Richard Lutz looks back at a weird old week
Let’s talk about boiled coins. Well, actually, I’ll leave that for a moment, and let you churn with curiosity and intrigue. I’ll come back to you, I promise, in a couple of hundred words. I won’t forget. I’ll remind myself right now: Boiled Coins. Don’t forget Boiled Coins.
And so to other matters. Country singer Kenny Rogers is gone. He’s died. He joins a strange pantheon of mine that’s populated by famous folks such as Princess Margaret, basketball superstar Wilt ‘The Stilt’ Chamberlain, singer Jackie de Shannon and Count Basie.
Y’see, they were platinum card members of the August 21st Club, now sadly departed. We all share the same birthday and now I’m left with living luminaries such as Usain Bolt, Google supremo Sergey Brin and actor Kim Cattrell who are all my birthdate pals. Oh yes, one other crucial person. Here she is:
She’s special. For those who know their Grey’s Anatomy from their Dreamgirls, she’s actor Loretta Devine. On 21st August 1949 in Houston, she landed on this planet. Fourteen hundred miles to the north east, I took my first breath on that very date. We were born in the same 24 hour corridor, and every 21st day of August, we’ve blown out the same number of candles, ripped into one of those all important presents we’d separately craved and celebrated another year in our lives. I still remember unable to believe the day that I actually turned ten. Loretta probably felt the same on 21st August, 1959.
I now follow her career with sedulous diligence and in awe of the tricksy quirks of the universe. Loretta and me, bound by fate, Kismet, total coincidence, a sizable mountain of birthday candles.
Enough of Club 21. Onto Virus Log. In order to survive Lockdown 2020, I take to the River Stinchar. It is one of south-west Scotland’s best salmon fishing spots. It is beautiful.
Today, still in the grip of a winter wind roaring in from the Antrim coast, there isn’t a breath of spring. A host of bouncey bankside daffodils dance in the cold stiff breeze, the blue chilly waters bubble west to the sea. All else is asleep.
The Stinchar empties into the nearby Clyde Estuary which is steel grey, troubled and bristling with movement and whitecaps. Fifteen miles across the estuary, the Isle of Arran has disappeared into mist. Its main peak rises 3000 feet off the shoreline and, still adorned with patches of snow, is shrouded and invisible.
But, rivers notwithstanding, I more or less live by routine as we all power down in lockdown mode. I think in a way we all like routine. It seems to create our profile, sort of like a little kid’s colouring book with all those outlines to fill in. Mine is desultory. I have fallen in line with the barrage of info-advice and clean my doorknobs first thing. Then wash my hands. Then, a cup of coffee. Then wash my hands. Then take in the early news and then…you got it…wash my hands. On it goes.
Sometimes there’s a hesitant trip to the local shops to join a queue which lengthens every day. Quiet resigned faces acknowledge that what used it be a ten minute trot around the aisles can now take fifteen or twenty minutes longer as we get in trolley lines that follow the emptying shelves of tinned tomatoes, pasta, pulses and, gosh, booze.
A guy in front of me on the check-out says: “Bring back Brexit. At least you got a drink out of it”. Digi-vids abound on the net to lighten the worry. One was a funny take on Pulp Fiction with Samuel Jackson and John Travolta. I’ll let you find it on your own. It’ll help fill out your day.
Tomorrow, we get handed our boiled coins (cf, above). It’s like this: my wife has volunteered to deliver shopping to the elderly. I’m her deputy. Money comes from a development fund. Each customer can use £40 from a cash account. Health and safety are of paramount importance. After all, a lot of folks handle cash.
So all coins are sterilised: voila, boys and girls, we exist in a world of Boiled Coins. Sanitised money, safe to the touch and perfect for a much needed bag of groceries during this time of virus.