In a week when I’ve been referred, at my own request for more therapy and had my meds reviewed (“you cannot have any more”), I’m probably not the idea person to express an opinion on what happens next with COVID-19. After the latest week of incompetence from our apology of a prime minister, I’m probably even more pessimistic than I was when Boris Johnson declared everything will be back to normal by Christmas. The only sensible thing to do when Johnson says something is to believe the exact opposite to be true. And everything won’t be back to normal by Christmas. It will almost certainly be like Johnson’s half-arsed lockdown that took up most of the spring and much of the summer. But maybe the new normal is what he means as being normal?
The new normal fills me with utter gloom. From Monday, we’re all invited to buy discount burgers and fried chicken in order to prop up the ailing hospitality industry. Rishi Sunak’s ‘meal deal’ lasts until September which, if I am not mistaken, is when children are supposed to be going back to school. Actually, let’s put it a little stronger than that: in order to protect their mental health and safeguard their short, medium and long term futures, schools simply must reopen. Just when the last chicken nugget is sinking into your already swollen stomach, the pubs might have to close again.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty knows a thing or two about what’s happening in the country and he thinks we have probably opened up as much of the country as we safely can and if we are to open all the schools, as we must, there will be trade-offs, one of which might mean shutting pubs. Which is more important, folks? Pubs or schools?
As I was so bad at school, the answer has to be, in my case, pubs, but I suspect this is not the right answer. Now I respect clever blokes like Prof Whitty and I accept the honesty and truth of what they are saying. If he says there must be trade-offs, then trade-offs there will be. But he will need to explain to me how shutting all the pubs again will make it easier to open schools? I know this is me being particularly dim but I don’t quite understand how one impacts the other, unless perhaps you are accepting that opening the schools will probably cause an uptick in new cases of COVID-19 as will keeping the pubs open, so maybe that’s it? The hospitals might fill up with teachers and parents who catch the virus from their children who don’t even know they have it, but if the pubs aren’t closed the NHS won’t be overwhelmed if boozers fall ill, too? I’m sure it’s more simple than that.
I am not going to pretend to you that I have a sense of optimism about the coming autumn and winter. If we are struggling to contain the virus in August at a time when we are all outdoors – and we are because that’s why Johnson has paused opening things up again – then we won’t be able to in the coming months. If a second wave arrives – and let’s be honest: if is really when – and you combine it with the usual seasonal flu and respiratory problems, we are in big, big trouble, with some scientists predicting an excess death total of 120,000. Instead of everyone fighting over bargains on Black Friday, we’ll probably be back to fisticuffs over bog rolls and flour. Oh, and the Nightingale hospitals, the death camps, will no longer stand idle. Johnson’s half-arsed lockdown from March will feel like the good old days.
I hate the new normal, particularly as it could be the new normal for years to come, if not forever. I know in my heart of hearts that the two overseas jaunts we have booked for the autumn aren’t going to happen and I wonder how Christmas will look if we’re told to isolate until the sun shines again in spring. Assuming, that is, the virus doesn’t kill us all.
I don’t even want to think about the economic meltdown that’s happening right this moment because now it’s just some people talking. When the P45s start dropping through the letterboxes, there will be fear and anger, never a good combination.
It’s entirely possible that my doom and gloom attitude is misplaced and Johnson’s prediction of a normal Christmas may come to be. I really doubt it, though.