but instead suggests that my wife and I alternate doggy walks. I tell her ‘It’s okay, I don’t have a dog………… anymore’. (Let me say at this point that I really don’t have a dog nor have I eaten one lately!)

Wednesday 25th March

Lots of debate in the media about when a ‘cure’ will be discovered and if a cocktail of other anti-viral drugs already available may help. I know that scientists all over the world are working hard for a ‘cure’ and I of course realise I’m no expert – however has anybody considered that green Swarfega your dad used to have in the shed? I think that stuff will kill anything.

Even if it’s not guaranteed to stop infection, if you strip naked and give yourself a liberal coating then if you do get stopped by the cops on your second walk they’ll never be able to grip you!

More stories in the press about people ignoring social distancing rules, including West Midlands Police breaking up more than 20 people at a public BBQ. Is anyone else really surprised that the human race has managed to, so far, avoid becoming extinct?

News breaks that Prince Charles has tested positive for Covid-19. Lots of social media outrage because he’s managed to actually get a test. I wonder if it’s anything to do with him being the 71 year old heir to the British throne?!

Boris gives the tea-time brief but he looks a bit ropey and I start some Chinese whispers that he may have got the Corona lurgy. I discover that Chinese whisper games are less fun when there’s just you and your wife in self-isolation. 

Thursday 26th March

I wouldn’t say that I’m starting to get institutionalised but I’m considering asking my wife to give me a facial teardrop tattoo using biro ink and a paperclip.

The results are in for my ‘should I eat my dog? poll’. I’m pleased to say that a mere 40% of the public wanted me to take that extreme course of action, whereas 50.4% of participants suggested ‘a longer daily walk’.

On the one hand it’s reassuring to know that most respondents are sensible but it has scuppered my planned next poll question: ‘Curry or stew?’  

News breaks that Boris has tested positive for Covid-19. I look to my wife for some crumbs of credit for my impeccable observation skills but instead I just get a tut and am asked ‘how many slices of bread have you had today?’ I’ve had some quiet gigs in my time but this is a really tough crowd!

Rishi Sunak delivers the daily Coronavirus briefing and this time opens his bag of money for the self-employed. They can have 80% to encourage them to stop at home – but can go out and get another job if they like! Might be me but I don’t get that at all…

At 8pm we go outside and clap to say thank you to the NHS workers. Lots of clapping all around us – feels nice.

Fri 27th Mar

I’m up early excited that my new Fair Cop series goes out at 11.30am. I attempt to draw attention to it by childishly scribing on pictures of important people!

The show is well received and people say nice things which makes me very happy.

That afternoon I watch a TV interview where Tony Blair tells the Government exactly what they should be doing to deal with this pandemic. Whenever there’s a crisis these former Prime Ministers become expert advisers – just a shame they didn’t peak a bit earlier really.

Speaking of the politically astute I tune in to the Coronavirus briefing. It’s not very often you’ll hear me say that I’m missing Boris Johnson but having listened to Michael Gove for half an hour…

At 8pm I was outside clapping for 5 minutes entirely on my own – thanks for leaving me hanging ya bastards!

Sat 28th Mar

It’s the weekend but you can’t really tell…

Alok Sharma, the Secretary of State for Business, did the teatime briefing. He’s a little bit Westworld and to be honest I’m missing the Boris briefings, simply because I’m a big fan of random unpredictability – you never know when he’s just going to stop mid-sentence and just blow a raspberry.

At last some good news as the Government announce a special concession that we can all spend an hour less in lockdown – by that I mean the clocks will all go forward an hour.

The next IT’S A FAIR COP episode, 11.30 am on Friday 3rd April, is all about privacy laws – which given the current times and the fact that the NHS is developing a Covid-19 Tracking App, it’s probably a discussion we need to be having.

Anyway that’s all for now, I need to nip out for a loaf…