If there was such a thing as new month resolutions, they’d probably turn out to be as unrealisable as New Year resolutions; a tad more commitment would be required on the part of the person making the resolution, but as most struggle to stick to them on an annual basis, a monthly equivalent seems overly ambitious. After all, remember the beginning of the lockdown, when everyone on social media was boasting about the new languages they were going to become fluent in or the instruments they were going to learn to play or the unread novels they were finally going to tackle – let alone the novel they were actually going to write? Within a couple of weeks, it seemed all those spouting grandiose plans had reverted to the comfort zone of a lazy Sunday, spending all day in their pyjamas and getting fat by binging on Netflix and takeaway pizzas rather than getting fit with Joe Wicks. Still, the notion of a clean slate coming on the first day of every new month does have its appeal on paper.
How nice it would be to erase June 2020 from the calendar, for example; June 2020, as we all know, was the month the world went mad. After the surreal novelty of April and then the stir craziness of May, June saw the first concrete evidence of how damaging this unprecedented global experiment has been as the mental health effects of a worldwide curfew were released from behind closed doors and let loose into the public arena. The cyberspace personas of thousands materialised in the real world and were even uglier in the flesh than on Twitter. The true economic effects of the lockdown will probably begin to hit hard as the second half of the year unravels, but the midway point has shown what happens to people’s grasp of sanity when you cut them off from the rest of the world en masse.
An organisation like Black Lives Matter has exploited the situation with the mastery of Madison Avenue. They have the logo and they have the slogan, which is a good start; but the way in which they have taken ownership of such an emotive issue and weaponised it as the Trojan horse through which to smuggle their true, neo-Marxist agenda into the mainstream has been quite an achievement. Racism is something many people of good heart have genuine concerns about, so what better subject to copyright? Extinction Rebellion have done the same with climate change, ensuring any questioning or criticism of their ideology can provoke a retort that labels the critic a climate change ‘denier’, just as any disputing of BLM wisdom can be silenced with the word ‘racist’ – or, for all that, criticism of MeToo makes you a misogynist. Genius. BLM have been presented with an utterly unique set of circumstances to capitalise on and even they must have been surprised at how the system they seek to destroy has crumbled before their eyes with the speed of a Rich Tea biscuit coming into contact with a hot cup of coffee.
But of course, even they weren’t completely prepared for such a rapid capitulation and haven’t yet worked out that you’re not supposed to risk newfound support by giving everything away too early; that was highlighted with a BLM Tweet yesterday that exposed that familiar old far-left trope of pro-Palestine/anti-Israel sentiments to those who’d quickly donned the T-shirt without examining the small-print. With their sudden high profile, BLM would’ve kept quiet about that a little longer if the plan hadn’t surpassed its schedule; perhaps they got carried away in the face of such swift success and figured those who were there solely because they agreed with the simple central message would also swallow plans to defund the police and breakup the nuclear family as well as going along with anti-Semitism masquerading as ‘just’ hatred of the State of Israel. It would appear conquering so much enemy soil so speedily has imbued them with a strain of naive overconfidence.
Mind you, how delicious it was to see cheerleaders like Piers Moron backtracking on the more…erm…’difficult’ elements of the manifesto that he hadn’t bothered to read up on in his haste to virtue signal. Ditto the facile Keir Starmer, who’d been so eager to get down on one knee that he hadn’t even realised the organisation had a little bit more to it than a pat catchphrase and a cynical photo op. In the rush to be seen to be ‘on trend’, these fools are now having to modify their support, inserting caveats that weren’t there before. I can’t help but feel them expressing their disagreement with all the awkward bits whilst continuing to emphasise the one thing they thought it was all about isn’t a million miles away from the old solitary defence of the Third Reich, the one that claimed they at least ensured the trains ran on time.
So, if the lockdown must take a large portion of the blame for June’s insane excesses, how must the good people of Leicester feel now that their city has been singled out as the first example of a ‘regional’ lockdown, imposed as the rest of the country is slowly reopening for business? Just when they thought it was safe to venture out in public again, they’re being told they’ve got to go back indoors. Some of us argued a couple of months ago that a one-size-fits-all national lockdown was probably a mistake in the first place. The pandemic had barely impacted on the more sparsely populated corners of the country whilst naturally thriving in metropolitan sprawls, so it did appear to make sense for such factors to be taken into consideration. Perhaps the prospect of second-home outsiders descending upon clean countryside communities from infected cities risked spreading the virus far and wide, so the same measures applying everywhere was logical; but the highest death toll still took place in urban areas, even with identical restrictions being imposed across the whole country.
Maybe from now on, any isolated upsurge in cases will make the regional lockdown the preferred option, sealing-off the worst affected area in the hope it can be contained – not unlike the method used during the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak, which turned rural neighbourhoods into no-go zones whilst towns and cities carried on as normal. Naturally, this will require a greater degree of cooperation between Westminster and local government, not to mention delegating responsibility and powers; but even if the ‘pilot scheme’ in Leicester works, what additional damage will it do to Leicester itself – both economically and emotionally? For most people, life hasn’t quite returned to what it was before lockdown, but a few more shops opening and even a version of football fulfilling the fixture list is at least a facade of normality. For that little glimmer of normality to then vanish again will be a blow for many. The sacrifices the majority were prepared to make in the beginning had already been severely fraying at the edges, whether manifested as crowding the beach, reviving illegal raves or indulging in a spot of statue-dismantling; but how much more can a populace take?
I explained at the very start that, as I was accustomed to spending extended periods in solitary confinement in order to get on with my work, the lockdown was actually no great imposition on my personal liberty. I actually enjoyed the initial absence of traffic from the uncharacteristically quiet streets and, apart from reducing daily shopping expeditions to weekly occurrences, nothing really changed for me beyond not seeing anyone in person. However, there are some friends I now haven’t seen for months and I have to admit I am missing the stimulation of conversation. Most today text rather than talk on the phone and some don’t like to Skype, so typing has now replaced the spoken word, which I find a very flat form of communication between friends. Even not being a resident of Leicester doesn’t mean we are as we were, and that’s bad enough; but the thought of reverting to the stricter conditions of April and May isn’t an especially appetising one – and hardly suggests we can bid good riddance to June as though July will be an improvement.
© The Editor