Just put the damn mask on!

I saw a message on Charlie Thomson’s social media this week where someone claimed that the mandatory wearing of masks in shops could put people with breathing difficulties’ lives at risk and I just had to laugh.

Any excuse. Does anyone really believe we’re going to get people with COPD dropping dead in the veg section at Sainsbury’s?

Now I’m the first to baulk at being told what to do, it’s just not in my nature, but I fail to see how making something compulsory that people should be doing anyway out of common decency is a breach of civil liberties.

I’m far more concerned with the idiots who tried to attend illegal raves in Essex last weekend without a care about the possibility of giving COVID-19 to their parents or grandparents.

During this coronavirus crisis there are rules which have been put in place for a reason. In fact, many would argue that there have not been enough rules and the ones that were there are being relaxed too soon.

So what’s it going to be – a mask or a ventilator? You choose. I know which I prefer.

Fanning the flames of ego

I get quite a few messages every month from people, mostly from all over the USA, who have discovered a couple of my songs on one of various music websites and then gone on to Amazon or Apple to download the full albums or stream them on Spotify.

For someone who even before the pandemic preferred to keep an exclusion zone of at least 6ft (physically or metaphorically) when it comes to strangers, I find these comments strangely satisfying.

I reply to all of them – just a thank you or to answer a specific question – and as much as I try to dismiss being notified that something I wrote, in the case of this week, about 14 years ago (although I remixed it last year) is at No 1 in some obscure chart somewhere in the world as no big deal, it actually is.

I kid myself that if I’m my own biggest critic, then conversely the only person I need to judge something I’ve done is a decent standard is me. The idea was always to write, record and release then let it go. It wouldn’t matter what happened after that because I had done my bit. If it connects with someone, that’s what they call gravy, but it’s not why the songs were written.

Yet the older I get the more I realise that’s not true at all. Even songs that appear to be autobiographical (which always make me feel uncomfortable for being self indulgent) are written knowing that other people will have gone through similar experiences and to then receive affirmation for it is a real ego stroker when I had convinced myself that I didn’t have one, or I had at least suppressed it within the creative process.

So to get recognition for an all too rare musical collaboration with a best pal who is now on the opposite side of the world with a lyric (and a title I had better not repeat here but involves seeing someone next Tuesday) I actually wrote as a joke (although a couple of lines in the second verse are pretty damn good even if I do say so myself) makes me very happy indeed.

Of course, try telling me what is and what is not news and it’s a very different story. The fire breathing ego monster is released and the best advice I can give to anyone on the phone is to hang up immediately, don’t even bother starting to write that email, or if you’re in the same room, walk away – just walk away.

Oblivious and insidious

Watching a video of a Metropolitan Police officer with his knee on a black man’s neck in London this week had me shaking my head in horror.

Does putting on a uniform make you oblivious to what’s going on in the world or do some people just not care about public outrage and carry on regardless?

Police officers have an awful lot to put up with, but even this guy’s own colleagues must have put their heads in their hands in disbelief over this incident and it’s little wonder he has been suspended.

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Edward Case

Columnist