My son used to say that I had the concentration span of a goldfish – I think this might be a bit unfair to goldfish. Particularly at the moment. I have noticed things getting far worse during Covid. The plots of television ads are about the most challenging things I can manage. There was one on this Christmas about a carrot that runs away and meets a hedgehog in the snow (why wasn’t it hibernating?) And then Father Christmas finds the carrot and takes it home – where presumably it will be chopped up and eaten – they are hardly going to keep it as a pet! I found the plot quite difficult to follow so bang goes any chance of my finally finishing all seven volumes Marcel Proust’s The Remembrance of Things Past. When my son was born my friends and I lamented our ‘baby brains’ – we couldn’t concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes, but at least we had our little bundles of joy as an excuse. Now I have Covid Brain and all I have to blame for it as those harbingers of gloom, Hancock, Whitty and Johnson. OK – it might not be their fault, but we always like to shoot the messenger. If I try to read a newspaper or listen to the news for any length of time I become like the character played by John Laurie in Dad’s Army who went round saying “We’re doomed, we’re doomed”.
I only hope all those learned lawyers who are supposed to be poring over all 1200 pages of the Brexit deal aren’t suffering from the same thing. Like most people (I imagine) I always tick the box that says I have read the terms and conditions when I buy something – of course I haven’t – has anyone, ever? However it is probably quite important that this document is scrutinised fairly carefully – we don’t want people skim reading it going ‘Yada, yada, yada…that all looks fine’ only for us to discover in the years to come that it is now illegal for us to send cheese to Europe unless it is flavoured with pineapple or that all our lambs have to have been fed on human excrement.
In any case the result of Covid Brain means that I half read things and half listen to things and as a result half know very little about very little. My conversation is getting even more boring than, it was before – even the dogs start yawning when I talk to them! On the bright side I have learnt some things (on the basis that a little learning is a dangerous thing I am presumably the equivalent of an Exocet missile). Amongst other things I have found out that you are more likely to get a virus on your computer (not Covid obviously) from visiting a religious website than a porn one and that a lot of murderers look up how to kill their victims on the internet. We don’t know how many people get away with murder because obviously the successful ones don’t get caught, but some of the ones that do get caught must be as dumb as brushes. Even someone with an IQ in single figures must realise that if you Google where to put a knife into someone to make sure they die, you are likely to get found out.
My butterfly mind flits from subject to subject so that many stories become a jumble of words. I can read Shakespeare – his language is still comprehensible even if I don’t use ‘Forsooth’ or ‘Prithee’ very often but now it gets more and more impossible every day. There’s BLM, Me Too, Trans and Cis (I know, I had to look that one up!) and LBGQT+ not to mention LOL and other text words. ROFL I knew but KPC I had to look up – just so you know apparently it means ‘Keeping Parents Clueless’, obviously Grandparents come with built in cluelessness! With some of the more important stories of the year such as Black Lives Matter, transgender issues and Me Too – there is so much information out there – is it real or is it fake news? I just get increasingly muddled and it doesn’t take much to overload my brain.
And don’t get me started on Radio 4 – I used to have that on all day long – not anymore. Marks and Spencer – bastion of knickers for those of mature years – has over the past years tried to attract younger customers. That’s never going to happen – none of my grandchildren want to buy a skirt from a shop where they might bump into their grandmother looking for a bra!!! It’s the same with Radio 4 – surely the vast majority of their listeners are the over fifties. Many of us are retired and at the moment forced to remain at home. I am the only person in my family, whose ages run through three generations, from 12 to 76, who listens to Radio 4. I used to listen to it all day long – I wasn’t interested in everything, but I often learnt things and I was frequently entertained. Recently that happens less and less. First of all, poetry. I like poetry but I can hardly ever listen to it on the radio – what is it with the ‘poetry’ voice? Then there are bodily functions – at my age I know about menstruation, the menopause, stress incontinence, wind – trapped or otherwise, and it would be interesting to have a programme dedicated to medical matters, thus giving the listeners a choice. However, if I’m just sitting down to a cup of coffee and a biscuit, I’m don’t want to have a full description of the symptoms of endometriosis! Likewise transgender issues are interesting, so is different sexuality, race is an important topic as is feminism, but most of the time listeners just want to be entertained – drama, with plays that some of us can understand, book programmes ditto, travel, the arts, science. Just don’t get me started on the Archers. Hideous storylines at the moment more suited to East Enders. Happily, I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue is still with us – can’t think why it hasn’t been culled long ago for not being PC. Unfortunately, The News Quiz has been taken over by people who confuse insults with humour. Of course, Donald Trump’s appearance has been a topic of mirth – but still!
However, I shall soldier on – don’t fancy the alternative – and once I have finished the Mr Men books I shall graduate to Peter and Jane and leave Marcel Proust for later – much later! In the meantime, I spotted this cutting below in The Oldie! I hope it makes you smile as much as it did me!
Here’s wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year.