Lockdown: Week 15

After 105 days of the national lock down tomorrow as something of a red-letter day (unless you live in Leicester). Some of those leisure activities, which previously we’d taken for granted; for example, the pub or the restaurant; and some of those necessary services; for example, hairdressers and barbers; will reopen.

This presents me with a degree of excitement and anticipation. It’s not the pub or the restaurant that I’m bothered about. The relaxation of the regulations does mean that for the first time since January I’ll be able to get my haircut. I haven’t got the head, or hair, for the lockdown crewcut; as some men have sported over the last few months. And so, I am quite desperate to get a proper decent old-fashioned short back and sides. I will, no doubt, feel like a new man come Saturday evening.

Throughout this period of lockdown, we have had our challenges, be that at a personal or community level. There are things that we have been unable to do. Many of us have reflected upon the simple things, which in the past we have taken for granted. We may now all consider those mundane experiences and activities, such as getting your haircut, as something more meaningful. There is that old phrase about appreciating the little things in life. The way that my hair is looking at the moment I couldn’t describe it as being little but the act of going to the barbers takes on a new meaning now. We will all have similar simple pleasures that we can now re-engage with or in. And many of those things we might now enjoy rather than take them for granted.

We have been feeling that way about school too. Many of us have felt a great deal of satisfaction and appreciation for being able to be back into school, working with children and young people again. You don’t know what you’ve missed until it’s gone. It’s been wonderful to see increasing numbers of children return; firstly, our Year 10s and more recently our Year 7s and Year 9s. We look forward to welcoming increasing numbers of pupils back again next week; especially our Year 8s. They and us (the adults that work in school) have really appreciated the simple pleasures that being at school brings; be that talking to one’s peers, or working with our friends and colleagues, or just getting out of the house. Without that lockdown period we wouldn’t necessarily look at these things in the much more appreciative manner we now do.

As this period passes, which it will, I’d like to hold onto my appreciation of the simple things. You will have your own simple pleasures. As a consequence of the difficult last few months, our worlds might just look a little differently from this point forward.

Just to lighten the mood… (just for you Mr Bennett)

‘In Germany I hear that they are preparing for the crisis by stocking up with sausage and cheese; that’s the wurst kase scenario’


 ‘An epidemiologist, and ICU doctor and a scientist walk into a bar… Of course they wouldn’t!’

Comedy connections. Please delete, or not, as the case may be.

As I discussed last week the last three of my comedies don’t necessarily have a connection; although this week’s comedy and next week’s does really. More important than the connection is the impact of these comedies on the 1980s.  In some way they’ve all been chosen because a) I like them and b) because they’ve had a significant impact upon my view of British comedy and, more widely, have impacted greatly on the creation of British comedy in general.

After Monty Python nothing hit comedy as hard and as dramatically as this week’s selection. I cannot overestimate what it felt like to watch this sitcom (was it a sitcom?) for the first time. It was first aired in 1982 on the day of my 15th birthday. We talk these days about the water cooler moments or the water cooler televisual experiences. In North Yorkshire we didn’t know or understand that phrase but the day after it’s airing, on a Wednesday morning, the whole school yard was buzzing with what we had seen the previous night. Impressions of Vivian, Rik, Neil and Mike were shared and aired. For years British comedy had served up the likes of To The Manor Born, It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, Are You Being Served? The Liver Birds, Terry and June, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em (Oh dear!-  the list goes on).

The Young Ones blasted an enormous hole through the television schedules. It was like nothing that we’d seen before and it genuinely reframed what the sitcom could look like for the next 20 or 30 years.

Ostensibly the programme focuses on the lives of four students who share a pretty squalid house. Each character represents (I guess) a typical student of that time. There was barely a narrative, very few clever verbal gags but heaps of anarchy and slapstick.

It was incredible when it first aired. Incredible to think that the BBC could show something so tangential and dangerous in the early 1980s – I bet the daily Mail and daily express had a field day.  It felt very political, outrageous, naughty and wasn’t something one could watch it one’s parents – although I did and all my dad could mutter was ‘bloody students’, even though he’d never been one or even met one; maybe he thought it was a documentary?

Watching it back now it doesn’t feel the way that it did when it was first aired but that is because television has moved on and we have moved on. And for my generation The Young Ones helped us do some of that growing up.

It was brilliant then, it looks a little jaded now but it’s still well worth half an hour of anyone’s time.

Enjoy: Boring (Notable for having an early Madness number being show-horned in, half way through).