There are lots of lessons to be learned from our experiences in lockdown, but whether lessons will be learned is anybody's guess. Who in their right mind could take Boris Johnson as a good example of one who learns lessons? That said – the subject of just how awful the man and his ways, let alone most of his ministers are, is becoming redundant as a topic for interesting conversation as it is impossible to find anyone who disagrees – I hope that the publicans and brewers of Britain have learned the lessons now that their premises are opening up again and are not stuck in the same old ways.
The past year has echoed to publicans lamenting their fate from behind the bars of their often far from salubrious premises. For a start, pub loos are invariably disgusting, located in the basement and approached by stairs down which it is impossible not to fall. Now one can drink inside, provided one sits down at a table, which is no great hardship. Not standing at a bar swimming in beer while having one's elbow jogged by some other customer trying to attract the attention an inadequate over-worked staff is an inalienable right that is no loss. Nor is being given for sustenance a packet of virtually impossible to open overpriced pork scratchings which end up sodden on the bar top, a stale sausage roll from a cake stand over which half the world has breathed, and wine served in glasses suspended upside down above one's head into which all sorts of exhalations are trapped.
Some will not survive, but do they deserve to if the owners, brewers or publicans do not realise that the new world needs not the old ways but new ones? What we want is something closer to the cafes of continental Europe and for whoever controls the size of pavements to see whether they can be extended so that tables can be set up outside premises without a garden.
Perhaps the road can be closed to through traffic? That has occurred with the slip road by my railway station. The two coffee shops and the would-be bistro located there have seized the opportunity. The road is full of waited upon tables suitably distanced and cafe society thrives. It may not thrive come winter, but by then maybe both establishments will have been able to construct proper glassed in extensions with heaters like they have on Le Continent – that region the people who voted to leave are now bursting with desire to go to, exercising their inalienable right to have a foreign holiday. Anyway, global warming should mean milder winters.
All sorts of other businesses have lessons to learn but let us start with one that really matters. Going out for a drink – and enjoying the experience. Mind you, I am still reeling at the price of last night's gin and tonics, not so much the gin but the tonic which cost £2.40. Enough to give one a fever you might say. Raised my temperature.
The sun is out and inhibitions are gone, leading to crazy times and bizarre behaviour. My early pitch at a Scottish summer time drama, rejected of course, but relevant nonetheless? No, not really, much more mundane than that. Simply a reflection on what I have witnessed over the past few days as the temperature has risen and we sun-starved Scots have been reacting, ranging from over-zealous celebrations through to additional over-zealous celebrations.
For example, we ate out last night and I don't mean at a restaurant. That was the night before and very nice too. No, I mean after 9pm at night and outside in our garden. That same garden which for 95% of the time is viewed through the firmly shut glass door, by sad faces, as the rain clatters down or the wind feels like it is about to blow over the dividing wall between ours and our neighbours fence. We even had a table cloth, though to be fair it has a waxy surface, to allow the omnipresent rain to just run off it onto the concrete slabs below. We will never become complacent. The solar lights lasted for more than the regular 30 minutes or so, activated by the unusual amount of power they were able to absorb and store.
In a very unlike EH10 manner, the high energy tunes were blasting out (at a moderate sound level). It has been so hot over the past few days that I have taken the unimaginable step of leaving the lounger out in the garden overnight for at least the past three nights. And even though I am far from being a gambling man, I actually left the horse (contraption for drying the washing) out overnight and everything was dry in the morning. If that is not a cause for celebration then I don't know what is.
Despite extensive preparation against the flaming sun's rays, I did find that I was a wee bit red last night, especially the back of my head, which in the past was covered by thick dark hair, now replaced by grey, though in much less of a quantity. However, a bright red and slightly sore to touch back of the head is so much more bearable than the vison I had in the mirror that time I tried a hat on. The Scots-Irish complexion was invented for the cold, the wet and the bracing wind, though those types of conditions turn my face as red as the sun does on its rare appearances.
This unusually warm weather leads to clothes being abandoned in haste and even more inappropriate garb making its debut in the streets, parks and outside spaces which have grown up around the recently emerging Scottish lockdown cafe culture. All fine as you leave the house in immaculate order, walking out into the sunshine with a day's adventure ahead, but not so favourable at the end of an evening spent partaking in a liquid diet. The streets of the capital have been testimony to that.
If you would like to contribute to the Cafe, please email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org