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Peter Rhodes on testy tennis, strange street names and the benefits of a little extra anxiety

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

A mask at half-mast (AMA)

A reader tells me the “Happy Two Year Old” birthday card he bought for his great-grandson is marked “unsuitable for under-threes.”

The BBC Health website leads with: “Coronavirus: How can I overcome my anxiety?” They are asking the wrong question. The way things are going, anxiety may be a life-saver.

It is a distinct lack of anxiety that has led us into what looks horribly like the dreaded second wave of coronavirus. As new cases soar towards 3,000 a day and millions seem to regard holidays, raves, pub crawls and house parties as some sort of basic human right, the nation ought to be worried. Selfishness and a refusal to face facts are killing us. A little extra anxiety? Bring it on.

A politician on the radio was describing the appalling financial plight of a couple of his constituents who are in quarantine. They have returned from a holiday in Greece and their boss is refusing to give them sick pay. So they have money to spend in Greece but they are penniless in their own home? Curious.

Meanwhile, a sunny day took us, masked-up and socially distancing of course, to a garden centre. The received wisdom is that Covid-19 is being spread by young people who don't believe the disease can harm them. But look around and you'll find plenty of over-60s brushing past strangers, blocking narrow paths or wearing their masks at half-mast with nose exposed. We like to believe that age brings wisdom but it ain't necessarily so.

On the way home we passed a new housing estate which, according to the developer's hoardings a couple of years ago, was “Elysian Fields,” the heroes' paradise from ancient Greek mythology. That gloriously upmarket name has been quietly dropped in favour of some more mundane street names chosen by the local council. 'Twas ever thus. Over the years thousands of British families have bought homes in developments with grand-sounding names, only to see those names replaced by the surnames of local councillors and mayors. You think your new home is in Elysian Fields but it's really in Pratts End.

Sometimes, councillors like to show off their education by choosing street names from Shakespeare or other great literary figures. In Bradford, for example, you can find the warm embrace of Ophelia Close.

Enormously overblown and self-centred tirades of our time. Novak Djokovic on being chucked out of the US Open for hitting a ball in anger that struck a female line judge in the throat told the world: “I need to go back within and work on my disappointment and turn this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being.” Well, that's one strategy. Alternatively, you could try acting like an adult.

Hang on. There's more from Djokovic. He tells us: “This whole situation has left me really sad and empty.” How terribly upsetting. Is anybody organising a whip-round?

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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