Why is an outbreak of spots threatening to ruin my whole life?
MY FACE HAS BEEN A MESS for a year now.
For a long time, I’ve been getting what I call ‘sweat spots’, which seem to flare up every time I exercise.
I’m the world’s sweatiest man, and having a face regularly covered in dirt and salt for hours is probably not the world’s greatest skincare regimen.
But the spots got much worse around the time of Lockdown 1: nowadays, the left-hand side of my Boat Race is in a state of almost constant eruption, and I’m sporting the sort of crags and scabs that went out of fashion when they finished Mount Rushmore.
I don’t think it’s lockdown-related, but being in lockdown means I haven’t wanted to bother my doctor too much. Not with – you know – everything else that’s going on.
About six months ago, I did get fed up enough to send the surgery a picture of the damage, from which my GP diagnosed shingles, and prescribed me antibiotics.
These worked for about a week, but then the red, rashy, sore-y, scabby stuff roared back with a vengeance, and took up almost permanent residence on my upper left cheek and nose.
And so, I’m back to Square One. I had terrible spots when I was a teenager, and I thought I’d more than done my fair share of wearing a Pizza Face.
But what makes it worse is that, at the age of 55, I don’t even have nice hair and a flat stomach to make up for it. Fucked off is not the word(s).
With its gibberish subtitles, India v England cricket on Channel Four is a sweet experience
A CERTAIN SORT of English person is really quite excited at the moment because, for once, we can watch our national team play cricket on the TV without having to fork out for the privilege.
The four-match series against India is currently being screened free-to-air on Channel Four – the first time we’ve seen our heroes in action abroad for nowt since the mid-1980s.
It’s difficult to express the uplift in mood that these pictures from sunny Chennai have given to the lockdown-weary, snowed-in and Brexit-battered people of these isles over the last five days – especially as England wasn’t having its arse handed to it, for a change.
And, having been denied the chance to travel pretty much anywhere because of Covid-19, there’s something more than usually awesome about having satellite pictures of the world’s best players beamed 5,099 miles, straight into your living room.
Denied stimulation of all sorts in lockdown, it’s been particularly poignant to watch our captain, Joe Root, smack 258 runs off India’s formidable bowlers during the course of the first match.
It was even better watching our plucky spinner Dom Bess dismiss the mighty Indian captain Virat Kohli for bugger all in the first test, and then follically-challenged Jack ‘The Nut’ Leach bamboozle Rohit Sharma with his mastery of dip and turn.
But perhaps the very bestest thing about Channel Four’s coverage is the way that its live commentary subtitles mangle both the game and the English language in the most surreal manner. It’s really worth the price of a subscription on all its own.
I spent my birthday cycling across London in the rain, so I could cycle up a hill in the rain
IN THIS CORONAVIRUS year, I’m particularly ticked off with my parents for giving me a November birthday.
Trying to party in November is as daunting as entertaining young children in the dreaded February half term: for starters, the days are short and dark, and everybody’s mildly depressed from lack of Vitamin D.
It’s cold and wet, the leaves are off the trees and slushing up the pavements, and no-one can bear it outside for long. So, unless you want to hunker down for hours in a pricey café, or brave the insane crowds at the free museums and art galleries, you’re fucked.
But at least in February, we have the option of paying through the nose for our fun. This lockdown November – with no pubs or restaurants, cinemas or museums, shops or art galleries to celebrate in – I began to worry that it might be my worst birthday ever.
Back in the day, we would have got by very nicely on smoked salmon, bagels, fizzy wine and a day spent entirely in bed. But I’m 55 now, not 25 and – anyway – the kids are here, working from home.
So I threw my leg over the bike, instead. I spent my birthday riding across London in the rain, so I could ride up a hill in the rain.
Running is The Dogs when it comes to Mindfulness, IMHO
In my day job, I’ve been writing a lot about Mindfulness lately.
Now that we’re all preparing for a second, six-month lockdown – panic-booking Ocado slots, stockpiling the Cushelle before it goes back on the ration – it’s understandable that we’re also after some mental reinforcement to see us sanely through the dark days ahead.
So, having exhausted my usual array of mental sandbags on the first surge, I’ve gone back to Mindfulness after a break of almost three years.
I’ve dusted down the old Guided Meditation CD, sat in the same chair with my eyes closed and assumed the familiar pose, supposedly embodying a sense of strength and curiosity.
I spent 20 minutes noticing my breathing and the noises around me, trying to sit quietly with any troubling thoughts that popped into my head.
And it was all right. In fact, it was much the same as it was when I last gave it up: at least I was doing something to combat stress and getting a bit of restful ‘me’ time’.
But one of the thoughts that did occur to me was: “This isn’t as good as running.”
Coronavirus has helped me accept that it’s fine to be like everyone else
I’ve been thinking a lot about over-indulging while we’ve been in lockdown – and I know I’m not the only one.
The other day, a friend sent a list of Coronavirus phrases trending on What’sApp, including “Covid-10” – meaning the extra 10lbs some of us have put on through comfort eating and drinking since March 23.
In the UK, alcohol sales jumped by 22 per cent in March, while the tendency to binge and put on weight – also known as “fattening the curve” – was likewise observed in countries that went into lockdown before us.
“First of all, you’ll eat,” Melandri warned. “Not just because it will be one of the few last things that you can still do… You’ll eat again. You will not sleep well… You will put on weight. You’ll look for online fitness training…You will eat again.”