Those who grew up during the cold war lived with the constant fear of Armageddon. A four minute warning and then we’d all be toast. Ah, such simple times…
My favourite musical take on this is from the 1982 album “The Nightfly” (by Steely Dan stalwart Donald Fagen). He was writing about the growing up in the 60s when you might well have a fallout shelter buried in your back-yard. The track “New Frontier” is by turns sarcastic, sentimental, nostalgic, ironic and – these days, lyrically – a little creepy. (The video is a classic period piece, with the final minute giving the whole thing a “what if?” dreamlike quality. It’s title harks to the John F Kennedy speech from 1960.)
So I have this light, funky, foot tapping ear-worm to accompany any thoughts of civilisation obliterating itself. In March Twenty-Twenty with Covid-19 stalking the land, I heartily recommend a smooth, breezy, head-nodding soundtrack of ’80s yacht’ to make it all a bit more bearable.
Shopping today in England’s middle-class retail haven – Waitrose, Marlborough, Wiltshire, during office hours – the tonic of soothing choons would have made life so much better.
(Obvs they’ve run out of bog roll, hand sanitizer, flour and pasta. No self-isolation/nuclear winter/ends of days would be complete without these staples am-I-rite?)
Humming my way round the aisles I was struck by a) the Boomer demographic b) the tense, hushed atmosphere and – possibly a compunded factor of aXb – c) how effing miserable everyone was.
Let’s be frank, Boomer shoppers of Waitrose: you’ve already won at life.
Your property has seen mahousive inflation making you seriously asset rich. Your pension is bullet-proof-gold-plated-final-salary. You retired in your late ’50s and play golf. You turned up today in a new SUV that barely fits in the car park. You can buy all the Manchengo you can eat – yes, for both houses, perhaps paired with a young Rioja? And then they give you a free coffee to walk round with. The very least you can do is crack a bleedin’ smile?!
Apparently – my sources tell me – peak insanity was achieved by one shopper who browsed the store resplendent in blue surgical latex gloves. A wise precaution to be sure to ward off COVID-19 germs lurking under every fair-trade-jar of marinaded artichokes. After all, you never know who might have fondled that stem of organic, free range broccoli. Why a poor person might have pushed that shallow depth top-up-shop trolley just before you. Heaven knows what grubby mitts might have caressed the artisan ancient-grain-sour-doughs moments ahead of you.
Then having run the arduous gauntlet of the cheese counter, what better way to reflect and catch a breath than with a coffee and pastry in the cafe?
It was noted that self-same shopper sat down with their tray of loveliness and proceeded to feed themselves a danish without taking those rather obvious gloves off.
[I’ll just let that sink in for a moment.]
The world – as I’ve said before – has truly gone mad.
At least a nuclear war had rules of engagement. None of this creeping, uncertain infection nonsense.
Another shopper tore a strip of the hard pressed staff because one of them had the temerity to touch their shopping! With their actual detty Waitrose hands. Quick! Jetwash the store, dive into the emergency pool of hand sanitizer, quarantine the Chablis, get Pritti Patel on speed dial.
If the world as we know it is about to end, oh Boomer shoppers of Waitrose, here are some tips.
- Smile at other people
- Smile and be nice to the staff
- Buy your favourite comestibles and go to your lovely home. Once there make self-isolation a comfortable prison
- Stop reading the Daily Bloody Mail – that’s like why you’re sodding miserable despite your wealth
- If you are phobic of others, learn to shop online (but do smile at the delivery driver through your bi-fold doors as you turn on the remote sprinkler system to wash him and the shopping).
Happy Armageddon everybody!