I need to let you know before you read this that it is a bit of a rant. You may wish to leave early. I’m not that keen on a scene either. Normally, if I get the need to shout at people on here, I give it 24 hours and then I feel a bit better. And calmer. And less likely to bore you lot with it. However, if I waited till I felt better about this, I might never post again.
I am angry. Weirdly enough though I have a certain level of peace as well. I have a faith that allows me to believe that good can come out of this horrible situation. I have been a Christian long enough to know that God’s value systems are not the same as mine and I know a God given promise when I hear it. I could probably name 20 blessings that have come to me through all this. But still, I am angry.
Much that is good has already come out of this pandemic. I have been so moved by those who work tirelessly on the front line, walking into danger as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Then there are those who choose to help by volunteering, raising money in a myriad of different ways. To watch Captain Tom Moore at 99 walk up and down his garden because he wanted to say thank you is brilliant. And it is also a tribute to those who have felt so impotent that to give to him and the NHS was the best thing to do. It is right I think. To give in the face of such terrible times is to be the embodiment of good cancelling out evil. On a personal note, I have also watched some great sermons which have really helped me. I have felt the pace of my life slow down and that has been a good thing for me. To step away and reflect is a blessing. I am also aware that the earth has been enjoying lock-down more than many of us have. Pollution has slowed, mindless consumption has been questioned and an air of thoughtfulness has settled on everything. Random acts of kindness are everywhere. Well nearly everywhere. Not so much on the park outside our apartment where arguments break out about people spending too much time sitting on the benches.
“I’m a nurse! I just need a break!”
“Well I work in a care home and I need a break!”
I tell you, it’s like the first Sex Pistols gig, where if everyone who says they were there was there it would have needed to be at Wembley stadium, There are so many nurses on this park, if they were all who they said they were, there would be no crisis. Anyway – I digress. And I am still angry.
Firstly Captain Tom. what a great man. £25 million. The only problem is the NHS isn’t a charity or, at least it shouldn’t be. It has been underfunded for years and years. Nurses – who we now love and adore and promise the earth to – made politicians laugh when they asked for a pay-rise. And, while £25 million is plopping into the NHS budget like a drop in the proverbial ocean, small charities are on their knees. I have to declare an interest here. My charity is tiny. It helps the disabled and elderly get out and about. Now, they are not allowed out and about. We are closed but supported to bump along the bottom by the Council. Without them – we would finish. If people aren’t allowed out for 12 months, I don’t know where it will leave us. I don’t know where it will leave those that we support. Last week I manned phones for a couple of hours. Call after call from older people. Blessedly, they are fine for food and medicines for the most part (the goodness of people again and again) but they are lonely and upset. They miss each other. The bingo, the lunch club, church isn’t starting again anytime soon and they are panicking they they may never leave the house again. Compared to PPE or people dying – I know, I know but this is some people’s entire lives. And this is before we look at Women’s Refuges trying to support those for whom a lock-down could be fatal or those Care Homes dealing with end of life trauma who didn’t even get included in the death figures until last week.
Then I calm a bit and tell myself that I am only this upset because my son and his girlfriend have had their entire wedding plans cancelled, after a year of loving and careful planning. Or maybe I am mad because my daughter, who is about to write her Master’s Dissertation cannot get access to the library or the film museum that would give her the raw materials she needs. And, after all, it can’t be helped can it? It’s a natural disaster. We couldn’t have seen it coming. We have done everything we could. Let’s get together and clap Boris.
Except, it seems that there was plenty that we could have done. Putting to one side for the moment the Medieval markets that sell live animals for slaughter and the myriad warnings about how these markets – as well as calling our humanity into question – were also always going to incubate the next big pandemic. Putting aside also China’s “economy with the truth” about how the disease was progressing. Also putting aside, the rehearsals that there had been here showing massive great holes in our pandemic response. (I know, I am putting a lot of things to one side. I may be feeling more generous than I think I am). It seems that my British Government was slow on the uptake to a criminal degree. I wouldn’t normally recommend you go and buy a newspaper. But today, the Sunday Times is carrying a report on the weeks from mid January to the weeks the lock-down began. It is perhaps the most important piece of journalism you will read on the British Outbreak. It is also online here. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/coronavirus-38-days-when-britain-sleepwalked-into-disaster-hq3b9tlgh It is behind a paywall but I think you can read a couple of pieces if you sign up.
Warning after warning was given and ignored. PPE was counted and it was obvious there wasn’t enough and we exported some to China. Government emergency meetings – known as Cobra, were called. Prime Minister Johnson was too busy to attend the first five. (and before you say he’s been ill. I’m glad he’ll be ok. This is all before he was ill). Ball after ball was dropped, either through fears for the economy, confused advice or just plain burying heads in the sand.
I watch the Government Briefing every night and do you know, I find myself thinking more and more that they well be barefaced lying down the camera lens. (Also – if I hear the term “ramping up” again. I may well run amok). In Germany they are making plans for a cautious return. In Denmark – the schools are opening. Even in France where they were almost as rubbish as we were, Macron had the guts to apologise. All we seem to get is a lot of people talking about “British Determination” and other people saying – “At least it’s not Trump.”
But the fact is that “British Determination” is more necessary for some than for others. The rich can shelter away from the storm far more easily. The poor are on the front line. They drive buses, they stack shelves, they wipe bottoms. They queue at Foodbanks. They can’t pay the rent. They hope that someone will order a Deliveroo because they only get paid by numbers of deliveries.
Look I told you I was angry. You got plenty of notice to leave. I’m a Christian. I believe in hope. I’ll wave at you cheerily on HouseParty Sunday service and Zoom and agree when you pray and send comfort. But, when something is wrong. It’s wrong. We need faith and positivity, yes but we also need to be thinking about how we put these wrongs right.