The Edge Magazine November 2020

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I’ll soon be parking my latest Qualcast mower in the shed for the duration of the winter and it’s not a moment too soon, as I hate the bloody thing. I had a perfectly good Qualcast that did the job for 5, 6, 7, 8...I don’t know how many years, until it eventually gave up the ghost. But this new, more expensive one’s been shite from day one and I detest the sodding thing. Strange how you can loathe a piece of machinery so much, but that’s my Qualcast for you.

On the way home, we detoured to Freeport (Braintree) to buy a large, Christmas scented, Yankee candle for half-price (£11.99), but that wasn’t the only ‘result’ we had there. Because waddayaknow, folks, there is now (since July, apparently, but nobody bothered to inform me) a Cornish Bakery outlet there, prior to which Southwold was our nearest outlet. We were straight in to purchase a couple of their large traditionals to take-away to have for tea, with piping hot Baked Beans and lashings of pepper and HP sauce. Without doubt they are ‘the best Cornish Pasties in the UK’.


The Edge Editor’s Column FLINTOFF & McGUINNESS Fecking grow the f ck up the pair of you. * You are both in an exalted and privileged position being able to work on Top Gear so stop behaving like a couple of naughty schoolboys. Keep your pants on, Flintoff, and McGuinness, stop being so easily led (by Freddie). Opening up that can of Coke (after clearly shaking the contents) while Chris Harris was busy trying to do a fastest lap and trying to put a pillow over his face just isn’t funny. It’s pathetically childish. And Flintoff smashing in the side of a brand new Volvo (costing what, over £30,000?) on a wall of tyres was downright disgraceful. Clarkson, Hammond (the little prick) and May knew how to have a laugh in the right way, but not this pair of jokers. The top brass at Top Gear need to bin them off after this series and bring in Julia Bradbury (her “dream job” she’s described it as) and A.N.Other to partner Harris. And make it a show for grown-ups.

Emily Morgan. Her name might not mean anything to you, but she’s ITN’s Health Editor, she’s often commenting on the evening news, so you’ve probably seen her without registering her name. But what I want to know is just what the b’Jesus is going on with that woman’s barnet? She literally looks like she’s been plugged into the mains.

RENNE ZELLWEGER I’ve just mowed my lawn yet again and honestly, if my Qualcast were an actress, it’d be called Rene Zellweger, because for the life of me, I cannot think of anyone more irritating.

TOP GEAR However, the antics of those two muppets doesn’t stop me enjoying the show immensely.

FOGEY’S CORNER We have his and her Fogey’s Corners here at The Edge, but the female half is leaving us after her forthcoming Christmas column, so many thanks to Ann for her efforts and insights. But pray, please can I be hearing from a potential new old fogey to replace her, and possibly one who is even battier than a box of frogs?

JIMMY’S FARM Took a Tuesday off work last month to take the wife to visit Jimmy’s Farm in Wherstead, Suffolk (you know, Jimmy Doherty, ‘Autumn at Jimmy’s Farm’, C4, Wednesday nights, 8.00pm), Jamie Oliver’s mate. Full report to follow in the December editions. Me and the missus were one of but two couples who were there without any kids in tow.

TASKMASTER I am also loving the brand new series (I didn’t know that as I’d never even seen or heard of it before) of Taskmaster (not pronounced tarskmarster, all you southern folk), hosted by the comedy giant that is Greg Davies (I’ll never forget how he had Ryan Gosling in stitches on The Graham Norton Show). If you’ve never seen it as yet, look it up, try and find it on Catch-Up, whatever, although the very first series was apparently way back in 2015. I think it’s hilarious and I’ll also give the thumbs up to Still Game, having seen in but once. THE EDGE Chelmsford CM2 6XD 077 64 6 797 44

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Feck it, I am mega low and depressed right now, having not long returned from a week on a barge in North Wales where, wonder of wonders, we were treated to some strangely glorious weather at the tail end of October, so you’re just going to have to poke up with a whole load of stuff about our trip in this particular issue, readers. However, this wasn’t just a week’s break (our very first and only one of 2020, I might add, because you can’t really count those 3 months of lockdown, can you?). No, you see, the wife’s blister and her husband, who we met at the Blackwater Meadow Marina in Ellesmere (Shropshire) for the commencement of this barging extravaganza, are former Chelmsford residents who, for the past 17 years, have rented out both their properties (locally) in order to rent themselves, just over the Devon border in Cornwall. Only the possibility of early retirement is now fortunately looming for them and they are seriously considering buying a barge and living their lives on water whilst covering the country’s canal systems (while still, fingers crossed, renting out their Chelmo properties). So really, this trip was far more of another reconnaissance mission for them, after they ‘tested the water’ during their very first time on a barge last year on the Monmouthshire & Brecon canal. Once invited to accompany them, me and the missus jumped at the chance to tag along for the ride, as we reckoned it’d be a whole new experience, which undoubtedly it turned out to be. However, it was also agonisingly touch and go right up until three days before our trip, what with Boris umming’n’arring about another potential lockdown, and we were so lucky to get to Llangollen, which was later in the week deemed to be ‘out of bounds’ as it fell under the Borough of Wrexham, or some such malarkey (not sure, as we didn’t have the TV on at all, save for playing the on-screen version of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ some evenings and watching DVDs during others (Django Unchained & The Other Guys, anyone?). But just look at the length of the bloody thing, readers. It was truly like a mini Oil Tanker!

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This is retired old seadog Malcolm Hollis, who I met whilst we were both moored up in Llangollen Marina, readers. Now I’ll make no bones about it, I was immediately attracted to Malcolm by his finely coiffured whiskers and dapper handkerchief tied jauntily around his neck, plus the fact that he plays crown green bowls and is partial to a drop of real ale. He’s got a rather impressive voice too. Baritone, I think you might call it, perhaps due to his tin of baccy & papers, more than likely. Come to think of it, he actually sounds a lot like Lee Marvin when he sung Wandering Star (Google it). Oh yes, and he met his partner, Linda, who he was barging with, on Plenty of Fish, so they confessed. Malcolm originates from Telford and was actually one of the founder members of the Peaky Blinders, way back in the early 1900s, so he’s definitely wearing well, is the lad. And for all I know, he probably once sailed single handedly around the world, I shouldn’t wonder. As well as meeting Malcolm, Llangollen was also the scene of my greatest triumph during our couple of days stay there, because in the marina, under the no doubt watchful gaze of some well experienced bargers moored up and enjoying an early evening G&T, I actually turned our 66ft rig 180 degrees around and managed to reverse it beside the lil jetty in our mooring spot, which I was reet proper chuffed about. You see, despite his greater experience, my bro-in-law, Captain Clifford Potter, had simply driven us straight in there when we arrived at lunchtime the day before, leaving our arse-end (stern) jutting out for all of North Wales to see, which had quite frankly been bugging me. In fact, for over 24 hours I’d been stewing on the matter and I was determined to have my moment and do something about it. And bugger me if I didn’t nail it, readers (I even got a thumbs-up from one of the other barge skippers watching the proceedings). For the purposes of scale, just you go and pace out 66ft in your back gardens right now. Go on, or you’ll never understand just how long our barge was. Come to think of it, some of you probably won’t even have gardens that long, so let me assure you, it was no mean feat. What’s more, you cannot (so they say) steer a barge when it is in reverse gear (whereas I beg to differ), so take that into consideration too. But is a life on the canals going to be something that me and Mrs Edge will consider as we too approach our retirement? Read on, readers. Read on...

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thanks to my latest ‘vision’, Dave had removed 2 radiators, stripped wallpaper, ripped up the floor, fitted new pipework, created new electrical sockets, painted the.walls and ceiling, and smashed out a unit he lovingly hand-crafted from scratch 10 years ago. He has also been subject to a relentless commentary regarding my online perusal of Pinterest boards, accessories, wallpapers and sofas, plus an actual, in person, extremely painful trip to the sofa mecca itself, where he was run riot by our 3 feral monsters, while I had a deep and meaningful conversation with Brad, the sales guy, about the merits of pocket sprung-interiors and mixed leather combination exteriors. Even though they were all threatened to within an inch of their lives, for some inexplicable reason, the prospect of a world of sofas was far too much for the kids to cope with, so they turned into a pack of crazy, sofa rolling hyenas within about two minutes of entering the store. In desperation, poor Dave ended up locking himself back in the car, along with the kids, in an attempt to keep them under control (or at least staple them to their seats), leaving me and Brad to collaborate on colour swatches.

Last month, my husband Dave and I celebrated our ten year anniversary. It’s crazy to think how fast the time has flown, but other than creating 3 miniature versions of ourselves and battling to keep them alive on a daily basis, those ten years have been a continuous stream of my ‘great’ ideas, with poor, long-suffering Dave having to make them become a reality. Fortunately for me (and perhaps slightly less fortunate for him), he is extremely skilled in the DIY department. In fact, there is really not much he can’t turn his hand to, from carpentry to plumbing and beyond. My hubby is more than accustomed to regularly receiving my screenshots from social media posts asking: “Can we do this?” Or, “Wouldn’t this look GREAT in our kitchen?” He also understands that he is expected to respond with a combination of enthusiasm, agreement and a detailed project plan of how my latest dream can be achieved in practice. Probably my most infamous idea to date was when I decided the way forward was to rip out our kitchen, brick up our garage, knock down 2 walls and create a large open plan family kitchen-diner with a separate playroom. Admittedly, once he had recovered from the initial shock, he did have to call in some assistance on that one, because despite his best efforts, he hasn’t quite found the time to become a qualified gas safe engineer or electrician just yet. It was a massive project involving months of hard graft, but the finished result (now referred to as ‘the west wing’) really is nothing short of spectacular. I recently ordered some new cushion covers in an attempt to rejuvenate our (very) tired looking lounge. Nothing extravagant; just eBay specials via a slow boat from China. However, when the cushions finally arrived, they actually served to do exactly the opposite and highlighted just how awful our lounge really was. Two weeks later and the new cushion covers have led to a full scale military planned overhaul of the lounge. In truth, I think Dave was slightly apprehensive when I mentioned ordering the new cushion covers in the first place, and then when they eventually arrived and I started muttering about how our lounge looked like it belonged in the home of someone who has completely given up on life, this gave way to tangible nervousness because he knew (he just KNEW) what was coming next.... And he was right. Four weeks after I announced that I had found the perfect cushion covers,

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During my forensic-level research into all things ‘new lounge’, I stumbled across a fabulous nautical range of accessories, which led to yet another new board on Pinterest and lots of new bathroom themed ideas. I returned from a shopping trip one Saturday to find Dave in full flow, working away as usual. As I excitedly showed him my new bathroom accessories, holding up a lighthouse, a boat and a fishing net, and started talking about horizontal lines, a panel wall, and rope towel holders, he looked at me with a mixture of horror and disbelief. In my defence, obviously I HAD to buy the range I had seen (and knew I wanted) before it sold out, and seeing as we now had it, it seemed silly not to use it all straight away. So the following day, Dave did concede to fit the anchor toilet seat. However, to date, he has drawn the line and remains on strike over the rope towel holders, all until the lounge is finished. To be fair to him, we are officially in the uncomfortable, chaotic, and hellishly dusty ‘breaking eggs’ stage of decorating. Despite this, I am holding firm to the vision and my excitement at the prospect of having a lounge that doesn’t feel like you’re entering some kind of retro time warp. Even though it was last decorated around 9 years ago, in my mind, I am convinced that it was the lounge equivalent of the avocado bathroom suite from back in the day. Dave appears somewhat less thrilled, but bless him, because, as ever, he is committed to making my dreams become a reality, and he has even managed to conjure up some enthusiasm for my latest ‘accent chair’ idea. Meanwhile the kids have watched all of this with interest from the sidelines and have clearly reached the conclusion that if walls are being stripped and units are being smashed, then a few more sheets of paper, eleventy billion more pens, and an endless sea of plastic paraphernalia, are all fair game too. Consequently, the lounge is infinitely messier than normal (and believe me when I say that REALLY is saying something!). Our new ‘visionary’ sofas are currently expected to arrive 2 weeks before Christmas, so I am optimistic that they will be there to celebrate with us as we unwrap our presents (and that the rope towel holders will also be swinging merrily away). I can also only hope, as we sit there on our new leather thrones, sipping a Baileys, whilst surveying our new Teal & Grey kingdom, that my husband is as proud of all his hard graft as I am. Plus, I’m sure that I will already be able to sense his growing excitement in anticipation of my very next great idea.....

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Refill Chelmsford is a dedicated refill and zero waste shop now open in Bond Street (in the bit that nobody knows about, just around the corner past John Lewis) and they are here to help you start your journey to a ZERO WASTE lifestyle, readers. Once customers eventually find them, they will discover an Aladdin’s Cave of dried foods, herbs & spices, nuts, baking ingredients, household products, toiletries, beauty products, loose leaf teas (did you know that even teabags contain plastic?), coffee, including gluten free ranges, together with liquid refills of household cleaning and laundry products, rinse aid, dishwasher salt etc. The difference being, Refill’s ethos is to sell plastic free products which, whenever possible, are always locally sourced. Refill Chelmsford are looking to challenge the overriding food system and its overpackaged supply chain. Their values are simple: source in bulk - sell without packaging. For instance, all of their liquids come in bulk plastic drums that are returned to their suppliers when empty to be cleaned and refilled for redelivery to Refill once again...and again and again. On the beauty side, in addition to liquid refills of hand soap, body washes, shampoo and conditioners, Refill stock a fantastic range of soap and shampoo bars to suit all budgets, all ethically and sustainably sourced, palm oil free, cruelty free, vegan and mostly hand-made by small independent businesses. The basic idea is for customers to bring along with them their own clean, empty containers to simply refill - oh and Refill have already seen some bizarre, interesting and inspiring containers being used, from plastic takeaway cartons to empty cereal boxes and even a pillowslip! The zero waste element helps to not only eliminate single use packaging, but also reduces food waste, as you only buy what you need and don't have to buy a whole 500g packet of rice if you only need 150g for a recipe. Prices are competitive with mid-range supermarkets and many items, such as herbs and spices, are considerably cheaper, as you aren't paying for a new glass jar every time you buy. In addition to household and food staples, Refill Chelmsford have sourced an extensive range of ethical swaps for your home and beauty regimes, from tactile wooden dish brushes and reusable kitchen cloths to bamboo or cotton face wipes and natural deodorants in paper tubes (and even toothpaste in glass jars). Use what you already have, but next time you need to replace a plastic hairbrush or dustpan and brush, visit Refill Chelmsford and see just what sustainable and degradable alternative options they have in store and might be able to tempt you with. Whenever you are buying something, always think ahead to what will happen to it at the end of its useful life. If the answer to that is that you will throw it away, just ask yourself: where is ‘away’? Because the fact is, it doesn’t exist. There is no away, so at Refill they can offer you everyday swaps that can be naturally composted or usefully recycled at the end of their natural lifespan. A great example are their r-Cup reusable coffee cups, made from recycled plastic coffee cups and designed to be used for the next 10 years, after which they can simply be returned in order to be recycled once again into brand new r-Cups, so it’s a truly circular product which makes sense. With Christmas just around the corner, Refill have been busy sourcing some amazing alternative gift ideas, from plastic free crackers to Christmas cards and wrapping paper made from recycled coffee cups. They are also putting together some fantastic gift boxes to suit every taste and budget, all simply and minimally packaged in recyclable boxes. Customers are loving the whole Refill experience because these days we are all too busy and always in far too much of a hurry. So why not take some time out to pop in and discover what Refill Chelmsford can do for you. You can chat through how things work and even take an empty container with you and have a go at playing shops! Oh, and they don't like to overuse the word eco-friendly, but they really, really are.

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Hello everyone. Good to ‘speak’ to you all again. Last month I received some interesting emails, and there were several asking me to talk about residential design. Some also discussed how peoples’ home life may change, or has changed, since the pandemic. As a result of CoViD-19, our routines have certainly altered dramatically and our daily lives at home have also changed. We are probably no longer buying ‘stuff’ for our homes as we may have done previously. Since lockdown, I believe most of us have tried to reorganise our homes and address how to make our lives more comfortable. Over the past 20+ years, I have always tried to live in a clutter free space and focus on essentials. Perhaps that’s to do with the old adage that we are all familiar with: ‘Less is More’. So, how do we go about such change? The mind-set of eliminating clutter and chaos starts when one accepts the idea of following what feels instinctively true, as opposed to the very many voices that insist that more is better. Any advice I have to offer would be to reduce the number of items in our homes and make those items that we have matter, thus potentially addressing quality over quantity and thereby creating spaces that are not just multi-functional, but still warm and inviting. For some of the interesting projects I have delivered over the years, I have a few guidelines… • Evaluate your space: The first step is to step back and observe your home, your belongings and your lifestyle from an objective perspective. • De-clutter: Re-organise those

spaces in your home which contain items you never use or are gaining dust. Discard, or try to recycle, those things that no longer spark joy. De-cluttering can sometimes feel overwhelming and almost impossible. However, once you commit to clearing out your space, the actual nittygritty process will begin to almost feel both calming and soothing. • Store sentimental items: We all inevitably own things that we cherish, yet don’t really have space for in our homes, so keep them by all means, just not within sight. • Think before you buy: One of the most effective workings of a clear mind-set at home is to give adequate thought to the things you buy or bring into your home. Ask yourself some hard, decidedly un-fun questions before you add some more ‘stuff’ and potentially more chaos to your life. • Seek higher quality: It’s nothing new that quality is longevity, so try to furnish your home with quality and timeless pieces available from some of the fantastic online stores that we know or have seen advertising here in The Edge. Investing your money and time into finding things built to last will ensure you don’t have to shop as often to replace your worndown or broken items. Remember the saying… ‘Buy cheap, buy twice’. • Always be grateful: Those pieces of furniture that perhaps you have spent a little more money on are always more valued and continue to give you an enjoyable feeling. All of the above could be seen as me being over indulgent towards a minimalist approach, but since March of this year, I have viewed my very own home differently. I have moved furniture around to create a cosy reading area, which I have to say includes a wonderful new leather lounge chair, which has now become my very own little nook. I love to spend a relaxing 30 minutes each evening with a cup of tea and a book. My mind is at peace and without the clutter, my surroundings make me feel calmer and often far more refreshed. My dining room, which over the last few months (without restaurants) has also become more important. It’s a room which makes me feel special each evening when I have dinner. There’s no clutter, some nice artwork and also a new piece as seen in the adjacent picture - available from Once again, it’s a far more minimalist approach. So, to summarise, my advice would be to de-clutter, think about what furniture you buy, and remember that ‘less is (very often) more’. So value and enjoy those special furniture items that may have cost you a little more, as they are definitely worth it. Please continue with your messages and if you would like to send me some more photo’s or ask more questions, I would be delighted to answer them for you. For now, thank you and stay safe... Design Dude Inspiration for the Population

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If you’ve been following the news recently, you may well have seen that Cineworld, the UK’s biggest cinema chain and globally the number 2, has once again closed its doors, stating that it is currently unviable to continue to operate financially in the current cinematic climate, of which no blockbusters are being released. All hopes where hinged on a certain Mr. Bond, due out this month, to bring in the masses, yet film distributors became spooked by growing concerns of a second wave of Covid and the weak box office performance of Tenet. Last month, in my review of Tenet, I said that a lot of hope was being put upon the movie as the potential saviour of cinema. Yet far from being it’s saviour, has Tenet become the death knell of the big screen experience? Arguably far too much expectation was put on a film that even if it had been released in a pre-Covid world may well have fallen below its box office expectations. It is, after all, a challenging 150minute sci-fi thriller that appealed to die hard Christopher Nolan fans, yet left causal cinemagoers and family audiences cold. The film to date has made just over £300 million, which is on par with any other non-franchise movie being released over the last few years, such as Brad Pitt’s superb Ad Astra or the James Cameron produced Alita: Battle Angel. It has also outperformed box office flops such as Terminator: Dark Fate. The problem is that this was a new Christopher Nolan event film with a mega budget, so lofty numbers of 700million+ where more than likely on Warner Bros’ radar. There is no way of telling if the film would have performed any better under normal circumstances. In hindsight, it is clear that a more audience friendly film, such as Wonder Woman 84, or indeed No Time To Die, would have been far better barometers to test audience participation. So now here we are, with cinemas and distributors in a stand-off that will likely have no winners, at least not in the near future. Distributors are not willing to release their films, for fear they will underperform, and cinemas are shutting their doors until they have firm confirmation of a guaranteed release schedule. So what does this mean for the future of the cinema going experience? Or, to put it another way, is Hollywood dead? Quite a few people on social media, rather ignorantly I would say, pipe up with comments saying that home streaming is the future and cinemas are too expensive anyway. But is this true? What would happen if cinemas closed for good and the only way to watch films was at home on one of the many subscription servic-

es? I predict 5 things would happen. 1. Streaming services rely on constant product and therefore need the supply from cinema alongside their own original content. Without constant studio releases at the cinema, there wouldn't be enough to satisfy customer demand. 2. Because streaming services will still need the constant flow of content, expect rushed films of lower quality to flood the market. The equivalent of straight-tovideo quality, which is pretty much what we are getting right now, with many Netflix and Amazon originals. 3. Studios will not be able to justify the large budgets that current blockbusters require, so it will be goodbye to big tent pole event films such as Bond, Marvel, Harry Potter and Jurassic Park. They may exist in some format, but it is likely to be cheap spin-offs and episodic content. 4. Not all streaming services will survive. If people really believe that cinema is too expensive, who is going to subscribe to Netflix, HBO Max, Apple TV, Amazon, Disney, Peacock etc? It will cost far more than going to the cinema on a monthly subscription. Therefore something has to give and some studios and their IP's could disappear for good. 5. Worst of all, we would loose a big part of our cultural heritage. Empire magazine recently said that cinema is not just buildings that shows films, and they are right. Going to the cinema is not simply 'going to watch a movie'. It is much more than that. It is a place to escape, relax and unwind. It can be even a time to enjoy all by yourself. Or it can be a place to go on a date and make memories. It is a place to share the passion of film with other people and celebrate the big releases together. It is a place to laugh, cry, scream and sing with your friends and family. It is a place of wonder, anticipation and excitement. I recently experienced this first hand when I went to see the new British horror movie Saint Maud at Vue, which at the time of writing is still keeping its door open. It’s a great psychological horror, but it was made much better by being in a pitch black auditorium and hearing gasps, screams and shouts of ‘no way’ as the fear ramped up the tension. I have always loved cinema, and as a young lad, I would excitedly queue up for hours to get into my local Select to see the latest summer release. The greatest cinema experiences will forever stay with me for all of my life. The chance for children and adults to have those memories may soon be a thing of the past, as we spend even more of our lives staring at individual screens in the various rooms of our homes. So if you do still have the opportunity to go to the cinema, then support them whenever you can. And when cinemas do re-open (they will), go and see some movies and create some worthwhile memories that you and your family can treasure for life. The Edge 01245 348256

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one trying to carjack him. And the carjacker turns out to be the robber Peter had let run past him earlier on that same evening. So had Peter taken responsibility for his powers, he could have stopped the robber and, in turn, saved his uncle’s life. POWER = RESPONSIBILITY “Where are you going with this?” I’ll bet you are thinking. As well as, “Hurry up and get to the point, please, Ginger one.”

“WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY” “Why are you telling us this, oh Ginger one?” I can almost hear you ask. Well, I shall tell you, my friends. So there I was, sitting down for a rare few minutes to myself, and whilst channel hopping I came across the 2002 Toby Maguire movie Spider-Man, where the quote comes from. It's from the scene where, after Peter Parker/Spider-Man has just recently gained his powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider and accidently gets the better of the school bully, Flash Thompson. Uncle Ben explains to Peter that just because you can get the better of someone, if you are stronger than them, it doesn’t mean that you always should, completely unaware of his young nephew's new found powers. Hence him saying ‘power = responsibility’ But what happens next? Peter doesn't listen to his Uncle's advice and instead of using his new found powers for good, including stopping a robber at the venue he is frequenting, he tries to make some money off the back of his ultra new strength, so allows the crook to run right past him. When asked why he didn't stop him, his blunt reply is simply: "It’s not my problem." Fast forward five minutes and Peter is seen counting the money he has just earnt while feeling pretty chuffed with himself. Then, whilst walking to meet his uncle, he stops when he sees a crowd of people panicking. As he gets closer, his eyes are drawn to a man dying on the ground. The man is Peter’s uncle. It then comes to fruition that the reason his uncle is in this way is because he was shot by

Well, to begin with, when I was watching Spider-Man, I was initially simply thinking just how much I loved superhero comics and films when I was a kid (and still do as an adult, come to that). Only then I started debating with myself, if I could have been any superhero or had any power, what would it be? But I still can't answer that one to this day. Then I got to thinking about how relevant that particular part of the movie was to the here and now. By that, I mean that I see us all as Peter, with the power to do the right thing, but on far too many occasions, a few of us choose to forget this and the responsibility we have, not just to ourselves, but also to others around us. We simply allow our own selfishness to come into play. And as we look like heading into yet another lockdown in the not too distant future, it's surely people's selfishness, or possibly even their belief that what's going on ‘is not their problem’ that is letting us ALL down, because they are choosing not to take responsibility for their own actions. So my question is, how much longer will it be before someone you love and care for is taken by this robber (of lives), simply because you allowed the rules to ‘pass you by’ and you didn't use your power to follow the rules and stop the ‘robber’? I truly do pray that anyone bothering to read this piece doesn't go through their very own Peter Parker moment and lose someone close to them, simply because their act of selfishness is the thing that has helped cause death. Such people need to wake up and realise that all along they have had the power and responsibility to help prevent bad things happening.

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You all surely understand what I am getting at, don’t you? Be sensible. Follow the rules. Stay safe. Because there is seemingly no short-term fix to life as we have come to know it, so we are all going to have to be both patient and vigilant. The Polak x

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The Edge is about half way through the series White Lines via Netflix at the time of going to print (okay, okay, so I’m a bit behind the times, admittedly) and it seems he’s going to be the number one character in the 4 or 5 episodes that remain. Dashingly handsome bastard, isn’t he, ladies? Nuno Lopes. And somewhat incredibly, he’s genuinely a DJ. How about that? I’ve certainly never seen him in anything before, but I reckon we’ll be hearing an awful lot more of him in the not too distant. Bet all the ladies at Beaulieu Park wish he was moving into a house near them anytime soon (see page 18). Portugal’s answer to Tom Hardy, right, girls? White Lines seemingly won’t be back for a second series. It appears its chief failing is it’s portrayal of women. Check this out: “Axel’s ex-girlfriend, Kika, has an insatiable sexual appetite. Unsure who to shag next, her life seems nothing more than a revolving door of conquests, which at the age of 40 is portrayed as dangerous territory to be in.” Well, she’s hardly Conchita (her mum). If you haven’t seen it, I’ll let you decide for yourselves, readers.

Bosses at BBC TV’s primetime Countryfile programme have been considering doing a feature on the issue of ‘dogging’. The presenters of the rural affairs show say that their mantra is ‘nothing is off-limits’ and a discussion of the problems caused by people having sex in public in the countryside might soon be covered. Speaking (almost) exclusively to The Edge about such rumours, the producers said: “It’s true that the matter has been suggested, but it’s certainly not true that the possibility of covering dogging has been vetoed. “The reason we haven’t covered it yet is quite simply because we haven’t decided how to tackle the matter for a 7.00pm audience. But we have previously addressed issues that are challenging. For instance, we have covered farmer depression, suicide and halal slaughter, to name but three. “However, our programme, whilst reflecting the beauty and innocent happiness of the countryside, should also address some of the very serious issues out there and the increase of ‘dogging’ is certainly one of them.” Regular viewers have previously been shocked when the presenters used a number of innuendos about dogging in a Countryfile programme aired in September 2016. In a tribute to ‘One Man and His Dog’, presenter Anita Rani said, “Dick and his dogging was tested to the limit there.” Despite such comments, a BBC spokesperson said: “There are absolutely no plans to cover this particular topic at all, at all, at all.”

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Rupa, Rupa, Rupa, RUPAAAAAAAA! Sung to the tune of the Kaiser Chiefs most memorable song, because he is such a lovely chap, is Rupa Miah (pictured below). However, it’s his entire home delivery Bangladeshi food and good health concept that The Edge has been having trouble getting it’s head around. “It does taste very fresh and I don’t feel bloated now that I’ve eaten it at all,” says Mrs. Edge. “Yes, but I want to feel bloated,” I countered. “In fact, I expect to.” So you see, not only is Rupa attempting to introduce a whole new philosophy into the ready meal and/or pre-prepared home food delivery market, he’s also battling against ingrained cavemen types, such as your editor (oh come on, I can’t be the only one amongst us, surely?).


The Edge invites Rupa to its ‘office’ to talk turkey, or perhaps that ought to be Shashlic? While searching to discover the Farefresh (“Farefresh?” I said to Rupa. “What sort of a namby-pamby, wishy-washy name is that?”) USP, it 100% appears to be that ‘fresh is best’. “Your average restaurant fare is generally frozen, then sometimes even refrozen...(to which I raised my eyebrows)...and most definitely heated and then reheated on numerous occasions, whereas we only use locally (whenever possible) sourced fresh ingredients,” says Rupa. “What, even your peas?” I gamely asked. “Yes, even our peas are straight from the pod.” Farefresh is a true family concern (Rupa is currently only helped by his wife and, sometimes, when they feel like it, his 4 children, aged between 10 and 21) where flavour is key. “Do you realise how many shortcuts and fake flavourings are used in the preparation of food?” Rupa springs upon me, then offers to take me to any Indian restaurant of my choice to reinforce his point while the food is on the table in front of us, he is that certain that Farefresh is better/fresher. A former attendee of Writtle Junior School and a student of Hylands School, Rupa is a true ‘local lad’ who wants to offer something different to the households of Chelmsford, because he definitely believes he can fill a gap in the market. “People today are far more health conscious,” he says, “and they want to know what is going into the food that they eat. However, the fact is, they will easily be able to taste the difference when they try Farefresh dishes. The difference is fairly obvious.” Rupa definitely talks a good story, and my wife is convinced, whereas I’m still of the opinion that if I’m having a take-away, to a certain extent, I don’t really care what’s gone into it. When in reality, that’s a ridiculous thing to say, isn’t it? Because we ALL know what a sub-standard take-away tastes like and what do we do then? Correct, we never buy from said supplier anymore. So I guess what I really mean is, ‘Who cares if there are a few excess calories in it? It’s a take-away. I’m having a night off!” Whereas on the other hand, I guess I can see that some of you would like the convenience of a take-away menu that doesn’t contain any of the ‘bad stuff’, it’s just that I obviously haven’t quite got to that stage yet. But hey, I’m being honest with you, at least. “You would be astounded at just how much sugar goes into a lot of takeaway food,” says Rupa. “If you saw it piled up, as an ingredient, I assure you, you would....” STOP! I can take this no more. So are you convinced yet, readers? Perhaps it’s impossible to be, by the written word alone, which is why Rupa is happy to knock £3 off per household order until the end of November to all those of you who mention The Edge when placing your home delivery orders directly with Rupa.

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The Stores Coffee, brunch & lunch

So we were walking along the towpath to the Ellesmere Tesco, to stock up on some pre-barging supplies, when all of a sudden the sis-in-law turns into a gibbering wreck at the sight of a moored-up Bickerstaffe. As we approached, I could immediately see where she was coming from, as Bickerstaffes are truly barges of the 21st century (i.e. the Monte Carlo of the barging world, to the untrained eye, naturally). Everything seemed to be so slick and sleek, as compared to the only barges I’d ever clapped my eyes on, so I was pretty soon ‘cooing’ along with her, like a right old couple of pigeons. Just look at the potential for the interior (below). I’ll bet even some of those Beaulieu Park Housewives wouldn’t baulk at a week spent on a barge if they knew this is what they’d be letting themselves in for.

Suffice to say, ours didn’t look anything like a Bickerstaffe or a Widebeam, rather a miniature oil tanker, as I have mentioned elsewhere in this edition. And the lil toilets in the 2 on-board bathrooms were miniscule. Cute? Get out of here. On the very first occasion I had cause to ‘DMP’ (drop my pants), I ended up peeing straight into my undies and jeans, as there’s insufficient room, even with your arse pressed right up against the panel behind you. Not to mention our shower, which was either boiling hot or just plain old blistering; there was seemingly no in-between. Always having to walk sideways down the craft soon got on my tits too; I felt like a bloody crab after a mere 24 hours. Wardrobe space was obviously minimal. So what The Edge is saying is, people who really do live on these things, on a pretty much permanent basis, need to be incredibly organised. Every morning the windows were teeming with condensation, which is what eventually put me off campervans, after having a long-running love affair with them and the full intention of one day eventually buying one. I dunno? These things, these toys...they’re alreet for a neet or three, but that’s about it, to The Edge’s mind. But one thing I’m still rather keen on is our latest 4-berth air-tent, which didn’t even end up getting used this year. Including its portable heater, it is ’andsome, although Mrs Edge says she’s getting fed up with camping.

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The wife’s sister Sue and her husband ‘Potter’, who was naturally the first to take the helm, due to his prior barging experience. As you can see, you have to duck going under bridges.

This may well have been our very first tunnel, followed by a bend, so you can see that although travelling slowly, another barge can still be upon you in a instant. Getting the Bruce Jack Pinotage Malbec up to room temperature.

Meanwhile, me and Mrs Edge were pretty quick to crack open our very first beer and gin & tonic of the trip as we basked in the glow of Autumn.

There’s a certain tranquility about an early morning start...until the diesel engine kicks in. Page 16

The River Dee runs through Llangollen. The Edge 077 646 797 44

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Crossing the 18-arched Pontcysyllte Aqueduct for the first time. It is the longest aqueduct in Great Britain and the highest canal aqueduct in the world.

There were quite a few of these.

Obviously I’m making it look far easier than it actually is!

This country shagpile near Ellesmere was FOR SALE we put in a cheeky offer!

Moored up at dusk for our final night aboard. It’s all about the shapes in the sky for me, while the reflections on the water only add to the beauty. But barging could only ever be a week’s break for me. Whereas for some, it’s a way of life.

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A Beaulieu Park Wife’s Diary in which names have been tweaked to spare blushes and exposed breaches to Pre-Nup Agreements. Well, October was fun, wasn’t it??? There was me, debating how I’d wile away the hours; having to decide whether I’d spend my child-free days in Ryan & Matt’s boujis boy-boudoir slurping a sneaky glass of fizz before the mum-run, or attending a little afternoon ‘filler fest’ in one of the Beaulieu girls’ orangeries, getting my forehead topped up. When instead, here we are all over again. A depressing Tier 2 relegation; ‘Covid-19 Strikes Back’. And, like all sequels, this time it’s even shittier than the original. At least last time we had fun in the sun and long, languorous days in the hot tub; not to mention trips to a chic beach hut in Frinton, even if it did mean having to queue for fish & chips for mini me in the High Street with hundreds of chavs who resembled extras from the cast of Shameless and who were clearly on some form of ‘day release’. Whereas now we have what feels like the wettest month on record, darker nights (thanks to the clocks going back) and NO visits to any of my neighbours’ (for booze OR Botox) unless I want to sit and catch pneumonia (potentially on top of Covid) in their poxy back garden. Is it any wonder that we are ‘sleepwalking into a mental health crisis’, according to a very reputable newspaper (yes, I do actually read things other than Heat and Grazia, or my gal pals’ Facebook posts on where to get the glossiest balayage). That’s right, apparently 10 million of us will need mental health support as a direct consequence of this noisome virus. If that’s not the best excuse to make an effort and find time for some self-love, I don’t know what is. I’m thinking positive thoughts here, a little bit of Essex Zen - yoga, scented candles, some new Athleta Salutation ‘stash pocket’ yoga leggings which are ‘buttery soft’ and apparently ‘hit the perfect point just above the ankle’, according to Vogue. A snip at just £75 a pair too. I did have a laugh with the Beaulieu bunch talking about my latest me-time purchases - old Lusty Leanne, at her finest, questioned if the ‘stash pockets’ were to house an Ann Summers gift pour moi; no Leanne, we’re not talking about that kind of ‘self-love’!

Positivity is the key for me as we mourn the end of BST and BGT and enter the depths of Autumn. I’ve been reading a lot of self-development guides (think I was inspired by that ‘Book Club’ episode in TOWIE). Equally I’ve been chatting quite a bit to Jo (aka our resident ‘once was Northern, now I’ve seen the light and moved to Chelmsford and lost my accent’ poster girl). Most of the time she’s a bit of a stuck- up, sanctimonious cow, but she has actually introduced me to the ‘Law of Attraction’ and I bloody love it. Long story short, it’s the ancient wisdom which says that we can use the power of the mind to translate whatever is in our thoughts and materialise them into reality; that ‘all thoughts become things’. Soooo, if I think good thoughts, the universe will send me good things. Simples! Like all hobbies and interests, this one comes with an initial outlay. I’ve bought the books, the journals, the crystals and the t-shirt, literally (seen me trotting down near Old Lodge Court in my marl grey ‘Grateful’ hoodie anyone?). Nathan has been his usual supportive self, remarking how I’ll be filling the walk-in wardrobe with joss sticks next and how I’ve got all the gear and no feckin’ idea. Well, he can mock; I’ll be the one laughing when I’ve ‘manifested’ a beach front pad in Florida, or maybe I’ll just manifest a new husband if he doesn’t pipe down. In the meantime, it’s all about daily affirmations and offering gratitude to my rose quartz rock (which goes amazingly with the décor in our master bedroom, by the way). But I’ve drawn the line at sticking a vision-board up on the wall, as I think it looks tacky. I mean, I’ve never let mini-me tape crappy school drawings to my fridge, so why would I start now with what looks like a teenager’s attempt at scrapbooking? So there you go, just like that, I am embracing my inner bad-ass goddess to see me through these otherwise bleak times of near solitude (save for the stealthy seconds of gossip shared at the school gates). I’ll let you know how I get on and if any of those thoughts become a reality, but right now, I’m off to Longacres to hunt down an ornamental stone buddha to plonk under the heated pergola in the garden. #Namaste!


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HERE’S HOPING As I was wrestling, once again, with the packaging before I could cook something so that I shouldn’t waste away to nothing (stop laughing, family and friends), I wondered if the manufacturers ever took into consideration how bloody difficult it can be for those of us with arthritic paws, like mine, to open even a simple bottle of milk? Perhaps for most of you, the removal of a little disk is presumably the work of seconds. However, new jar lids suddenly appear to have the tensile strength of a Nile crocodiles mouth jammed firmly shut. If I could simply open a cupboard and hand whatever I fancied to the waiting Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to open for me, I’d be a very happy fogey indeed (in more ways than one). But instead I have to gather my armoury of rubber band, squeezy thing, knife etc. and hope that in doing so I don’t end up spattering pasta sauce all over myself and my kitchen. And as for ‘squeeze & turn’ options, forget it. An Aunt of mine even pokes a hole through the top of her bottle of bleach! Now there’s an A&E visit waiting to happen, but what can we do? I really do appreciate that all of our foodstuffs come rolling along a conveyer belt (or something equally mysterious and probably metallic) and packaging is mechanised with no room presumably for adjustment, and that everything’s done to keep our foodstuffs sterilised, clean and

free from tampering from occasional peeps with naughty ideas, but please, give us oldies a break. Life is hard enough right now, but at least I can still break open the plastic on my pack of toilet rolls easily enough. Oh right, my mistake, there’s none to be found again. Just what the heck is it about toilet rolls? Who starts the panic? Surely everybody that filled their trolleys the first time around must still have enough to reach the moon and back? I appreciate we don’t want to be without them, but there are alternatives. Those of us who were kids in the 60’s, or earlier, may even remember newspaper cut into squares and hung from string. And how about those flat Izal ‘medicated toilet tissue sheets’ at school? They smelt nice, but did no more than ‘slide things around’. Oh Lordie, can you imagine getting the young ’uns of today to use such now? In fact, can you still buy Izal (though only a masochist would want to)? I know my local Super Marche still sells (on the bottom shelf, of course) another blast from the past, Camp Coffee.

SUGAR RUSH So, having dodged the glucose level bullet once, I now find myself on an NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme. I wish I could blame my lifestyle (although I don’t really think that I have a ‘lifestyle’) or my age, or even the C-19 lockdown. But if I’m honest, I know it’s because I just don’t have a ‘whoa’ button when it comes to scoffing the stuff full of








walking, or group sports. Only dancing. So I searched through You Tube and discovered Joe Wicks (yes, I know he was all the rage during lockdown with his online exercise sessions, bless him, but I was too busy eating my weight in toilet rolls to join in). He recorded a 10-minute session for us seniors (I try not to feel insulted) and I’m doing that now on a daily basis. And, best of all, it doesn’t include any floor work (I really don’t do floor work, as it’d take a team of very strong lads to winch me back up again). Hey, it may not sound much to you, but this is a woman who gets in her car to go to the post box. I’m also watching my food portion sizes and I won’t be buying any edible Christmas presents until at least Christmas Eve!




‘tasty’ sugar and fats. Once that bar of choccy or packet of biscuits has been unwrapped, I know I simply won’t be able to stop myself until I have a lap full of crumbs. Oh, I promise myself to put them away after eating just a couple, and sometimes I do. Stupidly, I even try to ‘hide’ them from myself sometimes, believing that it’ll keep until I really need that sugar rush. But instead it just niggles at me, taunts me, and prays on my mind until I go back and polish off the lot. I’ve even been known to buy chocolate for Christmas, eat it long before then, and have to replenish my stocks. So, my blood test results being what they are, here I jolly well am. And times being what they are, group sessions that were previously held face-to-face have now, understandably, gone online. Held over Microsoft Teams (just when I’d got Skype under my belt, new technology creeps up to slap me on the keyboard) over a course of weeks, with some monthly follow-ups thereafter. So, in order to have something positive to report, I’m having to take this seriously and make some changes. I can follow instructions and suggestions, and like so many I’ve signed up to other ‘regimes’ in the past and lost weight, but left to my own devices, I’m a disaster. It wasn’t so noticeable when I was younger, but now even my ancient joints complain alarmingly with any extra strain on them. So, I’m starting small. I’ve never been ‘active’, never really enjoyed








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Back by popular demand! Hey readers, this is my 12th column. Who would have thought I could’ve kept up this level of mediocrity for twelve entire months? I have taken you through so much of my adventures in life, but I still have so much more to tell you. The good, the bad, the highs and the very, very lows. I can talk about the good times easily, as I truly think I’ve been blessed in my life and I do like to share my stories. However, the lows are much harder to mention, hence me putting those off every month, much to Shaun’s frustration. Shaun loves a miserable story, does Shaun. It makes him feel better about himself.


So what’s been happening in my life of late? Well, I’ve totally given up on going to again this year. I managed a week there prior to the March lockdown, but I can’t justify going back again, what with all of this quarantine nonsense going on. I would normally have managed 6-8 weeks in Portugal by now, but the Curse of Covid continues to put a spanner in the works. I’ve also given up on my big family garden party for my 60th birthday. I had two dates booked in with all the suppliers, but both have fallen by the wayside due to dratted Coronavirus. 2020 will most definitely not go down in history as a great year, will it? I desperately hope 2021 is going to be a vast improvement. It’s safe to say that no one who was asked in 2015 what they thought they would be doing in 5 years time got the answer right. Those who follow me on Instagram (gmdeakin) will know that I’m having a new patio laid by my talented brother Kev and his lad Jay ( and I’m loving watching the progress they are making, even tho’ I am probably boring my Instagram followers rigid. It’s due to be finished on 1st November, yes, just in time for winter. I suppose you would have to blame the project manager for the poor timing if you wanted to be cruel (i.e. yours truly), but it is going to look magnificent when it’s eventually completed. It’s been really nice


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having my brother around most days too, especially after we lost our mum in April of this year. In fact, I thoroughly recommend having a new patio laid by a family member to aid bereavement counselling, folks. You are most welcome. What is certain is that it’s going to make for a helleva party area for the Deakin Family Summer Ball next year. (It will be dreadful if Mr Covid continues to make a mockery of all of our lives by then.) Talking of family, in my last column I mentioned that my 24 year old (almost 25 years old) son turned up in my life, right out of the blue, in September, having spent the past 6 years searching for me. That news actually doubled my regular post bag (in-box), not least because I had not shared the news with most of my friends. Yep, The Edge Breaking News stream is alive and well! “WTF, Deaks?” was a popular opening gambit to most of the emails. So I guess you would like to know more, yes? Well, perhaps I can spread this story over two editions, as I do like to keep you readers pining for more. Naturally, it all begun 25 years ago (well, 25 years and 9 months if you want to be pedantic about it), when I had a relationship with a secretary half my age at Coughdrop Bollox & Bellend. Yeah, I know, never dip your pen in the companies inkwell, as Charles Dickens might have said. The relationship lasted a couple of years and I left her only because we were arguing a lot and she was getting moody and putting weight on, which I know was shallow of me, but I wasn’t to know she was pregnant, was I? I have probably just lost all of my female readership in an instant with that comment, but please bear with me, ladies, as my tale is not told. My now former secretary and I never saw one another for 7 months after we split, only then, completely out of the blue, I received a phone call asking if we could meet. Whilst I was initially reluctant, because I was by now in another relationship with yet another secretary, I hasten to add, I agreed to meet her in a pub in London, just around the corner to my office, only to find she was a couple of weeks away from giving birth and she had already decided to have the baby adopted. My pleas to get back together and bring up the baby, my offer to support her, and even my offer to take the baby on myself, all reluctantly fell on deaf ears, because she had already decided to give the baby up and at 21 years of age did not want a baby anyway. I was 35 at the time and I already had 2 sons from my marriage to my first wife. Jack was born on 22nd October 1995 and was immediately given up for adoption. He was, and still is, lucky to have such a wonderful family who love him to bits, while his parents made him aware that he had been adopted at a fairly early age. In the meantime, Jack’s birth mother and I actually got back together again 7-8 months after Jack was born and we were then together for another 3 years, which is something that I struggle to explain to Jack, if I’m honest. But none of us could do anything until Jack was 18 years old, so that was how it was. However, I will pick this story up again as of 2013 in my December column, when Jack turned eighteen. Exciting, eh? I should’ve been cast in Eastenders as Dirty Deaks, shouldn’t I? The writers would have had a field day. There was never a dull moment at Coughdrop Bollox & Bellend. How I ever got made a director I simply do not know. OK, I do. I made them a lot of money, so I guess that outweighed the mischief I always used to get up to. One year, probably around about the time of one of the global recessions, the firm held a staff dinner and it had just been announced that there would be no bonuses or pay rises that year. A popular expression, coined by one of the directors at the time, was: “No jam today, but jam tomorrow.” This basically meant there would be no bonuses or pay rises at that time, but hopefully there would be some the next year, or the year after. Quite frankly, the staff got tired of hearing this, so myself and one of my colleagues (who I will refer to as Mark, simply because that was his real name hey, if I’m confessing to this, I’m taking him down with me) decided that we would place an envelope on every single chair in the dining hall with one of those little jars of jam inside, with a letter (supposedly from the directors) saying that the firm had relented and had decided that it was ‘jam today’ after all. Now I hadn’t made director at this point and myself and my partner-in-crime were surprised at just how quickly word spread around the restaurant about how pissed off the directors were with our cunning little stunt. So, a little panicked, I must admit, we set about spreading misinformation amongst the dinner tables and as a result, one of the other lads was called into the chairman’s office the following morning and given a right dressing down. However, Mark and I had no shame whatsoever and promptly kept schtum. I’m amazed we got away with it, to be honest, because my acting skills make Liz Hurley look like an Oscar winner, while Mark, on the other hand, was as cool as The Fonz on Magadon. Needless to say, the whole stunt went down like a french kiss at a family reunion. Anyhow readers, with the promise of a happy ending (and we all love a happy ending, don't we?), I shall resume the story about my long lost son in the next right riveting editions, and for now love you and leave you for yet another month.

TTFN, Deaks. Email: Instagram: gmdeakin The Edge 077 646 797 44

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TIER-2: What does it mean? Just because I consider myself a Conservative and voted for this current government, it doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with what they or doing. Nor do I agree that the steps they have taken to date as regards the current climate of Coronavirus have been the right ones. But what I can say with a relative degree of certainty is that I think any government would have had their work cut out in the face of this unprecedented global pandemic. The previous Labour government ran out of money in relatively benign circumstances compared to what we are all facing right now, so heaven knows what sort of a mess we might have found ourselves if they were in power. I think many of you reading this will share that view, but will also be confused by the government’s strategy, or the complete lack of one, as the case seems to be. As I am writing this, Essex has just moved into a Tier-2 alert level (unless you happen to be in Thurrock) and I’ll be quite honest and admit that I don’t even know what that means. However, I do take personal accountability and responsibility for

both myself and others, therefore I wear a mask when I am in an environment where I am mixing with other people. I do not socialise in a large group and nor do I invite anyone round to my house during the current climate. What’s more, you definitely won’t find me out in the street playing cricket (like we have seen recently in Peckham) regardless of the cause. I just don’t think protesting in large groups is a very clever idea at this particular time. Naturally all of this doesn’t sound very much like rocket science, but even taking those steps might not be enough. What’s more, as far as I can make out, it also might not be enough now that we have entered Tier-2. But what I am most torn on is whether the government are to blame for the confusing rules, or the general public for not being sensible enough to follow previous guidelines (did we all really need to shoehorn ourselves onto Southend and Bournemouth beaches?). I do have a smidgen of sympathy for the position Boris & Co. find themselves in. They desperately want to save the economy (but whether you think that is for the right or wrong reasons is another conversation entirely), but the obvious downside of not going into another national lockdown is that the NHS might become over-

whelmed during the busy winter months and, almost certainly, people will inevitably die. I know there are a growing number of conspiracy theorists out there saying that this is all a big hoax and it’s part of a ‘global re-set’, but I am definitely not a subscriber of that view. I think that the threat is very real and, looking back through history, I can’t help but have a terrible feeling that we have not taken the current circumstances seriously enough at all. In fact, I think we have all let our guard down to a certain extent, while some have actively encouraged the spread of the virus, hoping that ‘herd immunity’ will save us. But whatever way you are inclined to think, in the absence of a vaccine, I think we will find out this winter who indeed was ‘right.’ For my part, I will be hibernating in the safety of my own home until we find out.

It’s Eating Itself With the multi-billions of pounds floating around the Premier League, I cannot believe that they are, once again, turning to fans to empty their pockets. With crowd attendance at games literally zero, Sky have decided to move to a pay-per-view service to allow fans to watch football matches at home on their television screens. The cost is a somewhat pricey £14.95 per game and that is on top of

Billy Hinken already exorbitant subscription fees (especially when you consider there are actually less ‘live’ sports to be viewed at the moment). So my question is, would it really have been too much to ask to continue providing the games for free as a boost to the country going through such a difficult time and with many supporters losing their jobs? With no ‘real’ access to games and with far more important things continually going on, I do wonder whether Sky and the Premier League could be shooting themselves in the foot. For instance, could people genuinely start to lose interest when they realise there is more to life than lining the pockets of overpaid millionaires? `

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An exceedingly wealthy 80-year-old and his nubile young bride are honeymooning in Venice. After a day of hectic sightseeing they return to their honeymoon suite He says, "My darling, I’m sorry, but I’m completely cream crackered. I’m off to bed for a snooze.” Then he kisses her lightly on her forehead and ambles off to the bedroom. "Okay,” she says, "I’ll follow you soon,” she lies, secretly pleased that the marriage demands aren’t going to be too taxing for her. She pours herself a stiff drink and relaxes on the couch in the sitting room before slipping into a light sleep. 11 o’clock arrives and in pads her new husband and begins to caress his young bride. She comes around hazily from her doze, her body all of a quandary at his expert touch. The thought ‘Wow, not one of my young beaus has managed to bring me to this level of pleasure’ briefly crosses her mind. They make love which culminates in earth shuddering climaxes for both of them. Then they lay in each other’s arms for a while, before once again he excuses himself and heads back to the bedroom. Two hours after midnight, in he pads once again to gently arouse her from her slumber. And yet again they make passionate love like the waves crashing against the shore. His techniques are flawless and her body, recognising his skill, takes her to even higher plains of sexual fulfillment. She is absolutely amazed and delighted at his staying power and performance, especially considering his age. Only this time, it is even better than the last. Once again, after they have finishing, he excuses himself and slopes off back to bed, while she slumps to the couch and is soon in a deep, contented sleep. Come 5:00am and he’s back once again, luring her for yet another round. Aroused like never before, she whispers, “But are you not tired after our previous sessions?” He looks at her curiously in the early morning gloom and says, "What previous sessions?”



Asked t’missus if we could we try the missionary position sometime. A fortnight later, I got a postcard from her saying ‘Greetings from the Congo’.

Somebody asked me if I was a model the other day. I blushed, but I was dead chuffed really. “Well,” she said, “aren't you the poster boy for birth control?"

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE Q. What’s the difference between a dog and a fox? A. About 10 pints.

SHENANIGANS Nighttime shenanigans... Liberally apply moisturiser all over the hands and spend the next 20 minutes trying to switch the bedside light off.

ABS She came back from the quacks and said: "OMG, it’s definitely ABS.” "ABS?” I enquired. "That’s a car system designed to stop you skidding. Are you sure he didn’t say IBS, because that can cause skidding too?”

BRISKET Me (shouting back tut missus in t’kitchen): "Yeah, brisket will be fine.” T’missus (storming through into tut living-room): "What I actually said was, I’d like us to go for a brisk walk before dinner.”

UROLOGIST So I phoned the urologist. "Hi Doc,” I said. “I think my son might have contracted a venereal disease. The only lass he’s been with is our maid.” "OK” says the Doc. "Don’t be too hard on him, he’s just a kid after all. Get them to come in and I’ll get them both sorted.” "Thanks, Doc. But, er, I think I might have caught it off her too.” "Then you come in too and I’ll fix all three of you up,” says the Doc. "And I’ve passed it on to the wife.” "Oh great,” says the Doc. "Now we’ve all fecking got it.”

MONSTER I like to tease the monster that lurks under my bed by dangling my foot over the edge every now and again.

SHARON & TRACY Two Essex lasses are in the bathroom at a nightclub. "Shazza, I don’t wanna do ‘im dahn or ought, but your date’s a real munter. What made you agree to go out we ’im toneet?” "Oh Trace, you’ll laugh when I tell yer. He came into t’chemists and asked for a pack of three in XXXXXXL size. But it were only when we went outside for a ciggie just now that I realised he has a stutter.”

DURACELL I’ve nicknamed my missus Duracell. It’s an obvious one as she goes on and on and on...

ALSO ME Me: "I have a split personality.” Also Me: "I totally agree with him.”

DIET I gained 5-and-a-half kilos last week. The Doc reckons he told me Keto, but I’m pretty sure he said the Burrito diet.

WIZARDS Harry: "Where are all the wizards?” Dumbledore: "Playing pinball, ’Arry.”

SHUDDERING Remember shuddering when granny gave you a hug and stuck her tongue in your ear?

MR. SNUGGLES My first day as a dog trainer. Owner: "So, how did he do?” Me: “Shucks, man. Mr. Snuggles can’t bench press for shit.”

EASY LIFE Rioters have it so easy these days. It was much harder to run off with a colour TV back in the early seventies.

OUTDOOR FURNITURE So that’s why they call it outdoor furniture. The bloody stuff has shit all over the living room. It obviously hasn’t been house-trained.

AURAL SEX “No, not oral sex. Aural sex. Yes, you heard me right the first time.”

SILLY BEAR Daddy bear comes downstairs and says, “Jeez, son, you look knackered.” Son just shrugs, half-asleep. "Oh, it’s his own fault,” sighs Mummy bear. “As if I would have said, ‘Now go to your room and masturbate for four months’?”

GENTS What’s the point in swimming pools having a gents toilet?

REVERSE COWGIRL The best thing about reverse cowgirl is that you don’t have to share your chips.

BATHROOM SCALES My best mate came round and reset my bathroom scales. Horrible cow, she is at times. Now I’m half-a-stone heavier.

BEDSIDE PRAYERS A man kneels beside his bed at night, puts his hands together, points his fingertips to the ceiling, breathes deeply, closes his eyes, and begins to pray. "Dear God, You gave me my childhood...and took it away. "You gave me my youth...and took it away. "You gave me my marriage...just a REMINDER, in case it’s SLIPPED YER MIND, like.”

All jokes published are supplied by Edge readers. Please send your ‘egg yokes’ to

The Edge 286 new_The Edge 172.qxd 27/10/2020 11:11 Page 23

Chr istmas



We all know that nature can be cruel, but your editor caught a real, proper, close-up glimpse of it from no more than 20ft away one recent Thursday morning, as I was making myself a right refreshing brew. There was a hell of a thud on one of our bi-folds, a thud I’ve heard numerous times before as birds often fly straight into the glass, some of them instantly breaking their necks. And this was a really loud thud. I turned instantly and in a split-second I took in the scene. A small dove had obviously crashed head-on into one of the the panes of glass and I watched it rebound, almost in slow motion (strangely enough) as it sort of spiralled out of control over some plant pots to fall and land behind them. Immediately, I was then looking into the bloodthirsty eyes of a Sparrowhawk (I’d seen one only once before and they are not to be forgotten as they are like greased lightening i.e. seriously fast and fluid in their turns). But strangely it didn’t seem to know where the dove had gone. I could tell it was mystified and it flew off in an instant. Bless it’s little heart, I just knew that dove must be dead, due to the sound of the impact (thwack) against the glass. But amazingly, gloriously, there it was, hunkered down, clearly in a state of shock, but nonetheless very much alive and kicking behind the pots. Honestly, I was genuinely elated...and I don’t even like doves. So out I tip-toed and dropped a little bird seed near where it was hiding. Forty-five minutes later, as I was leaving for a 9:00am appointment, I checked on it again and it hadn’t moved an inch (and nor would I have, having just avoided a fate worse than death, for can you imagine being literally eaten alive?). An hour or so later, upon my return, it was gone, so it must have sufficiently recovered from it’s massive headache and plucked up the courage to put its beak above the parapet, so to speak. Baby Dove 1 Sparrowhawk 0 Sparrowhawks must surely be the sharks of the skies and it was genuinely terrifying to see one in action at such close quarters. Jeez, they are so incredibly fast. So efficient. Pretty much designed to kill. But I had never before seen such so up-close-and-personal, yet with a truly happy ending. These birds are adapted for hunting their prey in confined spaces. Their eyes are a mesmeric yellowy-orange and you would not want to get into a poker match with one of them. And their talons. OMG, in that split-second (two seconds max) I saw its talons and the sheer size of them, as compared to the ickle, soft, downy dove. Because of their name, I (doh!) stupidly thought they existed on a diet of simply sparrows, but the larger female Sparrowhawks will often tackle pretty big pigeons (slow, stupid, pedestrian) and bats too, which are clearly no slouches. Their beaks denote that they ‘mean business’, make no mistake. Which kind of begs the question, what birds are quick enough, fast enough, and stealthy enough to catch and eat a Sparrowhawk (okay, so Golden Eagles don’t count)? Interestingly, I guess like a cheetah, Sparrowhawks aren’t built for endurance races or long chases, although they do have the ability to manoeuvre in pursuit better than any other raptor (seriously, it is as though they are locked-on, scarily supreme in their chasing tactics). Yet in order to be successful, they have to be able to approach their prey undetected, which is where The Edge guesses a rain mac and fake spectacles often comes in handy. They usually fly at speeds between 30-40kph, although I swear that this mornings encounter appeared to be much quicker than that (though apparently they have been known to reach 50kph in short bursts, which really is ‘flying’ to say the least). They do, however, often put themselves in danger of harm whilst hunting where collisions are concerned (i.e. panes of glass, tree trunks etc). What’s more, over the years, Sparrowhawks have learnt that rich pickings are to be had in domestic back gardens, so do keep your eyes peeled, readers.

see our country Christmas Range in-store and online:

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Well, well, well, who would have thought it. At a time of national crisis, rising unemployment, an economy going south, and many of us restricted in what we can do outside of our homes, the Premier League have come up trumps - they supported their non-playing staff - heavily donated to charity - provided economic stability to those lower league clubs that prop up the football pyramid, rather than spending billions in the summer transfer market, as well as making all of their games available for FREE to their long suffering supporters.

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So jolly well done to the Premier League!

it, and nor are the various sweets available the same.

Well, that was what happened on Earth-Two. Whereas here on Earth-One, that clearly didn’t happen at all, and the Premier League spent a billion in the transfer market, made us pay for non-existent season tickets, and will now additionally charge us for games on a ‘Pay per View’ basis.

But change happens. I’m now that old that I can remember the original sweet counters at dear old Woolworths, the pioneers of this eclectic mixture, which included sugar covered bon-bons, sherbet lemons (unwrapped, of course) and fruit flavoured chews.

Without the financial support from the Premier League, I think the EFL will look very different in six months’ time, with many beloved and well supported small, local clubs going to the wall, just like Bury and Macclesfield. I’m not sure the government would be willing to support the EFL clubs, given the economic problems we’re currently experiencing. And anyway, why should the government support football, given that while the annual attendances in the Premiership and EFL is around 33million (Premiership 14.5 million, EFL 18.5 million)? That is similar to the annual theatre attendances of 34 million, although is dwarfed by the annual cinema attendances of 176 million, albeit nearly all cinemas have temporarily closed down.

And it’s the same where football’s concerned. Televised matches are OK, but they can never replace the real experience of actually being there. Because it’s not just the match, it’s the whole experience of getting there, walking to the stadium, meeting up with matchday friends who you’ve grown to know over the years, not to mention the huge anticipation of kick-off.

So where should the taxpayer’s money go?

At the all new Tottenham Stadium, already we’ve experienced not only Mourinho’s delight with a ball-boy during the Olympiakos game, but Eric Dier’s unexpected entry into the West Stand to confront some supporters, and the sheer delight of Lucas Moura bringing on his little son in front of the West Stand for a kick about after he scored his first ever hat-trick.

One of the things I miss most about the cinema is the whole ‘cinema experience’ which doesn’t just mean seeing the film itself, but also the ability, as an adult, to indulge in simple pleasures, such as buying popcorn and bags of their marvellous Pick’n’Mix. OK, so you can see a film in the comfort of your own home and the various streaming services have done a decent job in allowing us to access many newer films (at a price, of course), but somehow going to the local supermarket and buying your individually wrapped Pick‘n’Mix just doesn’t have the same feel to

Regardless of the result, there’s always tomorrow, the next match, the next season. And at a ‘live’ game you get to experience so much more - such as the antics of the managers on the touchline, the mood of the crowd, the chanting between home and away supporters, as well as the numerous off-screen incidents.

Every supporter at ‘live’ games will have similar memories that cannot be replicated on TV. So, let’s look forward to an early return for fans going to watch football matches as well as being able to go back to the cinemas, if not only for their Pick‘n’Mix. The Edge 01245 348256

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reetings once more from the west coast. Here we are in autumn and 2020 shows no sign of letting up its fire-hose torrent of horrors, does it?

Nothing wrong with that, but the engine of any country’s economy is undoubtedly city based and the engine drivers want to be where the action is. Now, all those op-eds arguing that the city is dying because of a virus are willfully ignoring history. London burned to the ground in 1666. It was up, running and packed to the gills again in but a few years with some lessons having been learned and buildings no longer made of wood.

With further restrictions to normal life almost certain to be imposed in the UK - indeed, by the time you read this, they probably already have been - there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. And there we have it. Sadly, Covid is with us for a long time to come, and unless we change our mindset and accept that as a fact, a lot of misery is in store for everyone. And that’s the key point - there is something you can do personally besides blame the government. You can accept the inevitable and plan for the next two years to be unlike the rest of your life. Acknowledge that when we come out the other side, and we certainly will, the world will look different. It might even be better. But the next year or two are going to be a period of adjustment. If we admit this to ourselves and don’t try to fight the inevitable, well, things will be calmer. This is our time to shine. Our parents/grandparents did their bit in WW2 to keep things on the straight and narrow - now we have to play our part in history. But what we mustn’t do is screw it up. We know so much more about the virus now than we did six months ago and that early focus on hand washing and surface cleaning was perhaps the wrong emphasis. Those are still important, but not as crucial as keeping outside as much as possible, wearing a mask in public and avoiding mixing with strangers in close proximity. Accept these three rules and you can start doing things again, just in a different way. For example. To get the economy on the move out here and with the wholehearted blessing of the local authorities, every bar and restaurant has added outside tables in the street. Clearly on space as well as meteorological grounds that’s not an option in the UK, but there are other innovative steps that could be taken with a little encouragement from those in charge. Ah. There’s the problem. Those in charge. We

won’t go over the same old ground highlighting the UK government’s gross incompetence and in particular Johnson’s woeful inadequacy as a leader of men. But even though other nations have rising cases once again, they are not undergoing the same level of dysfunction, ever changing inexplicable rules and chaos as the UK. It’s the lack of credible leadership that’s missing. So, having got the obligatory snipe at PM Cummings, who is clearly nowhere near as clever as he thinks he is, out of the way, let’s look at something that has spawned umpteen articles and opinion pieces over the last few months. It’s the idea that the city, as a concept, is dead. Horseshit. Maybe working from home for those able to do so will become more prevalent in the future. It’s likely that commuting will lose its attraction (!) Companies may well move their headquarters out of the city and into the suburbs. It’s likely that urban conurbations will become even less car friendly. But, and it’s an absolute certainty, cities will not wither away. Humans are social creatures and like to be part of a crowd. The young, in particular, feed on the energy created by a mass of new ideas and different attitudes that are an essential part of city life. Suburban and rural life stifle all that in exchange for comfort and certainty.

There were various cholera outbreaks in 18th century London until some clever bugger realised they were caused by people pooping in the street. So he built a drainage system that is still in use to this day. San Francisco collapsed in the great quake of 1906. It too was rebuilt quickly with structures more likely to withstand a similar shock. How many cities were razed in WW2? Dozens, all reconstructed in the next ten years because that’s where people wanted to be. The lesson to be taken is that post Covid the city will reinvent itself, but it ain’t going away. It’s probable laws will be enacted that new offices have to have a very efficient air circulation and filtration system installed. Maybe lifts too will be reimagined and no more than three people allowed in - which means big towers need more of them. Public transport may have new regulations about overcrowding. Maybe bars and restaurants will have self-contained cubicles in the future. We can’t predict exactly what those changes will be yet and things that sound ridiculous now may be regarded as perfectly normal in the future. But history tells us that the current talk of the demise of the city is not just premature, but downright wrong. And on that note, it’s over and out for yet another month. We’ll have a US election and possible civil war to mull over next time - something to look forward to, right? Anon.

The Great Fire of London 1666

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Laos / Lao People's Democratic Republic from the temple at the top of Mount Phu Si. Luang Prabang is a small city with a population of just 50,000 and is situated at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers. It was once the country’s ancient capital and royal residence and boasts many ornate Wats (Buddhist temples). So what else did we learn? Well, tourism clearly brings in bundles of revenue to this relatively poor country (and especially this city), but apparently the biggest earner is hydro-electric power, courtesy of the mountainous landscape and the dams they’ve built on the Mekong. Producing power way exceeding domestic demand means they sell about 70% of the output to their SE Asia neighbours. Sadly though, there are major concerns about the environmental and human impact of the dam projects. After the Mt Phu Si ascent we ambled around the night market, visited a couple of bars/restaurants, ate local food and started to feel really chilled out as we drank and chatted with the locals.

Edge of the World travel correspondent. Embarks on assignments in a futile effort to preserve his sense of youth, always acknowledging that he ‘Won’t pass this way again’. With there being zero prospect of international adventures for me anytime soon, I can only hope The Edge Editor looks favorably on his travel correspondent’s job retention application. In the meantime, what I can most certainly do is reminisce, so please allow me to share some recollections of a trip made in January 2019. A 24hr journey and seven hour time difference definitely had us feeling somewhat jaded when we eventually arrived in Luang Prabang. But, as is always our way whenever we land in an exciting new location, we headed straight out to explore and soon found ourselves sipping cold drinks at a riverside cafe overlooking the Mekong River. First impressions of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR) were that the local folk are gentle and unassuming and life ticks along nicely at a very relaxed pace. The locals claim, with a smile, that PDR also stands for ‘Please Don’t Rush’. The political system means there’s an absence of big businesses, franchises and restaurant chains, which is a refreshing treat for us western tourists. It seems that it’s all about small businesses providing good service and just being - well - nice. It may no longer be de rigeur in our particular part of the world, but it certainly felt good being a customer over there. Later that same day I jumped on one of our hotel’s courtesy bikes and took a ride through the town’s quiet streets, along the river and captured a few photographs along the way. In the evening, a local named Bounlieng, accompanied by his mischievous 4 year old son Alex, showed us around while imparting local cultural insights. The highlight was the spectacular view

The following day we took a trip up the Mekong River to visit the Pak Ou Caves with a visit to a riverside village en route. There’s nothing too spectacular about the caves themselves, but since being discovered a few hundred years ago, they’ve acquired spiritual significance and are now the home to over 4,000 Buddha statues. The village and caves are both opportunities for the locals to try to sell their handicrafts to tourists, yet there’s a pleasing absence of the intrusive hard sell you encounter in some parts of the world. Their sales technique is but a simple friendly smile and it worked a treat on us. We bought a claret, blue and white hand-woven bracelet for Mrs C (as a lucky charm, ready for West Ham’s fixture v Arsenal later that day - I’d already hatched a plan to find a bar with a decent TV). Getting acquainted with the Mekong River was great, partly because of the scenery, but also just to get up close to the river itself which had always impressed upon me as a youngster back in the 60s when its name seemed to feature daily in b&w news reports from the Vietnam War. A few Mekong facts: it’s proper brown, has lots of vegetation and man-made debris floating in/on it, over 2,700 miles long, flows through six countries and has its source in Tibet. The plan for the evening was beers, something to eat, and then hopefully find a cafe or bar showing the aforementioned Premier League fixture (12:30 London / 19:30 Luang Prabang). We might have been 7,000 miles from home, but some things in life transcend distance and cultural differences. My passion for The Irons and Asia’s love affair with The Premier League surely meant that, given a bit of luck, we were in with a reasonable shout of seeing the match.

pressing well. The pressure was rewarded by them winning a succession of corners and it was from one of these that Declan Rice made no mistake in tucking the ball away high into the net just inside the right-hand post. We leapt to our feet, along with Vidal, all screaming and punching the air. In the afterglow of the goal, my legendary wit produced a truly woeful attempt at comedy gold when I declared that Declan would henceforth be known as ‘Sticky Rice’ in this particular part of the world. The Irons held the lead at the break and it was looking as though we’d be enjoying Vidal’s hospitality for the full ninety minutes. Increasingly concerned that our host was getting nothing out of the deal, I nonchalantly enquired as to the price of a trim. We settled on 40,000 Kip (less than four quid) so whilst Manuel Pellegrini was issuing instructions and firing the lads up for the second-half, I felt obliged to dig deep and have the Loatian coiffeur attend to my Barnet. Haircut complete, cash and generous tip paid, the second-half began. Vidal was now getting well into his role as match host as he fetched some bottled water and slices of water melon. Top bloke. A nervous 45 minutes dragged a bit, but The Irons were worthy of their lead and saw the game out without too much drama. There was more punching of air and cheering at the final whistle before we finally shook our host’s hand and thanked him for his generosity, hospitality and our fleeting unforgettable friendship. A wonderful experience and another display of the genuine friendliness we encountered everywhere we went in this charming country. My only disappointment was that Vidal didn’t wink and ask: ‘Would you like something for the weekend, sir?’. Our final day in Laos started with us getting up before dawn to head out to observe the daily alms giving ceremony for the local Buddhist monks. Mrs C was eager to participate, so we bought the customary basket of sticky rice and food wrapped in leaves ready for Ann to make her offerings. Alms given and monks fed, it was back to the hotel for breakfast before heading out to visit the National Museum, a few of the most notable and historic Buddhist temples and a local market. We concluded our Laos adventure with a very agreeable lunch at the famous L’Elephant Vert restaurant where the cuisine and neighbourhood evoke the French colonial era.

Having consumed the beer, pad Thai, red curry and sticky rice, I was beginning to despair that that the Vietnam v Iran (AFC Asian Cup international) was going to trump the London derby; literally nowhere was showing it. Heading back to the hotel, somewhat despondently, we passed a barbers shop and heard the unmistakable strains of ‘Bubbles’ coupled with the high-pitched excited voice of an Asian commentator. As soon as we poked our heads through the door we were beckoned in, provided with a chair in front of the TV and invited to watch the match with the smiling football mad Vidal Sassoon of Luang Prabang. The scene was a little surreal. The Joy Joy Salon also served as a tattoo parlour and dispensed a long list of beauty services. It was also complete with its own Buddhist shrine.

Mekong river & Pak Ou caves Page 26

Contrary to expectations, West Ham opened quite brightly, enjoyed some early possession and were

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Unsocial Media


Have you watched the excellent Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’ yet? If you haven’t, then you should, and if you have kids or regularly use social media, then you absolutely should. I’ve never been the biggest fan of social media. Hitting my adult years in the 90’s means I’m in that generation that sort of straddles the pre and post internet eras, and judging by what I saw and have since read, I’m very glad I didn’t grow up with it.

I always knew that for all its fun and funky persona, social media is a predatory business, with all the fun and funky stuff being purposely designed to try and make you forget it’s actually a multi-billion leviathan whose sole purpose is to make even more billions. But until watching the documentary, I didn’t appreciate just how predatory, cynical and callous it really is. If you let your kids use it, then don’t. The stigma they might suffer from being the kid without Instagram is nothing compared to the damage the constant search for online validation will do to them. When you see the graph clearly showing the massive rise in teen and even pre-teen suicides since social media became widely available on smartphones, I honestly believe its irresponsible to let children anywhere near it. What do I know though? I’m just a bloke writing a column in The Edge. But if you don’t believe me, then the fact that, without exception, the people who created these platforms never let their children use them should tell you all you need to know. I was on Twitter and Facebook, but I’ve now deleted them. It’s not that I think they’re psychologically damaging me, but now it has been laid out in black and white just how culpable they are in the polarisation of our politics, the rise of extremism and how they’re making their obscene profits, I can’t and won’t support companies who are selling our time and attention to the highest bidder and turning you and I into a product.

Kingpin’s Crystal Ball Since my recent article on Brexit, where I made a couple of vague predictions about the eventual outcome, I’ve been asked to put my money where my mouth is and really doubledown on what I think will happen over the next few months and years. This is sort of a win-win for me, really. If I’m right, I get to luxuriate in the cold comfort of a pyrrhic victory, and if I’m wrong, then everything will be tickety-boo and the sunlit uplands of Brexit will have us all diving into pools of money like Scrooge McDuck, just like all the liars and shysters promised us. So here’s my roadmap for the future of UK PLC. There won’t be a deal. A deal with the EU is certainly in our best interests, but don’t forget, we’re just the plebs. It’s not in the best interests of the billionaire backers of Brexit, so it won’t happen. There will be a bonfire of regulations. Due to no deal, leaving the UK adrift as the only country in the entire world without any trade deals (good grief), there’ll be talk of us having to be more ‘competitive’ and ‘agile’ and other corporate double-speak for: ‘Get rid of all these regulations that stop us working the serfs into the ground.’ Environmental and tax regulations will also suffer a similar fate.

The Kingmeister reports

Those friends of the people, the Tory party, have already rejected a move to safeguard our worldleading food standards, so the groundwork for a trade deal with the US and their dreadful food standards is already being laid. So get ready to enjoy that hormone fed beef, with a side-order of animal cruelty. The rich will get richer and the rest of us will get poorer. Brexit or no Brexit, that would have continued anyway, but I think it’ll kick up a gear in the next few years. Who knows, maybe it will become so blatant that even the forelock-tugging morons that read the Daily Mail will finally realise it’s not the poor causing all their woes, and that the Rees-Moggs of this world have been pissing on their backs and blaming the rain for years. The NHS will become increasingly privatised. We’ve already lost thousands of the immigrant workers that the NHS relies on, and in real terms it has been under-funded for years. It’ll be run into the ground until it’s simply not viable in its current form, forcing it to move to an insurance-based model, just like that fair and affordable system in the good ol’ US of A. Hooray for medical bankruptcy! We’ll re-join the EU. This is a long-term one, but it’ll happen. While it will undoubtedly be a good thing, after the UK has either turned into a lowregulation, tax-haven shithouse or just gone back to being the ‘poor man of Europe’, like we were before we joined the first time, we’ll also have to go back in without the standing we currently enjoy. Don’t forget that we were a rule-maker in the EU; we were out of Schengen and we retained our currency. Whatever the Brexiteers said, we had an extremely privileged position in the EU, which is probably why when that milksop Cameron went over to ask for more, they sent him home with a flea in his ear. When we join again (if they’ll have us), we can kiss all of that goodbye, and the final result of the leave vote will be to actually turn the UK into the ‘rule taker’ we were all told we were. Mind you, looking at the shockingly low calibre of our politicians, maybe more direct rule from the EU will actually do us a favour?

Disaster Or Demographics? As swathes of the country start to move back into lockdown (in all but name), the arguments about the best way to deal with the pandemic are heating up. That Johnson, Hancock and Raab et al are incompetent clowns is a simple fact. Hancock, in particular, seems to flip between laughing (fecking laughing with a 40K+ death toll?) when both journalists and politicians question him about the consistent failures of Track & Trace, or looking like a nervous schoolboy. I expect Priti Patel is bullying him and stealing his lunch money. Whether anyone else would have done a better job is debatable and a moot point anyway. As much as I hold the Tories in well-earned contempt, even I have to give them some wiggle room as we’re in uncharted territory here. I will contend that many other countries handling this so much better than we are is an indication of

how poorly we’re doing though, and I don’t want to hear about demographics.

“Oh, but those countries have different demographics to us!” I hear the hard of thinking cry. Stop bleating about demographics. It’s not a valid argument and you don’t even know what it means anyway. I’m happy to accept cultural differences. In the case of China, it’s not cooperation as much as “Do as you’re told, or else”, while places like South Korea have a much better relationship with their government than we do, as well as a more collective rather than individualistic culture. One thing this pandemic has shown is that individualism is all well and good, until all of us have to work together and make some sacrifices for the common good. As much as I loathe that bloated orange skidmark in The White House, America being such a basket case is as much down to their individualism dialled up to 11 as it is his woeful lack of leadership. What these countries do have is a Track & Trace system that actually works and a lot more trust in their governments than we do, and with good reason. Yes, large swathes of the UK public are behaving appallingly and there’s no excuse, but trust in the government’s advice has been steadily eroded by their obvious ineptitude, obfuscation, outright bloody lies and incidents like the odious Cummings’ Barnard Castle debacle. Even with all the wiggle room in the world, the fact remains that if so many other countries (including Vietnam, who not only aren’t an island, but share a bloody land border with China) are doing demonstrably better than we are, then things are going very wrong somewhere.

Life After Covid The arguments for balancing public health and the economy all have merit and my gut instinct is that this entire crisis is going to be a case of hopefully picking the lesser of two evils, while the evidence of what was actually the right decision won’t become apparent for years. I did read a very interesting study on the aftermath of the Spanish Flu pandemic though. I know it’s not a like-for-like comparison to Covid-19, as the world and its varying economies inhabited a different landscape to where we are right now, but it is still comparable on a lot of levels, and it’s the closest comparison we can make. It was a long-term study that looked at how different nations handled the pandemic, with a particular focus on how well they recovered when the virus subsided, both in terms of public health and economics. Interestingly, the nations that fared best were those that focused on public health and not their economies, while those nations that tried the same balancing act we are now were left in deep recession for much longer periods. Again, I have to stress that I may be comparing apples to oranges, but I think there are significantly enough parallels to make it an interesting comparative exercise. After all, when all’s said and done, we’re not going to be in a position to carry out a proper post-mortem on this pandemic for years, so let’s just hope we get to that point before the next one hits. Page 27

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Max Headroom’s


GEESE IS THE WORD, IS THE WORD... Did you hear the one about the man who adopted two pet geese during lockdown and started taking them to his local pub wearing nappies (the geese, that is, not the bloke)? Sven Kirby, 34, is regularly spotted walking his birds, named Norbert and Beep Beep, around the streets of Leeds and the odd trio have now branched out into socialising at their local. Sven hand-reared the birds from five days old after buying them for £40 apiece back in June. He lets them have free rein of his house when he’s at home, while he keeps them in a pen in his garden when he’s at work. Sven, who lives on his own (what, really?), says: “I know a goose is a strange pet to have, but it’s something different that I have wanted for a while. I could have got a dog, but as I work full-time, I don’t think that would have been very fair on the poor animal. Whereas geese require much less attention. “I genuinely love the two of them to bits, but not in a wrong way. They’ve both got brilliant characters and are great fun to keep as pets.” When Sven takes them to the pub with him, the geese have to wear special nappies because (obviously) they aren’t toilet trained and are liable to shit everywhere. He first got the idea of keeping geese a few years ago when he was in York, visiting his then girlfriend, and spotted some waddling along the riverbank. He says: “My ex wasn’t too keen on the idea of getting a couple as pets, so when we broke up, I decided it was my chance to finally act on my impulsion.” When lockdown hit, he did some research and found his nearest breeder was in Grantham, Lincolnshire, so set off on the 160 mile round trip. After parting with £80 he returned back to Leeds with the two male geese from the same clutch. Norbert is actually a popular name for a goose, while Beep Beep was named after the sound geese make. Sven regularly walks the geese around the streets and canals of Leeds.They are giant exhibition dewlap Toulouse geese which are often bred for foie gras, meaning they’re used to being handled and therefore generally docile. They can live for up to 40 years. Sven said the pair haven’t shown any behavioural problems and have generally been easy to keep, as they don’t require much exercise and have a diet made up of 80% grass. However, they cannot be potty trained, so he does have to put them in specially made goose nappies (shipped in from America) when they are inside his house or down the pub with him. Sven added: “They’re very happy and friendly animals, which makes them great to keep as pets. I’ve hand raised them from just five days old, so I guess they see me as their daddy. They follow me about everywhere and can sometimes be quite protective of me. But they’re all talk and no trousers when it comes to it. They might have a little honk at someone every now and then, but it’s nothing to worry about.” Sven works a traditional five days a week so generally puts Norbert and Beep Beep in the boot of his car to take out for walks on Friday evenings and weekends. He says: “We turn quite a few heads, it has to be said. Everyone wants to stop and have a chat. A short walk will usually take me about two hours because of all the curious people, but I don’t mind. In fact, I quite like the attention, if I’m being honest. When I went to the pub with Norbert and Beep Beep for the very first time, they just stood by my side as I drank a pint, good as gold. Everyone in the pub loves them.” Unusually for geese, Norbert and Beep Beep aren’t too fond of water and will only go in if Sven joins them. He says: “I’m not sure how much swimming I’ll be doing over the winter months though. Perhaps I’ll invest in a wetsuit.”

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Man on the Clapham Omnibus PIES

I was very heartened to read a small item in the ’papers last week that cheered me no end. It also prompted me to immediately think I must purchase one of these items, and soon. The article stated that the queen liked to eat Fray Bentos tinned steak and kidney pies on her long-haul flights. Now this isn’t an earth-shattering development by any means, but I think it’s worth a mention. To many of our readership, Fray Bentos is going to mean ‘the pie in a tin’ or corned beef, both yummy items. However, that last remark may well divide the readership entirely. I am not sure where EE stands on this matter since a major digital incident between us last Saturday night. You see, I could not get to grips with one of his favourite films, No Steak & Kidney Pies For Old Country Men, or something of that nature. Fray Bentos is not a brand name as such, but is the Uruguayan town it is manufactured in down there in South America. A place somehow recognised for its steak and kidney pies! Yes, I acknowledge that I have mentioned Fray Bentos four times already, but this is NOT a paid advertisement. (Why not? Signed, EE.) So let’s do the usual and make a quick historical detour and take a look at pies, lovely pies, hot or cold, sweet or savoury. As always, the answer of when is a lot further back than one imagines. Just chew on this little fact; sometime before 2000 BC, a recipe for chicken pie was written on a tablet in summer. This is possibly the earliest known civilisation in the historical region of Southern Mesopotamia, which we now know as Southern Iraq, which is not bad going for product longevity. Then we move through into the Greek and Roman era where a recipe for the most popular pie/cake called placenta can be found. This dish was also known as libum by the Romans, being more like a modern-day cheesecake on a pastry base. But this is where common sense prevails, as it was often used as an offering to the gods, and what normal, god-fearing god could not be soothed by a decent pie of some kind? The Monty Python film joke “What did the Romans ever do for us?” missed one crucial point. It was the famous Roman roads spreading out over their burgeoning empire that also saw the spread of pie cooking. So that’s what the Romans really did for us; they brought us pies as well!

Pies have had a very good run throughout history with relatively few periods of being out of favour. During the Puritan era of Oliver Cromwell, some sources claim mince pie eating was banned as a frivolous activity for 16 long and joyless years. Like drink during prohibition, it made mince pie making and eating an underground activity. Now I rather like the thought of going up to some seedy alleyway door in Ye Olde London Towne and knocking three times. Man answers, “Who sent you?” “Yorik.” “What’s the passwords?”, “Hey nonny nonny.” Door opens into a smoke filled pie based speakeasy with the mediaeval equivalent of jazz musicians playing the flute in an exceedingly hip fashion. However, the ban was lifted in 1660, along with the restoration of the monarchy. But I would have thought the average peasant at that time would have been far happier about the lifting of the pie making ban than the other small fact. Furthermore, this part of public opinion was not recorded by Ye Olde Daily Mail, along with how the pie making ban being lifted would affect house prices in your area. The Man on The Clapham Omnibus (MOTCO) is alleged to be the voice of reason and I therefore think it is reasonable that pie eating is where more happiness lies. Pies have taken their place in popular culture and phraseology. We can be ‘pie eyed’ when drunk, as older readers may remember. Things can be ‘as easy as pie’, but I don’t get that one, given the processes involved in making a pie from scratch. And how we laugh at somebody getting a ‘custard pie in the face’, and no letters to the editor arguing that is not actually a pie. One hundred and twenty years ago the New York Times stated that: ‘No pie-eating people can ever be permanently vanquished.’ The queen has obviously taken that to heart, as well and her reign as longest ever pie eating monarch fully supporting this statement. Those of you who saw my picture in The Edge last month may have already made the connection that me and my bro’ are partial to a pie or two…or sometimes three! Yours aye,




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their doors recently and who knows whether they will ever be able to open them again? Oh sure, it may have seemed fun in the summer, drinking gin at 10.30am and sunbathing in the garden, but fast forward to November, when we are all huddled around the fireplace freezing cold and watching repeats on Netflix (which will put a whole new meaning on Netflix & Chill), lockdown will feel much more like a scene out of ‘Prisoner: Cell Block H’.

I think I mentioned last month that Blakey, the inspector from the 1960s comedy series ‘On The Buses’, surely deserved a bit of a mention in his own right in The Edge, as he is one of those iconic TV characters in the high echelon bracket, such as Jack Reagan, DCI Jane Tennison, Starsky & Hutch, Fitz ‘Cracker’ Fitzgerald and Manolito from the High Chaperal. However, I now find myself changing tact dramatically because I only found out last month that my very own father, who I hadn’t seen or heard from since I was 14 years of age, died on 3rd September 2017, and I recall it was he who truly was a massive Blakey fan. So what’s the connection? My dad, though he never travelled on them, was a huge bus fan. I even recall we’d have family outings on Sundays to bus garages, just to see them all parked up.

He even self-published a book entitled ‘The Oldham Bus Scene (19451969)’ back in 1970 and I remember him proudly taking me to a book shop in Oldham one day where it was on display in the window. It can’t be right though, can it? I don’t care what our history was, it surely cannot be right to only find out that your dad is dead three years after the event? He used to wear this god-awful brown suit for work (our family, not that I was very much a part of it, used to be sheet metal fabricators and they’d make lockers for the changing-rooms of public swimming baths and stuff like that) and the trouser bottoms can’t have been any more than 8” or 9”, even at a time when flares were in fashion. He also used to smoke No.6 cigarettes (white & blue packet) and to this day, smoking is something I detest with a passion. FFS, he also drove an Austin Cambridge. But it’s like they say, you cannot choose your family, and without my dad I would never have started up The Edge, which he would have loved. It’s pretty much due to him that I fell in love with the written word.

TOTALLY TRACIE HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIDE If you are still with us, I salute you for surviving the Covid Madness thus far. Thank you for your lovely messages and pictures that you have sent me regarding my columns. It has been a tough year for The Edge and our Ed works tirelessly getting the mag out each and every month. For those of you living in what is now affectionately known as the ‘Principality of Essex’ (i.e. Southend), you have no idea how the rest of your county has struggled. Oh we have watched you frolicking on the packed beaches shoulder-to-shoulder throughout the summer and looked on gobsmacked as you queued cheek-to-jowl for your ice-creams, handed to each and every one of you from a man in a kiosk wearing no gloves or mask. We shook our heads in disbelief, wagging our fingers at your stupidity, and waited for the inevitable doom and gloom to descend upon you. But it didn’t. And you all carried on partying! So I am now beginning to wonder whether Sweden got it right all along? They just carried on as normal and Covid somehow passed them by, as it seems to have done Southend. But one thing Covid most definitely has done is divide us into two groups. Firstly, group one; those that religiously stick to the rules and refuse to deviate and insist on letting everyone know that they are following it all to the letter. Then there’s the other side of the coin and group two; those that think it won’t ever happen to them and refuse to wear a face-mask or socially distance. I had good reason to be at Lakeside last Saturday and no-one, and I do mean no-one, was sticking to any of the rules that I could see. Masks were hanging from ears like baubles on a Christmas tree, while some were pushed down around throats like winter cravats. No mouths or noses were being covered, so I immediately about turned and drove straight back home. Meanwhile, the rest of us are in ‘Tier 2’ which means no meeting up with anyone outside of our own households indoors. I have seen two of my friend’s restaurants reluctantly close

Page 30

I have slipped a disc in my neck and the pain has been almost unbearable. I have been literally screaming in agony. Yet the number of people at work who have said to me: “Go and get a Covid test” is just crazy! I think it is important not to class everything as Covid of we’ll all go nuts. We’ve got to keep things in perspective and I hope it passes us by just the same as it seems to have done Southend, but I have a bad feeling that we are all in for a bit of a bumpy ride these next few months. Hope I’m wrong. LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BOYS Several of my girlie friends have asked me to write about this subject and, to be honest, I have always said: “Not this month”. Then a young lady contacted me asking if I would ‘out’ a guy in my column to warn other women that he is a lothario. Well, of course, my answer was “No!” But it is time to ask where the heck did ‘Love & Romance’ go? (Covid seems to have killed that off too!) I am a fan of TikTok. OMG, the things I have learned on there. I can now get practically any stain out of a carpet, build a herb garden out of a pallet, and make a piece of wall art with 500 lolly sticks. But just lately, every other post seems to be women moaning about men who use and abuse them, and then block them on social media, only to pop up months later and say: “Hey” and invite them over! I confess a man sent me an email a few weeks back saying he liked my column and he was in his hot tub and would I like to jump in a cab and come join him at midnight. I politely declined, yet the fool could not believe I was turning him down. Yeah, right. You really think I am going to jump in a cab and travel to a stranger’s house at midnight? But it seems the Internet is full of women who do just that and the next day the guy promptly blocks them. So they take to Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to vent their anger. It is hard when songs pump out such as: “There’s a Hoe in the House” go Google “WAP”! But I would say, don’t go on Hinge & Tinder as no Prince Charming is hanging out on there. Remember the old adage: if a man rings your doorbell at midnight, he is not there to propose with a glass slipper. Men are weird. Us women know that. We’ve just got to learn how to play the game better than them. Stay Safe. Stay Alert. Let’s beat Covid together.

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Page 31

OUR Cultural Background


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