The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has said that new restrictions appear to be inevitable, which seems to indicate that things are going to get worse before we finally see the New Year. And so it is going to be corona carols for all of us! We can only hope that Santa comes along to stuff the Covid vaccine into our Christmas stockings.
If things were not gloomy enough already, the weather has turned wet and windy. There has been an odd day of sunshine now and then but otherwise we are in a standard English autumn. The political climate is no warmer except a lot of people are angry and fed up. The second coming of Covid has seen thousands of new cases every week. Everyone had thought the lockdown was over in August and we would be back to our usual round of pubs and parties. But now pubs are to be shut again as will restaurants. Nothing is certain and the rules keep changing. The scientists are definitely quarrelling and they have been fighting for some time.
Those advising Boris Johnson want dire lockdowns but others are complaining that we need herd immunity and freedom to mingle. London has escaped the worst so far but there are local lockdowns in the North. In Scotland, as of this weekend, all pubs, restaurants and cafes are shut. But cafes not serving alcohol are allowed to be open. So can a pub stay open serving coffee but not Irish coffee? No clarity yet!
The only constant is that like the scientists, the government is also at a loss. They are now not very sure about how they can calculate the precise numbers of those who got the virus. The latest is that the test and trace programme missed out on 50,000 cases because the computer was old as was the Excel spreadsheet and the last few rows were left out. So there are 50,000 people out there who tested positive but cannot be traced because the computer was dysfunctional. The test and trace programme, according to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson was going to be a ‘Moonshot’.
But let us face it, Boris has had a tougher time than other heads of state when he got Covid-19. Look at how luxuriously Donald Trump gets treated when he catches the virus — his own four-room suite in Walter Reed hospital with a personal chef and doctors and secret service staff. You have to feel sorry for the British Prime Minister. In 10 Downing Street there are no doctors or staff to look after the Prime Minister.
When he had Covid last March, he was alone in a flat at the top of No.11. He was being supplied food pushed through the door, because his then pregnant girlfriend had to isolate elsewhere to be safe. Finally Boris had to check into hospital — but only because he was, by then, seriously unwell. We do not pamper our Prime Minister. If he wants a posh meal at home, he cooks it himself or orders a takeaway. Things are better at Chequers but there are no chefs or housemaids in 10 Downing Street. The family has to cook, wash the dishes and do their own laundry. Now, I wonder how things are back in India?
James Bond normally comes to the rescue of the British people in distress. But this time he has struck a hard blow. The release of the latest Bond film No Time to Die was postponed for six months. We had even heard that cinemas were supposed to open with a bang and Bond. Now Cineworld, a cinema chain which owns 127 theatres, has decided to close them all down. Others may follow suit. It seems as though the great film industry in the UK is going to be badly impacted. How will one survive without eating popcorn and watching action on the big screen?
But some cheering up has been done by the Queen as usual. She has buoyed sinking spirits by honouring the many wonderful doctors and nurses and other “warriors” who were at the frontline of fighting Covid. Every year she bestows honours on people in June, which is her official birthday month. Due to Covid the date was put back to October.
Normally there is intense competition and lobbying by the top people to grab a gong. One is told that there are even agencies you can hire to secure you an honour, though that sounds a bit odd. (What do they do — sidle up to the Queen, and whisper in her ear?) But this time, it is the many ordinary people — NHS nurses, volunteers who donated their time to prepare free meals or encouraged people to exercise daily online — 414 of them have been honoured, out of a total of 1,495. This spirit of helping others is a unique thing about the local culture. It is wonderful that this is being recognised.