Yesterday represented my first bus ride since prime minister Dominic Cummings told Boris Johnson to bring in a half-arsed lockdown in response to COVID-19 and it didn’t start well. Seeing a bus in the distance we decided to set off in a slow speed run to catch it. Waving our arms about 20 yards short of the bus stop, the driver made no attempt to stop, despite the fact he would not have had to wait an extra second to his journey time. Cheers, drive. Then, on the way home a young woman got on the bus without a mask and bellowed into her mobile phone for most of the journey. In my role as an interfering busy-body, I reminded her she was supposed to be waring a mask. “I haven’t got one,” she replied. “Well, you should flipping well get one, then,” I almost replied. I mentioned it to the driver who basically informed me that as he wasn’t wearing a mask, he could hardly tell passengers to wear them. Great.
I expect Cummings, as a known fan of the herd immunity theory, would have been secretly pleased by the laissez faire attitude of the drivers (the one on the journey into town wasn’t wearing one either), and the apathy of a minority of passengers, but I thought it was a bit shit. And I felt it reflected a substantial part of the public mood which increasingly believes the virus is going away and we can all get back to normal again.
Bristol’s shopping areas were very busy, with one way systems in operation through the main centres like Cabot Circus. Sadly, the bright arrows were a little too complex for many happy shoppers to comprehend and, despite the constant urging of uniformed (security?) staff, I found myself constantly face to face with people with their heads down gazing at their phones and those who just weren’t bothered. I didn’t not feel any urge to visit the shops. They were not the reason I was there.
We made our way to the Phoenix pub where I had booked a table for four with our friends. We found ourselves on the next table to another old friend (actually, he’s not that old), which immediately made it feel like the genuine pub experience. The waiter service was adequate as we sat in the pub garden and before long I too was beginning to wonder what this coronavirus malarkey was all about. To be fair, that was in all likelihood the Thatcher’s Gold talking.
But if it felt like it was business as usual, it turns out another 148 people died from COVID-19 on Friday. The decision by Cummings to scrap the daily news briefing has served only to quite deliberately reduce our access to information. After all, still high rates of infection and deaths are so yesterday when all the government wants us to do is to go out, get pissed and go shopping. I carried out my civic duty yesterday, except in the shopping department.
I can’t help but think further lockdowns, in addition to Leicester’s, are far away. My newspaper reveals that there are 20 councils which require “enhanced support”, whatever that is supposed to mean. Oh hang on, it means shutting everything down again. Silly me.
I’m going to enjoy a bit of normal while I can. You never no long how it will last.