Bear in mind we live in a world in which CNN refers to
women as ‘individuals with a cervix’; and we live in a world in which the US Democrats are so riddled with Woke fruitcakes that the only candidate they think capable of winning over floating voters is an elderly contender who doesn’t seem like he even knows what day of the week it is. Yes, it’s a strange place to be here on planet earth at the mo. As has been mentioned before, dubious coronavirus stats massaged to justify the Project Fear master-plan that Boris and his assembled mediocrities have no option but to pursue at the expense of common sense has saddled us with a situation most non-OAPs and the non-obese don’t need. But on it goes, defiant in the face of incoming chaos we can all anticipate – and I’m not talking about ‘a second wave’.
Localised ‘outbreaks’ have resulted in lockdown relaxation plans being postponed for another couple of weeks; the Government sneaked out a new batch of restrictions primarily applying to the north-west when it thought nobody would be paying attention late at night. Granted, I never have any great craving to visit casinos, ice rinks or bowling alleys – nor do I desire to attend wedding parties; but if I wanted to, I can’t – not until 15 August at the earliest, anyway. In other words, pressing the pause button when it comes to this particular easing of measures doesn’t affect me one iota; but I’ve no doubt it’ll affect plenty of far more sociable folks out there. The utterly pointless mandatory mask-wearing will be extended even further should anyone be entering a public space containing people they ‘do not know’.
But, venturing into more existential areas, I wonder how well anyone really knows anyone, anyway. The definition of friendship has been considerably warped by social media; I have 2.3K subscribers on YouTube, 124 followers on Twitter and 35 friends on Facebook, and with the odd exception I don’t know them anymore than they know me. Does being aware of what someone’s favourite album or TV show is count as knowing them? Or do we have to have been physically intimate with them? Does knowing people by sight alone count – or do we have to have enjoyed tea and biscuits in their front parlours for them to be safe to breathe the same air as? I ‘know’ the guy who lives in the ground floor flat in my house; I say hello if we bump into each other in the hallway; but does that qualify as knowing him? I’m sure there are people of my acquaintance who’d say they know me; but they only know what I choose to give them. I’ve learnt the hard way over the years that it’s best not to give too much. So, would they and I be able to stand in a museum without masks and be free from contamination because we ‘know’ each other? Er…no, because we’ll have to wear them from 8 August, regardless.
I cloaked the lower half of my face in my Dick Turpin scarf for the first time a couple of days ago; it wasn’t a very comfortable experience on account of long-standing difficulties I have with breathing through my nose; an operation around 30 years ago failed to improve matters, so I did feel a minor sensation of suffocation when donning this unwelcome sartorial encumbrance – and it was a warm day, which didn’t help. Okay, so I’m not traumatised for life; it wasn’t exactly like being subjected to water-boarding; but it wasn’t exactly a fun outing either. And it was made all the more bleedin’ annoying when I went into the post office; despite still having to provide my name and number in order to gain access, no other customer nor any member of staff behind the counter was wearing a friggin’ mask. I was made to look like the paranoid mug convinced covering my mouth and nose would save the NHS.
My local cinema has been closed ever since this shit kicked-off, so I can’t visit even in a mask and sit a safe half-dozen seats away from the nearest other punter. But, as with strolling into a shop, I can’t say I’d want to sit in a cinema with a stupid bloody mask on my face, anyway – nor any venue of any persuasion, quite frankly. It’s fair to say it kinda puts you off. There has been talk of exemptions from the rules, though one would have to prove it. I can’t help but think of John Hurt as Quentin Crisp in ‘The Naked Civil Servant.’ Crisp is cornered on a street by a couple of bored CID men during wartime; desperate to nick him for something simply because of his appearance, they demand to know why he isn’t doing his bit with Our Boys. He produces a piece of paper that proclaims he’s exempt from military service due to ‘sexual perversion’. Has it come to that? I wish there were a few more people still alive who lived through the restrictions of WWII on the home front and we could hear their comparisons between the privations of then and the privations of now. I suspect we’re getting it worse today than at a time when all our lives were genuinely threatened, but what can one do about it other than not bother going out?
A survey conducted by King’s College and Ipsos MORI found that just 10% of those answering the following: ‘True or false – the government only wants us to wear face masks as a way of controlling us’ replied ‘true’; the same percentage reckoned wearing said masks is bad for your health. So, it would seem the propaganda is still working; but, as I pointed out in the opening paragraph, this is not a moment when many people appear to be taking a step back to study the bigger picture. If the WHO declared everyone had to wear stovepipe hats as of 1 September, I’d surmise 90% of the population would do precisely that – especially if they’d been bludgeoned into believing it was their duty; even if Keir Starmer was photographed wearing one (which he would be), the herd would still buy it. And, of course, some have had to be told that putting masks on their pets isn’t good for the dog or the cat. They actually needed to be told this.
Lest we forget, we live in an world in which Sainsbury’s proudly declares via in-store placards that it stands with the LGBTXYZ community – though what this entails is less evident; I dunno – half-price fairy cakes? Ooh, cheap shot, perhaps; but when the corporate world has instigated ‘unconscious bias training’ in white-collar workplaces across the country to induce the Original Sin of racism in its non-BAME workforce, we simultaneously have a situation whereby an ad campaign organised by women’s rights agent provocateur Posie Parker that declares ‘I Love JK Rowling’ has been banned by Network Rail Scotland on ‘political’ grounds and because (according to their statement) ‘we do not allow advertising that is likely to support or promote one viewpoint over another’. Btw, Network Rail Scotland is one of a zillion companies that have opportunistically tacked the rainbow on their online logo – which is clearly not remotely political and in no way happens to be promoting one viewpoint over another. You couldn’t, as they say, make it up.
I watched a vintage John Betjeman programme the other day in which the beloved, late and much lamented poet visited a small Norfolk market town that looked as though it was preserved in Victorian aspic even in the early 60s. The programme was probably accused of pandering to a wistfully nostalgic notion of ‘Deep England’ romanticism at the time it aired, let alone now; but Albion – like the village green Ray Davies rhapsodised – has always really resided in the mind, anyway. I’m sure the Man in the mask would take that away too, if he could. But he can’t. Be thankful for the small mercies we still have. We need them at the moment.
© The Editor