• Keith Dersley

Chats in the Time of Covid, #10

What priceless privileges (as we now see them), a generation, or a civilisation, has lost through the effects of Covid-19. Great experiences in theatres, stadiums, restaurants. But not all of them are gone forever, we’re hoping.


Pushing Rick around town in his wheelchair is gone forever, of course. Ricky-boy himself has departed (not from the virus). It will be a loss not to help unload him from the car. Not to go to free poster exhibitions in modernised deconsecrated churches, play chess over lunch. Not to bowl through the crowds at Sailmakers’ and other shopping malls (knowing where the lifts are located, having our routes).


No more elbow to elbow with smilers and others giving way to the chair in the Pound shops, (even the 99p one, where we chanced the escalator once or twice).


The restaurants. Starting with the caff, our first stop, where I always got doughnuts and coffee, my treat, with the people going by as we gazed out of the floor to ceiling window. They gazed in too, they seemed fascinated with us two bald-headed ancient hippies.


No more carers and other women approaching the chair with a ‘Hello, Richard.’


‘Donna, I’d still like to get you into bed, you know,’ Rick would say.


‘Ooh you’re bad, Richard.’


Up to the end he strung out fantasies galore, some of which materialised. When he talked, you went along with the narration, and he drew out similar spools of chatter from others.


‘You talk just like Richard,’ one posh student girl confided to me. She must have recognised some sort of Gainsborough Estate accent.


Email from Rupert today. He loves my latest video and has put a note and link on his blog. Rupe’s always helpful like that. It should be great when later this month we have a dinner with him over Zoom, for a podcast. One of the ‘Red Wine Dialogues’.


I included on this video an introductory piece, asking Joan to turn the radio off. This interaction was left in—actually, that bit was better than the poem itself. The bits that are everyday, unscripted like, are sometimes wonderful. Like one of Whitman’s ‘miracles’—a spear of grass, the freckle on the back of your hand. Whereas, if you’re all uptight and trying to get a recording of your sacrosanct poem with no mistakes, it can all turn out cloddish, plodding and a bore.


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