INDEPENDENCE Day is here! I must say when, some months ago, Boris suggested 4th July might be the time when pubs would reopen, my mind immediately sprang to what for Americans is the most important day after Thanksgiving. Our two village pubs, The George and The Bourne Valley Inn, have set to on social media promoting their reopening. The BVI has ground to make up with dark mutterings amongst some villagers about, “Not much effort being made to at least provide takeaway beer during lockdown.” I am sure all will be forgiven in a week or so.

I expect village pub-goers will continue to observe their usual sense of decorum. I am not so sanguine about their urban counterparts. It’s a crackpot idea to fling open the doors to the beer starved on a Saturday. Apparently, most A&E staff have had their feet up with people deciding not to “trouble the doctor” - most likely for fear of picking up a dose of Corona. I suspect that’s all about to change.

We’ve already had a taste of what might be to come from the disgusting performance of the hordes trooping to Bournemouth, depositing a sea of litter, not just on the beaches but in the town’s immaculately kept parks; heart-breaking for the residents. Bin full? Just sling your redundant McDonalds wrappers on the grass. Not so easy to see in the TV pictures were the piles of excrement and associated detritus, courtesy of those who clearly hadn’t thought through the consequences of public lavatories not being open. Inevitably those attempting a modicum of social distancing found themselves, quite literally, going through the motions.

A story that got rather buried last week was the shake-up at Royal Mail with thousands of middle managers being chopped. Sadly, as Royal Mail has now split from the Post Office, they’ll not include those responsible for the unforgivable high handedness that saw thousands of postmasters prosecuted for fraud when the reality was the costly Post Office Horizon computer system was issuing false information. Mendacious, jack-in-office managers turned dedicated postmasters into felons resulting in the jailing of a pregnant postmistress and the prosecution of Jo Hamilton who ran the post office in the north Hampshire village of South Warnborough.

One of my charities, Enham Trust, received a plaudit this week from the Care Quality Commission, one of four regulators to whom we have to account. The had a look at how we were coping with Covid-19 and gave us a clean bill of health.

Meanwhile at my other charity, the Gilbert White Museum at Selborne, we’re preparing to reopen our 25 acres of gardens this Saturday. They are looking a picture and should provide a great trip out for the family. We hope to open the museum a week or so later.

The reopening will be rather poignant, coming as it does just days after the sad death of my friend and predecessor as chairman of trustees, Dr Rosemary Irwin, MBE. After a glittering career in education including stints in senior roles at Peter Symonds and Marlborough, in retirement Rosey took on Gilbert White, raising serious sums to make the place more attractive to visitors with a café and reinterpretation of the museum’s artefacts. She will be sorely missed.

On a lighter note, I’ve managed to book a haircut next week, although a friend tells me for some time there have been quite a few samizdat hairdressers operating in recent weeks, along the lines of, “Knock three times and ask for Sharon.” Someday this madness will end.