As the lockdown slowly relaxes, the property market has reopened. Despite theoretical doom and a predicted collapse, Rightmove reported a record six million hits, their best day ever. This by all accounts was fired by hordes of disenfranchised city dwellers now desperate to flee their virus raddled urban horrors and ruin the surrounding countryside.
Perhaps not their primary objective but the inevitable outcome of rose-tinted glasses generating ill considered urgency in the face of national hysteria, resulting in a lack of any sense of reality as they desperately try to recreate their ‘Paradise Lost’ in greener climes, by erecting f’ off gates and fencing. Then tarmacking front gardens to provide extra parking for the numerous vehicles they forgot to account for when moving, and installing exterior lights while campaigning for street lighting in the ‘oh so dangerous’ lanes beyond, all the while, awaiting permission to be granted for their endless planning applications.
Habitat sorted, and by now serving on every influential committee for miles around, they will undoubtedly then turn their attention to ways of cheering up the area with innumerable noisy, in your face, 24/7 events which it so clearly needs to promote the kind of mental wellbeing which, until their arrival, had been quite obviously lacking in the incumbent locals.
Now I’m genuinely concerned, as I realise that I am badly off trend in that I have no mental issues to speak of other than extreme anger at those intent on destroying the place where I have lived happily in peace and quiet for most of my life. I am neither agrophobic (Nervous about busting someone in the mouth) nor agoraphobic, yet I am fast becoming a virtual hermit, unable to venture onto our once tranquil lanes for fear of being run down by the endless pelotons of pedal pushing shits who now apparently own every last inch of them.
If that’s not sufficient, virtually every program on the telly now appears to be seeking to brainwash me into thinking in line with the moronic ‘woke’ minority now intent on dictating every facet of modern life, and what great news that aunty Beeb is to spend a further hundred million towards the extra mind manipulation so clearly needed to correct the thought processes of the masses. God knows if I end up going raving nuts and play my cards right I may yet get a knighthood, for services to gibbering idiots.
All of our problems stem of course from the stresses that come with overpopulation. Nevertheless, the all pervading insanity of our leaders continues to ensure that we pretend otherwise. One point of cheer lays in a report stating that reduced immigration has meant that the population of this tiny group of islands has risen at its lowest rate for fifteen years, with an increase of only 360,000 extra souls net, over the past year. Oh joy! That’s only equivalent to a requirement to build another city the size of Coventry every twelve months, year on year, forever, so long as we keep things at that level. We’ll hardly notice them!
Meanwhile my local friends and neighbours are still slowly processing the fact that come what may several large new conurbations are shortly going to arrive on out very doorstep. The new Sevenoaks District Council Local Plan has failed to pass muster with The Planning Inspectorate and is yet to be adopted. I am no fan of this plan either, which basically seeks to distinguish those areas to be ruined immediately from those to enjoy the pretence of protection while they wait to be ruined in a few years time. However, with no new Local Plan currently in place the whole of our locality is open to speculative development across its entirety right now. Very much a case of better the devil you know rather than any cause for optimism once a new plan is finally adopted, unfortunately.
I’ve received a great deal of correspondence on this issue and our MP Tom Tugenhat tells me that he and his neighbouring MP’s have asked the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, to use his powers under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act of 2004 to intervene and ensure that the Local Plan can be adopted ASAP. There is currently much about Mr Jenrick in the press of course, none of which cheers me greatly.
Historically, during any past recession those generous speculative builders and persistent philanthropists seeking to ‘selflessly’ improve our lot in the countryside have generally tended to disappear into the ether at the least whiff of potential loss. Strange, but let’s hope there is some truth in history repeating itself, if only in this particular instance.
On a purely selfish note, If rural property prices are about to explode and I can time It right, now could be just the moment to get my house on the market, if only I can find some oasis devoid of the wail of self righteous planning applications and the distant rumble of bulldozers. I’m desperately seeking nirvana but have become slightly unnerved as any search of property sites relevant to the areas we favour now seem to display only newbuilds. I’ve only just read that 1.6 million new homes will be needed over the next eight years to house the elderly. Why? Are plans afoot to evict us from the ones we live in at present?
Statistically it seems that I’m twice as likely to die of this accursed virus as my female equivalent although I’m not sure how it may impact on the other 439 genders currently available, which probably renders me some sort of bigoted sexual pariah. I am a further 27 times as likely as a forty year old to snuff it because of my age. The sex thing is a little unfathomable, but the age thing? Don’t we all realise that the most lethal factor out there has always been the weight of years piling up behind us? I always have, and have lived my life accordingly. When asked if he was worried about dying Mark Twain replied, “I was dead for billions of years before I was born and it caused me no inconvenience whatsoever”. So then, am I bothered to leave this filthy, corrupted, bloody loopy world? “When a man has tired of London, he is tired of life”, wrote Samuel Johnson. He also implied that anyone with any intellect whatsoever would never dream of leaving the capital. Guilty on all counts and dozens more besides. So roll on death, lets get the hell on outah here!
I’ve just (29/6) seen one of the instructors from Sevenoaks Boxing Club being interviewed on the BBC’s lunchtime news, regarding reopening after the lockdown, prior to which there was a bad fire on the small industrial estate where it is sited.
My young friend down the lane has been beside himself with grief since it closed and will undoubtedly be ecstatic at the prospect of a second coming. For my more elderly part I have, to the best of my ability, maintained my fitness at a level where I fancy I could still make an arthritic return when the opportunity presents itself. In fact with nowhere to go and little else to do, maintaining my ageing body has become pretty much my only hobby. Over time my naked image, in the bathroom mirror, has transformed from that of an ageing tortoise, minus its shell, to one of a well used chesterfield in need of a good dose of hide food. However, I continue to do my best.
As a young man I worked out like a maniac almost every day of the week. Now in deference to Anno Domini I restrict myself to three sessions a week, usually Monday, Wednesday and Friday to allow time to recover. I rise at 7am and partake of a single coffee before starting with a fifteen minute warm up period. Nothing to eat, as I fast every day between 8pm at night and 1pm in the afternoon which focuses everything on burning my ‘in house’ body fat and pretty much allows me to eat what I like for the rest of the time. I follow the warm up with half an hour of HIT stuff, mainly weights and abs board. This is followed with stretching, static weight bearing, squat thrusts etc followed by a short jog, involving my still slightly gammy, but much better than was, left leg. More stretching, some balancing, two minutes rapid skipping then fifteen minutes of muscle stuff on my trusty, if ancient, old ‘Bullworker’. More skipping, then fifteen minutes of shadow boxing/hand speed and other aerobics, followed by neck rolls and some more balancing before going indoors for half an hours wind down with plank positions stretching and breathing exercises. In all I manage around two hours, three times a week. Silly old sod! I hear you chorus.
There’s no machismo left, just a desire to keep everything working for so long as I must endure the conscious state, and this regime seems to do it for me. My biggest difficulty lies in resisting the urge to do continually more. That way lies obsession, I’ve been there before, and besides I need to keep the afternoons vacant in order to maintain other areas of fitness.
As I write, the carcass is only fifteen months off its three score and ten but still feels pretty good and I’m reluctant to relinquish the lease I took out with Harry (‘Our father which art in heaven, Harold be thy name’) while it remains serviceable.
Now, speaking of trading in your body at the end of its useful life, and that time must come to us all, I wonder how many of you are aware that the law governing donor organs changed last month (20th May). We are now all opted in, unless we state otherwise, instead of being opted out unless we carry a donor card or express a desire to the contrary. This means that when you die the medical profession now has first dibs on all your bits.
Logically it would be churlish in the extreme to deny some poor soul the chance of life, or at least an improved quality thereof. After all if your car conked out beyond repair you would surely not object to someone taking a part to keep theirs running? Neither are reservations of squeamishness valid as one in three of us will be subjected to a post mortem after death anyway. For me its just a feeling of bloody mindedness (no puns intended here by the way) that having tried to control every facet of our existence, including our thought processes, from cradle to grave, the authorities are no longer content with having skinned us of our worldly possessions at every possible twist and turn for as long as we suck in air. They now want to get at the deeper meat once we’re dead.
On this happy note, have you ever considered how unlikely you are to end up as a fossil? Some may say I’m there already, but when you think about it its a many millions to one shot that you or indeed anything else is likely to be overlaid with alluvial silt of just the right pH shortly after your demise and lay, undisturbed, for long enough to turn to rock. Hardly surprising that there are gaps in the fossil record and even more so that we find any at all.
At least jackdaws aren’t rare. With only a short gap between the last pair monopolising our defunct chimney stack and the current pair we’ve had them every breeding season throughout our thirty seven year residency. Their latest brood fledged early on the morning of 9/6, the chirring of the young and clucking of the adults awakening us to the event as usual. From our bedroom under the eaves it sounds like someone tipping so many sacks of coal down the roof.
On emerging early on 17/6 a red kite took off from the bottom of our garden. Very much less common than buzzards around here still and instantly recognisable by their larger size and distinctive V shaped tail they are slowly becoming better established in our locality.
What does seem to have disappeared are earwigs. Once the bane of dahlia growers everywhere, and we have a keen exponent next-door, I’ve not seen one for years. As a youngster I remember my grandfather’s garden being punctuated with upturned flower pots stuffed with hay, which attracted them and would invariably fill with the blighters overnight, although I’m unsure as to what terrible damage they caused anyway?
With typical black humour, as things slowly start to re-open, I see that The Chelsea Pensioners have opened a pop up pub which they have called ‘The Covid Arms’. In the way that some pubs changed their names, following the death of Princess Diana, from The Prince of Wales to The Princess of Wales I wonder if any of our local pubs might change their names to commemorate this current tragic period in our history? Probably not, although some seem more appropriate candidates than others.