There’s little doubt that, besides forcing you to face up to the fact that time is passing – I always shock myself in replying whenever someone asks me what my kids are up to these days and how old they are – and, without necessarily meaning to add fuel to the fire, the generations coming behind you continually remind you of it by the way they treat you.
I’ve posted before upon my theory that one of the downsides of ageing is that you can spot all too clearly when your children are beginning to treat you as old, irrelevant and out of date, not least because – about thirty years ago – that was exactly how you began treating your own parents when they reached the same stage of life that you have now.
It’s a well-known syndrome perhaps best encapsulated a while back now by the title Does He Take Sugar? given to a new radio series on issues relating to people with disabilities launched by the BBC.
In recent days I’ve been on the receiving end of the treatment from both my offspring.
Daughter Grace is a solicitor working in an insurance company, having signed up to a hybrid scheme allowing people with law degrees to gain their professional qualification without undertaking articles in a law firm.
She’s more intelligent than I am and in taking her practical advocacy module in the City – in which, on successive days, students had to act for both prosecution and then defence – not only received an “outstanding” rating from the course tutor but was approached afterwards by a fellow student from the Crown Prosecution Service who told her she was a ‘natural’ (far better than the speaker) and – if she was ever minded to consider a job with them, operating out of the Midlands – she only had to get in touch.
She doesn’t take fools gladly and also speaks her mind, which is why this week she sent me an email lecture on how disappointed she was with my performance in obeying (or rather allegedly playing fast and loose) with the Covid-19 lockdown rules, because thereby I had not only been placing myself (as an oldie) – but also her, as a pregnant woman – at risk.
I shot back with a reply stating that I found her accusation sad but impertinent.
From my own perspective I had followed the Government’s varied and developing guidelines as they were issued from time to time and – as regards instances which she might have regarded as ‘breaches’ (and which, as lawyers are prone to say, “are not admitted” by me) in which I may have ‘pushed the envelope’ slightly – I had taken all the recommended precautions and also ‘personal responsibility’ in terms of deciding what I was (or wasn’t) prepared to do.
Furthermore, I was continuously mindful that others might take different views on any given situation and always respected their decisions when these at variance with my own.
I’m probably kidding myself here, but overall I felt our exchange resulted in a one-all draw.
Grace has meanwhile probably taken the line that we have agreed to disagree but that I am both in the wrong and slipping into senility.
Elsewhere, yesterday I received a call from my son Barry.
He is currently ‘somewhere in the Mediterranean’ on board the superyacht he captains [security precautions for the owner and his family mean I must not reveal the location] which last weekend was the main attraction at a boat show attended by a healthy number of people given the state of Covid-19 crisis in Europe, some of whom had flown in from either side of the Atlantic for the specific purpose.
For Barry the experience had been a bit of a nightmare. Months ago he had imposed and since maintained a maximum-strict lockdown on board his vessel before the official one was imposed but – for the duration of the show – it has effectively gone out the window.
Besides the ‘serious player’ individuals whom had been awarded guided tours of his yacht by appointment, Barry and his crew had also been required on duty to field questions – great or small, informed or fatuous – about it from passing members of the public attending the show and also informal “Can we have a look round, please?” requests.
As a result, during the course of the show, all lockdown protocols – the formal logging of ‘comings and goings’, the removal of all clothes by the crew immediately every time they returned on board followed by a lengthy shower, the constantly handwashing and cleaning of surfaces, the adherence to all the other rules Barry had imposed – had been suspended.
Yesterday he was imposing a new strict lockdown on board, having taken the view that the country they are in is experiencing a second spike due to the tourism recently encouraged.
He’s just organised coronavirus tests for the entire crew.
Since March he and one other have been living permanently on board and the others have rented digs nearby. He’s now ordered the latter to leave their lodging and live on board – or quit. He cannot risk the health of the owner or his family should they arrive to join the yacht.
He takes a pessimistic view of the future course of the virus and believes that a vaccine is still at least nine months away.
Meanwhile, back here in Blighty, I’ve acquired a fetching array of face masks and from tomorrow – when the Government’s latest edict that masks must be worn inside enclosed spaces comes into force – will be wearing an example whenever I go shopping.