BANKSY’S WEEK: Why I won’t clap for NHS. . . My fiery takeaway curry. . . A haircut to dye for

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Here's why I'm uneasy: has Boris hijacked our spontaneous Clap for Nurses to hide cock-ups?

I’VE MADE UP MIND NOT TO CLAP for the NHS this Thursday. The minute Mrs B said she was going to fetch my mouthorgan from the attic so I could “belt out a bit of a tune for the nurses” I decided this weekly ritual was getting out of hand.

I remembered how embarrassed and manipulated I felt last Thursday when I joined Gemma on the doorstep for the first time (she’s been doing it for weeks) and punctuated my applause by breaking off to reluctantly respond to a waving neighbour 70 metres along the lane ( I also remembered how badly I play the mouthorgan, but that’s not the point.

What were we doing? I suddenly wondered. And why?

Those brave men and women in the frontline – to misuse the militaristic jargon urged upon us by our political leaders – know well enough by now high they rank in the public’s estimation and yet how low they sit on the UK government’s priority list. Isn’t it this Conservative government that marches its army of key workers – nurses, doctors, care home staff and visiting carers – into ‘battle’ wearing bin bags instead of protective gowns and flimsy masks and even handkerchiefs over their mouths in place of regulation coverings?

All very well for a stricken-looking Prime Minister to be filmed applauding vigorously on the doorstep of Number 10 – a photo opportunity repeated on many a Cabinet Minister’s doorstep for local film crews – and to gushingly describe the nursing skills that saved his own life, but. . .

WASN’T HE ONE OF THE 255 SERVING CONSERVATIVE MPs WHO VOTED AGAINST GIVING THE NURSES ANYTHING GREATER THAN A TWO PER CENT PAY RISE IN 2017?

The spontaneous ovation that occurred several weeks ago and quickly grew into a national Thursday night ritual has, I fear, been hijacked by this government and presented as a convenient distraction in the same way that Boris’s baby, upcoming VE Day and even the wonderful centenarian Captain (and Hon. Colonel) Tom Moore were recruited: as smokescreens.

Worse, it has driven a referendum-like division through the nation between those who clap and those who don’t. Divide and rule is a familiar but destructive tactic. Thursday night applause is now deemed politically necessary and socially mandated.

What the carers, nurses, doctors and key workers need is respect, not endless rounds of generated applause. We are British, not North Korean.

The Thursday night ritual, I would submit, is clapped out.

Iain’s takeaway curry
was a fiery affair for me!

Saturday night is ‘date night’ in the locked down Banks household. Showered and shaved, perfumed and dressed-up posh, Mrs Banks and I sit down to a candle-lit supper cooked by Iain at the Red Lion and delivered to our doorstep courtesy of Scott the Taxi.

Last weekend our choice was Iain’s fantastic Cajun Spiced Chicken Curry, complete with Basmati rice. So I decided to add a side dish and produced two garlic nans (just a yeast-and-bread flour mix with added yogurt, I’ll send you the recipe). All went well until I actually baked my nans which is done, says the recipe, by laying them on greaseproof paper on oven trays and grilling them under fierce heat for a minute or two each side.

“H-E-L-P!” I cried as my flapping greaseproof sheets erupted like Vesuvius. Mrs B left off her primping and preening and appeared at my side yelling “Get out of the way!” as my cheeks worked like bellows to try to blow out the flames and succeeded only in fanning the conflagration.

Credit to Mrs B’s fire brigade act, order was restored and the meal began, wreathed in blue smoke and with charred nan as its centrepiece.

“Let’s make a deal,” said Mrs Banks soothingly, as we licked into our ‘tester’ dessert of Sticky Toffee Pudding in Butterscotch sauce which Iain had sent for us to try out. “Leave the cooking to Iain and you can write about it and update the Red Lion takeaway menu on voiceofthenorth.net each week.” So I have done: it’s HERE!

STOP PRESS ++ STOP PRESS ++ STOP PRESS ++
Fish and chips back on Red Lion takeaway menu this Friday!
Friday evening between 4.30 and 6pm, collection only.
Cost: £8 per portion. MUST BOOK by Wednesday 01668 216224

Coming soon: the hair
appointment to dye for

Begging for delivery slots at the supermarkets (and yes, we are now certified vulnerable Tesco slot-owners, thanks for asking) will appear to have been child’s play when the lockdown is eased and the hair salons open for business.

A Zoom breakfast call to friends in Essex and New Zealand (we had earlier ‘done’ New York and London!) revealed that what concerned all four women, college friends of 50 years standing, were getting desperate for haircuts; none of we men, however, had any need to worry in that direction. But imagine the fight for appointments at the salons, the socially distanced queues around the block and the speed-cutting that will have to go on to accommodate the comb ‘n’ brush hour.

What bothered the lady ‘baby-Zoomers’ most, however, was the desperate need to get their roots dyed. While we boys took a globally-agreed toilet break (men of a certain age and all that) there was much comparing of greying partings showing through their bottled brunette and auburn locks.

Before: a parting of the waves cries out for colour
After: Who’s a pretty girl again, then?

As a result, the following day saw two of them dash for the DIY dye bottles. Sadly, the Kiwi couple unwisely posted photos of the process, which fell into this journalist’s hands. . . with predictable results!

So where was Mrs B in all this? Luckily, she decided half-a-century ago that she would age gracefully, and she has.


  

3 COMMENTS

  1. Very ungallant David.
    One should not use photos of unsuspecting friends from far off !!
    They will get their revenge no doubt.

  2. In answer to your ( obv rhetorical )question about Boris’s part in the nurses pay deal last year – yes he bloody well was – and probably was one of the ones laughing when it got refused! Don’t get my daughter – who is currently on remand in the Critical Care unit at Cramlington started on it. I’ve already written to AM T (MP) about remembering the debt we owe to the frontline when the next pay deal is on the table. Needless to say she hasn’t responded with anything better than a holding reply!

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