It has been a strange week in Laytonia.
A week of highs and lows. Ups and downs. Dejection and elation. Happiness and despair.
I think you get the idea.
I am happy to tell you that ‘the ups and the highs’ kick the ‘the downs and the lows’ way into the long grass, putting everything into perspective, rendering the lows relatively unimportant at the end of the Laytonia day.
I’ll detail the reasons for the dejection first, get it out of the way, then gravitate to the elation, hopefully ending this week’s ‘L in L’ on a happier and more optimistic note.
So what is this gloom all about?
If this were a film script, it would read:
INT. LIVING ROOM DAY
We are on a close-up of a television screen. Newsreel footage of a Chinese wet market. We hear a CNN reporter relaying news of a virus affecting people in the city of Wuhan.
Camera pans to an elderly man, slobbing out on the settee, as he enjoys a glass of wine and munches crisps.
Elderly Man (calling to kitchen): Moya, have you ever heard of a place called Wuhan?
Moya (oov): It’s in China.
George (for it is he): How the hell do you know these things? There are people out there dying from some virus.
George slurps his wine, draining the glass and gobbles the last few crisps.
Moya (oov): Probably started in a wet market.
George: (mumbling to himself) How does she know these things? Thank God it’s over there and not here…Darling, wouldn’t mind a top up when you come in! And few more crisps!
Moya (oov): What was that word?
George picks up the remote control.
George: Can’t watch this. Bloody depressing…
Who could have foreseen this pandemic and the ensuing consequences?
Certainly, not me. Back in late November/early December 2019, when we first started seeing news reports coming out of Wuhan, I watched footage of people being dragged out of their apartments by what looked like hazmat-suited thugs. They were physically manhandled, thrown into vans and driven to who knows where?
I watched in disbelief, all the while unkindly thinking: ‘Thank God this is happening in China and not here.’
Not for one moment did it occur to me that this Covid 19, this Coronavirus, whatever they were calling it, would come to our shores. I thought it would be contained in China. In fact, I thought it would be contained in Wuhan.
As with the Sars virus, Hong Kong ‘flu and even scary ebola, whilst it alarmed me, I selfishly thought that being so far away, it was unlikely to affect us. It would eventually become old news.
How could I have been that naïve? Complacency? To a degree. Unintelligence? Definitely. What did I know about viruses? How could I have foreseen what would happen?
I was not it seems, alone.
It would appear that the government watched events in Wuhan with the same complacency, unintelligence and lack of foresight as I did. How else can one explain the sanctioning of the 4-day Cheltenham Festival in mid-March 2020 when the pandemic was clearly gathering pace?
By then, it was not a question of if the country was going into lockdown, it was a question of when. The ‘when’ came a mere 10 days after the Cheltenham race meeting.
Complacency, unintelligence, a lack of foresight or what?
Boris inherited a horrible situation that no leader here or abroad could have foreseen.
Nobody knew how to deal with it. You were damned if you do, you were damned if you don’t.
National lockdown was imposed and I think it is fair to say that in the main, the nation acknowledged that the Prime Minister had little option. Most got behind him at a time of national crisis with stoicism and sacrifice beyond admirable.
National lockdown brought us together. There was a community spirit, helping each other, helping the NHS. One felt that the country was united at a time of national crisis.
One may not have agreed with everything that the government was doing but there was a feeling in those early days that they were doing their best.
Sacrifices asked of us were made. Businesses suffered. Jobs were lost. Lives were lost.
Here we are, 7 months later and you’d think things should be easier with the benefit of hindsight.
But 7 months later, even with that benefit of hindsight, we are rapidly heading back to square one – and this is what has been depressing me.
This week 16,000 infectious people were missed because our ‘world beating track and trace’ is reliant on a 13-year old version of Microsoft Excel.
This week we are witnessing surging coronavirus infection rates.
This week people with symptoms still cannot get testing appointments unless they pay privately.
This week the North/South divide has never been wider
This week we are warned that the vulnerable face months of having to stay indoors.
‘The vulnerable’, aka the elderly. Aka me! Little wonder I’m depressed.
This week, in a television interview, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said musicians and other people in the arts sector “should retrain and find other jobs”.
This was later denied, claiming that his comments were about employment generally and not specifically about the music or arts sector.
Either way, it’s deeply depressing.
Could anybody else have done better? Could anybody else do better? Who knows?
This worldwide pandemic is not what Boris bargained for when he won the high office he had for years striven after. He inherited an impossible problem
I am not comfortable with the blame game. But after 7 months of flim-flam, indecision, meaningless sound bites and platitudinous waffle, isn’t it time to hold our leaders to account?
7 months on, I am weary of seeing our Prime Minister squandering his energy on diversionary staged photo opportunities:
Boris on a building site in a hard hat (again). Boris with a trowel in his hand, cementing a brick on a wall. Boris driving a forklift truck. Boris in another luminous jacket in another warehouse…
Last Tuesday, we had Boris posing with the leader in waiting, Rishi Sunak, at an electric car charging point, each holding a charging cable as if re-enacting a scene from ‘Gunfight At The O.K. Corral’.
Over the water, President Trump, who from day one has run the White House like a man on steroids, is now probably pumped with more steroids than a team of Russian athletes, so God help us!
Am I being harsh on Boris Johnson and his ministers – some of whom should not be in office having flouted lockdown rules?
Oops, there I go again!
Am I being pessimistic or realistic?
Either way, apologies for an uncharacteristically downbeat ‘Life in Laytonia’ this week.
However – I am thrilled to say that all the above was put in the shade by some news this week that really lifted our spirits.
In the early hours of Saturday the 3rd of October, our younger son and his much loved partner (‘much loved’ by him and all the family) presented us with our 4th grandchild.
A Beautiful Bundle of Boy!
As I said at the start, it puts everything into perspective, doesn’t it?