I USED to look back on the 1970s as a dreadful decade, but distance has lent enchantment, and I now recall halcyon days where a chap was positively expected to go for a drink at lunchtime.

That said, while I’ve never really been an enthusiast for that sort of thing, I know from experience, or memory, that it sometimes adds a pleasant, leisurely air to the day’s proceedings, particularly on a Saturday, when I used to enjoy a beer before the football.

At work, in the 1970s, before I blundered into journalism, it was expected of a working fellow to go for a lunchtime beer, at least on a Friday, when it punctuated the week. Today, of course, it’s totally frowned upon – these are “totally” times, if not totally teetotal – particularly if your work is of national importance.

Accordingly, I never drink at lunchtime now and indeed, over the decades in journalism, rarely touched a drop until the day’s work was done. Most work is pointless but, by contrast (work with me on this), in journalism you must keep your wits about you. I’ve always thought it a thundering nuisance that we’re expected to get things right all the time.

Thankfully, no such stricture applies to government, and it was the revelation that the drinking in Downing Street among staff started at lunchtime that prompted me to cogitate as abovely. I imagine many of these jobs are like the clerking and stuff I did briefly in the 1970s: without value.

It’s probably a cut-throat culture too, and I fancy you need gumption to speak at meetings, when you feel the need to raise important policy points: “There’s still no loo roll in the first floor toilet.”

Although I’m too chary to indulge in lunchtime drinking, it’s a matter which sometimes keeps me awake at night. One reason it doesn’t agree with me is that it makes you feel wabbit by teatime and not up for any more, which means a barren evening facing life and yourself in the face. No thank you!

I understand many people enjoy a glass of wine with their fancy lunch, but I consider that overly sensual, and disapprove of wine anyway as bourgeois and unmanly. While I can enjoy a gin and tonic, I generally prefer whisky with a beer chaser, which means I’d be getting in a fight by 2 o’clock.

You never heard of the Queen getting into a fight by 2 o’clock. Same with the Queen Mother, and both enjoyed a lunchtime swallie daily. If you haven’t much on, I’ve long suspected that, in an ideal world, it’s a sensible way to get through the day. Feeling down by having been awake in God’s ghastly world for a few hours, having a cheeky wee toot lifts you and makes you feel normal.

Recently, I read that some people are naturally lacking in an essential nutrient or chemical that alcohol provides, and so having a snifter makes them feel whole. I’ve no working to show for that one.

As for Downing Street, while partying during lockdown was reprehensible, I wouldn’t deny them a bracer or two under normal circumstances. Whatever gets you through.

Love my mask

IT is as I have written. Always is. You’ll recall from your cuttings file that when our adventures with contagion began I sensed that some of us looked better with masks on.

I’ve often though my forehead my best feature, mainly as there’s nothing much on it, and with the mask I found people looking at it admiringly instead of regarding me as if they planned to vomit, as they did in pre-Covid times.

Well, this week, if you check your copy of the journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, you’ll see that science has proven my hunch: wearing a facemask makes you more attractive.

Researchers at Cardiff University say masks attract the attention of onlookers to the eyes but, as my peepers are rheumy and generally full of panic or despair, I believe that’s a false trail.

The salient fact is that the mask covers up the humungous hooter, bitterly drooping mouth, and lack of yon facial symmetry that folk supposedly find attractive. Never understood that. At least a wonky face offers a bit of variety. I’m like Jekyll and Hyde with the two sides of my face: a pair of entirely different coupons.

Recently, I’ve read encouraging reports that, however much we ease other restrictions, masks will be the last to go and could be here for years. Yay! As reported exclusively here already, furthermore, they also keep your mush warm in winter. What’s not to like?

Save the humans

CHEAP supermarket Aldi is opening its first checkout-free store. Everything will be done by cameras and laser beams. But what about those of us for whom “Do you have a Clubcard?” is the only fascinating conversation we ever have? What of those taunted by technology? Already, self-service checkouts never work for us. It might get me thrown out of the Misanthropes and Allied Trades Confederation, but I’m sticking with the humans for now.

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