When there was such a thing as a music press, a flurry of excitable hyperbole would often accompany the arrival of a new act that the musical hacks fell over themselves to declare as the Next Big Thing. This seemed to get worse once we hit the 90s, though maybe the music press sensed time was running out for them and there had to be a swifter turnover of bands to retain the ever-shorter attention spans of the readership. Exactly 30 years ago, one such band was a duo called Curve, fronted by the attractively intense Toni Halliday. Like many of these acts praised way beyond anything they could ever live up to, they were OK but not much more than that. So, why mention them now? Just because of their name, really. This time last year, I kept hearing it constantly, as in ‘flatten the…’ Anyone know if the curve’s been flattened yet? I’ve forgotten how many weeks – or was it months? – we were told it would take to flatten that pesky curve, but I don’t remember being told it would take a full year. And if it hasn’t been flattened yet, how long? Longer than Curve’s career, I suspect.
I don’t need to say what a strange twelve months it’s been, do I? 27 million of us watched the same programme one year ago today and it wasn’t ‘Line of Duty’. So many separate spinoffs from that broadcast, so few paragraphs to list them; but we received a reminder of one of them this weekend. Our frontline defenders of law and order kneeled before them and allowed them to wreak havoc in central London last year; with Labour MPs refusing to condemn them and ‘defund the police’ being a key catchphrase of an organisation whose name continues to be promoted at Premier League football grounds, should we raise an eyebrow in the wake of the anarchy on the streets of Bristol? Of course not; after all, the Bristol branch of the mob threw a statue in the sea when lockdown rules and regulations were specially waived for it in the summer. Therefore, the precedent had been established long before the police were targeted as the guilty foot-soldiers enforcing the Government edict on public demonstrations in the same city on Sunday.
Between Lockdown I and II, the dangers of placing a population under house arrest and facilitating the release of their parallel universe Twitter identities into the real world was disastrously exposed; after yet another extended bout of social isolation, we shouldn’t really be surprised the same thing is happening again, particularly in the face of fresh draconian legislation both north and south of the border that will shortly outlaw any opposition to the State, whether in thought or deed. Of late, the normalisation of violent protest has gone hand-in-hand with aggressive crackdowns on their peaceful equivalent, as seen at the Sarah Everard vigil on Clapham Common. Mind you, I should imagine it’s easier for half-a-dozen fat coppers to lay into a weak and feeble woman than prevent two-dozen hooded anarchists with the stomachs of kings from smashing windows and hurling petrol bombs. Naturally, that’s not to excuse the actions of the thugs in Bristol – many of whom, I suspect, were probably bussed into town in the manner of old-school flying pickets; equally, some of the police behaviour over the past year has been so ridiculously disproportionate to the ‘crimes’ being committed that it’s no wonder respect for the institution has plummeted lower than the average plod waistline.
Furlough remains the sweetener to pacify outbreaks of civil unrest beyond the usual suspects, and a Government that can all-but get away with murder in the name of ‘protecting the NHS’ has managed to ensure widespread support for its policies from a compliant populace terrified into obedience. Revelations of the ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ scandal taking place in the early months of the pandemic – a cold-blooded practice that undoubtedly pushed up the fatality rate, thus justifying the lockdown – seem to have been received with an indifferent shrug of the shoulders by a MSM that has had its instinctive urge to challenge the powers-that-be utterly castrated by the freakish climate. In case you missed it, the shocking findings by the Care Quality Commission were published last week; they revealed that between March and December last year, over 500 DNR orders were placed upon ill individuals in care and nursing homes, all without informing the individuals themselves or their families; nobody in a position to give consent was presented with the opportunity to give it. Those with learning disabilities or dementia were especially vulnerable to this chilling decision which followed the staggeringly careless dumping of Covid-infected patients from hospital to care home.
The appalling handling of care home residents remains perhaps the single most atrocious f**k-up of the pandemic, yet to even imply it was some sort of clumsy error or inept oversight serves to let the guilty parties off lightly when there evidently seems to have been an unnervingly cynical and clinical process at play. Care home residents were clearly not very important in the great scheme of things – ditto those suffering from life-threatening illnesses like cancer, whose vital treatment was suspended and indefinitely postponed as emergency Nightingale hospitals stood emptier than a venue hosting a meeting of the Friends of Ghislaine Maxwell Society. Does anyone really expect heads to roll as a result of this scandal, however? I doubt it. The ability to express shame when required doesn’t appear to be a qualification for a career in public service anymore. Despite the unintentionally amusing hashtag of #DickOut circulating on Twitter following the behaviour of those Met Officers on Clapham Common, the far-from amusing incompetence of Cressida Dick hasn’t – and won’t – result in resignation or, I should imagine, the loss of much sleep at Dick Towers. I don’t really know what someone in a position of power has to do these days to fall on their sword.
Take Matt Hancock or the rest of the crony capitalists running the country. It couldn’t be made any clearer that virtually every Covid-related Government contract was put out to tender on the old boy network, yet nobody seems particularly bothered. Perhaps cynicism is so rife in politics now that whatever revelations fall the way of the electorate, the only response will be apathy. Just recently, our Health Secretary promised that all it would take for a semblance of normality to return to life would be for the vulnerable to be vaccinated. They have been. But now those fortunate enough to indulge in overseas holidays can forget it in 2021, apartheid-flavoured vaccine passport or no; the easing of restrictions continues to be kicked into the long grass, with endless variants of the virus appearing on cue whenever the public has been led to believe the latest lockdown is due to end.
Mary Ramsay of Public Health England has taken it upon herself to maintain the trend of unelected officials making announcements once reserved for elected Ministers by proclaiming travel restrictions, along with laws on mask-wearing and social distancing, are pretty much here to stay for the foreseeable future. This situation reminds me of something – yes! Anyone remember that frustrating game that was once a fixture of seaside resort amusement arcades – the one where you allegedly operated a crane and tried to scoop up a bar of chocolate that always fell short of dropping down the chute leading to your grateful palm? Well, I think the comparisons are there without any further elaboration on my part.
Yet still, after a full year of this, in which even the advent of a magic vaccine hasn’t made the general situation any better for anyone bar a superficial gold star, there are many who will now go along with everything, so successfully has the project worked. Were Boris to announce everybody over 40 must report to Beachy Head on a specified date and form an orderly socially-distanced queue (whilst wearing masks, naturally) before being ordered off the edge one-by-one or else risk a £10,000 fine, I suspect the majority would do as they were told. A handful of knuckleheads up for a fight in Bristol can’t obscure the fact that we now have one of the most conformist and neutered populations ever to reside outside of a Communist state. One year on from the general public placing its good faith in the experts and giving ‘the science’ the benefit of the doubt after tuning in to the PM’s landmark television address, is the curve flat enough to warrant release from our social bondage? Er…no. Will it ever be? Ask me this time next year.
© The Editor