DAY 19: Wed 1 April

Who would dare make jokes on this April Fools’ Day?

I could not resist the opportunity to warn the grandkids to wrap up warm today as snow is forecast. (well it is, maybe not for Bristol, but somewhere), only to discover that apparently April Fools Day has been cancelled – presumably by people who feel we should not make fun in the midst of a pandemic.

However I did find time to add my own illustrated curiosity to the fun hashtag #TotesAmazeBristol which surfaces at this time of year. 

‘The tower on Bristol’s Brandon Hill was originally designed by William Venn Gough (a distant relative of Vincent van Gogh) as a phallic symbol inspired by Westminster Cathedral. The Lord Mayor insisted it be renamed Cabot Tower.’


Bristol’s Cabot Tower nearing completion in 1898 . [from]

This morning of all mornings, my sister gets a call to say that her operation (originally scheduled for tomorrow but cancelled on Monday) is back on again – tomorrow!  Mad rush now for her oldest daughter to get across the country to be there when she gets out of hospital. It is likely to be an in-and-out affair to keep beds clear and reduce the chance of infection. 

Thinking over my reticence about  reading for pleasure I realise that I regard it as an indulgence. I always feel I should be doing something, Sitting and reading feels wrong especially at a time like this – apart from a book on the bog – but it’s usually Private Eye – or when in the sauna (an indulgence in itself). In the latter, as I may have mentioned, I am reading George Alagiah’s The Burning Land. So glad to hear George has survived the coronavirus and is doing well on his cancer treatment. 

I’ve also been thinking about why I am enjoying my sojourn at home. I travel a lot and I love coming back to my quirky ‘cottage’, half of which is at least 150 years old and the other half a mere 25. Last year alone I worked in Albania, Belarus, Hungary, Lithuania, Macedonia, Morocco, Spain and Turkey. As well as visiting France and Germany (by train). I have the carbon footprint of a hobnailed boot – don’t tell my mates in XR (but then I have been a bike rider for more than 60 years; never owned or driven a car;). 

Spent part of the morning examining the sundry offerings of Bristol’s many splendored craft breweries and wondering whether to order a home delivery (or two). I was so spoiled for choice, I could not make up my mind. The ‘interweb’ is a wondrous place for wasting time, n’est-ce pas? Later I checked with son No.1 who seems keen to try some home delivery brews – so maybe tomorrow, as he has offered to do some shopping. 

The roofers came and fixed the roof, as nonchalantly as falling off a roof That’s not quite right, somehow – anyway, it’s done, thank goodness. I just hope we have no more horrendous storms.

It’s another cold day inside and outside the house, and I find I am doing little but messaging, feeding stories to

And chatting to local journos about professional issues raised by the coronavirus crisis. The guide issued by the National Police Chiefs’ Council recognises journalists as key workers but appears to suggest weh may only be out and about our business if we are covering stories about the pandemic. If that means police can stop us covering other stories we are in for some challenging times. Some might even call that censorship. I’m sure ‘journalists’ like Messrs A.B. Johnson and M. Gove wouldn’t stand for that.

Local, and especially hyperlocal, newspapers are vital at a time like this, but they risk going under not only with the restrictions of the moment but with no local advertising. The government has been more keen to subsidise their supporters in the mainstream media. It is time they listened to the messages of the Cairncross Review and provided a life line for the truly local and alternative media. Placing public service notices with hyperlocal papers could keep them alive until the crisis is over,

Mind you the government’s teatime Downing Street press conferences are making an excellent job of destroying public confidence in their competence. I think the whole country should stand at our front doors at 5pm and shout “ANSWER THE BLOODY QUESTIONS. Then maybe they’ll get the message. Today the largest number of deaths from COVID19 were recorded in the UK; people are dying at three times the rate in America, yet the US is now leading the world in coronavirus cases. This government has plenty to answer for.

We need some discipline and solidarity among the journo’s chosen to ask questions. They must not let the politicos get away with their waffle, and demand evidence of action not long-winded rhetoric. NHS staff deserve better than the Tory leadership are serving up. There can be no excuse for the failure to equip NHS staff with the protective clothing that has been in storage perhaps since the catastrophic results of the pandemic test run in 2016 were mothballed.

As usual my mood is calmed by a suppertime storytime with grandsons 1 & 2, and then its time for a leftover stuffed pepper and a date with Maggie Cole who is still in trouble on ITV.

It turns out my house guest has installed Netflix so we settle down to watch ’Minions’. What a great little movie. Every time Kevin and Bob and Stuart open their mouths I am reminded of watching it with my grandsons. They remain the Minions greatest fans – along with all the other children for whom the yellow threesome mean only one thing ‘Bananas!’

Good night.

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *