As the COVID-19 virus sweeps across the UK, and my wife and I find ourselves in an at-risk group on two counts: firstly because of age; and secondly because of what are euphemistically called underlying health issues; my daughter’s partner suggested I should write a journal. So here is the first episode of what I would dearly love to be a long series of short, hopefully amusing, articles.
Day 1: Hancock’s half hour
Sunday 15th March 2020.
40279 people tested, 2533 up on 14/3/20
1372 confirmed cases, 232 up on 14/3/20
35 dead. 14 up on 14/3/20
Handwashing, or what?
As each day of the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, the ineptitude of our leaders becomes ever more apparent.
I say that in the knowledge that I may be putting the most charitable interpretation on their motives, but let’s run with this for the time being.
The general public, like the Corona campaign, is being shambolically mis-led by Boris Johnson who likes to stand centre stage every now and then and spout Churchillian platitudes about pulling together, fighting them in the bathrooms, and washing our hands. This latter activity being something his party clearly has enormous experience of, given that they are trying to wash their hands of responsibility for the parlous state of “Our” NHS, as they like to call it these days.
But that’s by the by. I was interested in the numbers, which were pretty horrific, and what our glorious leader was going to do about the situation.
In the event, the Minister for Health, Matt Hancock, was popped up into the firing line overnight on Saturday, briefing a few odd journos, and had to face the full brunt of a Sophy Ridge interview on Sunday morning. Unsurprisingly, he looked pretty uncomfortable. It would seem that the Government was ready to unleash the dogs of war and truly confront the dreaded Corona virus…soon. Not now, we understood, but maybe after we have got some motor parts companies to knock up a few ventilators. However, there would definitely be something on Tuesday, ready for Wednesday and available for the public on Thursday. It was going to be a humdinger and would possibly even include some measures!
These could include the power for the police/army to arrest people who should not be on the streets because they had the virus. Although quite how this is going to work, when it currently takes days to find out if you have the virus and test kits are as rare as rocking horse shit, I don’t know. Still, I’m sure Tommy Atkins will find a way.
The main intent though must have been to fan the flames of panic-buying, with the threat of an order in the next 5 to 30 days to confine all of us who are 70 year old or older to barracks, 24 hours a day for 4 months or so.
I thought about the numbers briefly, and I’ll check them later, but it looks to me as though we are talking about 8 million people locking themselves away “for the duration” as this particular group’s parents used to say.
I wonder if that will make anyone think “Hmm, maybe I’d better try to stock up on as much food as I can over the next few days to make sure I don’t starve to death?” Maybe someone should ask the Behavioural Unit eh? Nudge, nudge.
Well it worked, our trip to Tesco around lunch time on Sunday showed a strange pattern of what folk thought they must have over the next few weeks. Bleach, washing powder, big packs of teabags, breakfast cereals, toilet and kitchen rolls, tissues, rice, pasta, all sorts of tinned stuff, bottled water, sugar, flour, any sort of cleaning products, soups, eggs, and so on, were all nowhere to be seen, or in very short supply. Even though many of these lines had notices on the shelves limiting purchases to two packs per customer. This was being enforced at the checkouts by embarrassed staff.
A striking success for hapless Hancock in his career change as our new Minister for Panic Buying.
I’m guessing, that based on this success, they’ll move him on to replace Priti Patel at the Home Office so that he can cause maximum disarray on the streets and get us into full scale Martial Law. Of course, this all relies on the army staying healthy and that could be a problem. “Sergeant, I am arresting myself for being on the street in a state of viral infection. Shall I bugger off and put myself in the chokey?”
“Right O, Lad. Get along then and don’t come out for seven days, or fourteen days, or four months, or something.”
Still, on the plus side, these things always bring out some kind of positives. As the vulnerable prepare to die in their beds or on the streets, they can do it knowing that they are part of a revolution in the way the survivors will live and that this will reduce the rate at which we are all poisoning the planet. Result eh?
More seriously, one would hope the green shoots of community cooperation that are starting to show with the birth of small local self-support groups, will prosper and that a more compassionate world might just result.
Not holding my breath though, but let’s see what tomorrow brings.