A Sense Of Humour Helps In Enforced Isolation

I come from a country where the ‘stiff upper lip’ and ‘wartime spirit’ are very much part of the national psyche. Along with this, a sense of humour is usually what is called for in most crisis situations. It is the ‘bulldog spirit’ that has got the country through many troubled times. While I don’t live there any longer and in fact, left over 25 years ago on various travels that have taken me across continents, I still keep up to date with ‘Old Blighty’ as it is often called.

I am often very cheery in the mornings. I wake early and have a very positive mindset and my energy drops in the evening. My wife, in contrast takes a little longer to get going so you can imagine what happens!

I read a newspaper article this morning in The Times by one of my favourite journalists, Patrick Kidd who has a supreme talent for the typical sarcastic, self deprecating humour that is part of the black humour associated with the UK.

We are going through uncertain, troubled times. Something that many of us have never experienced before. Where I now live, there is a great possibility that enforced isolation and a strict curb on personal freedoms will be extended. The media is full of doom and if you expose yourself to it, mental health is sure to be affected. No-one really knows how this will develop and especially not the media who promote sensation at the best of times. Yesterday, the first confirmed case in the small town we live in was announced. Despite all that, much of the responsibility to ‘keep things in balance’ will lie with the individual and maintaining a positive mindset and sense of humour is just one part of that.

Yesterday, I went shopping with my wife (forms in hand) to the local supermarket. All very orderly…only one person per trolley allowed in, cleaning of trolley handles and a queue to limit numbers (albeit a small one). One scene really amused me. An elderly couple got out of their car and the male part of that was complaining about his wife insisting he wear gloves and a mask. He reluctantly squeezed rather large hands into small gloves and awkwardly put on the mask. A process that took a considerable time and effort and constant complaining from his wife. This scene was made even funnier when he arrived in the queue to be told he wouldn’t be allowed in and his wife had already designated herself as the shopper. People in the queue witnessing the scene joked with him as he went through the difficult task of removing the offending rubber from his body and throwing them in the bin as he stormed to the car. I witnessed this from the vantage point of sunning myself standing in the car park as one of the undesignated shoppers waiting outside (all men). We all smiled at each other secretly happy that we didn’t suffer a similar fate.

It was a small thing but brought a sense of fun and humour to a particularly difficult situation for everyone. Back to Patrick Kidd. He wrote about several advantages to isolation (all in humour of course). He stated that it gives us the chance to avoid people that we normally can’t and never wanted to know in the first place and in three weeks time, we will know everyone’s true hair colour!! He stated that men have never had a better excuse to avoid gardening work than now and grandparents finally have a use for all that soap they were bought as Christmas presents by unimaginative relatives!!!

However, the best part of the article was the quoting of a national treasure, Winnie the Pooh who he claimed was the original stockpiler of honey but an optimist of the highest order. It serves as a lesson for pessimists everywhere. On a walk through the forest with Piglet who was known to be anxious, a conversation ensued. Piglet, worried said ‘what if a tree falls on us and kills us?’. Pooh replied “what if it doesn’t?” and Piglet felt better.

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