BANKSY’S WEEK: What the actress said to the bishop. . . Bozo the em-Boris-ment. . . Lockdown drives me loony

Em-Boris-ing! The briefing that left Britain baffled
‘Vulnerable’ Banks: the author as a young man

YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL where you sow your seed, as the actress said to the bishop. Particularly when it comes to dotting your parsnips and potting your peas, as Mrs B discovered while setting out her vegetable and flower plants the other day.

Among the mis-sown ‘rogues’: a sweet pepper that thinks it’s a persicaria, a mange-tout masquerading as a lupin and a sweet pea convinced it’s a cosmos. Naturally, the poor man’s Percy Thrower had them whipped out of the seedbeds and quick-marched off to more suitable surroundings before you could say ‘Monty Don’.


On a sadder note, we bade farewell to the last of the Beverley Sisters, one of the three original hens we installed in a garden run some years ago. Like the sisters who pre-deceased her, she gave good service and a good number of eggs until this past year, when we kept her more as a companion.

When the first ‘Bev’ died we renamed them the Williams Sisters; upon the passing of the second sis our survivor became the Lone free-Ranger. She was arthritic and off her food towards the end. I heard Gemma calling me to ‘do the manly thing’ and put the poor old girl out of her misery (the hen, that is!) but I hid, fearful and tearful, in my den until she had summoned our undertaker neighbour, John, to do the deed.

Appropriate, really. He, the undertaker, dispatches her; I, the journalist, provide the obituary. Each to his own. . .

Em-Boris-ed? He certainly
should have been!

He is an em-Boris-ment, that blustering, spluttering blond at Number 10. On Sunday evening he announced that Britain should go back to work on Monday. . . twelve hours later the Deputy PM said no,  we should NOT go back to work until Wednesday because workplace and safety guidelines would only be published on Tuesday. . . and NEITHER of them made any reference to the semi-official leaks to the media the previous Wednesday which provoked shrieking ‘Freedom!’ headlines last Thursday and sent Britain sun-bathing crazy over the weekend.

Frankly, things were a lot calmer and more controlled when the Bozo was in intensive care and, according to Our Man At Death’s Door, “it was fifty-fifty whether or not to put me on a ventilator”.

More like 52-48, surely?

Two fishy tales
from the lockdown

  1. I called Iain Burn, owner/chef of the Red Lion, on Friday to ask how his Fry-day Night fish suppers had gone. “Like a skyrocket,” he enthused.“The forty portions of fish I ordered from the wholesaler were snapped up well before the Wednesday deadline I had set for customers to book an £8 fish supper for collection on Friday evening, so I doubled the quantity. . . and yes, they too were snapped up in the following 24 hours!”So 80 fish suppers were handed over a makeshift social distancing counter at the pub’s side door to customers who had ordered, he told me. . . and the pub phone started ringing as we were speaking.Iain called me later. “That call was from someone who hadn’t ordered ahead wanting six fish suppers,” he said. “I had to tell him what I’d told a dozen others calling on spec: ‘We’re cleaned out!”

    So Iain has set a strict rule for this week’s Fry-day Night: order before 10am on Wednesday morning or there’s no chance of fish and chips on Friday.


  2. Berwick’s Conservative MP and fervent Bozo fan Anne-Marie Trevelyan has waded into deep waters with an invitation communicated to constituents to take up the rod and line from Wednesday as fishing has been deemed a safe, socially-distanced activity during the lockdown. Reader Mick Plunkett of Cornhill on Tweed “Has she not heard,” reader Mick Plunkett of Cornhill on Tweed, “that the Tweed, even the English sections, are under Scottish jurisdiction, and the Tweed Foundation has closed down the whole river as part of the lockdown?”He doesn’t end his mischief there, either. “ As I can walk just a few hundred yards down to the English bank and fish in total isolation I am tempted to have a go tomorrow, taking a copy of her email with me just in case I am challenged by the bailiffs!”

No flies on the
nutty professor

It is now nine weeks since I prematurely self-isolated in advance of being advised by the government that I was officially ‘vulnerable and at risk’, given my unique collection of medical conditions and the fact that I am a mere 28 years short of a ‘well done’ telegram from the palace.

In that time I can count on the remaining ‘real’ teeth in my top set the number of occasions on which I have left the environs of our home: twice for blood tests and once for an illicit spin in the car when I got a bit stir-crazy. So what does a fellow do all day, apart from dodging dishwashing and DIY duties?

Quite a bit of telly watching, actually, most of which consists of movies ancient and modern with some shouting-at-the-politicians-on-the-Six-o-Clock-News. I have long since abandoned the afternoon quiz show Pointless; it used to be rather good when it starred Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman but it has gone downhill since a succession of anonymous Cabinet Ministers muscled in. The rest of my day, when not spent eating and sleeping, tends to be taken up reading newspapers and (as former newspaper editors tend to do) getting splenetic about the stuff I find therein.

The Guardian letters page is a favourite haunt for my rants: this week a nutty professor from Leicestershire noted an increase in the number of insects dying on his windscreen and propounded the formula –C+P/50=I*50, where C equals cars on the road, P equals reduced pollution and I equals numbers of insects. So, he argued, fewer cars on road = less pollution = increase in insect numbers. Eureka!

Except his PhD must have been for needlework, not mathematics: fewer cars on the road just meant more flies around to die on his windscreen, no?.

Then – don’t get me started – there was the smart-arse who claimed that ‘equulus’ the Latin word for ‘ponyfish’, was the only word in the dictionary with a double-U in it.

Doesn’t he have a vacuum cleaner in his house?


  1. What a shame that you praise the Red Lion for generating 40 ? plus car journeys to collect a meal that they were capable of cooking at home. It makes a mockery of those of us that are sticking to the rules!!!

    • Some points in the Red Lion’s defence, M.Eatly: first, Mrs B and I have been self-isolating for nine weeks now (others for at least six) and in that time I have left the limited environs of our house/garden just three times – once for a short spin in the car and twice to have my blood tested at my GP’s surgery. So we have a ‘date night’ every Saturday: we bathe, dress up, light candles and uncork a bottle of wine and delight in taking from the oven a main course and dessert PREPARED BY SOMEONE ELSE for a change. It is a treat, the sort of ‘night out’ we allow ourselves regularly in normal times and it makes us happy. I recommend it to everyone.
      Second, Scott the Taxi DELIVERS takeaway meals, other than on ‘fish and chips Friday’, when many people collect meals for neighbours to keep traffic to a minimum. My neighbour John the Undertaker, makes the run on behalf of at least four Crookham households. Others who collect their own wait in their vehicle until their turn to accept the steaming supper. All rules of safe distancing observed.
      Public-spiritedness, especially combine with common sense and kindness, deserves commendation. Besides, the fish and chips are a welcome treat!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.