Walking the dog, on our – much to his disgust – one permitted exercise walk through St. Mary on the Wold this morning, the sun was rising, the birds, those few we still have around here, were singing and I could swear that I heard a cuckoo, although when I checked with my bird-watching friend he’d not heard anything on the bird lines but it was good to hear whatever it was, as normally the roar of the traffic on the main road drowns everything; it’s also noticeable that the stink of diesel fumes from passing vehicles is a lot less too. So, for the first time in years we could and did walk through the village in peace and solitude, admiring the spring flowers, shrubs and hedges bursting into life all of which seem to have done exceptionally well this year.
So it would seem that even here, in St Mary on the Wold, the coronavirus warning message has finally got through, although just what that message is, and what it means depends apparently on who you think you are and where you live.
The residents of Audi Avenue seemed to be split on whether to comply with the advice of government’s Chief Medical Officer and other experts or with those expert journalists who write for the quality broadsheets and others (apparently now called ‘Covid-19 deniers’) who are so convinced of their own importance and indispensability are carrying on as they always do, which is to do as they please.
You can see this on a daily basis on the roads as they ‘pilot’ their outsize 4x4s, pushing and bullying lesser mortals who, by driving smaller or lesser vehicles, dare to impede them and ignoring any law or rule put there to benefit everyone but which, in their eyes, has an adverse effect on them. You see them regularly arguing with traffic wardens, parking across two bays at a supermarket or hogging the lanes on a motorway, tail-gating other vehicles as they speed on to their next team meeting to discuss such world-changing events as customer engagement policy.
Not that that behaviour is the preserve of Audi Avenue, as much the same attitudes prevail in the less affluent parts of the community, Bob the builders, Dave the electrical contractor complete with yellow and blue stepladders on top of his dark metallic day van, or Mo the plumber whose van is never complete without one of those grey pipe-carrier tubes or what looks like a coffin bolted to the roof, all endeavour to prove to everyone else that they are worthy successors to white van man as they speed to their next emergency call. It took several days for them to realise that they had to comply with the new restrictions the same as everybody else.
For them, the generation that has never experienced anything that in any way impacts upon them, who were told by mom and dad that they are special and unique and who are often described by grandparents as wonderful – which they actually believe because nobody has ever told them otherwise – are actually not important, unique or anything else, however much they pretend otherwise. The trappings of their highly mortgaged executive-style house or latest apartment, or twice a year holiday in Mexico, is published for everyone to see on Facebook or Instagram and they have to comply with the restrictions and law whether or not they agree. This all came as a big surprise; therein lies the problem, the words ‘NO you can’t do that’ do not sit well with these people and it’s not, however much the media implies, a ‘class’ or ‘age’ thing. Self-discipline and discipline have been unfashionable concepts for decades. The behaviour and panic across the community, long forecast by some, has shown just how undisciplined, greedy and selfish is much of the community.
In supermarkets across the country shelves have been stripped, arguments and fights have broken out; people ignored the advice given and flocked to the seaside or countryside, all following their usual behaviour pattern of ‘I’ll do what I want and to hell with anyone else’. ‘Covid-19, rubbish!! Why can’t I drive to the sea or park or carry on shopping?’ Good questions, with many different answers and responses around the world but ignoring the fact that our elected government of the day has decided to take powers to restrict movement for, as they see it, the ‘common good’ and to save lives.
There may well be an argument that this or that should have been done or that this is a world-wide overreaction, but that is not the point. The law has been made, ignoring it or arguing with a police officer is not the point, you cannot pick and choose which laws you want to obey or not. That’s not how ‘communities work’.
Now the wheel has come off the vehicle of ‘Me. Me. Me’, and my, how that has shown up the lie of ‘we are all in together’, ‘working diligently for the community’ ‘helping each other.’ Whatever the reason for this worldwide panic, seemingly driven by global corporations who own the media print or broadcast and social media full of experts on public health issues, microbiology, crowd psychology conspiracy theories and fake news, it’s certainly highlighted the cracks in our communities.
Not helped by public services top heavy with chiefs who so far, in the main, have not covered themselves with glory, and the mainstream media, which, if watching the TV Coronavirus updates, has shown itself to be inhabited by journalists who are finding it difficult to ask experts or politicians relevant or even sensible questions. The last one I watched featured Michael Gove. I found the Q&A to be painful and embarrassing to watch – the result, I suppose, of all those dumbed down media study degrees from the 90s which have made the broadcast and print media unwatchable or unreadable for many.
What we are getting now is the usual opinion reported as fact, an attempt to destabilise the government, with hysteria being promoted along the lines of ‘who will run the country if Boris becomes incapacitated?’ No, not a government of national unity, the First Minister will, that’s how it works. We don’t live in the Hollywood TV series called Designated Survivor, we live in a country called – at least for the moment – the United Kingdom and if ministers with one eye on the top job don’t like that, they should say so and then they and the other dissenting voices may like to remove themselves from government by resigning or perhaps submit to be tested for lack of sanity.
Part two of Just who is cuckoo? will be published tomorrow.