If you attend one of the great masked balls of Venice, its said that you will not recognise your own reflection in the waters of the Grand Canal. With anonymity assured, anything goes. So the question is, dare you enter the world of masquerade and let go of your inhibitions from behind the secrecy of a sophisticated and stylish face covering?

The rules of social distancing forbid such cavorting. Anyway, the three-layer paper mask, in fetching medical blue or gorgeous medical white, does not offer the seductive powers of carnival and is more asphyxiation than intoxication. On the grounds that it has to be done and you should probably try everything once, I’ve been giving it a go.

The on line advice is that you should wear a mask unless it obscures your residual vision. Sitting in my kitchen it didn’t. The on line advice is also to practice walking about at home to get used to it. I did it for a week and every time I moved my head I couldn’t help but wobble. Even though I didn’t fancy a lie down, I felt it may be forced upon me with every step. So, I had a sit down and a think. This was a job for the long cane.

My cane technique is improving with the demands of Covid. The cane is like getting your head round your computer. You might not fancy it, but the more you flex the muscle the better it feels and the more in command you are of what you are doing.

Off I set in the quest for the veg that I had forgotten to order on line. The heavens opened and by the time I arrived at the point of “are you the end of the queue?” I doubt I was recognisable to even the most ardent of carnival goer. On the up side, this was life and I was living it.

“Next customer,” came the command from oblivion.
“Do you mean me?”
“I need you to go this way?”
“Which way do you mean? Can you say the way?”
“That way?”
“This way or that doesn’t mean anything to me. I can’t see.”
“Over there.”
“Hello,” I drawled, waving my cane about.
“Next customer.”
“OK, I’m coming in.”
“Unbelievable,” came a low murmur from behind me. She did not mean me.
“I’m turning right for tomatoes,” I bellowed and pressed ahead.
Amazing what I find I am prepared to do, and broadcast about, in my love of a baby plumb.

I needn’t have bothered with any of this, because round the corner, John and Bill, and their veg, stall were back. I knew because I heard John shout at me. “Didn’t the cough carry you off?”
“Not dead yet then?” I batted back.
“Have a tomato Love.’
I did and then I bought another half kilo for good measure.

Hardiness is a quality that I temporarily misplaced last Saturday in the rain. I’m taking the view that, even with a cane, the wobble may not be a price worth paying if I have a hope of remaining upright. I’ve been on line again. I’ve downloaded the badge that says “I am exempt from wearing a face covering.” I hope I won’t need to use it, but if John and Bill ever run out of tomatoes, I might just need it.

The weight of all those tomatoes impeded my usual desire for a walk home. I had a sit down on the bus and wore my face mask all the way. While I wasn’t moving I wasn’t wobbling. Good job it wasn’t standing room only.

This might not be Venice, but a mask is simply a must if you can.