What Will Happen Next?

Christopher Fowler

Who knew that cutting hair was so easy?

What will happen next? Plague of frogs. Death of the first born. A third Dr Phibes film. You name it, lockdown's ending, we're off-road and anything can happen now. Beach chairs are selling out in Siberia. The virus-denying Brazilian president is sick, and the rest of the world is enjoying the schadenfreude. The American president has reduced a great nation to a punchline. His press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says that Trump's niece's book is 'full of falsehoods' although she hasn't read it. Black is white, up is down, and it's clear that 'Alice in Wonderland' didn't go anywhere near far enough.
When there are too many big things to worry about, it's best to concentrate on the small stuff. I can foresee a few changes in how we live. Men's fashion. If half the nation ends up working from home full time there'll be no need for suits, ties and black leather shoes. The spouse has already asked, 'Why do I own all these identical white shirts?' We're discovering our inner Adidas. I have not worn anything without an elasticated waistband for four months. Insisting on a jacket in a restaurant is vulgar and provincial. Everyone knows that real players dress down. Have you seen Elon Musk in his array of many identical drab black jackets? He could wear an ostrich suit and no-one would mind because he's the world's richest man. Men's haircuts. Who knew that cutting hair was so easy? With a rotary head self-trimmer you can knock out a four-layer self-cut that finally gets your riah how you always wanted it. Besides, I'm about to reach the point where I'm shunned by hipster barbers and sent on my way to pensioners' corner. If I want ritual humiliation I can stay at home. Dinner. Every mid-week it's the same thing; where are we going to eat on Saturday for so-and-so's birthday/ circumcision/ pregnancy termination party? Phonecalls are made, tables are not found, a booking is grudgingly confirmed on the phone and again, several times online, together with an electronic passive-aggressive assurance the day before that we are definitely coming tomorrow. Wherever we are, we know the restaurant will have a cool sounding name at odds with what it actually is, ie. a not very good, hilariously overpriced caff. You say kimchi, I say cabbage. Farewell, snooty mâitre D's! Hello home cooking! Department stores. 'Do you have these trousers in my size?' 'Just what you see on the rack.' 'Is there anyone on this till?' 'No.' They must have been wonderful around 1910 when you could buy a baby panther and have it wrapped in scented ribbon. Have you been to Oxford Street Selfridge's lately? It has entirely aimed itself at anorexic mentally ill Korean millionaires. Try to buy a decent mop bucket. Holidays. Whatsit is having her gender reveal party in Ibiza. I don't why she's going there. It's an intimate gathering, just twenty of her closest friends. She's always complaining she can't get on the housing ladder but spunks all this dosh on endless LA Soho House jaunts where sitting with a watery cocktail listening to the screeching of PR staff is as much fun as a series of prolonged paper cuts or having dinner with Robert Mugabe. Well, no more. Going away was always overrated. I'm going somewhere really quiet this year. Central London. Inner peace. Is that the time? We're meant to be there at eight, and we can't stay late because we're on the red-eye tomorrow! Not any more you're not. Instead of hurtling from one international appointment to the next you can now pace yourself and take time to reflect. Don't pretend you're going to learn Mandarin on Duolingo, you're not. Instead, sometimes you're just going to sit in a chair and be still for a while. I can't vouch for the rest of you, but I'm enjoying my quiet time so much that I may never go out again. Travelling. Unless you're an overprivileged BBC presenter asking Madagascan locals to describe the misery of their existence for the edification of viewers, you may find your future travel plans curtailed. Let's face it, it was getting to be a problem anyway. Back in the 1960s you could get on board a bus in London and get off in Calcutta. Luxurious flying boats went from New York to London, Paris and Cairo. On Greek islands, the local came out with bunches of flowers for visitors. The language, the currency, the food was all different. No chancers came running up to you in Rajasthan shouting, 'David Beckham, fish and chips, lovely bubbly!' Travel was fresh and new. Now you place your life in the hands of radicalised schoolchildren with guns if you stray from the tourist drag or go on an 'adventure package' that a million other tourists have dragged themselves around. Do you really want to do that? So what will happen next? The world's leaders are all going mad,  


Helen Martin (not verified) Thu, 09/07/2020 - 18:17

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Absolutely bang on.Brooks Brothers are declaring bankruptcy after something like 200 years so you've definitely got the men's fashion thing right and travel, too, probably.

Dave Young (not verified) Thu, 09/07/2020 - 18:22

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

More tobacco with it Chris...
Flying boats never went to Paris and were done and dusted by the '60s. Shame, such an elegant way to fly, literally stopping for tea on an African lake, best china of course. There's a basic asymmetry between you are a tourist, I am a traveller...
Certainly true about the decline of department stores; gone are the days when my Aunt Lylie, dressed to the bloody nines - fur stole and heels - ruled the polished floors of Knight and Lee in Southsea and heaven help any assistant who was off-hand with a customer. (Liked a large gin and a bet on the nags at Goodwood, for all her poise a working class girl made good)
Shame about the cathedral of the middle classes, John, Lewis but they started believing their own propaganda towards the end.
Spot-on with the rest of your list of things we won't miss

Brian Evans (not verified) Thu, 09/07/2020 - 18:49

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I can't find anything Admin has said that I disagree with. Bit annoying really.

Brooke (not verified) Thu, 09/07/2020 - 19:11

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

What kind of life were you leading before this!?

@Brian E. Elon Musk, world's richest man? Sorry--that would be Jeff Bezos-- doesn't dress any better but worth about $80B USD more.

Christopher Fowler Thu, 09/07/2020 - 21:31

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

When you get that rich it makes no difference!

roxanne reynolds (not verified) Thu, 09/07/2020 - 22:25

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

what's a few billion between friends?

Ian Luck (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 07:06

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

No flying boats to France - but you could drive to Lydd Airport, in Kent, and drive your car into a huge beast of an aircraft called a Bristol Superfreighter, run by Sabena or Silver City Airways, and fly to, I believe, Le Touquet. It was so fashionable to do in the late 1950's and early 1960's, that it's mentioned in at least one James Bond novel. Oh, and Airfix made a kit of the aeroplane, which you could buy at Lydd, as a souvenir. I'm looking at one as I write this.

Jan (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 07:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Toddled into Bridport yesterday and the hairdressers I go to for my twice yearly haircut is still closed. I thought I would be in the queue for a haircut by now and at least have me name down for mid August!!

Then I thought about it Heather's clientele is mainly old birds (like myself - many making me look like a whippersnapper) they were in the habit of indulging in a shampoo and set once a week or a fortnight and they are probably still shielding or well out of the habit of hairdressers visits.

Don't really want to go any where very expensive it only tends to be expensive type salons which have opened up for appointments. Options seem to be pluck up courage and visit gents barbers see if they will help out if i only want a quick dry cut or just leave it as it is now have been wearing it clipped up into a bun with clip combs for ages. Both at work and home.

I suppose I could wait until Yeovil college's apprentices are back in the college salon and return to the bright blue hair look. Still not bad problems to have. No worries really. May everyone's problems be so slight...

Brooke (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 08:15

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Admin: "When you get that rich it makes no difference!" It certainly does to these 2 egoists...They even compete on whose wealth is growing the fastest each quarter.

Brian Evans (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 08:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Ian, I'm not making this up but I once did a one night stand in Lydd as the Squire in a touring amateur touring production of the panto "Red Riding Hood". ...."Oh yes I did"...Altogether now....
I think it was here I came to terms with the fact this is probably the nearest I will ever get to the West End.

In the late 60's we flew en famille from Southend across the channel in an old converted two engine Dakota. It was very hair-raising. It was with Channel Airways who eventually went bust.

Paul Connolly (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 08:31

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Yes, a third Dr Phibes film please - Geoffrey Rush reprising his Vincent Price schtick from House on Haunted Hill would be a treat. Anyone but Johnny Depp.........

Dawn Andrews (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 09:21

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Going mad leaders admin? Going, going, gone! Is it just me or is dear Boris looking more and more like Mr Toad?

Christopher Fowler Fri, 10/07/2020 - 09:56

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

You've got me checking the flight timetables for the British Imperial Airways flying boats to Cairo now!

Jan (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 10:23

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Brian anyone who participates in touring amateur panto productions deserves recognition. Hats off to you sir.

I have to ask
B)Big bad wolf
C) Villager (chorus line)?

Please I can see it's a need to know basis and I need to know.

Jan (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 10:25

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Have 're read your original post Brian attention slipped in all my excitement....squire!!

Liz Thompson (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 11:14

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I once interviewed someone whose last job had been 'rear end of a pantomime horse'.

Nick (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 12:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm actually learning Welsh on Duolingo - the first attempt I've made at a different language in over 30 years (which was a time when I had no choice in the matter).

John Williams (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 13:30

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks for a humorous piece which I can identify with. Things are changing. I dared myself to walk through the hospital grounds this morning on the way back from the dentist. Something I've not done in awhile.

Regarding the haircuts, I invested in a trimmer. We'll it did the trick second time around and looks fine.

The car has been parked up for four months with a flat battery. The first trip was to an ANOB area down the road where I lived and played as a boy. How thought provoking and invigorating.

Meanwhile, with all the money I've saved, I've been tempted to view some travel films on YouTube as a source of inspiration for future travels. Well, I'm seeing things in a different light. Do I need to ride on a camel, go kayaking, see some more rocks or to see the tallest war memorial in outer wherever? The graffiti is no different than that in the UK.

Now lockdown has eased, more demands are being placed upon me. Only in the last week, I've helped out with a cycle footpath survey, assisted a neighbour with a passport application, dealt with a flood in my local social club......been asked if I would do some cleaning, asked if I have some cycle spanners, go for a beer, a request for personal help. I refused the final demands. I'm too useful. I must refuse in future, as I'm still enjoying the lockdown and have no desire to go to a pub or restaurant.

Brian Evans (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 14:11

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks for the comment Jan. I had never worked so hard in my entire life until then. I was living in Hastings at the time, and it was a "fit up"-travelling around by cars and van in the morning, then setting everything up for the performance, usually in working men's clubs for their children. We were all over the place, from Basingstoke to Aylesbury, sometimes doing three shows a day, Still, at least I got to slap my thighs through seven counties.

Peter T (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 16:06

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Trump, Musk, Adidas, shaven heads, Mugabe and those parties, if that's the brave, new normal, they can keep it.

Oh for some travel! I've been planning and delaying an XK road trip through France with LOML for too many years. Flying boats have always been a romantic dream for me. My uncle made numerous flights on them. Not to anywhere, just round in a circle and back to the Lake or Loch where they had started. He used to repair them during WWII.

Ian Luck (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 22:23

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I have noticed a sudden decline in the weather. The sudden, massive surge of particulate matter in the air, as everyone got back to work, and used their cars has had a detrimental effect. I cycled home from work this morning, and wished that I had worn a jumper, and had my full-finger gloves on. It had also rained for the best part of 36 hours, and the wind had swung round to the North East. It's all very odd - but not unexpected - people in labs, who wear white coats, and who know what a sliderule is for, warned about this a few months back, and the world said 'Nah.' It's nature. But I'm blaming Trump. And why the hell not? ; )

Wayne Mook (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 20:01

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Today is nice, not that I'm going out. There seems to have been a minor fire in the blocks (the cladding has still not changed since Grenfell, still worrying, we even had a letter as to why it's still not been done. The weakness of their argument is Salford which neighbours us and is a lot poorer then Trafford sorted out the cladding within about 6 months.) my eight year old has gone out 'shopping' with her mum and not to find out what's happening. (We do need bread and butty stuff.)

Actually the weather has been a bit unsettled for a while, flooding in China/Japan and storm Fay in the US, hope everyone is OK there, on top of other things.

John Lewis has other problems, I think I've mentioned them on here. There are some structural problems, some of the senior staff don't know what a partnership is and how to run it, and who and what partners are. Treatment of part-time staff, outsourcing and the list goes on. Remember if you meet a John Lewis or Waitrose partner don't mention the Elton John Christmas ads of yore.


PS.. By the way, I am the only one who is more put off by the way the T-Shirt is pulled to one side than the crusty mullet?

Jan (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 19:21

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Fancy Trafford failing to deal with a problem Salford which as you say Wayne is a much poorer place sorts out! I can't quite get my head round that. It's just having the political will and getting to grips with the logistics really. Except perhaps the cladding which has been installed around private dwellings. That might be a bit more complex.

I have been reading a lot about the opposition to the housing that they are trying to get built up on Chat moss. Seems crazy to me that they are even considering building up that way on. In towns absolutely full of brownfield sites they want to build on the moss. It's crackers

Specially after all the work that's been out in creating the cycle routes buying up the old farms and creating woodland. How some private builder wants to make a few bob.

Jan (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 06:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Above should read Salford solved.


Helen Martin (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 17:11

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Do you ever get the feeling that there are too many builders of the wrong sort? The ones that look for a place they can build something that will make a profit and keep their workers busy. No one seems to ask what this area needs and then hires a builder to provide it. It's what is wrong in a lot of marketing.

Wayne Mook (not verified) Sat, 18/07/2020 - 02:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The politics is very much part of it Jan. Both places I was talking about are Housing Associations which were once council run.

They have been trying to build on Turn Moss (along the Mersey between Stretford and Sale) as well, looks like it may have been defeated. Chat Moss with all it's drainage ditches would create a flooding nightmare if they built on it, but 5 miles away from Manchester and about 10 sq miles of land you can see why they are eyeing it up. I guess they are talking about the positive impact on Salford.


Ian Luck (not verified) Sun, 19/07/2020 - 13:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Paul - I'd very much like a new Doctor Phibes movie, and Geoffrey Rush playing Vincent Price playing Dr. Anton Phibes is right up my street. Give it to Guillermo Del Toro - he's a safe pair of hands for material like this.

Ian Luck (not verified) Sun, 19/07/2020 - 18:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Helen - the builders and developers in my town unfailingly build in the wrong place. Furthermore, the buildings are rubbish and nobody wants to live in them. There are flats that were built here in the late 1980's, and the only way they could fill them in the end, was to make them low-cost housing. Most of the buildings look like 1960's Eastern Bloc concrete brutalism. 'Stasi Offices' we call them. One set were built over a huge mediaeval cemetery and plague pit. I bet that was never mentioned in the sales brochures. There were dozens of beautiful Victorian warehouses at our docks, and known as the 'Historic Waterfront'. All gone, now of course, replaced with concrete excresences. I was cycling to work, one evening, and I stopped near the dock entrance to answer my phone. When I was done, a gentleman, whom I think was Dutch, very politely asked me where the much mooted 'Historic Waterfront' was. I pointed down the quayside, to where a crane was loading rubble on to a barge.
"That's it, right there, being put on that barge."
He looked at me oddly.
"It's all going to be flats and bars" I replied.
"Nobody was asked, and here's where we're at. Sorry."
And it is. Flats people detest living in, and dreadful, soulless bars that nobody likes drinking in, other than a load of braying weekend yacht twats.