19th March 2020

Darling Paloma,

The streets are still bustling. Everyone is talking about the impending lockdown but no one of course has any idea except those in or close to government. A friend who knows a friend of Boris Johnson says Friday, the guy who makes my coffee says Sunday. We shall see but I can’t understand why it hasn’t happened already. There is no sign of social distancing and I have stopped myself a number of times from going up to lecture strangers on what social distancing means. Mind you it’s easier for me as I have been doing it for years.

The communication from the government despite its daily news conferences seems pretty lousy. It is as if they are making up the rules as they go along. Boris Johnson standing anxiously between his two medical advisors both trying to exude an aura of reassurance. The type who naturally has a good bedside manner and not some (how can we put it): horror-movie medic! The Prime Minister is looking more by the day like uncooked tripe. His announcement to shut down the schools though has thrown the country into proper perspective. (We are the last in Europe to make the decision). Suddenly the world we have got to know looks to be slowly disappearing. Park football pitches soon to be turned into rubbish dumps, disused country roads, buildings half-finished, warehouses turning into hospitals. I really believe these strange times are going to last longer than we all think.

I know we have written down 19th June as the day we all plan to see each other. But time suddenly feels as if it is slowing ; it pains me. I know over the coming months I will have to deal with its perception.

I am going to leave you with this story I was told when I was a boy and has always stayed with me: A man was moving country and while clearing out his home, finds a ticket for a pair of shoes left at a shoe shop many years before. On the off chance that the shop is still there, he pays a call, and, sure enough, there it is, with the same cobbler in charge, by now wizened and wise! He hands over the ticket. “I’ll have a look for you,” says the cobbler, and goes out the back, eventually returning to announce: “They’ll be ready next Tuesday!’

I love you.


Published by Simon Astaire

Simon Astaire was the youngest agent ever employed at ICM starting the Music department and representing a variety of clients before turning to head a PR agency where his clients included brands such as Bulgari, Armani and celebrities and members of the Royal Family. He is regularly quoted in the press and has been described in The London Times as a PR Prince. He had a regular column in the Sunday Telegraph called Station to Station where he interviewed a diverse mixture of high-profile individuals on their imaginary last train journey. He has written six novels and two biographies including soccer star Sol Campbell when he was nominated for best new sports writer. His latest novel The Last Photograph, was made into a film of the same name. It had a US theatrical release in November 2019 and is now available on all platforms. His blog ' Letters to my daughter' began March 19th 2020.

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