THE NEVER-ENDING STORY

One of the advantages to living in rented accommodation is that, should any of the fixtures and fittings require repairing, they will be repaired free of charge. The expensive headaches of broken boilers, faulty radiators, leaky guttering and all the other recurring failures that cost home-owners a small fortune are not issues that the renter has to lose any sleep over. Of course, the rapid reaction of the landlord or letting agent can depend on what sort of landlord or letting agent they happen to be. I recall one property I lived at for several years which boasted an intercom system for callers, though it ceased to be operational about eighteen months into my tenancy, and despite repeated requests for it to be attended to, it never was. However, I can’t really complain where my current address is concerned. Repairs are seen to pretty promptly, as are the legally-required annual inspections of all gas appliances. This was attended to last week and the repairman – who has been doing the job more or less all the time I’ve lived here – became only the second person to enter my humble abode since the first lockdown got underway last March.

Okay, so a repairman examining the cooker and the gas fire doesn’t really constitute receiving a visitor, but it’s the next best thing when you haven’t received one for so many months. Therefore, I was eager to inquire as to his personal ‘lockdown experience’. He told me his workload hadn’t diminished since the country embraced a Soviet system of governance, but it was a different story re his girlfriend, a hairdresser by trade and naturally not making much in the way of a living now. Chatting to someone outside of your own small circle and eliciting their response to the situation is far more accurate method of gauging the real feelings of the public than weaving your way through the alternate reality of social media. This is someone whose profession precludes working from home and requires him to gatecrash social bubbles on a daily basis; in a way, he has a unique insight into the damage being done to households confined to quarters, more so than those passing judgement on Twitter or gutless hacks reluctant to criticise government policy lest it should jeopardise their future prospects of being employed by Downing Street.

The repairman and I were in agreement that, for all its surface familiarity, the latest lockdown – as with its regional Tier predecessors – hasn’t really recaptured the atmosphere of the original. Weekdays no longer feel like childhood Sundays. He openly admitted he enjoyed the ambience first time round – the absence of traffic; the sudden disappearance of the usual urban soundtrack and its replacement with a more rural vibe; people finding themselves with rare time on their hands in a nation that, up to that point, worked some of the longest hours in Europe. Yes, last springtime was a unique public holiday that, on paper, should have served to ‘flatten the curve’ along with achieving all of the other naive aims of an administration that was flapping around in the dark; but the novelty vanished when, as with the tortuous Brexit process before it, this thing just kept going and going and going way beyond what we were promised, and the people got stir-crazy. Last summer’s eruption of public disorder was an early indicator of what placing a population under indeterminate house-arrest can do as social media discourse spilled out into the real world. Those who indulged still had enough energy stored away to release it then; six months on, most now just seem too miserable, too weary, too scared and too browbeaten by an excuse for a life lived with no end in sight to even bother kicking up a fuss.

The shopping list of ramifications is as unnerving as it is depressingly familiar by now: The collapse of the economy and racking-up of debts that will take generations to pay off; the unnecessary destruction of the hospitality industry along with small businesses and the final kiss of death to the high-street as the online giants clean-up; the over-zealous tactics of the police that have alienated the institution even further from those they profess to serve; the damage done to the young with the suspension of education; the deaths from illnesses edged aside by Covid’s preferential status; the incursion of the classroom and the workplace into the private home space; the prolonged separation of loved ones; the incalculable impact on mental health. Hell, I even read the other day that pet-owners making that agonising decision to put their ailing animal companion to sleep aren’t even allowed to be there and provide comfort in their final moments as the vet does the deed anymore. Yet perhaps the scariest aspect is the fact we’re getting accustomed to the restrictions; however much we may resent them, as a means of controlling the public and forcing people to adhere to any curtailment of civil liberties, they work; and governments won’t forget they work. They now have a default system in place that they can instigate at a moment’s notice because they’ve seen for themselves how easy it is to condition the public into compliance.

Criticism is deflected with the same cop-out techniques the Woke crowd apply when shouting ‘racist’ in order to neutralise debate. Oppose the restrictions and you’re a Covidiot, midway between Brexiteer and far-right activist; question the viability of the vaccine and you’re to blame for every Covid-related death; repeatedly find fault with ‘the science’ online and your account will be closed; stage an orderly, socially-distanced protest against the restrictions and you’ll receive the kind of treatment from the police that BLM are mysteriously spared. The heavy-handed policing of perfectly natural responses to the first snowfall of the winter a few weeks ago seemed to characterise the state of play after ten months of this; and if we appear to be valiantly combating the coronavirus, have no fear – another mutation will be gleefully announced to justify further clampdowns.

I’m lucky to have a platform and to have the ability to articulate all this in prose. The repairman I spoke to last week was just a regular guy, but he was no less convinced of both the futility of, and the danger in, stringing this policy out indefinitely. He’s in the community far more than I am and he can see for himself just how catastrophic the effects are proving to be. Outside of the false hope served up to pacify those still gullible enough to believe this is all being done for our own good and that it will eventually resolve the problem in a few months, the general (and more plausible) consensus now seems to be that this year – not even quite a month old – is effectively a write-off and we can forget any real return to normality before it’s over. 2021 already feels like the shit sequel to the blockbuster movie, the piss-poor follow-up single to the No.1 hit, the early exit from European competition after a title-winning season – and we haven’t got to February yet. It’s like being on honeymoon and belatedly realising the person you married is an arsehole; the glorious life you envisaged sharing has barely begun and yet you know it’s going to be a long, drawn-out waste of everybody’s time.

On Saturday mornings I walk a friend’s dog through some neighbouring woods, which is always a welcome respite; on Wednesdays I do my weekly shop at the supermarket round the corner and also indulge in an extended stroll along the same dreary old streets that were briefly beautiful in the autumn and have now reverted to type. These are my only first-hand exposures to the world outside my window and the only real way I can size-up what’s actually happening. During both fixtures I see plenty traffic on roads I was able to stand in the middle of (and take photos of) last spring without fear of being hit by a passing car, and I see more pedestrians than I did back then too, even if most are distinguished now by covering the lower half of their faces in nappies. A small handful of cafés soldier on by selling takeaway cuppas to those prepared to queue up at the door, but most places that could easily open without super-spreading remain mothballed, maybe for good. Never mind. It’ll all be over by Christmas – though precisely which Christmas is difficult to determine…if we’re ever allowed to have a Christmas again, that is.

© The Editor

15 thoughts on “THE NEVER-ENDING STORY

  1. It’s like being on honeymoon and belatedly realising the person you married is an arsehole; the glorious life you envisaged sharing has barely begun and yet you know it’s going to be a long, drawn-out waste of everybody’s time.
    Been there – nicely phrased.

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  2. In a past life many decades ago, my job involved spending time in many hundreds of different domestic premises. Your repairman will have seen the same extreme range from palaces to hovels, with occupants to match, or sometimes definitely not matching – the additional veneer brought about by Covid incarceration will overlay just another facet onto the variety now experienced in such professions.

    It is going to take some considerable time for us all to recover from the accumulating constraints we have had to accommodate this last year, some of the behaviours and facilities will never fully recover, some consequences may, in the long term, actually prove advantageous, some will certainly not.

    But while we mourn our own personal losses of liberties, perhaps the greatest negative impact will be on the millions of young people, especially women, who find the potential channels into reliable employment, and thus an independent life, may never be the same again, thus compromising their whole future lives. To we more senior citizens, it doesn’t matter, we’ve had our day, but we remember what it was like and how important that early confidence is to defining your state for the next decades. I fear for that generation no longer having those opportunities to craft their own lifestyles.

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    1. I caught an interesting programme on R4 – surprisingly – this morning that discussed the way in which stats are misleadingly reported by the MSM. There was apparently one day recently when the impression given was that over a thousand Covid-related deaths had taken place in 24 hours, promoted with instant outrage by celebrity tweeters. Turns out that the high numbers were simply the number of deaths reported on the day in question, all of which were collated from a period of several weeks. Whether this was accidental misinterpretation by a public unaccustomed to looking beyond a shock-horror headline or deliberately misleading reporting to give support to ever-tightening restrictions was left to the listener to decide, but I certainly thought it was a point worth making.

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  3. Slightly off-topic, but as someone who has always been sympathetic to the IDEA of Scottish Nationalism (as opposed to the type of people who tend to make political careers out of supporting it, or claiming to), the Scots Nats are really grinding my gears at present. Trying to deny entry to Scotland to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is so petty it’s off the-scale. Scotland is at the time of writing still part of the UK. Even the most ardent Scottish Nationalist doesn’t usually suggest that the referendum result of 2014, a vote, albeit narrow, against independence, should be simply set aside and ignored.

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    1. Yes, I think Madame Krankie has definitely got something of a Napoleon complex and she’s doing both her cause and the Scottish people a great disservice. At times, she reminds me of third-term Thatcher, when severe megalomania was in its ascendancy.

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      1. It’s quite bizarre that the SNP is equally desperate to exit the United Kingdom as it is to rejoin a corrupt, undemocratic, incompetent, power-hungry, centralising outfit like the EU – hypocrisy doesn’t cover it.

        And when both Scotland and Wales were granted autonomy over considerable areas of local policy, how come their number of MPs at Westminster wasn’t reduced to compensate? We now have the ridiculous situation when the only parliament which enacts English laws has the English-hating SNP as its third largest party.

        Should Wee Nicola Krankie ever achieve her wet dream of independence, the inevitable financial ruin that follows will dwarf the Darian adventure which caused the Union ‘rescue’ to be necessary in the first place. At the time of the previous referendum in 2014, they believed they could live on the oil revenues alone – have they seen the price of oil recently and the global plans to eliminate it? My message to Scottish voters is, be careful what you wish for.

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      2. Yes, all the ongoing doom ‘n’ gloom prohesies re Brexit, most of which probably won’t come to pass, would (I suspect) be enacted for real should Sturgeon live out her delusional Braveheart fantasies and lead the Scottish people back towards the kind of economic oblivion the nation last experienced 300 years ago.

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  4. The forced closure of gyms and swimming pools during the winter is also having a negative effect on the physical health and mental well-being of millions of people. You are correct about compliance having been achieved. Earlier in the week I walked past two women out dog-walking and overheard them discussing whether each was allowed to be in the other’s ‘bubble’. All that I could think was ‘good grief, do you really accept that nonsense?’, but of course I kept quiet.

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    1. I think fear has now been marketed and sold as effectively as any product the public has been persuaded into believing it must own. Nothing new in that, of course; a certain Herr Goebbels proved it could be done a few years back. But he didn’t have a populace plugged-in to Big Tech to absorb the message in record time. If Project Fear was a company, I suspect all bets would be off when it comes to the Queen’s Award for Industry (if it still exists).

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      1. The most disturbing feature is the way that the culture and language of lockdowns has been so readily accepted, the ‘Tier’ system almost being like a league table for ‘good behaviour’, though in reality all it means is that more ‘positive’ PCR tests in any defined area have been recorded. It has got to the stage where people within a defined area turn on each other, e.g some people in rural parts of South Warwickshire complain about being lumped in with Coventry and with the former mining area in the north of the county; and so on. The real reason for classifying these together is because they are covered by the same hospital trust, the one where the 91-year old granny was the first in the country to have the ‘vaccine’.

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      2. “It’s quite bizarre that the SNP is equally desperate to exit the United Kingdom as it is to rejoin a corrupt, undemocratic, incompetent, power-hungry, centralising outfit like the EU – hypocrisy doesn’t cover it.”

        Must say, I don’t agree with this. The average SNP voter is well aware that they are not really voting for a truly nationalistic party, so there’s really no hypocrisy about it. A firm majority of Scottish voters voted to remain in the EU. The SNP, much as I criticise their leadership, are correct to represent the interests of those voters on this issue. In fact, they wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they meekly accepted Brexit in regard to Scotland…..and would suffer in the polls. As regards the EU, it’s all relative. Remainers of my type are not blind to the corruption that exists. Our view is that it is reformable and it is simply incorrect to state that there haven’t been reforms. I continue to have grave misgivings regarding the single currency, and I think it’s a disgrace how Germany was allowed to treat Greece during and in the aftermath of the financial crisis, without a squeak of protest from Brussels, but I truly don’t think that was a significant motivating factor in the Brexit vote.

        I come back to Auberon Waugh’s old quote along the lines that if he had to be governed by someone, it might as well be a collective of Belgian ticket inspectors.

        You also seem to miss that if Scotland were to rejoin the EU, as a relatively (and I emphasise relatively) impoverished state for the reasons you’ve correctly outlined – the likely future trajectory of the oil price and poor demographics – it would benefit from financial transfers from central EU funding. The Republic of Ireland has benefited enormously in financial terms from EU membership, which is the principal reason why, let’s face it, the ‘Irexit’ movement attracts derisory support.

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      3. What I didn’t mention in my posts above, possibly out of undue caution/paranoia, is that their current leader appears to have deliberately encouraged and incited false abuse complaints against the former leader purely to try to remove him as a potential threat to her fiefdom. In this era, making trumped up adult sex abuse complaints are about the second worst thing one can do against an adult male (the worst being of course false CSA allegations, and we’ve seen plenty of those in the UK in the recent past).

        If even a hint of this is true, Sturgeon has the ethics of a Bangkok pimp and is not fit to lead a parish council.

        https://news.sky.com/story/snp-faces-fresh-claims-that-high-ranking-party-figures-conspired-against-former-leader-alex-salmond-12201748

        But I continue to insist that the SNP’s stance on the EU is really not hypocritical at all and makes perfect pragmatic sense, and that the vast majority of SNP voters, proverbial canny Scots that they are, when they vote for the SNP, vote for it in the full knowledge that it is not a truly nationalistic party.

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      4. From what I’ve read and heard, it certainly seems Sturgeon didn’t lose any sleep over hanging Salmond out to dry. Seems a pretty rotten way of repaying a man to whom her career would appear indebted; but I guess it’s nothing new in politics.

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      5. Perhaps in retrospect I should have used the word ‘paradox’ rather than hypocrisy – it is certainly paradoxical to seek to leave one established and highly beneficial union, just to join another whose record on supporting struggling remote states has been, to say the least, inconsistent.

        I hesitate to raise the issue of the current vaccine chaos within the EU as offering a very topical and typical example of why that institution can never work for the common benefit of all its member states. Allowing this cock-up to be exposed to public gaze was very careless, but then they’re not even smart enough to redact their alleged ‘contracts’ properly (see Guido Fawkes). Germany will always dictate, France will suck up to Germany and the rest will just have to suck it up or the Germans will sort them out.

        The SNP has been a shrewd political operation, creating, developing and then milking a blind, emotive and irrational fervour for ‘independence’, although we all know that independence is the last thing the SNP will deliver for their sucker voters.

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