The 900 year old Swan Upping ceremony is cancelled

It is an historic Royal ceremony that has taken place annually for the last 900 years but the Coronavirus means that for only the second time, this ancient practice of counting the swans on the River Thames has been cancelled for the year.

The Swan Upping census lasts for five days and was due to take place between Sunbury-on-Thames and Abingdon from July 13 to 17. Swan Upping dates back to the 12th Century when the Crown claimed ownership of all mute swans, which used to be considered a delicacy.  In a similar vein to how you might remember how in Robin Hood the outlaws weren’t allowed to trap the Kings deer and later in London the poor were reduced to Mudlarking on the filthy banks of the Thames.

To protect swans as an exclusive commodity, in 1482 the crown ordained that only landowners could keep the birds.  Ownership of swans was recorded by a code of marks nicked into the beak of the bird; an intricate system of these ‘swan marks’ developed.  Only those who owned the right to use an official swan mark could own swans, and marks were restricted and expensive to purchase.  Any swans that didn’t bear a mark were automatically the property of the crown. This effectively meant that only the monarch, wealthy landowners and some large institutions like trade guilds, cathedrals and universities could afford swan ownership.

Having a swan or two in your lake or garden was the equivalent of having a Bentley or Rolls Royce parked outside so imagine how important and rich you would have to be to able to eat them.  Swans were eaten as a special dish at feasts, served as a centre-piece in their skin and feathers with a lump of blazing incense in the beak. They were particularly associated with Christmas, when they would be served in large numbers at royal feasts; forty swans were ordered for Henry III’s Christmas celebrations in 1247 at Winchester, for example.

The Queen has more titles than possibly anyone else alive not only is she the Queen of the United Kingdom and many other countries but she is the Head of the Commonwealth; Defender of the Faith; Commander in Chief of the British Armed Forces; Sovereign of the Most Noble Order of the Garter; Sovereign of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle and way way down her list of roles is that of being the Seigneur of the Swan.


This isn’t London but a long way upstream in Abingdon.  Photo by Philip Allfrey / CC BY-SA (

These days the Queen doesn’t actually eat the swans even though they were once considered to be a delicacy. and the ceremony now serves a wildlife conservation purpose rather than a culinary one.  When I was a boy in the 1980’s it was a serious crime to go fishing with lead fishing weights which if they broke or were cut off and swallowed by the swan would lead to its death as technically it was a crime against The Queen and eating one was Treason until 1998.

The five-day census normally involves cygnets being weighed and measured, examined for signs of injury or disease, and taken for treatment if necessary.  The young birds are ringed with identification numbers that denote whether they were tagged by either of Vintners’ or the Dyers’ livery companies both old guilds from the Medieval times that have the honour of performing this ceremony for the Crown.  When Swans and their Cygnets are sighted the shout of “All Up!” rings out from the boats.

It is hugely popular with people in Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, who flock to the Thames to see the Royal Swan Uppers at work with their royal flags and colourful uniforms.

Dressed in their traditional scarlet uniforms and rowing in skiffs, they herd the swans and their cygnets between the boats so they can be measured and ringed.


A beautiful swan…. be careful though as their wings can easily break your arm when they flap and they can be aggressive when protecting their young.  Photo by Bill Tyne / CC BY-SA (

On my Sacred Secret Sanctuary Gardens Walk along the way we visit a statue of a Vintner all dressed up to go Swan Upping.  They are one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London and date from 1383.

Vintner Statue Swan Upping

A member of the Vintner Company

With pollutions levels dropping and human activity on the Thames at a minimal, it is anticipated the swan numbers would be up this year if only there was a count going on.    I guess it is similar to the Killer Whales down in Camden Lock  which I guess will make my London Canals Walking Tour unexpectedly a matter of life and death.


You can read and see a bit of another ancient ceremony in the City of London that I witnessed last year The Knollys Rose Ceremony – Paying off a 619 year old rent 


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Coronavirus Diary 41 – A life of being nice doesn’t pay.

A few days ago I had a phone call from the Police.  We ended up talking for around 90 minutes; not just having a chinwag but we were going through a statement about one of the recent crimes I suffered.

I haven’t talked for 90 minutes combined all of the last 2.5 months and was going hoarse by the end of it.  He was a nice chap and we even had a bit of a laugh during proceedings and seemed to agree on almost everything; I’m pretty sure he would come on a Sherlock Holmes Walking Tour given a chance.  He was also shielding and like myself not been out for for months so I guess we both enjoyed the company and I got to hear a bit about the weird things police have to put up with.

We ended up talking about computer systems and how information is stored and how accessible it is for police to get information which the paranoid amongst us always assume was to hand.

The thing I’ve been thinking about the most though is that no records are kept of people who do nice things or help people.  Everyone knows if you do something bad then you end up with a criminal record but there is no such thing as a Good-Deeds record.

I just think that is such an oversight and so typical of how life is.  It’s possible to spend your whole life being good and then one mistake, error of judgement or even bad luck can mean that officially you’re judged as being bad.

I’ve been thinking what a waste of time it has been all the thousands of old people I’ve carried bags for.  Even serious things that go to court, if you’ve done good then no centralised records are held.  Even in the last year I’ve been to court twice for intervening to help someone in a serious crime and in the last few years I’ve stopped a thief in his tracks, caught a shoplifter, tipped off police about someone revealing themselves in front of children, assisted a female police officer with an arrest and various other things.

Wouldn’t society be a little better if records were kept of these things.  I know people rightfully get awards a community project or doing a vital if unfashionable job but what about the people who make the world go round by putting others before themselves?

It would also help with little perks whereas just as now if you have a criminal record you’re often a suspect for things or treated badly by others for good or bad, wouldn’t it be nice if for things like a Coronavirus Vaccine they could look at your record and say “Let’s give it to him, he always gives his seat up for the pregnant lady on the underground train” whereas the person who pretends he’s too busy on his phone to notice has to wait.

Promises of little perks would make people unexpectedly happy and if even a few more people played their part, it would make the world a nicer place.   Maybe even offer official rewards like tax breaks to show that the good people are truly appreciated instead of treated like doormats.

I also find it weird when people die, especially politicians and after a life-time of animosity all of a sudden their opponents pretend they always liked them or praise their works when it is all a little bit too late and we know really they hated them.

Personally I won’t ever say bad things about even people I have good reason not to like but I definitely won’t pretend to like them.   I remember in only my second year of work when there was a pretty obnoxious company director that thought they were amazing, only wanted to talk about themselves and didn’t care about anyone though often pretended they would for short term gain.  One day they were shown the door and they came round the offices and everyone else was all being nice and saying how much they will mis them, me, I didn’t even turn my chair round from the computer.  Why should I be nice to someone who made my life hell?   That’s much the same reason I rarely went to Christmas office parties!

“If only everyone was like you Sir”, the police officer said at the end of the call.  if we had a Good-Deed registry then there might be more of us than we know.  Maybe that is why I have always like the story of  The Recording Angels.

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Coronavirus Diary 40 – How to make friends and influence people

For much of the last week I have been out in my back garden.  It’s one of the sole parts of the property that I can make progress with given the state of the world at the moment.    In a world where electricians can come in my house to sort out my unsafe electrics but I don’t want them to and when a carpenter can come in my house to make my stairs safe but he can’t get the material and a world where I’d really like to sit down on something comfortable but can’t as my furniture is stuck in Italy then progressing with the garden seems the way to proceed, in a socially distancing manner of course.

I often post about how I love nature and my old garden, someone even told me that it’s not the house that I need to check out but the garden and then I’d buy whichever house came with it.

The new house has an 80-90 foot garden (about 30 metres) though it was longer in previous centuries.  It was extremely uncared for when I arrived and everyone seems to have been in agreement it was a total eyesore and was beyond redemption in its current form with an awful 80’s style raised flower bed (with no flowers) cutting across the 18th century patio which was expanded by terrible cheap stone with not even any cement in place.   There was over a metre (3 feet) deep of ivy along one side and for reasons no-one can quite understand, there was a garden shed right outside the back door.  In fact so close to the back door it was impossible to see over half of the garden.

At a time when it seems impossible even to buy a rose in the U.K. and my obviously not allowed out anywhere, except for getting rid of excess energy with a sledgehammer, the only real way forward was to get some professional help in.  And it is a good thing I did as they filled a complete skip full of materials.  I only hope it is taken away quicker than the 9 weeks it took the previous skip.

I can tell you, there is no way to make friends more quickly when you’ve moved house than when you have a skip and the entire country has houses full of accumulating waste and broken items.  In every other way having a Coronavirus epidemic is a bad thing when you’re moving house but to have neighbours being ever so grateful that they can get rid of junk is the one silver lining.  Some haven’t just put stuff in but taken stuff out!

I will take some photos of my garden one day, it’s not finished yet but all ready there is plenty of wildlife making itself home in terms of birds, butterflies and bees and even this fellow, a frog.

One of my neighbours asked me I ended up living here and asking just how old I was.  Most people stop being asked how old they are when they are about 15 until they are around 70.  There were a few murmurs of disbelief when I said I was 46.  “You don’t look it”!   I like him,  he didn’t even want to use the skip. I’ve shortlisted him to be a friend 🙂 In fact all my new neighbours who I’ve met up to 4 houses on one side and 5 houses on the left are very nice and the one behind me too… and the few up the road I’ve never met but who wave their pots and pans on the weekly thursday night clap for the NHS.


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Bushey Heath now and then – Photos of my street from 130 years ago

Long-time readers of my blog will know one of the things I like to do is come across old photos of places and do comparisons with how they are today as with this series of3 old posts of old street scenes across the U.K.

Recently as I was looking for something completely difference I actually found some old photos of my street and even my house.  This is where I live today, I moved here 2 or 3 months ago and actually when I was little when to the school building on the right.   I live midway on the row of houses on the left.

It seems the street itself came into proper existence around 1830 though it’s thought my house is possibly a few years older than that and two of the houses are from at least the 1700’s!

Screenshot 2020-05-15 at 12.56.51

Then below we have a photo that I have colourised from a black and white photograph I found on the internet.

Screenshot 2020-05-15 at 12.47.15

You can definitely see the strong similarities, in fact it is easier to see the differences.  Sometimes in the last century or so telephones became popular and for reasons I never could understand, our street still has telegraph poles long after they vanished elsewhere.

The ditch on the side of the pavement has been turned into a pavement.  Look at that mammoth wall on the left.  It belonged to what in 1898 was called The Retreat which then for a few decades until the 1960’s was a nursery school.  When the school opposite my house was expanded, The Retreat was demolished and in its place still stand a block of flats and two 1970’s style houses.    You can see most of the wall has been puled down at the front but the side wall and the tall brick post with stone on top is still there.

Look at the majestic ‘pine’ tree in the distance on the left in 2020 and you can see it there in 1913 albeit it not as tall.

Two figures can be seen crossing the road, is it a parent taking a child to school?  And look at the road itself, mud and gravel and full of ruts.  The street is called The Rutts, could this be its origins?   Nearly all the streets in Britain originate on a physical or geographical figure or some family name; it’s just that we are now so distanced by time and appearance that it seems hard to tell for some places.  It’s a totally unique street name however and whilst many streets were rutted for some reason only one acquired a similar name.

If you think the 1913 photo is amazing then the one below is even better.


Here you can see the same street scene though a short distance further back.  There a few things that make this intriguing to me.  First of all can you see a group on the road in the distance next to the pointy looking building?  It looks like there is some equipment or machinery there and the building they are outside is a Methodist Chapel made out of tin which was built for the expanding population of the village which already had an Anglican church 5 minutes walk away.

This chapel was built in 1883 and there is every chance that some rich individual came out to photograph the commotion when it was bring built.  The thing that makes me think this very possible is that you can see the pine tree on the left in this photo is considerably shorter in height.

So my historians guess is that the second photo is of my house and street around 135 years ago which is pretty amazing to find for somewhere very ordinary and very quiet.

s-l1600-4 This photo is taken at the far end of my street.  I’d hazard a guess this is from the 1920’s but that’s all it is based on the type of materials on the sign post to the left and having a rough idea when the land was developed.  There was a field on the left and smaller plots of a field on the right.  As you can just about see, the field on the left is still there as a car park.  The curvature of the road and having walked this spot since 1982 means I’m pretty sure I have the right place and I think on the old black and white photo you can see where the wooden fence gives way to a taller brick wall which you can see still standing today.

Screenshot 2020-05-15 at 13.34.17

Finally we will skip to the other end of the street.  This old photo is taken just a few minutes walk from that old Victorian pump I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Screenshot 2020-05-15 at 13.48.31

This is the junction of The Rutts with Elstree Road and on the left the turning down Little Bushey Lane.  I find it a bit cluttered, it had much less clutter in terms of barriers and signs when I was little and in fact I’m partially responsible for the traffic lights being here as I had to cross this sometimes busy road on my 1 mile walk to school and there was a campaign to help make it more safe for children and pedestrians.

Screenshot 2020-05-15 at 13.07.38

This is the same photo in times past.  You can see the manhole cover on the right is still there, hidden behind the railings and it all gives an idea of even away from the woods why Bushey Heath got its name.    Can you guess when this photo was taken?  have a think before reading on.

You can get some idea by the clothes that the lady is wearing on the right.  Obviously not early 20th Century but not exactly a 60’s or 80’s skin-bearing lady either.   You can see the cats-eyes in the middle of the road which were invented in 1934 so we know it is later than then.

I would say this photo is taken around 1950 and I think the clue is the markings on the kerbs of the pavement.  Can you see the painted black and white stripes on the bends of the junctions?  During WW2 when no lights were allowed after dark for fear of making it easy for German bombers, bends on roads and junctions like these were painted on the kerbstones to make it easier for drivers to go round at night with no or minimal lighting.

Once the war was won and lighting was allowed again the painted stripes weren’t maintained and now we safeguard from crashes by having messy metal barriers and traffic lights everywhere!!!

Actually just this very moment I have solved my own very minor street question.  In amongst the trees at the junction of The Rutts and Elstree Road, ever since I was a boy and walked that way to school in the 1980’s, I wondered why there was a small concrete platform in the soil.  I knew there had been a well nearby and with it being a junction of 4 roads and near the RAF headquarters, some places would have had a military checkpoint.

However if you look and zoom in at the 19500 photo you can just about see an old telephone box.  I’m sure thats what my 40 year mystery is about, I was only there on Saturday and thought to myself how will I ever find out what this was and now I have 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this special blog post, let me know if you have any comments below! Do you think my deductions are along the right lines? If not tell my history professors 🙂

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Coronavirus Diary 39 – The false dawn

I hope everyone is well.   Before I get to my post I read for the first time a news-piece that actually related to me during these virus ridden times.

Solo lockdown is really tough. While people on Twitter and Facebook posted of much-awaited reunions this weekend, and their frustrations at not being able to embrace those they were meeting, that’s been my reality for two months. The last hug I had was on March 9 — yes, so important I know the date. Those of us who are alone are in a uniquely difficult position right now, My weeks are just reminders of what I don’t have & what I won’t have. It’s heartbreaking. Seeing FaceTime & social media posts of happy homes, families, and beautiful lives stabs me every time.”  You can read some or all of the article here

I’ve been doing this blog for 8 years and I sometimes think how some of my original readers might not be around any more and not just because of my dire writing.  I’ve been thinking of my tourists too, many of them retired these last 7 years.  I wonder how they are doing.

It’s very sad as sometimes I have tourists who I just know won’t be around much longer.  Sometimes they tell me and sometimes it’s just very obvious.  No-one would ever factor that in to being a tour guide.

No-one has any great expectations of their supermarket worker or corporate client but everyone has expectations that their tour will be at least good and from my point of view it’s a lot of pressure as holidays are so precious.  If your burger isn’t just right or the person on the end of the phone is a bit grumpy that is somehow ok as there will soon be a chance to eat something better, have dealings with someone more amenable.   That’s not the case though for a tour or trip.  If it turns out bad for whatever reason, that’s it for the next year.

Sometimes that is it forever. How to make half a day or a day walking around as fun and meaningful as possible when you know your customer might not be around in 2 months or equally as challenging when one of the two people is suffering in this way or they have signed up for a 5 hour walk but they can’t walk past the front door of their hotel.   That’s a big responsibility as a person let alone as a business. It’s just one of the aspects of giving tours that people don’t think about.

I know if I make it through this virus then I am definitely going to travel more.  Having survived a plague and being pushed under a train; I think I have reason to think after working non stop for 7 years somebody somewhere is probably saying… go on holiday Stephen and make the most of things!

In my really selfish world I would be the first person to receive a vaccine and then I could travel for 6 months without worrying about not taking tour bookings and I can see what will happen is that I will just be rushed off my feet and my 7 years without a break will become 14.

Especially as some many people in the west travel incessantly and now in many other parts of the world.  Even unemployed people on my old street would go away for a week here and there and trendy environmentalists would jet off to India or the Caribbean and then go off for long-weekend city breaks in Europe or their holiday homes and there’s me always careful with my money and the planet but always the bridesmaid and never the bride.

I still can’t believe that the first winter this century where I haven’t got really ill is this one with the virus.  I always was more worried about the money than the dying from the virus and nothing has changed at all.  My mind is already skipping forward and thinking of the coming winter but that’s what happens when you’re prone to chronic chest illnesses.  Every careless cough or sneeze that to someone else is just a cold might just be it for me and now the world knows what my life it like. I wouldn’t dare say it is a bit of medical schadenfreude as that would sound bad but a little bit of Bruce Willis in Die Hard…. Welcome to the party pal! that seems to fit my particular type of gallows humour.

I feel a little bit like one of those characters in a horror film or black and white war movie where against all the odds they get through the worst events imaginable and about 2 minutes before the end credits they get shot by a rogue sniper.  If the sniper misses me though, I want to go on holiday.  Preferably to a desert where no-one speaks English or any European language.  Such places might see you more likely to be kidnapped, stand on a landmine or be involved in some freakishly unlikely series of events that end up in one meeting their maker but I wouldn’t be in a crowded room or train… it’s just the getting there that would involve that.

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The Master Oak – The Greatest and Oldest Oak Tree in Middlesex

Following on from my post last week where I visited the old WW2 Pillbox, my walk continued through the Bentley Priory Nature Reserve in NW London. The name Bentley is believed to derive from the Anglo-Saxon word Beonet, which means a place covered in coarse grass, and Leah, a piece of cleared ground on the uplands. These words imply open space and traditional grassland, which remain a feature of the reserve today.

This was originally the park and pleasure grounds of the estate of Bentley Priory which originated in the early 13th century as an Augustinian house attached to the Priory of St Gregory, Canterbury. In 1926 the estate was broken up, with 240 acres sold to a building syndicate, who divided it into lots, enabling Middlesex County Council to purchase 90 acres of land as part of the Green Belt for a public park. The Air Ministry purchased the mansion and 40 acres of land which came to play such a key role in the Battle of Britain.  I really need to do a post on that great house.

Bentley Priory has a number of ancient woods, Heriot’s Wood is known to have been a wood since 1600 and probably ever since the last glaciers retreated 11,500 years ago. Here grows Hornbeam, a species characteristic of ancient woodland and also contains vestiges of C19th ornamental planting that includes Midland and common hawthorn, birch, cedars, yew, and odd patches of laurel, and rhododendron.

Cows on t

A herd of dairy cows roam the heath or indeed just sit and eat which sounds good to me… I actually love the noise cows make when they eat.

The whole area is rich in species of fauna and flora with it being declared a site of special scientific interest primarily as it has never been intensively farmed or been treated with any fertilisers, let alone modern products and so the open grassy areas known as Heathland is a very precious and rare habitat.

Since WW2 chunks of the heathland have turned into young woodland with gorse bushes appearing and then being colonised by trees and so in the last few years work has gone into clearing some of the scrubland to restore it even more accurately to how it has been for the last few thousand years.

looking for

The problem with London is that is so full of people lol… me on a wild goose-chase, not being able to see the tree for the woods 🙂 

It all makes for a great way to spend a socially distant walk and once again very much as part of London as Big Ben, St Pauls or Buckingham Palace.  My main goal on this walk though was to find perhaps the greatest tree in Middlesex which in an area full of several woodlands and with out even a smart phone I thought might be even more tricky to find than an old Roman Battlefield or prehistoric ditch.   My rough plan was to turn right just before the WW2 Pillbox, walk a mile or so through the heathland to find a lake (which i had also never been to before) and then walk to the end of the lake and the tree should be somewhere a few minutes walk away on the right.

For those overseas, Middlesex is a county that no longer exists but typical of people everywhere, the locals cling to it as their identity rather than have a new identity foisted on them by people elsewhere.  In effect Middlesex covered what is now most of North London above the River Thames and parts of the present day county of Hertfordshire; it existed for almost 1,500 years until in 1965 it was decided the local governments needed to be re-organised which explains why people 50 years on still identify as living in Middlesex rather than London.  Indeed I go and watch the Middlesex Cricket team at Lords, there is no professional team called North London!

Abbey Road Zebra Crossing

Zebra Crossing at Abbey Road

Talking of Lords, the famous cricket ground and its neighbouring Abbey Road crossing are in the district of St Johns Wood.  This wood used to cover almost the whole of Middlesex and the woods that have featured in my blogs recently are some of the last remnants of it.  The name of the ancient woods comes from the Knights of St John who owned much of this territory almost 1,000 years ago and I visit them on my London Pubs Walk and also my new Castles, Crusaders, Communists & Courts and Castles, Crusaders, Communists & Courts tours.   How fascinating that place names and geographical features that we can visit today have their origins in ancient history and in this case in Clerkenwell which is almost in the heart of the infamous East End of London.

The Master Oak

The Master Oak

To my surprise I found the Master Oak with no problem at all… I really need to be on one of those orienteering or globe-trotting holiday shows I think but I suppose the ability to not get lost even in new places is a good thing for a tour guide.

The trunk of the Master Oak is 9m (just under 40 feet) in circumference and is estimated to have been around when King Henry VIII was on the throne.  Oak trees generally live around 900-1,000 years and have 300 years of youthful growth, 300 years of happy contentment and 300 years or so of old age and so if it is fortunate with strong winds, lightening and idiotic vandals there is every chance people will be visiting it at least in the 26th century.

IMG_2724 3

The Master Oak is thoroughly impossible to fit in one photo

It just goes to show how much Britain was built on oak trees that such survivors are so rare and protected compared to other species of trees that can live thousands of years but were never used to build ships, or buildings.

The Master was pollarded around 200 years ago; pollarding is a traditional method of tree management in which the upper branches are removed, promoting a dense head of foliage and branches.

Of course for famous and much older oaks, they don’t come much more important than the Major Oak where Robin Hood famous spent time in Sherwood Forest and you can read of my visit there at  My first England Grand Tour


The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest

I was glad I was able to tick off another local must-see before I possibly croak from the Coronavirus.   You can read about my visit to another of the worlds most famous trees at I met perhaps the most famous tree in the world at Sycamore Gap

Would you give a big old oak tree like this a hug or not?  I think anyone who says no isn’t being entirely honest!!!

The Master Oak

The Master Oak looks like it has its arms wide open waiting for a hug!

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Coronavirus Diary 38 – Mirrors, Masks and bank robbery!

Yesterday I secured a mini victory in the impossible mission of sorting out a house with no money, no shops and no tradesman.  I found a happily foolproof way of attaching things to 200 year old wars and I went on a little wall-fixing frenzy,

Paintings, prints, masks, the whole kit and caboodle went up on the walls yesterday.  I’m most pleased with the mirror below.  I put it up there because I thought it would reflect light around the house, something which is important when you only have light coming in from certain directions.

A window on the world

What thrilled me most wasn’t that it worked brilliantly but now when I am in the kitchen and look left, it looks like I have a window where the mirror is.   The fascinating thing about my dining room window which you can see in the reflection is that the garden outside is not my own by my neighbours.

For some totally unknown Georgian or Victorian reason, the row of houses are all in a straight line but the gardens don’t run off at 90 degrees and instead are at a weirdly perpendicular angle and so in my back garden I look up and see my neighbours house on my left whilst from in my house I mostly look out and see my neighbours garden on the right.  These are the unexpected things you discover when you live in a house almost as old as the USA.

Yesterday I also had to go to the bank to pay in a cheque.  I’ve haven’t been inside a building other than my own for months; I’m very good at keeping inside as my blog shows and I have a very kindly postman who even picks up my letters and posts them or takes them to the sorting office for me.

It also gave me a good excuse to use my fancy mask.  This last winter being the first this century where I haven’t been in hospital or an emergency medical facility of some sort without some sort of chest virus or pneumonia like condition, I was well aware of the Coronavirus back in December and got myself this.

I've got this fancy mask, would you like to go out with me?

I’ve got this fancy mask, would you like to go out with me?

It is apparently about the highest grade mask you can get and filters out 99.5% of contaminants and used by a select group including the SAS and those brave doctors in Africa who worked in the field hospitals during the Ebola outbreaks.  It has two replaceable filters which over 6 to 8 months fill with carbon from breathing or just from the atmosphere and if you press the central valve, you know when it needs replacing as absolutely no air will come through.

I remember listening to a funny podcast by a comedian who was walking around London and he saw someone with an incredible mask and he said he realised he was suffering from mask-envy and the mask he was envious about turned out to be mine.  How nice that you can have fancy cars and private yachts that money can’t buy you everything… especially when what you want is sold out with waiting times of several months.

As soon as I got in the bank I could see the staff staring and when I got to the counter, the lady teller said that she liked my mask and hadn’t seen one like that before.  I’m not sure if that counts for being chatted up in these virus ridden times.

I made her laugh as I replied it looks and sounds like something out of Star Wars and then joking that to be honest I feel naked wearing it in a bank without my gun.  That pretty much brought the house down and probably says a lot about the dire straights everyone is in and how quiet and unlikely a place my bank is to suffer from an armed robbery.  Or maybe that even with a space age mask and no money, I still come over as someone who would never be an armed-robber.  Dammit, no-one ever takes me seriously!

Give us your money!

Give us your money and nobody gets hurt!



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