This is Part 2 of a three-part article. Read Part 1 here.
Confusion reigns everywhere you look or read these days. The management and handling of the pandemic has been at times so confusing, anti-democratic, misleading and so appallingly amateurish that one can assume that, as nothing happens by accident in the world of politics, the communication of often ingenious and misleading information and diktats has been designed to cause as much fear and worry in sections of the population as possible.
Although looking at the quality of our politicians of whatever party, I can only assume that many are suffering from some as yet undisclosed effect of the corona virus, as so many seem to have contracted it, or delayed effects of what most of them at least supposedly looked at, smoked, or tried when at university. It seems to me that never before have so many people been confused or frightened by so few. The decision-making few of course, as we have pointed out several times over the last ten months of panic stations, are largely untouched financially or otherwise by the effects of the various lockdown.
Here in the Wold, and it’s been more evident this time with our now leafless and muddy lanes inundated with families and older people too who ordinarily would have been at work, but are now according to one local M.P. are tirelessly ‘working from home’, take their ‘essential’ exercise, often with baby in pushchair and with the one or sometimes two labradoodles in tow. There are now so many people walking around the place that it seems that every day is a holiday, except of course for also hardworking workpeople who are also presently very obviously in the village, building walls, house extensions, new drives, and patios, digging ditches, hedge cutting and driving maintenance and delivery vans (judging by their signs vans often from towns and cities that could hardly be labeled by even the most forgiving politician or virus expert let alone a covid-marshal as ‘local’).
Children of school age are allowed out by mom and dad to jog, run or cycle on their once-a-day exercise break, away from home tuition and Zoom classes, but one sixth former told me this morning, ‘it’s hopeless the internet is so slow, the videos break up, the sound gets out of sync and several times I’ve just been dumped as the programme buffers, it’s crazy and we’ve had this now for almost a year’.
That apart though, it’s been, as always, a very middle-class lockdown. Most people here have been more or less untouched – and probably won’t be – by financial hardship or the threat of unemployment as most probably are employed in education, the police service, the NHS or local government, or are well heeled pensioners who are, unless bailing out their less financially secure children, fairly comfortable. Certainly prior to ‘lockdown three’ the restaurants and golf clubs were still very busy, in fact local golf clubs enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance. Get away though from the areas with mostly new SUVs and prestige cars parked in the drives to homes with manicured gardens (still being attended to by the gardener), homes with two, sometimes three, ‘labbies’ and the picture is very very different.
Meet some of the families, ‘hard working’ families that we keep hearing about from various political parties (when it suits of course). One such known to me, tells me that their savings are almost but not quite gone, one partner is suffering from long term ill health and the other, although employed in a small local company, is unsure how long his semi-skilled job, which pays well under the ‘shire’ average of £30k will last. Several people were recently let go as work has declined. One member of the family said, ‘I’ve no idea where we will go if he loses his job, how we will pay the bills and how can you survive on “universal credit” remains to be seen, we only just make enough to pay our household bills and the car payments now.’ The future does not look good.
‘All in this together’ they say and laugh. It seems to them that the only people the government are interested in are number one: themselves and looking good, and number two: public sector employees and keeping them and the unions happy.
The small business owner and particularly the self-employed are being left, as they say, hung out to dry. The entertainment industry is dead – can you honestly see theatres and cinemas reopening anytime soon? One young man told me he had a reasonably paid job working in the entertainment industry. It all closed along with my job he said. ‘So what,’ you may say but then his particular employer did, until this year did have jobs for over a thousand people, many skilled people and others like them. ‘Things’ don’t look good.
Locally all the restaurants are closed as are pubs and hotels, unless of course the latter are being used to house the boat immigrants. You may remember those, the people that the Home Secretary was going to stop. Well, apparently according to sources as we approach the end of January 2021, nothing much has changed.
It’s changed in the retail sector though. Our town has seen retailers large and small established and fairly new close their doors, things are so bad here that one small business had 100 email applications for one minimum wage part time job, suitable for a school leaver but which attracted people from a variety of backgrounds and qualifications all desperate to find a job. No wonder then that the local food bank is appealing for more and more donations.
What is also changing though is that more and more people are starting to question the advice and instructions (or orders) that we are being given. More people are obviously quietly and responsibly going about their daily business. Many have no choice.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 3.