Remember back in the old days, when Liverpool contrived to lose 3-2 at home to Atletico Madrid and so exited the Champions League? Over 3000 people flew from Madrid to support their team, spending the day mingling and drinking in the bars, restaurants and clubs in Liverpool before cramming together to celebrate their victory. This despite the fact that they could not actually visit their club’s home ground or indeed any other club in Spain. They then flew home to Madrid, which has since become the hotbed of Coronavirus in all of Spain. This happened less than two weeks ago. It wasn’t the ‘old days’ at all.
After the game, on 11 March 2020, life returned to normal, or so we thought. It had been months since the virus had taken hold in China and weeks since it had extended its deadly grip on the rest of the world. It was an item on the news, for sure, but it was hardly as important as the tragic death of Caroline Flack or the appearance of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Commonwealth Day service. How quaint, we thought, as Harry bumped elbows with the likes of Anthony Joshua. We’d all be glad when this was all over.
Within days, everything changed. Leading politicians from Boris Johnson to Jeremy Corbyn and all points in between were desperately slow out of the blocks and, to this cynic it feels like they are still a few steps behind the curve.
My only surprise with Johnson’s dramatic lockdown announcement last night was that it took so long to happen. The weekend scenes at various tourist spots, the underground and at supermarkets proved without doubt that the government requests were being routinely ignored. And today, with the government texting us, telling us to stay at home, has been greeted by thousands, maybe millions, of people going to work. ‘Keep calm and carry on’ was never as an absurd an expression than it is now. People might be calm but carrying on as normal is bonkers.
When this is all over, and God knows when that will be, we, the people, must demand a full, independent public inquiry into everything surrounding Covid-19, how we dealt with it, what we got right and what we got wrong. I suspect it will make grim reading. But that’s for another day.
In the meantime, let’s do what Boris Johnson has told us to do. Whatever our thoughts about the man and his fitness to be prime minister, the fact is that we voted to put the Conservative Party in power for the next five years. That’s democracy, folks.