And the confusion goes on. Most people are still the most lovely, sweet and supportive love-bundles. Others, apparently, continue to Corona-shame each other for buying non-essential items. Of course, this is an entirely subjective definition, but some chief of police was threatening to stop and search people’s shopping to check they’d only got essentials! (I wonder what sort of racial or class profiling this would involve?)
I think this stems from a conflation of the Government’s advice to only make “essential trips” and “Only buy what you need” They mean don’t over-buy or stockpile, but you can see the problem with combining those messages. In fact, it is perceived essentials that run out if people stock-pile so, if I want to live entirely off caviar, and I can afford it, I should be encouraged. It reduces pressure on supermarket stocks and it keeps the fish-farmers in business. In other words, the government should be saying, “Shop flexibly – save lives”.
Police are saying that some people are using Corona-shaming to settle old scores, and are advising people to “only report well-meaning concerns.” They admit, however, that most unnecessary calls “stemmed from over-zealousness, rather than attempts to deliberately misinform the police” (according to the Observer, 19/04/20).
This seems very forgiving of the curtain-twitchers. I can’t easily imagine scenarios where informing on your neighbours is kind and caring. It seems much more likely to be driven by malice and a desire to persecute. Presumably you are doing this behind their backs; presumably they are doing something that would, in normal times, be perfectly innocent, and which they have judged to be safe and acceptable.
Maybe getting the police to take your neighbours aside and have a quick word is more tactful than getting into a slanging match yourself and ruining your relationship. Such judge-y snitching just seems nasty to me, though, and it is a sad thing if this has become necessary.
Meanwhile, a head teacher on twitter has said that 0.2% of people between the ages of 10 and 18 who test positive for the Corona-virus have died, and that a 1 in 500 death rate is too high a price to pay for opening the schools again. “What if it was your child?”, the twitterarchy ask. “One child death is too many”, they cry. Fair point. My work-place has over 2000 kids. Four of them would die, if we reopened with those odds. These would be kids I know whose parents trusted us to look after them.
HOWEVER, at the point of writing, the NHS only had enough tests to give to people who were in hospital with Corona Virus symptoms, so the real statistic is 1 in 500 people who were so severely ill that they were rushed to hospital with suspected Corona virus, and then tested positive for it, have died. Alternatively you could say, “of the small minority of teenagers who become severely ill, 499 out of 500 have survived.” That’s a much, much smaller risk. And this is one of the leaders of education in our country, tasked with driving back the shadows of ignorance and prejudice.
Finally, there’s the fire-bombing of 5G towers. The attacks are illogical, atavistic, and demonstrate a complete ignorance of how viruses or the immune system work. I suspect they are caused by a generalised suspicion of digital technology, because it’s inexplicable, combined with a resistance to government surveillance. This is reinforced by the involvement of China’s Huawei in setting up the network. Huawei is the technological arm of an oppressive police state whose interests are often in opposition to our own and, we suspect, could engage in cyber-warfare against us. These vague feelings and hazy conceptions, along with the fact that China is the source of the virus, have coalesced into an emotional, irrational hostility to the towers.
What’s more surprising is Eamonn Holmes asking why the “mainstream media” were so quick to dismiss the link between 5G towers and the Corona Virus. He suggested they were doing this because “it didn’t fit with the official narrative”. He said he was asking these questions as someone “with an enquiring mind”. I was gob-smacked. Mr Holmes’s “enquiring mind” hadn’t led him to question the definition of “mainstream media”. Who coined the term and for what reason? Is he saying any reasonable, analytical and well researched news story should be viewed with suspicion BECAUSE it chimes with what we know about the world and this socio-political situation? Does he view it as part of some vast conspiracy of the sane, specifically BECAUSE it agrees with other similar stories on similar reputable news platforms? Is he suggesting any weird, paranoid fantasy must be treated as fact BECAUSE it’s not supported by anyone else?
And what is he implying by “Official narrative”? Is there a hidden, more true, “un-official narrative”? Is it more to be trusted because it’s unofficial and unverifiable? Why does he give that more credence? I’m sure many individuals in many governments are willing to lie like fury to shift the blame, but how would it benefit any government to lie about the causes and spread of a pandemic, thus causing more deaths, unless their aim was simply to kill us all?
Of course, most people are acting with good-sense and kindness and blah blah blah, but that’s much less fun to write about, and, anyway, it’s the madness that makes me feel small, powerless and vulnerable. The nonsense seems so powerful, so loudly clamorous, so widely believed, that it seems about to sweep away all controls, all sense, and the world is about to descend into a hideous, Breughel-esque nightmare with hordes of violent, gibbering madmen, the popular majority, spreading out across the landscape destroying everything I value.
Therefore I cling to my comfort rituals, my certainties. “These fragments I have shored against my ruins”.
The point being, I’m probably running a bit too much again.