Here in St Mary on the Wold, where to be honest, not much happens in the usual turn of events, the largely middle-income Guardian and Telegraph reading mostly elderly residents, go about their daily lives in much the same fashion as they always have done in similar places across middle England. Many of them are retired public sector workers with children who are mostly following in the family tradition, even if, at the moment, they are either unwilling or unable to live locally due to the cost of housing in the area.

However, don’t think for one moment that mom and dad have been short of attention from their children and grandchildren during the pandemic, as most have had no problem with that at all, even at Christmas when, if you remember the media experts and various politicians were forever telling their captive audiences on the mainstream media that to go home at Christmas was tantamount to giving granny (not grandad for some reason) a death sentence. It was heartening to see that all the dire warnings went mostly, it seems, unheeded as visitors arrived from afar, sometimes from what we must now call foreign countries to stay – very quietly of course – for the muted festivities and then disappearing into the night once January came.

January was a quiet month and a long one here. The weather didn’t help for a start and even country dwellers can tire of an east wind, fog, and rain turning roads into muddy quagmires as water pours off the fields as streams and rivers flood in the locality. We have a grand total of three rivers in the area, all of which have flooded again, but thankfully this time as yet not causing any great distress or damage, although one brave soul found out the hard way that his go anywhere off road 4×4 was actually not equipped to drive through a fast flowing torrent  of muddy water two meters deep and had to call out the emergency services to be rescued as the vehicle turned into an out of control boat and was carried off into even deeper water.

Some people it seems never heed actual signage placed near flooded rivers by the agents of local government, but prefer to have faith in their own inflated ideas of their driving skills and the hype provided by vehicle marketing departments as they strive to sell yet another vastly expensive over complicated vehicle to people who ordinarily would only drive the vehicle across a the local supermarket car park on a wet day and then only when they have checked the weather forecast on the BBC.

Fortunately, we missed out for the most part on the heavy snow and arctic conditions that hit the country mostly north-east of the Wold, which is just as well as, being up high, when we do get a heavy snowfall it drifts and lingers around the place for sometimes weeks afterwards. This time though, it only caused a minor disruption as most of the residents who would normally be at a workplace are, thanks to Dishi Rishi throwing taxpayers’ money around as if it’s going out of fashion and will never have to be repaid, still tirelessly working away at home.

Just what working from home means is not particularly clear, as whole families, complete with their newly acquired – during lockdown one – puppies of mostly exotic heritage, which is the new and expensive description for dogs that are not pedigree and which for generations were known as mongrels and have now turned into badly behaved adult dogs, parade for hours on end around the public ‘millennium green’ and lanes and by-ways of the area. The dogs are mostly off lead and prone to charge at anyone near them or worse still chase animals, particularly sheep, much to the annoyance of local farmers, while woolly hatted, quilted jacket Annabel and Quinton, shout despairing after Bella or Milo before clambering back into the family SUV along with children Poppy and George and disappear back to Audi Avenue.

All those children, apparently suffering educational and mental health problems due to missing their school and other friends and having their education and future prospects ruined, benefited greatly from the inclement weather, spending endless hours on the local hills snowball fighting and sledging. Not on home-made sledges of times gone past but with brightly coloured plastic sledges thoughtfully suddenly on sale in the non-essential goods aisles of local supermarkets and of course from on-line sources delivered by couriers who have not the choice of working from home and facing not only working temperatures and conditions never before experienced according to some media sources, since, well, the last time we had some winter type weather during January or February. If one took any notice of forecast or predictions one would never venture outside in these two months, even if living in the middle of one of our major cities.

One wonders how that sits with the younger generation’s views on climate change, non-essential travel, social distancing rules and their worries about losing much valued online tuition provided by their school. The fact that most schools would  never have allowed pupils out in inclement weather due to Health and Safety ‘issues’ seems not to matter to teachers, parents and authority figures in general when its suits, and is perhaps something which, when the country returns to some semblance of normality, if it ever does, will have to be decided.

Although hopefully not by political and scientific and psychological experts and elites that have done such a wonderful job of frightening much of the population during the emergency of the last year or so. One wonders when an event of some sort stops being an emergency and becomes the normal state of affairs? Certainly, Boris Johnson, apparently the Prime Minister, does not appear to have been attending something called a ‘cobra’ meeting of late, so perhaps the gravitas and drama of it all and having to appear on live TV press briefings is starting to wane somewhat. Or perhaps he’s been told by his ‘spouse in waiting’ that he’d be better employed by cleaning up after the dog, or at least training it not to destroy the nation’s antique furniture on loan to the many temporary residents of ‘Chequers.’

One head teacher has certainly had enough of the doom and gloom forecasts promulgated in social media and the mainstream media. Neil Wallace, a Headteacher of a school in Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire, has written to parents, telling them that we have had enough of what he calls ‘catastrophizing’ and how it can be disparaging being bombarded daily with talk about mental health problems, a lost covid generation and all the rest. He says that it all needs to be put into perspective and we should look at the new skills pupils and students have learned, for instance how to use technology in different ways and learning self-reliance and resilience.

Something that many of their parents and grandparents would do well to do. Far too many it seems have had life far too easy for too long and expect that life, in their view of course, should remain, as people from a previous generation would have said, ‘rosy.’ Anyway, he went on, feeling bored, confused, anxious, worried, and sad are normal responses and should not be ‘medicalised.’

I can almost hear the chorus of disapproval from the experts on social and mainstream media over what, to many, would be common sense comments regarding a situation that, only two generations ago, students, pupils, teachers or anybody else, would, in the main, have just got on with, which is, by the way, what the populations of many less affluent countries have had to do right from the start of this pandemic.

At last, somebody in education taking a different view. Makes a change from that other Headteacher who, after cancelling lessons so that kids could go and play in the snow, said she expected that somebody would complain, but went to say that ‘she just didn’t care.’ There speaks the voice of somebody on the public payroll without a care in the world, not for her worries about finding the money for unexpected childcare when school is closed, or maybe losing a day’s pay, or indeed wondering, having lost a job or business through no fault of their own, just how bills are going to be met.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.

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