This government has a pretty good record in sending people to die. The “protective ring” Matt Hancock said he threw around the care sector turned out to be a noose, as many thousands of untested senior citizens were sent to care homes to die from COVID-19. Now, as the virus is on the rise again, Boris Johnson confirms that people who have been shielding should ask themselves the Clint Eastwood question, ‘Do I feel lucky?” when they are being sent back to work, along with others who have been working from home in order to avoid catching an unhealthy dose of COVID-19 and quite possibly dying. Still, Johnson expects things to be “significantly back to normal” for Christmas. Yet, after being told to go back to work, those of us between the ages of 50 and 70 are facing the prospect of being told to stay at home again. Can anyone see the problem, here?
Us oldies are more vulnerable to the virus than the young. We are the ones who have a greater risk of ending up comatose on a ventilator than youngsters who seem to get nothing worse than a slight cough. So, when the next wave comes in – I think it’s next week, judging from the newspaper headlines – the country will only be locked down for us old codgers. I can hardly wait.
Government dullard Robert Jenrick was asked whether there were any plans to put London back in lockdown. “Not as far as I’m aware,” he mumbled. “We’re taking a very localised approach following the data. There is no plan, as far as I’m aware, to do anything broader in London.” The words “as far as I am aware” doing all the heavy lifting there with honest Bob. I don’t believe a word of it because he never said a simple ‘no’ to anything. Politicians always use words like “as far as I am aware” and add things like “we have no current plans” to do something. It’s a way of avoiding being later called a liar when the thing they were originally asked about turns out to have been true all along.
When and if the government instructs 50 to 70 year olds to stay at home and isolate, who is going to pay them to live? Rishi Sunak, who was said this week to be engaged in ‘war games’ with Boris Johnson (a strange time to be playing games, don’t you think?), has announced the end of his furlough scheme by the end of October. So far as I am aware, staying at home when there is nothing wrong with you does not qualify for salary or state benefits so I’d imagine not a few people will say, “Sod that, Boris. I’m not a multimillionaire like you. I’m off to work in order to put bread on the table regardless of the risks. I’d rather die from that fucking virus than starvation. At least I’d get a meal in the ICU, if I didn’t die first.”
At times like these, I do wonder if the illiberal elite who run this country have the first idea of how working class people lead their lives. How can a cabinet clique of privately educated, filthy rich Oxbridge types know what it’s like to work all the hours God sends, and quite a few he doesn’t, in order to feed the family? Judging from their behaviour since this crisis began they can’t and they don’t. We can’t, like Johnson, enjoy lengthy free holidays in the West Indies courtesy of our wealthy friends, because we haven’t got any. Indeed, we can’t, like prime minister Dominic Cummings, drive 254 miles to the north to stay in my luxury second home when we fancy a mini holiday which just happens to fall around my wife’s birthday. What? Classic Dom drove to Durham because he thought he might have COVID-19? Oh right. I was born yesterday. Of course, I believe that.
So, I’m not looking forward to sitting in my house for the best part of the coming year, unable to go even to the local Tesco (so maybe things aren’t quite so bad after all). I’ll probably lose my job and I won’t be entitled to claim any benefits but – hey! – we’re all in it together.
Let’s face it. We went into Johnson’s half-arsed lockdown too late and we’ve come out of it too early. Cases are starting to rise and we’re back sailing towards Shit Creek. COVID-19 doesn’t transmit too well outdoors but it does indoors and guess where we will all be spending far more time from September? My sense is that many people have simply had enough of the government’s pitiful handling of the virus, as well as being frustrated by their frequently mixed and confused messaging. It will definitely make more sense to pay heed to what the likes of Chris Whitty say. I somehow doubt that the words of organ grinder Dominic Cummings, as spoken by Boris Johnson, will have quite so much effect as they did in March. On the contrary, I fear the coming winter will be dark in every sense.