I have been away for a few days, enjoying the pastime, slotted in to that tiny meteorological gap between pure boredom and abject terror, that we call recreational sailing.
My poop-deck reading was Calypso, a compilation of columns by the American writer David Sedaris. It ends with this bruisingly frank forecast for all us ageing writers: “In late middle age, when you envision your life ten years down the line, you're more likely to see a bedpan than a Tony Award.” Why, thanks for that, Dave.
If you ever wondered what happens to school bullies, I suspect some end up working for TV Licensing. Their standard email arrives with the threat: “You've just days left to renew your TV Licence,” as though you've done something wrong. Why do they choose to send out the reminders “just days” before payment is due? Why not send them a little earlier and save a lot of alarm? Or is frightening people part of the fun of the job?
At least we're getting something to make us smile for our licence fee. The new BBC comedy The Other One is laugh-out-loud stuff. It's also the perfect vehicle for Lauren Socha, a rare actor who has carved out a niche playing lovable slappers. She won a Bafta for her part in Misfits (C4) and was hilarious as Amanda, the Lancashire prostitute in Plebs (C4) but has worked for the past eight years as a care-home assistant between acting jobs. A number of surprisingly well known performers understand the fickleness of acting and hang on to their day job. I recall interviewing Paddy McGuinness who, long after becoming a star of Phoenix Nights, carried on working shifts as a lifeguard at his local leisure centre. Just in case . . .
Here are ten little words to chill your soul. They were uttered by Donald Trump when, having sneered for months at those wearing anti-virus masks, he was finally spotted wearing one. In an about-turn worthy of Animal Farm, he declared that mask-wearing was now a patriotic duty. And he added: “There is nobody more patriotic than me, your favourite President!'
Why are those 10 words so scary? Firstly, because he's not joking. And if you genuinely believe that you are a) the people's president and b) deeply patriotic, how do you react if Joe Biden wins the US Presidential Election in November – especially when Trump has already condemned the election as “the most corrupt election ever”? Does Trump meekly hand over the reins of power and leave the White House? Does he cry “corruption!” Or does he do something deeply patriotic, like subverting the US Constitution by ignoring the election result, or invading China? There are good reasons for believing that by the end of this year, coronavirus will no longer be our main topic of conversation.
Our changing language. This, from BT, announcing a new phone deal: “If you've changed your plan since this date, you will not be impacted.” Why do I keep thinking of a truncheon?