A lert according to Twitter

It’s ‘good news week!’  Suddenly, we Brits have something to be very proud of, we are, as it seems, a nation of ‘lerts’ and ‘experts’.

Take the ‘lerts’ for example.   They’re everywhere, peering through windows of homes and vehicles at all times of the day and night, experts as they are on spatial awareness, distance and the rules, ready to do you or the neighbours or fellow shoppers to the authorities if they, in their wisdom and community mindedness, decide you have not acted appropriately – to use one of their favourite words. Isn’t it odd how ‘appropriately’ has entered the social distance rule book and in such a short period of time too?  Maybe it’s because the furloughed public sector employees or the retired amongst us have taken their health and safety ethic to heart and desire to reach out and imbue us all with their ethics and values even when they are not at work, which seems most are not.

Anyway, these people, apparently well-meaning, are everywhere. A sort of self-appointed ‘community lert support officer’, their main duties being to count people out of their homes, time their absence or conformity to the rules or actively measure the distance stripes on supermarket floors or queue lines, hoping to see some minor infringement that can be reported to the authorities – like joggers or cyclists failing to keep to the approved distance at all times.

Community lert support officers are not always obvious except to the trained eye, as until recently mostly lerts were shy creatures found only behind the net curtains or vertical blinds of prim houses in Audi Avenue, or the more expensive executive style residences situated in another built-on green field site resplendent in yet another exclusive collection of designer homes of this, what was once a well-ordered and pleasant land,

Mostly the middle aged are trained ‘lert officers’.  Not for them the flashy executive car; more the down-sized smaller vehicle, often electric because, they will tell you in rare off duty moments, they are very worried about ‘global warming’ and want to do their bit to help out; which is why, during this health pandemic, you will see them in the regular uniform of protective gloves and face masks, even when alone and in their own gardens, antiseptic wet wipe in hand, furiously wiping down a front door letter box or car door handle.

Supermarket and garden centres are where you are likely to spot them, often vying with other lerts to make startled shoppers or staff members aware of their presence as they make loud comments about how important it is that everyone wears face masks, carries wet wipes and gloves and shows  respect to staff and shoppers alike at all times.

It should be noted that more experienced lert officers are particularly impressed by the collective respect shown to them by others, often beaming with pride and nods of approval when asked if they will again be leading the local ‘clapathon’ for our heroic NHS.

Community lerts can also be found on social media and in the comments sections of local and national newspapers, hectoring and lecturing those who dare to have any differing opinion on the pandemic, social distance rules, the furloughing of public sector staff on full pay and the effect that this is having on the economy. Any comment that dares mention the NHS in anything other than reverential terms or suggests that the lockdown and resultant regulations, guidelines or laws are an attack on civil liberties, will receive sometimes dozens of negative comments.

It’s truly amazing (and a well-hidden fact apparently) that there are so many lawyers, virologists, statisticians, public health officials, professors of something or another and Nobel Prize winners with the time to make their assertions available to the public on social media and in the tabloid press, all for free and the for the good of the community.


Part 2 will be published here tomorrow.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email