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Corona Diaries – Minister, share your pain with us….

March 28, 2020

I’m getting a bit fed up with journalists asking questions that begin with “Prime Minister, do you regret that…”, or “are you afraid that…”. At this precise moment, we don’t need ritual bows, hara kiri or grovelling on the altar of false humility. Of course Boris Johnson, as he sits in gilded isolation, regrets shaking all those hands, and Michael Gove regrets the government’s failure to act earlier. And is Matt Hancock afraid as he contemplates the progression of his illness? Of course he is.

You only have to listen to Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary, who, now that he’s no longer in office, admits to many regrets about his period in power, to know what government ministers think but cannot admit publicly unless they are unable to wriggle off the hook of responsibility.

Questions about emotions are for later, unless you happen to be Donald Trump, whose psychopathic nature renders him incapable of normal human responses apart from pride, anger and malice. What we need right now is for the press are, on our behalf, requests to inform, explain and justify. We should let the politicians handle their emotions as best they can and judge them accordingly when the time comes.

Not that emotions don’t play a part in the current situation. Those of us who have no symptoms are afraid that they will develop. Those with symptoms are afraid of what comes next. Speaking for myself, I rejoice every morning when I wake up feeling OK. Yes, I’m afraid too. My wife and I think back over the past couple of weeks to occasions and interactions that could have been laden with COVID-19. But not for long. We have plenty of projects.

What about volunteering? At the moment, we’re reaching out to people we know, not just in the UK but everywhere in the world, to make sure they’re OK. As things develop, I think that a more specific need is arising that goes beyond practical help. As people develop symptoms in increasing numbers, some are alone, some are in denial, and some won’t don’t what to do. The advice they get from official agencies such as 111, overburdened as they are, will be on a pull basis. If you’re sick, you have to call. They will not call you. And the saddest stories are of those who died alone in their homes without anyone coming to their aid.

So what people who have sent out a distress signal will need is a signal back, not just once but on a regular basis. Not just those who need practical help, such as food shopping or getting their plumbing fixed. There are some who simply need advice, emotional comfort or possibly an advocate.

However, and by whom, that gap is filled, returning the signal will be one of the most important activities in the months to come.

Moving on, I don’t know about you, but I’m a glutton for good news that can lift us out of our gloom. But when the good news, especially if it come from an unimpeachable source, induces cognitive dissonance when set against the evidence in front of us, the result, as always, is confusion.

A case in point is the story on the front page of today’s Times, in which a professor from Imperial College claims that the UK death rate from coronavirus is likely to be far lower than predicted: the curiously precise figure of 5,700. This is in contrast to an analysis by another Imperial professor, who claimed that without the stringent measures we have adopted 200,000 will die.

So what are we to believe? An end total only five times greater than Italy’s current daily death rate, or the 20,000 that the government says we’ll do well to stay within? The answer is neither. These are models, which are laced with a string of assumptions that most of us won’t even bother to examine in any detail.

We just have to sit tight and wait, like the rest of the world.

As the lockdown progresses, I suspect that our idea of good news will change. The activities of the Derbyshire viruspolizei point the way. For those of us with little to celebrate other than videos of dogs and angry Italian mayors, there will be nothing that will make us happier than having a good moan at an appropriate target.

Step forward the Derbyshire plod, who, as I reported the other day, are making total arses of themselves by publicising drone videos of middle-aged ladies out for walks with their dogs in beauty spots. Now they have topped that by dying sky blue ponds black to that people will not come to gawp at the strange colour of the water. Thanks to their misplaced enthusiasm, they’ve made an internet meme out of NOT ESSENTIAL

Sad to say, most police forces have their complement of heroes – brave and dedicated, polite and helpful. But they also have some who delight in surveilling us, lecturing us and treating us as delinquent children, usually from their desks and now from the safety of drones, because they wouldn’t get away with their officious behaviour in face-to-face interactions with the public. They get the heroes to do the dirty work for them.

There! I feel happier already. Pathetic really, isn’t it?

Finally, an observation. I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice it, but contemporary drama and comedy shows on TV seem like period pieces. Do you flinch instinctively when you see someone on the box getting close and personal? I certainly do. Isn’t it amazing how thoroughly we’ve been programmed in the space of a month?

More when I have it.

From → Social, UK, USA

  1. deborah a moggio permalink

    YES! and I find myself reading books and yelling at the characters to “STEP BACK! YOU’RE TOO CLOSE!” and “DON’T GO THERE! Too many people!!”

    BTW, with all your frequent (and accurate) talk about our Orange Genius, why did you never introduce me to “fig jam”?

    • I should have thought that you were well familiar with that delight yourself…. unless you’re referring to a meaning that is opaque to me. S

  2. Let’s check out our daily blogs on different amazing topics👇

  3. deborah a moggio permalink

    Just saw your response. For some reason I am never notified of responses. I was just being curious and running my way back through posts to see if there were any…
    any how, it’s an acrynym

    F xxk
    I ‘m
    G ood

    J ust
    A sk
    M e

    I can even hear his whinging braggart tone

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