British children sheltering from bombs in WWII

 

 

[Part 1 was published yesterday – you can read it here]

 

The mass hysteria of the last few months has opened a pandora’s box of dissent  and  alternative views that even social media  moguls have not been able to contain.  The clapathon for our sacred institution of the NHS may very well have gone down well in middle class areas of Wokehampton on Sea, or Secondhome Norton with its leased cars and private health care insurance provided as a perk by the company  but not quite so well with thousands of other people who, living  in cities often blighted by poor public services and overpopulation, have seen their  treatment or surgery cancelled or delayed.  The latest call to have another clapathon and an annual celebration of the NHS  was met with derision by many  writing in the comment sections of blogs and in the popular press. 

The behaviour of many so-called middle class professionals , furloughed for weeks at public expense, has also not gone unnoticed by the thousands of people who have worked through out the pandemic with little or no thanks.  Truck drivers, transport, and retail workers along with utility workers have all but been ignored by the media and the smug recipients of what looks like being a six month paid ‘furlough’.  It’s noticeable though that others are now starting to raise their voices, tired it seems of hearing how one section of the working population are somehow heroes and worthy of annual celebration. 

Those who have been, apparently, toiling selflessly from home are now starting to be  criticised by others, those who have  worked through the crisis together with the small businesses which received little financial  assistance in many cases are now starting to question why all those working from home can find time for leisure activities and have noticed that, judging by the large numbers sporting sun tans on various beaches this week, their workstations must be situated in the garden.  

Yet another example of how we are ‘not all in it’ together, particularly when it comes to the distribution of government largess to middle class workers often employed in totally unproductive areas that the establishment chooses to ‘embrace’ are the civil service, local government and education sectors for example. What do we take from this? Well apparently anyone who is self-employed or runs a small company supporting the local economy is so much collateral damage.   

When you take a walk through the barricaded streets of Lockdown Britain, the local residents have in the main stayed away (at one time I thought because they were mainly law abiding, but now it seems they stayed at home mostly through fear driven by the media)  but this week, having been let out, thousands have again started to ‘day trip’ to popular areas, thronging like sheep to the beaches and riversides and often avoiding the town, perhaps because it’s too depressing to visit. 

Local towns without people are reminiscent of second world war scenes of seaside towns.  True we now have plastic barriers painted red and white instead of barbed wire, cordoning off prohibited areas that were once public with signs that read “Covid Restrictions maintain your distance”, rather than “Do Not Enter – Mines”, or “beware UXB”. Instead of ARP wardens we have yellow-jacketed safety marshals shouting instructions to shuffling lines of people. Instead of people carrying cardboard gas masks bags, their children and grandchildren slink around hiding behind useless masks as evidence of their fear or to signal their virtuous care for others.

Bomb damaged shops once sported signs reading ‘business as usual’. Shops now display signs reading ‘closed for the duration sorry for any inconvenience’.  Schools, where once ‘teachers’ drilled their charges on how to wear gas masks and take cover in collective air raid shelters sometimes for hours on end, now do their part in government policy of risk avoidance and safety first for everyone by refusing in some cases to open schools or return to work, teachers wearing masks segregate children into bubbles while ushering them to designated areas of play in that most dangerous of places the playground. Goodness knows what effect this is having on the mental health of their charges, no doubt we will see the results over the next few years.

It is said that cases of anxiety, depression and mental health could be the next problem to swamp the NHS. Children are being conditioned not only to be wary of strangers this time, but of each other, their families, and grandparents.  Older people are being demonised on the one hand, and something called ‘shielded ‘ on the other. Only today I met a couple of older people, obviously in their seventies, who told me that they had just been ‘let out’ after nearly three months. Remarking on all the signs and barriers, they were not approving but accepting and remarked  ‘it’s all for our safety.’  I refrained from asking safety from what. I hope that they enjoyed their outing to town, ignoring the closed shops, the dirty shop windows, the barriers and signs, the frightened people. 

It bears a striking resemblance to that other post-war Britain: tired, worn out, often damaged and dirty, which took years to rebuild into something most would want to visit from choice. It’s most certainly a very different place to that which those older generations would have known, even the much maligned baby boomers, the real ones that is, who lived through various crisis periods both health and economic that  never caused the hysteria and fear that has been evident over the last few months.  

Maybe the wartime generation was correct when they described such behaviour in people  and labelled them as’ lacking in moral fibre’, that the population has just gone soft.

 

Photo by kitchener.lord

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