Face masks up North? The folk there are barely wearing actual clothes

I’VE been in Manchester all week and it really is a case of: “Crisis? What crisis?”

The people here must be aware of ­government and scientific guidelines on masks and social distancing and the need to stay home when ­possible. But no one’s paying the slightest bit of attention.

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Hand sanitiser? That’s what homeless people drink, isn’t it?

People roar up to me all the time, flinging their arms round my shoulders and asking for a selfie. And they look genuinely perplexed when I ask them politely to back up a bit.

At the TV studios where I’m working, there’s a one-way system that’s not being used, electronic ­temper- ature checks that are covered in cobwebs and endless signs telling people to keep apart. Which no one can read because of the huddle they’re in.

At breakfast in the hotel where I’m staying, no one’s wearing a mask and in the city’s restaurants it’s business as usual.

The only slight change is that because so many are working from home, the girls have plenty of spare time to take off even more clothes than usual before going out.

Face masks? Ha. You must be ­joking. They’re not wearing anything at all.

The problem is that social distancing simply doesn’t work in the North, where people are naturally friendly. Asking a Manc to scuttle about with his head down and his eyes locked in the straight-ahead position is like asking a fish to tap-dance.

They’re also a pretty sensible bunch. Did you know that if someone had the virus in March, and was killed last week by falling out of a tree, they are still chalked up as a “Covid death”? Well they do up here. They know that this pandemic is a wave that’s passed.

In London and the South East, meanwhile, it’s a very different story. There are Covid Nazis at every turn, telling people to keep apart and everyone is happy to oblige.

Face masks are everywhere and no one is punctual for their Zoom calls because they’ve just spent two hours washing their hands.

They have an excuse

There’s a simple reason for this. In London, no one has ever wanted to talk to their neighbour and now they have an excuse.

The reaction to Covid is almost tailor-made for the capital. Because all the guidelines are basically giving people permission to do what they’ve always done.

“What? No one is allowed to sit next to me on the Tube? Excellent.”

On balance, I’ve got to say, I ­prefer it in Manchester.

Cold July

LAST autumn was the wettest for 50 years. The spring was the hottest and driest ever. And July is on course to be the coldest for 30 years.

It seems that every single day a new weather record is broken, which suggests the climate is changing.

Which makes me wonder. Why did no one see this coming?

And if they did, why were they so quiet about it?

Old Joe

A HEADLINE in The Times this week said that a man first arrived in America 30,000 years ago.

Yes, and now he’s the Democratic candidate in this year’s presidential elections.

Team jab need gift of gab

HAVING done Covid-19 vaccine tests on 1,000 ­volunteers, a team of ­British boffins in Oxford has announced that the initial results are “encouraging”.

That’s pathetic. “Encouraging” is completely the wrong word. It’s what teachers write on a fat kid’s school report after he’s managed to come second to last in the 100 metres sack race.

The fact is that Oxford is in a fight to develop this vaccine with an American biotech company, and you can be certain Hank won’t ever describe his progress as “encouraging”.

He’s already said it’s “robust” and soon he’ll be saying his medicine “kicks ass” and that it’s “hammer time”. Even if it’s causing people’s penises to fall off.

The British have always been good at understatement. I once saw survivors being interviewed after a tornado had ripped the heart out of a small town in Oklahoma in the US.

The Americans were hysterical, sobbing and saying: “The wind speed was, like, 1,000 miles an hour and I saw God himself reach down and take our house.”

Whereas a British man, visiting on business, said when the cameras were poked in his face that it had been “a trifle breezy”.

That was charming, but whoever develops a vaccine will bring billions into the country, so we don’t want charm. We want our scientists to develop an American gung-ho, up-and-at-’em attitude.

They can start by dropping this “encouraging” nonsense and describing their results as “awesome”.

Very sub standard

I COULDN’T help noticing that the Russian submarine that was shadowed by the Royal Navy as it passed through the English Channel this week was fitted with windows.

This seemed odd, because fitting windows to a submarine is as daft as fitting a coffee machine to a duck.

I therefore did some checking and it turns out they’re there so that when the sub is on the surface, the crew don’t have to go outside to see where they are going. Which means they won’t get cold.

Diddums. And we thought these guys were tough.

My Google Vik-tory

I’VE often wondered if it’s ­possible to put something into Google search engine and get no results at all.

I’ve tried quite often with phrases like “Piers Morgan fans” or “Alicia Vikander ugly tree”.

But I’ve never managed it.

Well, this week I needed to attach a snow plough to the front of my tractor – don’t ask – and had no idea how it could be done.

So I googled “Front linkage Lamborghini 8.720R”.

And there it was. “Your search did not match any ­documents”.

On tape

WE learned this week that there’s been a 125 per cent surge in the sales of cassette tapes.

Couple of points on that. First of all, why? The sound quality on a cassette is so bad that for many years I thought that the Bee Gees had done a song called Bald Headed Woman, that the Police had sung about Sue Lawley and that Desmond Dekker had been saying: “My ears are alight.”

Point number two is: what happened to the massive collection of cassettes we all used to have in the Seventies?

They can’t all have ended up wrapped round single shoes on the motorway’s central reservation.

That’ll give me something to do tonight, I guess. Finding all the mixtapes I made for girlfriends who’d just left me, and reliving the sadness to the accompaniment of Phil Collins.

Becks v pond life

DAVID BECKHAM wishes to build a pond in his back garden, which is good news for insects, birds and wildlife in general, but apparently it’s not such good news for his neighbours, who say there are already too many ponds in the area so another is not needed

Too many ponds? I think what they meant to say is: “We are bitter and so twisted with jealousy that we want to make Mr Beckham’s life as miserable as ours have turned out to be.”

Big quitter

OVER the past few years, cigarette sales in Britain have plummeted by 20million a month.

Experts are struggling to understand why there has been such a massive fall and why it happened so quickly.

Some say the health warnings are being effective. Some say it’s the cost. Some say it’s the ban on smoking indoors.

I, however, know exactly what’s ­responsible.

Exactly three years ago this week, the world’s heaviest smoker quit. Me.


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