Coronavirus and Silver pleasures

Travel Talk

As we drift towards our dotage – or, in my case, anecdotage – we of the Silver generation are discovering all manner of ways in which to enjoy life. Ways that simply never occurred to us in earlier years.

Apart from the obvious freedom to have long and gossipy lunches, join general or ‘special interest’ societies, re-organise one’s stamp collection, or finally get round to clearing out the garden shed (about which more in a moment), time on our hands can end up being time well spent.

Copyright © T Sirianos Three of my female neighbours have joined what used to be called a ‘Keep Fit’ class, but which nowadays has a fancy title with ‘Aerobics’ in it. They say the most daunting bit is being bossed around by a girl who is young enough to be their granddaughter.

These thoughts have been prompted by the realisation that I have myself discovered a completely unforeseen pleasure. Shouting at the television.

This happens because, at the end of the day both the BBC News Channel and Sky News bring in ‘experts’ to review what is in the following morning’s newspapers. 

Apart from one particularly useless character from, I think, The Guardian, the BBC’s lot are reasonably tolerable. However, Sky News seems to have discovered a platoon of loonies, and it is they who provide me with most of my shouting pleasure.

Currently they are spouting nonsense about Coronavirus which, according to them, is the Black Death on steroids. And by ‘them’, I fear I am referring in particular to a couple of ladies who are immensely well educated but, at the same time, immensely stupid. It is a combination I encountered many times during the course of my working life, and one that is more common among men. But, though I realise this makes me appear misogynistic, my present bêtes noir are these two ladies.

I do not deny that Coronavirus requires our attention, and that measures must be taken to combat it, and mitigate its effects. I am also very well aware that it is a particular threat to older people who already bear the burden of age-related health conditions. 

However,we are advised by people, who know what they are talking about, to take simple, sensible precautions, and told, in detail, what those precautions are.

I presume we have enough common sense to avoid putting ourselves at risk. What we don’t need are hysterical commentators for whom ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ is nothing more than a slogan on a souvenir tea towel. 

However, I fear their hysteria could be encouraged by the ‘rolling’ news channels which need to keep a story on the boil to justify the expense of sending reporters to the latest hot spot where they can present information we already have been given by their colleagues in the studio.

But all that televisual flummery diverts attention from the real impact of Coronavirus. 

I have tremendous sympathy for those who work in the travel industry, for they are facing a huge financial crisis, as people defer their planned holidays, or choose a domestic rather than a foreign destination.   

Devon Carole and I are in that situation, having decided that a few days in the May sunshine of Greece or Italy will now have to be a few days in the May sunshine of Gloucestershire, Hampshire, or Devon (or wherever).

Others are not so cautious. On my way home from the newsagent’s stall this morning I met a neighbour who told me he and his wife are about to go on a skiing holiday in Andorra. When I broached the subject of Coronavirus, he beamed with delight. “Two week’s quarantine in a five-star hotel at somebody else’s expense,” he said. “Bring it on, mate.” 

We do, indeed, live in interesting times. 

But, if over half a century of involvement in travel and the travel trade has taught me anything, it is that the travel trade is immensely resilient. Crises far worse than Coronavirus have had their effect – their devastating effect, sometimes – but the folk who create holidays and the folk who sell them are used to picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, and starting all over again. (Now, where have I heard that before?)

The travel trade, and we Silver travellers, will eventually get back on an even keel and it will be business – and pleasure – as usual. By which time, of course, those annoying television ‘pundits’ will have moved on to a different subject. And I shall continue to shout at them.


Glass of Port Wine by Petr Kratochvil via At the top of this article, I mentioned the pleasure one can derive from the simple task of clearing out a cluttered garden shed. It so happens that is exactly what I am doing at the moment, in a shed which hasn’t been properly sorted out in decades.

I am taking my time over it – for time is not a problem – and finding unexpected treasures. One of them was a bottle of 1978 Vintage Port which had, thankfully, been stored on its side so the cork had not dried out.

It has been very carefully uncorked, and, very slowly, poured into a decanter. There it will rest for a week or two before being sampled. It looks and smells perfect.

I hope it turns out to be another of those unforeseen and unexpected pleasures.

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John Carter

Long-time presenter of TV’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ and BBC holiday programmes

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