THE GLOOM IN JUNE

BorisRemember the good old days of the Brazilian Variant? Nah, me neither. Sounds good though, doesn’t it – makes me think of Pele, Jairzinho, Astrud Gilberto and the Girl from Ipanema. Apparently, it was a hip variant a couple of months ago; I only know this from re-reading a recent post a day or two back and it was referenced there. Amazing how quickly we got over that one innit. Nobody remembers the poor old Brazilian Variant now we’ve got the Indian Variant – or is that already passé? That’s the trouble with these bloody variants – fashions change so quickly. If the Brazilian Variant is so last season, does that mean the Indian Variant is still ‘in’ – or has it been superseded because the professional doom-mongers with a heavy investment in Project Fear need their constant supply of Covid remixes to keep them in a job? It seems the chic variants change on a weekly basis and everywhere is entitled to one of its own. Expect the Accrington Variant, the Stockport Variant and the Huddersfield Variant any day now.

Guess what – it turns out the backlog of untreated, non-coronavirus ailments that came about with everything being sidelined for the Covid avalanche that surprisingly didn’t leave the NHS an apocalyptic wasteland means any significant upsurge in fresh Covid-related cases will push our national religion ‘to the brink’ once again. A pity we had to close those empty Nightingale hospitals, really; but I suppose that’s what happens when you rely on Neil Ferguson to provide you with projections. I’ve a feeling had he been around to hear Orson Welles’ ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast in 1938 he’d have been reeling off stats about how many millions the Martians were poised to wipe out. Anyway, another of those pseudo-scientific bodies with abbreviated names that sound like parodies of international espionage organisations from Bond movies has beaten the most infamous lockdown-breaker outside of Dominic Cummings to it this time round. The New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group is otherwise known as ‘Nervtag’, and one of its members has issued what Fleet Street and the BBC tend to describe as ‘a stark warning’ as we count down the days to the official lifting of remaining Covid measures.

Yes, for all the ‘almost normal’ behaviour of some and the waiting-with-baited-breath caution of others, only an idiot will have imagined we would approach the D-Day of 21 June free from one more scientific soothsayer prophesising Armageddon, and the Man from Nervtag – who goes by the name of Professor Ravi Gupta – is first out of the blocks as we head towards the final stage of restriction relaxation by declaring the country is in the early stages of a ‘third wave’. For God’s sake, can’t someone just provide them all with sandwich boards and let them loose on Oxford Street to proclaim the end of the world is nigh to their hearts’ content? But we all know that ain’t gonna happen to the academics and scientists whose message is conducive to the narrative favoured by the MSM. Prof. Gupta is based at the University of Cambridge and has been sufficiently impressed by the Indian variant to urge the Government to postpone the ending of Covid measures, possibly by a ‘few weeks’. If a week is a long time in politics, Lord knows how long a few of them are in coronavirus measurements.

According to Prof. Gupta, one of the reasons why a third wave is creeping up on us is due to the vaccine engendering ‘a false sense of security’ – though, to be fair, I think he has a point there; never before has something so new and so untested been thrust upon such a vast mass of people at such short notice and sold as the ultimate pandemic panacea when there’s no way anyone can truly know it will do what it says on the tin. The very authorities that had forecast death and destruction on a scale unseen since the Black Death were evidently exaggerating just a bit, yet we’re expected to take their word at face value when it comes to the vaccine – and people have taken that word in good faith because they’re desperate to return to a semblance of normality. No wonder it risks fabricating a false sense of security. If one were to accept Prof. Gupta’s argument, then it could well be a dangerous state of affairs if people think they can simply pick-up where they left off with their lives 14 months ago in the belief the jab will serve as an anti-Covid suit of armour – though they can’t really be blamed when the scale of the vaccination programme, stretching way beyond all the groups actually vulnerable to Covid, certainly gives the impression to the layman that the Government finally appears to know what it’s doing.

Mind you, its salesmen have mastered the art of scaring the populace into doing as they’re told, generating the uncomfortable feeling of living in a never-ending Public Information Film whereby every step we take brings us into contact with yet another terrifying, life-threatening danger we need to safeguard against. But at least most of those not terrified into a permanent state of cowering submission by more than a year of relentless propaganda are acting as if the lingering Covid restrictions have been lifted as it is. The mental ramifications of lockdown may take a little longer to recover from – and require keeping an eye on; but for many the 21 June deadline is merely a formality that has its greatest relevance for the business world, especially the hospitality industry. As soon as pubs, bars, cafés and restaurants can dispense with some of the more impractical safety measures, ones that are probably preventing punters from returning to their premises in greater numbers, the better for their industry and the economy in general.

There were numerous occasions over the past year when so much of the advice of the Government on combating the coronavirus would have been impossible to follow if one wished to remain sane. At times, the silliness of some reminded me of the ‘Young Ones’ episode where Neil the hippie sits under the kitchen table, having designated the tiny space as his fallout shelter because he’s convinced the bomb is about to drop; when he reads aloud (in all seriousness) from ‘Protect and Survive’, the actual early 80s official Government manual on how to cope following a nuclear holocaust, the futility of the advice is writ large, and the studio audience laughs accordingly. If today’s TV had the balls to produce an equivalent comedy show, perhaps an equivalent character to Neil could read aloud some of the suggestions for keeping Covid at bay and their similarly silly nature would elicit a similar response. Ah, but don’t hold your breath. Switch off your television set and go and do something less boring instead.

The idea that nobody would engage in an embrace until Michael Gove gave them the green light was patently ludicrous, though it does make the ambitious assumption that everyone has someone to hug, which is sadly not the case. Social alienation for many will not be so easy to shake off, whether restrictions end on 21 June or a few weeks later; it won’t be easy for those to whom it was a debilitating new shadow falling upon their lives and it won’t be easy for those to whom it was an extended reunion with a dreaded houseguest they’d been plagued by before. Any of the mental health ailments associated with lengthy detachment from one’s fellow man and the world he inhabits – agoraphobia, depression, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts et al – don’t disappear overnight just because a career bridegroom announces society will reopen on a specific date any more than an alcoholic can completely conquer his addiction in 24 hours. The long-term psychological damage of what we’ve been through probably won’t be accurately quantified for years, though this to me is the real ‘third wave’ we will have to deal with.

© The Editor