I begin writing this article on Thursday 30th April 2020. We have been in Covid-19 lockdown for close to forty days now. It feels like I am serving an indeterminate sentence in a Scandinavian open prison for a minor misdemeanour and the release date has yet to be revealed….
There have been some positives. Time to reflect on what you hold dear, having a wonderful precious family, a pace of life with the urgency removed and the opportunity to tackle odd jobs around the house that have never been a priority. Air quality has improved as you notice with your exercise allowance time.
The weather for the most part has been unseasonably good. I have a south facing garden that is a sun trap. It has been great to bask in the sunshine reading with a beer close to hand. As a taxi driver I am not a keyworker. Cabs have very little to do in central London. The garage I rent a vehicle from have stored the taxis, suspended the insurance and wait and pray for the lockdown to end, although life may never be quite the same and only ratchet up slowly if any semblance of normality returns.
Keyworkers have been redefined. Shop and supermarket staff, cleaners and refuse collectors, delivery drivers, care home employees and the much admired NHS workers. This reliable army gets applauded every Thursday evening across the land for their tireless efforts. The National Health Service has been renamed as OUR NHS. A health care system close to eighty years old began by a Labour government. A truly efficient and revolutionary service, that many Britons hold close, and admired by other countries around the world. I hope the Tories will remember this whenever lockdown finishes and continue with the mantra of Our NHS. The Brexit bonus of £350million will be a welcome injection and today, a centenarian celebrated his hundred years on planet Earth by walking around his spacious garden raising money for our NHS. His £30 million sideshow will keep the medical treatments going for half a day or so….
Regular readers of Mark’s Missive will know how I have rallied against Brexit. Calling it Crexit. Crazy European Exit. I know it is not catchy and has clearly not caught on. But, how can leaving a trading bloc with our closest neighbours be sensible at a time of global pandemic. Should a vaccine be found to coronavirus how will barriers against importing a cure be helpful? We can see Covid-19 has made the world a much smaller place with everyone in this crisis together.
Boris Johnson got Brexit done as he and his chums claimed, however nothing has changed so far. We officially left on the 31st January this year with a deal to be tied up by December. This is now problematic and embarrassing. He and his Brexiteer cronies have been playing with British politics for ten years now. It appears like they were having laugh in the debating rooms of Oxford University indulging in their right wing fantasy whims. The entitled offspring of the establishment engaging in austerity, worker bashing and playing fast and lose with referenda.
I realise any government would struggle with this crisis, but this Tory rabble don’t inspire confidence. They um and err through press conferences with numbers seemingly plucked from the air, promises that don’t deliver and half truths that get picked apart later by experts. Experts; those academics and specialists, Michael Gove, so derided in the Brexit referendum. Can you image when a vaccine is forthcoming, what kind of strategy they will have to vaccinate the populous….
* * *
The second half of this Covid, Brexit snapshot article is penned on Friday 1st May. May Day, normally a day when I would visit Clerkenwell Green and march with like minded folk to Trafalgar Square. Now I sit at a keyboard in Bethnal Green pontificating on a global pandemic.
President Trump has been baffling the world at his press conferences. Blame China, inject disinfectant, the worst is over, get America back to work, it will all pass….As the US sees the highest death tolls on the planet. Britain’s own weirdo-in-chief, Dominic Cummins, he of take back control fame. The herd mentality tactic he advocated would undoubtedly result in a higher death toll than already witnessed. A Conservative collateral damage exercise strategy for the little people. Another candidate is President Aliaksandr Lukashenka, Belarus authoritarian leader who defied global thinking and urged his countrymen to work, play football and socialise. He adds vodka, saunas and tractors are protecting Belarusians from coronavirus. His denial may well have dire humanitarian consequences.
On the other hand women leaders have garnered good press. Angela Merkel of Germany and Jacinda Ardern, both scientists, have been praised with their response to Covid. Likewise the female leaders of Norway, Iceland, Finland, Taiwan, plus South Korea’s foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha credited with an extensive testing regime. The tiny Caribbean island of Sint Maarten’s prime minister gained plaudits for acting quickly to stop the spread. We can all hope our home secretary; Priti Patel will step up to the plate and guide us from harm….
In the meantime, despite the Brexiteers beliefs and pledges to control immigration, aeroplanes have arrived from Romania with agricultural pickers to work the farms getting produce to the supermarkets. Ironic that a country of sixty-six million people can’t muster the workforce to harvest our food. Another reason why I still believe we won’t ever leave the EU. The country can bang on about World War II and Blitz spirit with no action to back it up. Some day this nation may get over this overt patriotism feeding an embarrassing superiority complex. The Germans lost the war, their citizens had it tough like us but they move on without sentimental baggage.
FREE BROADBAND FOR ALL FINE IDEA
Measures to help families and individuals finance by the chancellor are welcome to assist the monetary stress. Hopefully they will work and ease fears. It looks like we are all socialists now as funds get pledged to the people. The railways have been nationalised. Will the country learn how tight some household budgets can be? Will the country learn anything about the inequality in society as we move out of lockdown? Maybe life will never be the same again or will we gradually slip back into a have and have not society….
Once lockdown ends I can’t wait to hug my children and grandchildren. Hug my friends and family; warmly embrace those who I’ve spoken with on the phone, those I have Whatsapped and Zoomed. Go to the pub and shake hands with strangers and dearly travel again….
One thing we may never see again is people spitting in public. If you do, it means some of us have really learned fuck all!