The search for a no-contact, pandemic-safe greeting to replace hugs, kisses and hand-shaking goes on. We could always follow Tsar Peter III's example in The Great (Channel 4) when every encounter or bright idea is greeted with a raised hand and a jolly cry of “Huzzah!”
Is “Huzzah!” a tad too exuberant for us restrained Anglo-Saxons? Possibly. And it has to be said that Tsar Peter is as mad as a boxful of borzois, and the only reason his courtiers respond lustily with “Huzzah!” is that if they didn't, he'd burn them alive.
Once, just once, wouldn't it be great to have a Downing Street announcement that hasn't been thoroughly leaked already? Boris on Monday was the Beeb on Sunday.
Of all the percentages flying about in this pandemic, the best ones are this week's figures on how even one jab of anti-Covid vaccine will massively reduce your chances of being hospitalised. It doesn't mean you won't catch the virus, but you're most unlikely to be ill enough to trouble an NHS hospital. And that really matters.
Why? Because the worst part of this terrible disease is how it rips families apart with the slamming of an ambulance door. Two masked paramedics load your loved one into an ambulance. And that, in tens of thousands of cases, is the last time the family sees the patient alive. Hospital visits are banned. You might be lucky enough to have a few breathless words via Skype or Zoom. And then comes the dreaded phone call from the nurse and it's all over. It is the terrible, isolating, hermetically-sealed separation of Covid-19 that makes it such a terrifying disease. Now, one little jab offers an escape from all that and the second jab, due in a few weeks, will presumably improve the protection even more. Huzzah, so to speak.
My recent item on the changeover to decimal currency reminds a reader of two old ladies at a bus stop discussing the new coinage and the confusion it would bring. One said: “Well, I think they should have waited till all the old people were dead.”
Which reminded me of my younger brother who, at the age of five, was sent Oop North for a few weeks to stay with our Yorkshire grandmother in a West Riding mill village. His daily routine involved accompanying his great-grandfather, then in his 80s, to a couple of benches in the recreation ground where the old blokes of the village, invariably clad in suits and waistcoats with gold watch chains and regimental ties, would gather each morning to chew the fat. After one of these sessions my little brother suddenly burst into tears. When Gran asked whatever was the matter, he sobbed: “It's so sad. Before long, there'll be no old people left.”
The item on how Donald Trump sleeps at night brings this assessment from a reader: “Trump, if not inept, was not entirely ept.”