Unless scenic walks, queuing outside a supermarket, or standing in an empty shopping mall and cacophonously screaming “Aaaarrrggghhh!!” is your bag, under prevailing lockdown edicts entertainment rations outside of the home are indeed meagre.

Even the chair of the Entertainment Rations Are Meagre Society (ERAMS), Clive Tyretread, who’s seen some pretty piss poor times during sixty years on this dysfunctional planet, yesterday observed “This is the least frolicsome I’ve ever know life…… And when I was a child the only toy I owned was a stick with string tie at one end!”

Born, in 1960, into stark squalor consequential of being raised by a single mum in northern English council flat poverty, Tyretread’s young life played out like a Ken Loach movie.

His 19 year old mother, disowned by her family for bearing child outside of wedlock, holding down two laundry jobs to feed, cloth and shelter her offspring. She a good hearted woman who, like a majority female forebears, loved her child unequivocally. This benevolence witnessed every two months when, despite tight fiscal budgeting, she’d habitually replace the string on young Clive’s stick.

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In Tyretread’s memoirs ‘Meagre Is Better Than Bereft‘, the ERAMS chairman writes movingly about his poverty stricken fledgling years. This squalor played out in a landscape of grime and soundscape of vitriolic name calling. Clive only tasting sweets for the first time at the age of 15, after finding a packet of spangles on the cobbles outside a local sweet shop.

During those years the boy Tyretread’s timid nature and ill-fitting clothes, which his mum procured from the lost property box at the local swimming baths, led to school playground bullying.

At the age of seven, his tormenters choosing a host of lazy taunts as toxic putdowns, including ‘Sticky’, or ‘Stringy’, or the even more hurtful ‘Sticky Stringy’.

On returning home his mother Angela would attempt to raise his spirits with misleading assurances. One such episode taking place after a particularly bad day for Clive at the hands of his cowardly foes. An exchange beginning with the following maternal opening gambit on becoming aware of her much loved offspring’s torment:-

Don’t worry, love!!!….. They (the bullies) are only jealous because they’ve not got a stick!”

Malcolm Gableend has a stick!” Clive chuntered deflatedly.

Yes, but his doesn’t have any string on the end, love; like you’ve got!” Angela observed empathetically.

“Colin Trees has got some string!” Clive further added disenchantedly.

“Yes, love!…. He’s not got a stick with it, though, sweetheart!” a caring mater responded, endeavouring to placate her distraught boy.

After a brief period of silence, the boy enquired, as gravity forced a tear from his eye to gently roll down cheek, “Do you think I’ll ever be able to wear clothes that you didn’t pick from the swimming baths’ lost property box?!”

“Why’s that, love?…… Do you not like your clothing, Clive?” his mum enquired compassionately.

“To be honest, mum, no!” the seven year old sheepishly retorted.

“What don’t you like about them, love?” his existentially brow beaten mother asked with concern.

“Well, apart from my jumper, they’re all adult clothes which are miles too big for me, mum!” the boy uttered ruefully.

“I can’t help that, Clive!!…. It’s not my fault it’s the adults, not kids, who’re forgetful with items of clothing when swimming!!….. I’d love to be able to afford you clothes from a shop, but if I did that there’d not be enough money to get you new string for your stick every two months.” She posited softly, with consoling hand on her tormented boy’s shoulder.

“But, not only are my trousers miles too large for me mum, the fact they’ve got a collar is embarrassing!….. Plus, I need a belt. The waist on these strides must be a 36″, mine’s a 26” waistband!” Clive grumbled with some justification.

“I can’t afford a belt, love!…… Use the string from your stick!” Angela suggested in desperate attempt to ease her boys plight.

“One other thing…. Why do I have to wear a bowler hat for school, mum?” young Clive queried.

“Because there wasn’t one of your school caps in the swimming pool lost property box, love!” came an apologetic maternal response.

We don’t have a school cap….. No one wears headwear at school!!” countered the boy disgruntledly.

“Oops!” came the sheepish motherly retort; followed by witnessing her son head towards the garbage bin to discard his bowler.