There’s something left unsaid about this virus that has done so much to disrupt our lives and change our world – change for the worse.
Unsaid or not it was hiding in plain sight during all the fuss last week about Christmas parties in Downing Street, and other government buildings in 2020.
Much has been made – obviously – about the fact those parties were organised and took place at a time when Christmas had been cancelled for plebs like us. Loved ones left alone when they might have been with family. Businesses closed. All manner of get togethers – long planned and looked forward to – set aside for the apparent good of the nation.
While others made do with quiet homes, they – by which I mean our leaders and their aides – danced and drank and partied like it was … well, 2020.
But never mind all that stuff about ‘one rule for them, another for us’ and ‘do as I say and not as I do’. Rather notice something else as obvious as Rudolph’s red nose.
The people behind those parties, and with whose knowledge they took place, were not afraid … not afraid to be together in indoor spaces with people not their families. They were not afraid to be maskless in confined spaces with more than six people, or nine people, or whatever the final number was for the proles.
Because apart from anything else that might have been driving the government’s determination to keep the little people indoors and alone, separated from others they might have talked to and with whom they might have come to different conclusions about why it was all happening, our leaders and their aides were evidently not afraid of catching.
People who are afraid of a disease – and I know with absolute certainty that millions of people here in Britain and around the world have been made and remain terrified of Covid – don’t have to be told to do whatever they have to do to limit their chances of catching it.
People naturally afraid will go home and stay there without the need of government diktat, far less round the clock propaganda shaped by nudge units to ramp up the terror. They will, all by themselves, decide to keep away from places where people might gather – like pubs, shops, restaurants, schools, cinemas, theatres, sports grounds.
If they do have to venture out, for life’s necessities, they will cover their faces and wash their hands. They will do all of these things and more, instinctively, because fear of catching a lethal disease makes thinking people take all possible steps to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
In the case of the sort of disease that is naturally terrifying for people, they don’t have to be tested, morning, noon, and night, while feeling perfectly well, in order to find out whether or not they have a symptomless version of the lurgie.
If you’re not scared, you won’t do any of these things – not unless you’re ordered to by the authorities of course. As well as wanting no trouble from the police and the like, people obey rules and toe the line for fear of attracting unwanted attention from the wider community. Peer pressure.
Almost as much as disease of the body, people fear criticism, bullying by the mob, and the shame that falls upon any person who is seen to do The Wrong Thing. People who are not scared of a disease, however – people who have learned from those around them that there is nothing to fear – will, if they get the chance, especially at Christmas, get together with friends and colleagues and drink and dance the night away.
I say again – the people who gathered for those parties and then laughed the morning after about what they’d got away with were in positions to know more than anyone else about what the government was saying behind closed doors. For whatever reason, they were evidently not afraid – not afraid of each other, not afraid of condemnation for their rule breaking, and not afraid of Covid.
And let’s remember too, that all of this fearlessness was there in the world of Christmas 2020, that world before the vaccines, whatever your opinion of them, were even available.
I am not, here, belittling in way the fear felt by many people – the fear that is still felt and still driving behaviour and choices. The government has, after all, spent hundreds of millions of pounds using all channels of communication, including the media, to instil and stoke and pedal that fear.
There have been thousands of deaths since the virus arrived among us – although, on account of the way in which the counting was conducted and massaged for greatest effect, we will never know how many actually died of Covid, and not of something else, like cancer, or heart failure, or crashing a motorbike or whatever, while also testing positive for Covid. Any death, for any reason, is to be mourned – of course it is.
But hundreds of thousands of us die every year. Tens of thousands of the dearly loved – especially among our elderly and those already ill, or frail, or physically weakened and compromised in other ways – die every winter on account of flu and respiratory disease.
In 2020, for the first time, we were taught to fear death as never before. But not all death. Since 2020, not all deaths are equal. The death to fear above all others was death by Covid, or indeed with Covid, as I have already said. Ironically all the other ways of dying – by cancer, heart disease, stroke and all manner of ills – were pushed into a column headed, Don’t Worry About That For Now.
Damage to livelihoods, caused by all the fear and all the rules, was nothing to fear either, apparently. No cause for alarm either were the consequences of the damage done to a generation of youngsters on account of missing out on everything from education, to play, to mixing with extended family, to enjoying childhood itself.
Fear is a powerful thing. Like fire it is a good servant and a bad master. Fear in response to seeing for ourselves – without having to be told, or persuaded, or nudged or otherwise manipulated – that something is dangerous, makes us fight or flee, depending on our personal wiring. Fear can be a good thing, but only for moments at a time. Constant fear, never-ending fear for month after month is a bad thing.
Fear that is kindled and stoked by propaganda, and for years on end, is no good to anyone. We cannot, any of us, live in fear. So, I say again. Think about those Christmas parties of 2020, when fear among the general population had been pushed to its greatest height by reports of big numbers. The NHS apparently at breaking point.
Folk on their doorsteps on Thursday nights, waving anxiously at the neighbours – “How are you doing? Are you alright,” while beating pots and pans with spoons and clapping for carers – some of whom have either been sacked already or shortly will be on account of saying no to vaccines. Kids off school for months on end, missing out on everything.
Think about all that, driven by fear stoked by the media and the government – and remember how they partied, and drank, and danced cheek to cheek, and laughed. I read reports last week about a party in the offices of the Sun newspaper – one among many in that trade, I venture to guess – and so deduced that they were without fear too.
And while I’m on the subject of the press and the media – how about we get to know, as soon as possible, which political journalists representing which media, were at those parties – living it up the one minute, and then the following day sitting down to right more fear-laden about how we were all about to kill granny.
And then look at us now. Getting on for two years into it all now. Another Christmas to be crippled and crumpled by more of the same fear-mongering from on high. Straight faced, despite their own partying, they’ve whipped up tighter restrictions.
In Scotland – FM Nicola Sturgeon’s pre-Christmas gift to the ailing hospitality industry is her advice to one and all to cancel any plans they might have had for Christmas parties. Advent this year has been not about the coming of Jesus Christ, but the coming of Omicron instead.
So far Omicron has infected many, many people – as yet there’s no data on hospitalisations in the UK. So far, not one single death has been attributed to it.
Hospitalisations and deaths are currently in decline. Omicron might, if we’re allowed to look on the bright side for just a moment, be the soft form of the virus that will lightly touch everyone, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, and so deliver unto them the priceless gift that is natural immunity, that might keep a person proof against Covid for a lifetime.
But we’re not supposed to talk about that, are we? Not frightening, you see – quite the opposite.But no. Let’s keep the fires of fear burning instead. Let’s push for a third dose of vaccine – in time, and we have no reason to doubt it – for a fourth in the Spring, a fifth in the Summer.
Speaking only for myself, I contracted a mild dose of fear in Spring 2020. I was bit worried for a while, waiting to see what would happen to us all. Within a few weeks I’d got over it, got over the fear. I’ve been immune to the state-sponsored fear ever since.
This year I caught Covid and got over that as well. Now I’m naturally immune, which is what I might have asked Santa for, if I’d thought of it.
Anyone planning parties and get togethers with family and friends this year – even members of Her Majesty’s government and Opposition, that’s fine by me and I hope you and they enjoy every moment.
Because it’s Christmas, a time for forgiving as they say.
My family and I will do as we please. And just like the government types at their parties last year, we are not afraid.