Simon Says

In a previous life I was a teacher, as was my wife Lizzie. I was given my full pension years before I was ready to retire so we decided that a change was in order. We had several places on our list of “possibles” and it was on our way back from a fruitless summer in southern Spain that we chanced upon the Pyrenees-Orientales.

We rented a small isolated cottage high above Prades for four months in 2002 and that experience taught us a great deal. Yes, we wanted to live in this part of the world, no we didn’t want to be living in a steep sided valley. After all, what is the point in living in a part of France with more than 300 days of sunshine per year if you spend more than half of it in shadow?

We returned to UK, sold our house in Poole, put the money in the bank and returned to P.O. In the spring of 2003, we found a house in which we thought we could spend the rest of our lives, bought it and moved in at the end of May that year.

After many years of competitive sailing round Poole Harbour, Lizzie and I needed something to fill the void. When U3A was born, we joined the organisation with a view to playing golf and have been doing it ever since. It is a lovely group of people and we feel very privileged to be a part of it.

I can honestly say that we have both found peace, harmony and happiness in this wonderful part of the world, not to mention an anecdote or two, which I am happy to share with you here.

Simon Bridges April 2020, Terrats.


The way in which most of the world numbers the passing of years is fairly recent. The idea of counting years has been around for as long as we have written records, but the idea of syncing up where everyone starts counting is relatively new. Today the international standard is to designate years based on a traditional reckoning of the year Jesus was born — the “A.D.” and “B.C.” system.

Yes, I know there is a fair bit of guess work involved in things such as Christmas Day but observable phenomena such as the shortest day and the longest day have been recorded long before the year zero AD – or should it be zero BC… a can of worms I think but in the light of the present pandemic I did wonder whether we should start counting all over again.

So, what passed before the middle of January could be the year 1 BC – Before Coronavirus and AD years could be After Deliverance. Silly I know but the world is going to change as a result of a few tiny, tiny bits of protein known as the crown shaped virus and things will never be quite the same. Remember, a thousand of them laid end to end will fit across the width of a human hair… tiny!


I just find it incredible that in our technologically advanced society, the whole of human life on planet Earth can be brought to its knees but something so very, very tiny. We are constantly being told to “follow the science” but even the leaders of adjacent countries such as England, Scotland and Wales do not seem to be able to agree on the best way forwards. These are leaders that we have democratically elected to act in our best interests, and it can easily be argued that mismanagement has cost lives.

Egos and political agendas have got in the way of serving the electorate and people are still dying. I find it all desperately depressing – and even more so when I read that today (Thursday 4th June) the reported number of Covid-19 linked deaths in UK was greater than the whole of the rest of Europe put together.  The professor of social psychology at St Andrews University said: “On a day when the UK has more deaths than the rest of the EU combined, the best way to get it wrong is to claim: ‘We did everything right.’ “It is so patently out of touch with reality that it lowers trust, undermines influence and makes things worse.”

As Britain wakes up to the fact that the government has messed up, the country faces a summer when its citizens, like children not allowed out to play; they will watch with noses pressed to the window as continental Europe suns itself on beaches while the British are confined to Scrabble and computer games.

stuck inside

With the UK government’s latest thoughts on lockdown we now have “the joy of six” with six being the maximum number permitted at a gathering.Dinner parties or cocktail evenings will be more awkward than usual, but they should be possible if guests respect the two-metre distance while queueing to fill their plates. They should bring their own crockery and cutlery and agree to drink the entire contents of any bottle that they touch and announce publicly when they are going to the lavatory. There they will find a complete set of mops, buckets and cleaning materials with which to disinfect the room following their visit ready for the next person seeking relief. If hosts are reluctant to provide individual puddings, a reliable fall-back may be a six-pack of choc ices.

As far as sporting contests go things are a bit more difficult. For instance, the official England tug of war team have disbanded for the duration of the lockdown, but the relaxation of social distancing rules means that novice players can enter combat if they can find a like-minded team of six against which they can compete. Britain has a proud history in the sport. At the London Olympics in 1908 the hosts won gold, silver and bronze as teams from Sweden and America were overcome by teams submitted by police forces from London and Liverpool. Alan Knott, of the Tug of War Association, said that he was advising official teams of eight people not to train together, but people could form teams of six and pass the rope over to another team in an adjacent neighbour’s garden – the fence would then act as the centre line.

tug of war

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