DO I feel sorry for the lonely widower, aged 75, who put up a poster asking for friends and someone to speak to? I do not.

These people need to man up if they are going to make it in the modern world. Reports say this sad chap “often goes for days without speaking to anyone”. So?

What’s so unusual about that? Apart from an odd hello to fellow walkers, and a “Please let me out” at the gym, I haven’t spoken to a soul since friends were up briefly on August 10. I am confident that this will continue until September 22, when they return.

Doesn’t bother me. I’m used to it. Had 11 years of it, and much more throughout my life. Same in the city, same in the sticks. City’s probably worse, actually.

True, it’s all been a little worse with activities curtailed by yon Covid, but it’s not the end of the world.

A lack of human contact means less likelihood of people trying to marry you or exposing you to their dumbo political opinions, since everyone nowadays seems to have a masterplan for how the world should be run.

Or at least they belong to a tribe where everyone confirms everyone else’s prejudices and no one ventures beyond the tribal boundaries.

The highlight of my social life is probably bin day. Even then, I fear I am doing something wrong and that they all hate me. We don’t speak, and I don’t usually even see them, but it’s good to know that they are there and are good friends that I can rely on.

I don’t really see the need for conversation when we have television sets and YouTube. Still, even I can see that there are days when a word in your face might be welcome. It’s my experience, however, that when Jehovah the Merciless senses there’s a problem, He swoops down to add to it. Something He can have a little fun with.

So, you’re at the supermarket, and you think, ‘At least the shop assistant will say hello to me and maybe even have bit of banter.’ But the person in front is slow to pack their bags and, as soon as they’ve done so, the assistant starts fast-processing your shopping and forgets to say hello.

You can try to open a conversation by adding convivially, “Why do you hate me so much?” But even this has become more difficult recently now that we’re all wearing masks. Lord knows, I mumble enough as it is without this added encumbrance.

My opening gambit, “Hello, I see the underlying rate of inflation is up again”, just comes out as, “Hmff, hmff, hmff-hmff, fat buttocks, hmff.” Although one till jockey did once reply: “Hmff-hmff, hmff, huge buttocks, hmff”, to which I added in turn: “I don’t think I like your tone.” And that ended that conversation.

I was always much affected by the late Swedish actress Johanna Sällström, who was at one point so lonely she found herself looking forward to a visit from a debt collector.

It’s the way we live now. Of course, gregarious people find a way to beat the banishment, though it’s my observation that most people have few if any friends beyond their families.

Work has traditionally been the main source of socialising for most folk, but now everyone’s stuck at home and, by all accounts, is rather enjoying it. Never saw that one coming.

It’s a bad habit to get into, though. Soon, they find themselves growing beards and talking to little Lord of the Rings figurines on the mantelpiece. Luckily, that’s never happened to me. “Hello, hmff. Hmmf that last sentence. Hmmf-hmff. Are there, hmff, no fact-checkers on, hmff, this page?”

Ever a dull moment

THIS column doffs its forever socially distanced trilby to Kevin Beresford, of Worcestershire, who describes himself as Britain’s dullest man – hold my beer – and who has spent ten years visiting car parks across the country.

He is the founder, and sole member so far, of the Car Park Appreciation Society, and has even produced a calendar, with each month depicting wonderfully dull sites, from multi-storeys to wasteland pay-and-displays.

This followed the success – it’s all relative – of a calendar featuring roundabouts. But car parks are arguably even duller territory. Kevin acknowledges a possible source of excitement in that “no two car parks are the same”, but the truth is they are uniformly tedious, and none the worse for that.

Excitement is bad for the heart. Interesting things make people restless or curious, which can lead to early death.

Bearing that in mind, let me reassure readers they are safe on this page. There is nothing here to discombobulate. Nothing to increase the heart-rate dangerously or engage the brain with potentially fatal consequences.


1 Pensioners danced metaphorically with delight after it was revealed the BBC had given Radio 2 presenter Zoe Ball a £1 million pay rise. One pensioner, who did not wish to exist, said: “So glad our licence fees are being used wisely.”

2 At least Zoe can now afford the £19 breakfast at Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill, London. The mouth drying dish includes two eggs, bacon, a sausage, a tomato and a mushroom. Extra bangers are £5 each. That’s what you call a silly sausage.

3 The Russians are developing a nuclear-powered missile that can fly around the planet indefinitely, ready to strike at any moment. Allaying Western fears, Russia said it was a peaceful missile that had been launched out of love for humanity.

4 Frozen and canned vegetables are often more nutritious than “fresh” ones in supermarkets that are often weeks or months old, according to consumer group Which? The news was spoiled by a rider advising against produce stored in syrup. Boo!

5 Heart patients prone to sarcasm are more likely to die than decent sufferers who believe everything’s all for the best. According to University of Tennessee researchers, consistent negativity can cause increased clotting times and higher cholesterol levels. You don’t say.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.