Aug 27 | 2020

Even before I’d finished writing my previous article I’d made up my mind that that would be the last piece I’d write in connection with or about COVID-19. I was absolutely certain that by now you would have become completely ‘over-pandemicked’ - Shakespeare was not the only one who could invent new words to enhance the English language you know!

Tony Allen: And finally...Then the rules changed in relation to the wearing of protective face masks. Suddenly it became an absolute necessity to wear this adornment under certain circumstances and it also became a complete boon to bank robbers and the like. I should add that the scope for lampoonery under these circumstances is immense.

The crazy thing about all of this is that as a species we have developed a whole culture that is based on advanced body language, and more especially on the ability to read each other’s faces, and more often than not get the interpretation right. Speak to Mrs Allen on this subject! Unfortunately I am not allowed to wear my washable mask around the house.

So our whole world is changing, and I can imagine that there are some people of my acquaintance who take great pleasure in walking around town poking their tongues out at people without them even realising it. They certainly know how to enjoy themselves.

Let me tell you about the episode that forced me back into the journalistic world of the virus.

I finally had the need to visit the bank to obtain some cash, and must admit that this was for the first time that I’d needed ‘actual cash’ since ‘lockdown’. A gentleman had done some work for me and declared that he did not have a bank account and would I therefore pay in cash. After commiserating with him about the difficulties that this must create in his life, I agreed to the request. Sadly he did not seem all that interested in my offer to show him how easy it was to open an account.

So in preparation for heading to the bank, I made sure that I had a mask with me - disposable as opposed to washable. Although we have got both, as Mrs Allen had bought some brightly coloured washable ones that were on special offer. I said I wouldn’t be seen dead in one of those, but got the impression that I might be if I made too much fuss. Anyway off I set.

Having navigated the internal workings of the bank and having resisted the temptation to poke my tongue out at a rather officious bank employee who shouted at me for being in the wrong queue, I than obtained my cash and exited. Sorry to keep on about this, but I’ve suddenly thought how we could be living in a world where everyone goes around poking their tongues out at each other!

Anyway, back to the plot: I came out of the bank and immediately a tallish bloke in what was obviously a colourful and obviously washable facemask, which I’m convinced he must have been forced to wear - happy wife, happy life - came up to me and said:

“Hello. How are you?”

“I’m fine thanks.” (No idea who he was). “How are you?”

“…. I’m fine…”

“How are the family?” (Still no idea who he was.)

“They are all very well. And yours?”

“Fortunately they are all keeping well.”

And so the conversation painfully proceeded until inexorably it ground down to an awkward silence … then he said:

“Hope you don’t mind me asking, but how do I know you?”

“I’ve no idea old chap, I’ve never met you before in my life! So if you don’t know me, why did you come up to me in the first place and say hello?”

“Well you seemed to smile at me with your eyes.”

“Funnily enough people always say I’ve got smiley eyes.”

And with that he shrugged his shoulders and walked off. I must say that by then I was quite relieved as this episode was building towards a suitable alternative to the finale of Brief Encounter. It was the first time that I’d become appreciative of wearing a face mask.

So there you are, you really couldn’t make it up. This actually did happen although I plead guilty to a small degree of embellishment.

So just remember to keep wearing your face mask as it’s not something that you can poke your tongue at! And if it’s good enough for the Lone Ranger….