Oh, there are so many open goals – I mean, Rule of Six, Number Six; I shouldn’t have to elaborate. After all, it only seems like yesterday that I penned a post on ‘The Prisoner’ when I last gave it an outing a few months back; the remarkable ability of that programme to mirror the present tense whenever one happens to watch it never fails to amaze. Even without rushed legislation intended to enforce the unenforceable in the light of a pandemic that kills less than annual seasonal influenza, there’s enough of the here and now in Patrick McGoohan’s 1967 masterwork to show us that the tools of the future were busily being forged in the past, even if few wanted to admit it. But, of course, to point this out places me alongside the online loonies, the whole ‘It’s a weapon of global social control concocted by China and Israel and the Bilderberg Group to enslave us all’ professional conspiracy theory set, so I have to watch my words. One might almost conclude that conspiracy theorists have been allowed to flourish because their insane endeavours serve to cast doubt upon concerns that an actual conspiracy might be afoot, therefore meaning it can progress unimpeded.

I watched the performance of Priti Patel on Julia Hartley-Brewer’s Talk Radio show yesterday, in which the Home Secretary was presented with a hypothetical scenario whereby her neighbours were hosting a children’s birthday party in their back garden, one in which the guest-list exceeded six by one child. Would Ms Patel dial 999 to report the crime? The fudged response made a mockery of a politician who has built a reputation for herself as a no-nonsense hardliner, the kind of politician Westminster is sorely lacking at a time when the nation needs someone in a position of power to grow a pair; alas, her credentials as a potential successor to shagged-out, burned-out Boris should he decide to throw the towel in next year were damaged in a way that made her look as ineffective and lightweight as Matt ‘scary’ Hancock. Moreover, it further highlighted just how clueless this Government is as it stumbles its way through a crisis by making it up as it goes along, too willing to take the word of scaremongering ‘experts’ relishing the spotlight to devise a consistent strategy.

Today we have been informed that the mediocre administration in control of our shared destinies has given itself a fortnight to see if its Rule of Six works before deciding whether or not to reverse the recent easing of nationwide restrictions and plunge us all back into full-on lockdown. Local lockdowns have already been in operation in certain corners of the kingdom where cases have risen, such as Leicester and Bolton; but this is a threat to return us to where we were back in the spring, albeit with add-on caveats sparing schools and a few social environments. However, whereas recorded cases may have risen in a way that was utterly predictable once the general public began to repopulate the world beyond their doorsteps, the actual death rate has plummeted compared to back in April, when well over a thousand died on the darkest day. The Government is placing great emphasis on testing, but the haphazard manner of its programme so far doesn’t quite match its ambition – even if most of us no longer expect anything less from the current shower.

If one might be inclined towards a more benign frame of mind and look favourably upon a Government confronted by an unprecedented situation in modern history, one could say its initial tactics in preventing the wider spread of Covid-19 achieved its aim; that said, one still cannot assess September’s state of play and come to the conclusion that this cat-and-mouse policy of easing restrictions and then tightening them up again once cases inevitably rise as a result can be employed indefinitely. Yet, it would appear this is indeed the plan. It’s getting to the point where any venture outdoors seems weird without a mask on and a recent poll showing over half of those asked were in favour of continuing tough measures suggested Project Fear has succeeded way beyond the Government’s wildest dreams – or should that be the media’s, as the MSM had a far bigger part to play in the pandemic panic than Whitehall. Gatherings of more than six people being banned in England is intended to prevent cases from rising again, but when the rule is eased the cases will rise; so, it comes back in and they go down; then it’s eased and they go back up. And so on and so on forever.

I should be so lucky to assemble six people, anyway. I’ve spoken to half that number face-to-face in the last six months – three f***ing people in the last six months. I was fairly accustomed to living my life in the style of a medieval anchorite as things stood before any of this happened, but choice and personal circumstance had a hand in that. When Government intervenes and imposes such severe restrictions on the entire population, the majority of who have no experience of house arrest and understandably took their freedoms for granted, the amount of fire being played with is lighting one hell of a future fuse. I dread to think what the long-term psychological effects of this will be, but I’m already seeing signs of it in friends who are exhibiting worrying symptoms of becoming used to their withdrawal from society and have no outlet to alter that anymore. For me, this set up has exacerbated many things that have been part of my internal complexion for a long time; but for those with no ‘previous’ – well, all I can say is that the one industry that will profit from this above all others once a semblance of normality asserts itself will be that of psychotherapy.

I strolled up to my local cinema earlier on today and felt a palpable chill as I looked at posters for movies scheduled to be screened in the spring that never were; it’s been mothballed since the end of March. Those posters reminded me of the bricked-up pedestrian tunnel of a closed London Underground station recently excavated, a preserved time capsule displaying decaying posters for Ealing comedies showing at long-gone picture houses and so forth. Studying their 2020 equivalents today, it was as though I was looking through a portal into a parallel world whereby these movies were indeed shown at the cinema in question and life proceeded along its usual path. But, of course, they weren’t and it didn’t. I think it just reminded me – as if I needed reminding – that this half-and-half excuse for a life we have at the moment is no substitute for the real thing, and it doesn’t feel as if the real thing will be with us again anytime soon.

What this situation has done more than anything is to underline our absolute collective powerlessness. Sure, thousands can march in support of a cause that chimes with the consensus of the ruling elite, but that’s just a narcissistic performance bearing little relation to the limitations placed upon those who have no interest in brandishing placards, pulling down statues and throwing bikes at police horses, those who just want to get on with their lives and can’t. When it comes to the genuinely important stuff, we have no say and can do nothing about it. The powers-that-be can bend us to their will and that’s that. If a rule was brought in tomorrow that proclaimed everyone had to wear bowler hats on public transport and had to wear stilettos in supermarkets, we’d go along with it because we need to get from A to B and we need to eat. As the old saying goes, when you’ve got ‘em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow – and Patrick McGoohan knew that 53 years ago. Be seeing you.

© The Editor

7 thoughts on “THE JOY OF SIX

  1. Whether there is some global master-plan in play by shadowy groups of evil megalomaniacs must currently reside with the tin-hat brigade, but it is quite surprising how easily and quickly our apparently liberal-thinking folk have willingly adopted the strictures being promoted ‘for their own good and to save granny’.

    But of course, these are the same people who had quite happily sacrificed all their national sovereignty and real democracy to the corrupt EU over the past 40 years, in exchange for free roaming with their mobile phones for a week in Ibiza. Some very precious things can be bought very cheaply, it seems.

    The concern must be whether the authorities and/or the wider populace will easily discard those strictures whenever the current, apparent emergency, dissipates. Stalin once observed that no-one ever gives you power, you have to seize it – by successfully seizing previously unimagined powers over the daily-life conduct of everyone in the land, it seems hard to imagine that those now enjoying that remarkable surge of power will be anything other than very reluctant to relinquish it.

    Who needs a ballot-box when you can use a ‘virus’ to do the dirty work?

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    1. I felt one of the most rewarding aspects of last December’s General Election was the timing of it, serving as a de facto referendum on the Brexit battle, one that finally gave the many the deciding vote on a debate that had been in the hands of the few for far too long. Had it not happened then and was instead scheduled to coincide with the US shindig in a couple of months, I guess it would have a similar feel to it. Without the occasional intervention of democracy, there seems no other real way to genuinely gauge the public mood and to deliver a definitive verdict on the competency of the powers-that-be. We all know people are pissed-off and increasingly despairing of the current state of play, but beyond online activity and the odd defiant march there appears to be no outlet for expressing that. It might explain why the psychological reaction of some has been so evidently damaging as they withdraw into themselves and then find it difficult to come back out again. I’m seeing it happen to people I know and there’s very little I can do to help – blind leading the blind and all that.

      I suppose I’m fortunate I have a modest talent for articulating my concerns and the means to distribute them, but each post on this subject does feel like banging my head against the proverbial brick wall, if not the prose equivalent of a pop group who have a massive hit and then follow it up with inferior copies of said hit over and over again. In the midst of such a situation, though, it’s impossible not to return to the subject every few posts. It makes me think of someone I once saw on a documentary recalling her wartime childhood; when peace was declared, she asked her mother what the content of cinema newsreels could possibly consist of if there was no longer a war on – having no memory of the newsreels without it. Her mother told her it’d probably be loads of stories about cricket and stuff like that. Here’s to the next Ashes series, then…


  2. “If a rule was brought in tomorrow that proclaimed everyone had to wear bowler hats on public transport and had to wear stilettos in supermarkets, we’d go along with it because we need to get from A to B and we need to eat.”

    Nice point.

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    1. If it could be said that Margaret Thatcher was the author of the last 20 years of the 20th century, I think the equivalent mastermind behind the first 20 years of this one has been Chris Morris. No wonder he’s no longer active in the way he once was; how could he possibly manufacture a satirical world more bizarre than this one?


  3. “I should be so lucky to assemble six people, anyway. I’ve spoken to half that number face-to-face in the last six months – three f***ing people in the last six months.”

    I’ve spoken to easily 100, probably 200 people in the last six months, but that’s mainly due to having being in rehab (other ‘inmates’, nurses, etc). Some of those conversations have been….interesting.

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