ESP’s Man About Town, Pep Cipriano, has been more ‘man about the house’ over the last few weeks on lockdown but as restrictions ease he reflects on what our ‘new normal’ will be, started doing press ups, and is getting excited about a Strictly star dancing her way to the city…


What a journey eh… We’re almost there. On the brink of normality after being in isolation and lockdown for more than three months.

But are we any different? Has the COVID-19 experience changed us? And what’s the new normal?

I’m going to stick my neck on the block and say in time we’ll be no different, we’re creatures of habit and our routines will quickly return without any thought of how we might be fuelling a spike in new COVID cases. Although some of us will be doing things differently – not through choice – and thankfully most of us have been.

But since the end of March, I’ve witnessed people carry on without a care in the world, but of course the majority of us have stuck to the rules.

Some of this negligence I’ve seen could be put down to the simple fact that we human beings aren’t programmed to be physically distant from one another. It’s natural for us to stand in close proximity to someone else and easy to forget we’re supposed to be two metres apart – and that you should be coughing and sneezing away from my face please.

Getting beauty treatments, your haircut and going to the gym will all be a slightly different experience for many months to come. We can stick to these rules but what about new rules in pubs? When alcohol is involved the challenge becomes two-fold. I’d like to see someone keep two metres apart from other drinkers after consuming three or four pints.

And how are we feeling about being properly let off our leashes? Lots of people I’ve spoken to are nervous about leaving their homes and mixing again. I would describe my feelings as apprehensively positive. I know I’m staying alert and thinking ahead but I can’t speak for all of us.

However, there were encouraging signs in the city centre when it reopened for business. I saw people mostly obeying social distancing and directional signage in shops. I just hope it continues.

This surreal situation we continue to find ourselves in is hard, there’s no denying that. We’ve come so far and we need to keep moving forward with discretion, obedience and above all intelligence. If we don’t, we’ll all be locked-down again and none of us want that. Having Christmas Day at home alone is no fun for anyone, especially if The Snowman is on TV for the millionth time.

And I for one wouldn’t want to see public toilets closed again otherwise we’ll get an outbreak of what can only be described as ‘fly peeing’. This is when people have been caught short (on essential journeys of course) needing to pee, so they’ve done it in a bottle and discarded it for all of us to see and roll our eyes at. Yes, it’s happened in Peterborough more than once since March.

Above all I just want to be able to give someone a handshake again, greet a woman with a peck on the cheek and cough in public without being glared at like I’ve just urinated on a statue, but that’s another tragic story. We’re only halfway through the year but 2020 has already given us plenty to think about…


A big shout to Dominic Santoro who nominated me on Facebook to take part in the push-up challenge to help raise awareness for PTSD, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues that can drive people to suicide or self-harm.

My reaction to being tagged as nominated isn’t printable in this column. But having finished filming myself doing 25 press-ups (badly) in 25 days, I have to say I’m actually missing it.

It was great to see some of the friends I nominated follow the whole 25 days through too. We kept each other going. Thanks also to Eddie Nash for giving me the idea to play music to get me through my daily 25. It feels good to rediscover Motown and early House.

Eddie breezed through his 25 days and added a press-up a day thereafter. As I write this today, he’s past the 40-mark and still going!

I’m all for sit-ups or planks next if anyone else is?


I think I fancy Oti Mabuse from Strictly Come Dancing.

And it’s just as well because I’ll be pulling out the stops to meet her when she kicks off her first-ever UK tour with two performances at the New Theatre on April 16 and 17 next year.

Tickets are already on sale for the show, which is titled I Am Here (a direct translation of Oti’s name in the language Setswana, spoken in South Africa).

We’re expecting to see a dance celebration of the influences and inspirations that took Oti on a journey from growing up in South Africa to the big stage on Strictly.

So, if you like your jive and samba be sure not to miss this one. I just like Oti and my ticket is well and truly booked.

Be quick, this one’s sure to be a sell-out. Visit


It’s safe to say the City Market has seen better days but I’m pleased to hear there may be a solution to stop it disappearing into oblivion.

In recent years the market’s suffered from lack of footfall due to a number of factors but namely the opening of Wilko (offering products at competitive prices), the lack of unique traders and ultimately, insufficient investment from the city council.

For so long it’s been a case of just putting a plaster on it instead of giving it the surgery it needs. Tourism has suffered a similar fate in Peterborough but I’ll save that one for a future column.

Plans of grand frontages of Westgate House being retained and filled by retail, food and drink units sound great. As is the idea in proposals to rent the upper floors as office space, a gym and even residential apartments.

There’s even talk of the main central area being used for seating, eating and live performances.

But at the end of the day what really matters is how much money the owners of the building could make. I’m assuming it would be far more commercially attractive if for example the entire building was to be converted into student accommodation in time for our new university.

This wouldn’t be my choice but money talks and my understanding of the city’s market charter (I’m happy to be corrected) is more than one stall constitutes as a market, so it doesn’t matter how big or small the market needs to be or where it’s located.

Let’s sit back and see. Or maybe we’ll be invited to consult on plans. I know where my money is and I know what’s best for the city centre if the motivation isn’t about the green stuff.


Up until a couple of weeks ago my worst and most useless purchase during lockdown was a pair of left-handed scissors (I was bored and wanted to see if I could use them right-handed. I couldn’t).

But this £23 inflatable punch bag from Taiwan tops those scissors. Do they do Viagra for these?


A study of 2,000 adults commissioned by Love Fresh Berries says the average Brit will consume nearly 70,000 snacks in their lifetime.

And this was before lockdown.

Crisps topped the poll, followed by chocolate and biscuits. It’s got me thinking… Do Wotsits still come in spicy tomato flavour?

When I reminisce about what I used to put in my mouth in the 1980s (and remember these were my puberty years) I can’t think of anything that was more memorable and satisfying than those Wotsits.