On Monday evening I watched the news and felt an unexpected surge in anger. Nicola Sturgeon, that tiny mouth full of covid threats for Scotland was visible on the screen.
She seemed to be enjoying this moment too much and almost felt a pang of joy at the thought of her countrymen being ruled by her.
You could also hear the sound and sight of experts who were all geared up to warn us about the upcoming weeks. We are softened, worn down and reminded of the torture instruments: travel restrictions, social distancing and lockdown.
It’s all so bloody predictable. Along comes a variant — as we always knew it would — and it’s somehow as though the powers-that-be can’t wait for the machinery of oppression to kick in. It seems that they actually enjoy it. Do not go to jail. Pass Go. Do not collect £200. For that matter, anything.
Sajid Javid is the Health Secretary, while Boris Johnson is Prime Minister and Amanda Pritchard is Chief Executive of NHS England during today’s Downing Street media briefing
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister in a coronavirus face mask, is standing beside an individual who was given the vaccine by Lordship Lane Primary Care center in north London.
This whole endeavor was started to save lives. We didn’t understand the virus, we didn’t have a vaccine, we didn’t have a cure; and so the only thing to do was keep ourselves to ourselves until all the clever people had come up with some workable solutions.
Although it was difficult at all levels, we worked together as individuals and as a nation to make the process work. It cost us our health, our sanity and trillions of pounds — but we did it, and now we have a vaccine and treatment protocols that make Covid, while by no means a spent force, a disease we can reasonably expect to manage.
Tuesday night was Monday. Sturgeon had been predicting doom. What, 70 million people? Though each loss is a tragedy in itself, if that’s not a victory of sorts, I don’t know what is.
It’s not true. All that aside, it’s time to forget about the booster and the jabs. We’ve gone from nought to Armageddon in the space of about three days — and it makes no sense.
We don’t need to start enforcing draconian measures — we’re nowhere near that point. And yet already it almost feels that they’re as good as back in place, and the grim inevitability of lockdown is only a few hastily arranged press conferences away.
It’s like the authorities — not just in Britain, but all around the world — can’t wait to get us back in our boxes. To destroy our spirit and make us foolish for trying to find a way out from this nightmare.
It seems unthinkable, but it’s almost as though politicians such as Sturgeon and beyond have become so addicted to the power that Covid gives them they almost don’t want this to be over.
It’s mad, it is. Is it?
Because what else explains this rush, this eagerness for a return to restrictions — if not the fact that they represent the power to control and monitor their populations to a greater degree than ever before in the history of humanity. Our collective complicity is reduced to nothing more than passive, docile QR codes, too afraid, exhausted, and tired to object.
Austria has already effectively interrogated a third its citizens as a threat to the public’s health. The Germans may follow suit.
All over the world, it’s the same old story, with greater or lesser abuses of power, depending on the nature of the regime. It’s almost as though having got a taste for keeping us all in line during lockdown and through systems such as Test and Trace, they would quite like things to stay that way.
This is why they scaremonger. It feels like they’re grinding us down so we feel too scared and tired to complain, and pathetically grateful for the tiny crumbs of freedom they throw us — freedoms that, until recently, seemed to be inalienable, unquestionable, centuries-old rights.
However, this is all wrong. We can’t be expected to live like this, to march day and night to this relentless drumbeat of anxiety.
People can’t be made to feel like criminals for daring to plan a holiday or a Christmas party or even a simple outing to the shops without the prospect of being kicked sideways by some new restriction. This is Great Britain. Not Communist China. Or at least it’s supposed to be.
Also, I don’t know about you, but I honestly don’t think I can do a fourth lockdown. I feel like I’ve only just survived the past two years by the skin of my teeth. I’m really not sure I have the mental or physical reserves for any more misery.
My family and many friends share the sentiment. To a greater or lesser degree, they have all faced challenges over the past two years — and it’s taken its toll.
You can see it on their faces. They are filled with emotion when they hear the slightest bit of kindness. They’re scared, anxious, worried, tired and ill from worry. It can’t go on. And it shouldn’t.
We have both the vaccine and antiviral drugs. It’s never going to get much better than that, in terms of how we treat Covid.
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister reacts to a Covid-19 Update Statement today on the Omicron variant at the Scottish Parliament
But unless and until we take lockdowns off the table, the vast majority of the population, for whom the virus presents very little threat — that is to say people under the age of 50 — are going to have their lives ruined in perpetuity by governments too weak or too cowardly to show the kind of wisdom and leadership the situation demands.
This is what we have to do. And by that I don’t mean striving for ‘zero Covid’, or fundamentally altering the way society works. I mean accepting that it’s an imperfect compromise — like almost everything in life — and just doing our best to stay safe.
Like we do every time we cross the road or plug in an appliance or boil the kettle — or do any of the million other things that might, theoretically, lead to our demise.
People deal with difficulties of today by planning for the future.
You can take that away and it will be all you have left of hope. And right now, hope is the only thing that’s keeping many people afloat.
Give Lily, the coldest of Lilies, a warm coat
There were many unusual looks on show at Monday night’s 2021 Fashion Awards at the Royal Albert Hall; but most striking of all was singer Lily Allen, who must have been freezing in a backless, sideless silver waistcoat — not least because there isn’t an ounce of flesh on the poor woman.
Although I understand that being thin is a virtue, you shouldn’t be too proud to show it.
Watching part two of the BBC’s much-hyped documentary, The Princes And The Press, the only thing of real interest was the amount of jewellery that presenter Amol Rajan wears. It is actually much more than that of the Duchess Of Sussex. This is a significant feat.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s reshuffle is the very definition of rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. Perhaps the most shocking thing about Ed Miliband was his move from shadowbusiness to shadowclimate change. It is hard to believe that Ed Miliband was even there.
For thought: Menopause
It was quite troubling to learn that there have been an increase in employment tribunals citing menopause over the last few years.
Of course, it’s important that menopausal women stick up for themselves. But I wouldn’t want to end up in a situation where employers are reluctant to hire or promote women of menopausal age for fear of ending up in litigation.
Midlife women already find it hard enough to obtain work, since they’re often coming back into the marketplace after years off caring for children; let’s not erect another barrier to entry.