Eat Drink and be Merry

Bird song has replaced the sound of traffic in London which of course is nonsense. What has happened during the quarantine is that most Londoners have noticed the birds for the first time in ages. The birds are most certainly not singing any louder.

The streets if not entirely deserted certainly are much quieter. Footfalls in the shopping streets has fallen off dramatically. Not many reasons to visit the shops, most are closed as indeed are the pubs and restaurants.

Niche shop or mainline chain all are shut unless deemed essential. Essential such as, supermarkets who feed the nation and, Thank the Lord and 10 Downing Street, Off Licenses are deemed essential too so the quarantined population stands little chance of running out of alcoholic diversions. While the rolling 24 news on TV is unwatchable, having long since vanished up its own contradictions not unlike a snake biting its own tail.

The print press though has been expending considerable paper and ink on what to eat during a Lock Down. Isolated as we are, each in our own suburban villa or flat, the delights of a virtual dinner party are extolled with pictures, menus, recipes and tech advise.

Even celebrities, remember those, are wheeled out to promote the Virtual Dinner Party. Why eat alone? Prop your cellphone across the table aimed at your chair and sit down. The camera of your cellphone is probably of better quality than the internal camera on your laptop or one attached to a PC desk top.

Certainly more mobile! Using WhatsApp rather than the new fangled Zoom as you only get 40 minutes free with Zoom and how many on the Costa or London have downloaded the latest software anyway? Unless of course you are trying to do more than host a virtual dinner party.

Rather its your birthday and you are determined that all of your children and grand children will sing Happy Birthday to you simultaneously. So appropriately dressed, suitable lighting, a mutually agreed day and time and the countdown to start the virtual dinner party begins. The question of what to eat becomes all the more significant when restaurants are not an option.

Either cook , which means shopping and all the hazards of the shop itself as well as the walk there and back or drive of course. The alternative is to have it delivered. The Take Away business is thriving in London. Home delivery is becoming embedded in what is left of the UK economy.

Men and women on cycles or fast scooters circle round like vultures round prey where ever there are kitchens and ply their trade delivering food, hot, on time, on demand. The choice of food on offer is as wide and varied as it was before the quarantine.

Favourite kitchens , not restaurants,  are developing new and loyal regular customers. The scene is set. Your dinner has been prepared either by you or by your favoured cook, delivered by courier and laid on the table.

Your glass is filled, you may even have a few sneaky slurps before you spark up your connection and the virtual dinner party starts. At which point a whole new protocol takes hold, politeness takes a firm grip. All talking at once is mere cacophony, speaking in turn begins to seem like a crazed meeting of the Politburo.

Though turn by turn eventually does win. Each toast  proposed is followed by another. In no time at all the whole virtual dinner party is happily hammered. Of course the sequence of events I outline is perhaps why Zoom has a 40 minute free time option.

No virtual dinner party will last much longer than 40 minutes before all the participants are in no fit state to turn off the broadcast of their own volition. Take care.

Nick Horne, London, England

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Nick Horne


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