• If I should die, think only this of me: That there is a stash of toilet rolls beneath the stairs and a box of biscuits to chomp upon with a cup of tea.


    Above, The Crossgates Shopping Centre, Crossgates Leeds today and inset, the then Arndale Centre in 1969.

    April 4th 1976 was a Sunday. I didn’t remember that. I looked it up on the internet. Tomorrow, April 5th is Palm Sunday and is also the end of the tax year, 2019-2020. In 1976, Palm Sunday was on 11th April – again gleaned from the internet not memory.

    Why the mention of 1976?

    1976 was 44 years ago. In April 1976 I was 20 and my 21st birthday was in September that year. Although I don’t remember the days of the week and when Easter was from 1976, I do remember where I was and what I was doing – employment wise.

    This preoccupation with 1976 is because of the fact that none of us know what the future is going to be. Back in 1976, had I had thought of it, the year 2020 was the year when I would turn 65 and thus find myself in receipt of what I knew then as “the old age pension” – a payment by the state to “old people.” Of course, present day reality has it that the “the old age pension” is for many of us born after October 1954, will be paid a year later in 2021 when we are 66.

    In the famous long hot dry summer of 1976 I was working (from June) at a freight forwarding firm at the Containerbase in Stourton, Leeds and would sometimes be asked to “run an errand” in a company car. One of the regular errands was to the Royal Ordnance Factory at Barmbow, Crossgates. I would often visit what until 2000 was the Arndale Centre. Generally, I would visit the said shopping mall to buy a sandwich making use of a company car, a Ford Cortina 1.6L Mark 3.Other times, I would “swing the lead” and frequent the Manston Hotel, a public house now known as “The Barnbow Stonehouse Pizza & Carvery.In 1976, a popular choice was “pie and peas” and a pint of John Smith’s bitter which was consumed in a smoke (tobacco) laden atmosphere. Of course, the lack of those smoke laden atmospheres is one of the reasons why I’m having to wait an additional year for “the old age pension!”
    By the way, my employers were not too impressed with my swinging of the lead and the job did not last very long!
    “Why am I rabbiting on this way?” I hear you shout at your computer screens.
    Because the sheer awful incongruity of the situation as described by Doctor North in his blog-post today (http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=87567) causes me to reflect upon a time when such would have been regarded as dystopian science fiction.
    Strangely enough, to “the me” in 1976 such a scenario would have reminded me of something that was then in recent memory; the BBC1 “sci-fi” series “Doomwatch” starring John Paul, Simon Oates and Robert Powell and screened between 9th February 1970 and 14th August 1972.

    One of the consequences of the Coronavirus Crisis has been to force me (due to the lack of other service) to register with my bank for online banking. This is something that for a long time now I have resisted but the current emergency and it’s attendant restrictions and privations has forced the issue. “Logging on” to my bank account details brought back another memory from 1976: The balance was double what my gross salary was from that Crossgates employer back in 1976.

    Coming back to the here and now, Devon and Cornwall’s Chief Constable is getting into a tiswas about the prospect of visitors flocking to the beautiful Cornish coast. I must state that I am not a million miles away in thought with him here. However, it MUST be borne in mind that the MOST IMPORTANT steps we can take to avoid contracting COVID-19 is to “keep our distance”. Failure to do this puts us ALL at risk. REMEMBER, a person suffering from COVID-19 is MOST contagious/infectious BEFORE they experience symptoms!

    When I am on my regular walk, I keep well away from my fellow human beings. Unfortunately some of my fellow humans are not inclined to reciprocate! Some just don’t seem to get it!

    Yesterday, I visited the village shop to buy some milk. The shop is trying it’s best allowing only two customers in the shop at any one time. As I was making payment – via the “contactless” method – an old man in his mid to late 70s walked behind me at a distance of one foot and not two metres. After I had completed my purchase and before exiting the shop I spoke with this idiot who by then was more than the requisite 2 metres away. I pointed out that he was an old man who was somewhat overweight and as such, were he to contact COVID-19 the consequences for him could be fatal.

    I don’t like arguing with members of the public in public but sometimes the situation demands it.

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