I HAVE no intention, here in this pleasant and glamorous space, of discussing politics (veteran readers: “That means he’s going to spend the whole time discussing politics”).

This is a place where you foregather every Saturday for moral instruction and homely yet surprisingly sophisticated lessons in philosophy.

However, I am not a fool (cue audience hullabaloo). All right, simmer down. What I mean is I’ve a vague idea what’s going on.

As a journalist, I don’t bother much with the news – such a lot of nonsense – but, at times of genuine crisis (ie not the common or garden ones we have 365 days a year), I join the rest of the rate-paying minority in tuning in for uplifting and informative broadcasts from No 10 Downing Street, the small, unpretentious address from which the nations are governed.

This week, I caught one such. I don’t know if there were more (I’m not that interested), but the one I saw affected me mildly. I didn’t really listen to what was said and, as usual, was more interested in how the speaker disported himself, whether I’d like him to marry my daughter, should I be unfortunate enough to have such an encumbrance, and whether he inspired confidence.

In the end, I felt it would have been helpful if the broadcast had been followed by a contact number for The Samaritans.

I was struck in particular by the passion and sincerity of the speaker – one Johnson, B. – and it was this that worried me most.

Sir Harold Macmillan or Sir Anthony Eden, leaders back when Britain was Great and not just Quite Good, would never have been passionate or sincere. They’d have been brusque and matter of fact; cold even; in control of their emotions.

They wouldn’t have been appealing to you. That would have been to debase themselves. Consequently, they never came under the sort of sustained, hostile criticism that’s now the norm since people were ill-advisedly allowed to have computers.

Why can’t folk be kinder to our politicians? They’re trying their best. It’s dreadful to see how these humble innocents are hounded by the hoi polloi, as manky malcontents used to be known in Ancient Egypt or wherever.

However, you could understand why there was unrest when the Leader of All the British Nations had shown himself to be emotionally unstable, with his bottom lip on the brink of wobbling, and his goggly eyes staring out as if he were a halibut or haddock expiring on a slab.

Online, the lieges revolted. One “tweet” highlighted the Prime Minister’s advice to use good old British sense, and followed it with newspaper stories about a woman who gave her baby away while drunk, an Aberdeen man who got his head stuck in a street litter bin, and some blokes back in BV (BV = Before Virus) whose pub got flooded but still went in and sat there up to their oxters drinking pints anyway.

Have people no loyalty any more? Must they always snigger like this? During such times, when I’m despondent (or “sober” to use the technical term), my mind turns towards outer space as our salvation.

But a top astronautics professor warned this week that, if we send folk to Mars, they might come back with more virus-bearing microbes. Heavens above: enough already with the microbes! They really are an absolute shower.

In the meantime, I advise you, the ignorant mob, to get behind our leaders in this war. And our leaders I advise to get a grip of themselves. Be bold. Be cold. Be in command of the situation. Don’t go all goggly-eyed and look like you’re going to start greetin’ or wetting your unmentionables.

Working out

WHEN younger I sometimes discussed with friends our desire for a job involving physical labour.

We’d all done it in the past and thought it better to be outdoors using your body, even a wimpish one like mine, than to be stuck indoors at a desk breathing in fetid air.

And, while we all agreed that when we worked outdoors in winter we wished we were indoors breathing fetid air, still we yearned for more wholesome work. As we got older, I guess gardening filled the need.

Now, a Danish study has shown that physical jobs take up to three years off your working career and often leave you on the sick or even unemployed. That’s because hard physical work takes it out of you.

I can’t think now how I managed it eight hours a day. But I do remember that, back then, I felt fit and well. Today, I guess that, if not gardening, we fulfil the body’s irksome need to move with exercise.

The other night, before bed, I was feeling right gloomy, and I reckoned it was because I’d hardly been out all day. So I sallied forth into the back garden and flapped my arms around a bit and felt brand new. Slept like a bairn too.

Here, then, is my clear message to the nation: move aboot, stay alert, remain indoors except when oot, stay home, sit doon, remain awake, sleep like a baby.

Opinion: Robert McNeil: Social bubbles mean trouble

Wise and follicle

TITCHMARSH – surely no need for a first name; there’s only one – has revealed that the key to longevity on television is a full head of hair.

He fulminated: “How many men over the age of 50 are there on television who are bald?” Good question. Some younger presenters have shaven heads, he said, but that didn’t count.

The crucial count concerned the number of follicles. “David Attenborough’s got hair, Michael Palin’s got hair, I’ve got hair, David Dimbleby’s got hair. It’s sort of facetious, but it’s a truism, really.”

Wise words. It’s deplorable that we discriminate against our bald brothers in this way. True, their dissolute ways condemn them, and we still maintain that, as their bovine nature makes them more suited to physical labour, they should be deployed, at this crucial juncture in the nation’s history, picking fruit.

But it’s wrong to keep older men off the television just because they’re bald and frighten the children. Perhaps we could begin by putting them on late at night with appropriate warnings broadcast beforehand.

It might not be much, but all battles against vile discrimination must start somewhere.

Sole food

SWEDEN is often derided as the world’s maddest country. You say: “What about North Korea?” Fair point. All right, let’s call it a draw.

Inspired by social distancing, the Nordic nation’s latest nutty idea is a restaurant for one. At Bord för En (Table for One; Swedish is just copied from English), in Värmland, a table and chair are set up in the middle of a field, and the solitary diner is presented with a vegan menu.

At first, I thought this a fine idea. Other diners are often irritating with their merry laughter. But then I thought: as a solitary diner, you’d be the centre of attention. And I hate that.

Friends of mine like an Indian restaurant that I can’t abide because the waiters all stand nearby staring at you. One of my worst experiences was as the only diner in an island hotel restaurant where the waiter never took his eyes off me.

At times like that, you always drop your fork, slaver gravy down your beard, or sneeze your dentures onto the table. No, let’s have other diners. Just keep them a good distance away.

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