Chiswick Unbound – Decisions, Decisions!

By Keith Richards

Keith Richards, writer and resident of Chiswick, documented his Corona lock down, living on his own, in a weekly blog from 24 March to 7 July 2020 called Chiswick Confined – My Corona. Now he’s free to roam at will, the blog has mutated into Chiswick Unbound.

Images above: Coffee at Parlé Pantry; Keith’s ‘Dick of the Week’

To socialise, or not to socialise, that is the question

Now that it is down to the great British Common Sense whether we continue being sensible or just go out and pretend the Covid crisis never happened, it’s time to make our minds up.

I could still walk down to my local shops and wait patiently outside until there is room to keep a sensible distance or I could drive my four-wheel gas guzzler down to Turnham Green Terrace, move the inconvenient bollards so I can park on a double yellow line and push in the queue ‘scuse me mate, I am in a rush ‘cos I saw a traffic warden down there.’

I could stroll down my local and have a couple of relaxed pints in the garden while its not too busy or I could go to that popular boozer where you don’t have to register, where everyone pushes at the bar for service, have a skinful and put my arm round an uncomfortable stranger and tell him ‘this is fuckin’ great, in’it mate’?

I could go for a walk along the river or in the park with close family or friends and then invite them into the garden for a few drinks and barbeque or we could all just stay in the park, smash a few tins and lightup the takeaway barbeque while we ignore what the kids are doing, take a leak round the back of someone else’s drive way and then stagger home and leave someone else to clear up all our rubbish.

Oh, Keith, you are such a grumpy old man exaggerating like that. Really….. ?

Anyway, I have enjoyed a couple of trips to local boozers and next week I will be interviewing Dave Finan, the landlord of The Raven about the practicalities of re-opening, whether the hospitality industry will ever be the same again plus asking him for a couple of appropriate musical recommendations. Anyway, after my much appreciated pint I came back home and put my feet up to watch another of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s streamed performances that have helped keep me sane during the lock down. Maybe I was dozing off but I could have sworn that the Prince of Denmark was struggling with the same problems we are having today…………

To socialise, or not to socialise, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
Sitting at home in a grumpy mood,
Or to walk out against the risk of Covid,
And by distancing enjoy: a pie, or a pint;
No more; and by a sneeze, to say we spread
The virus, to a thousand extra people
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis possible
If no one gives a toss. I could stay in,
To sleep, perchance to watch TV; but there’s the pub,
and after six full pints, what dreams may come,
When I sleep off this hangover?
But give us pause. Was there respect
For proper social distance?
What about that prat in the bog, that breath’d on me
The Oppressor’s spit, the pissed man’s Contumely.
Then, down the shops, the Law’s delay,
The insolence of drivers and he who spurns
That patient merit of the new parking measures,
When he himself might his consideration make
For other shoppers? Who moves the bollards
Just to park their four by four,
Because they can’t be arsed to think of other people.
And Inconsistent quarantine, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather do staycations,
Than fly through airports we know not of.
But, thoughtlessness makes dickheads of us all,
And thus the native hue of inhibition
Is sicklied o’er, and after several pints
And inconsiderate behaviour in a public place,
With this regard the Covid’s second wave doth come
And waste the name of Lock Down. Soft you now,
Fair isolation? Nymph, in thy Orisons
Be all my sins remember’d.

Image above: Allman Brothers LP cover – The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East

At this point I normally come up with a Vinyl with a link to the topic of the Blog or with some local connection.

I have been waiting for an opportunity to post “The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East” but it has been tough to find a link. Even though they have always been regarded as on of the great live bands and this as one of the great live albums, they hardly ever toured outside of the US so they clearly didn’t play anywhere near here. The closest would have been the Knebworth rock festival in 1974 that included The Doobie Brothers, Van Morrison and the Alex Harvey Band.

I could stretch it and say that as today’s blog was one of my ‘angry’ ones this album does contain one of my great ‘angry’ tracks. “Whipping Post” was one of those songs that when you are in a bad mood, especially if you have just been jilted by a girl friend or sacked from a job. Cranking up the volume, strapping on your air guitar and stomping round your room while singing ‘sometimes I feel like I have been tied to the whipping post’ at the top of your voice is still a massive stress reliever.

Yet, weirdly there is a link, albeit a fine one: a ghost. In 1972 I spent a year in red neck Wilson, North Carolina. I actually bought this Vinyl out there. It has Capricorn Records as the Label whereas in the UK it was distributed by Atlantic. My sanity in that southern bible bashing place of pick-up trucks with shot gun racks was a bunch of long-haired musicians I hung out with who had a band called ‘Mass Temper’.

They played mostly covers of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin and their lead guitarist Jimmy was a massive fan of The Allman Brothers after they supported them on a couple of local gigs. He used to swear that after Dicky Betts died in a motorcycle on November 11th 1971, if he played any of Bett’s guitar licks his ghost would sit in the rocking chair in Jimmy’s room. He said the chair would start gently rocking to the sound of the guitar. Who knows? At least the story gives me an excuse to play this amazing track as a ghostly link to the past.

Read more blogs by Keith

Read the next in the series – Chiswick Unbound: What’s going on?

Read the previous one – My Corona blog 16

See all Keith’s My Corona blogs here.

See more of Keith’s work on his website –

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