You have to hand it to ‘corona’ – it’s doing a fine job of changing things. When it comes to stealth technology it must be generations in front of our finest technological brains. Unlike our stealth fighters and bombers that apparently can still be seen under some conditions, this little blighter can not only change shape and attack mode very quickly, it can conquer whole countries and smash economies just by using the very 21st Century strategy of stealth and fear. In most countries we are told the virus is now so rare that ‘officials’ and ‘authorities’ are having to attend virtual meetings to decide on still more draconian strategies which will give them the powers to test and trace hundreds of thousands of people to find it.
Anyway it’s not all bad news. Life even here in St. Mary on the Wold is slowly returning to some sort of normal, whatever that means of course. Normal is like average and can mean anything you want it to mean. Like statements from politicians or ‘officials’, what’s normal to your average public sector workers earning middle income salaries and benefits, it is quite different to the self-employed or small business owner who actually doesn’t live in some leafy lane in a sought-after address far from the madding crowd, but often in some over-crowded area of what was once a thriving town.
It may well be hard for some middle income earners to imagine but there are still many urban and city areas where the great and good of middle income would walk with trepidation, particularly after dark, where drug dealing is open and in-your-face and mostly goes unreported to the authorities for the simple reason that ‘they’ won’t respond, and even if they do little will happen except for the fact that the perpetrators will then know where the complainants live. It may also come as a shock to many people that not all young people living in those areas are involved in anything that they would hesitate to tell Mother about, but many are and many have parents where one or the other ‘partner’ is interchangeable; where the ‘tally man’ calls at regular intervals for payment and where many schools have a large percentage of pupils with every problem known and a few more to boot – children whose only stability is school or peer groups and where a good meal would be seen as a visit to Macky ‘D’s or some other fast food outlet, and where, this week, a ‘social worker’ reports that many of her clients’ children have gone ‘feral’. Good luck with containing that problem when schools re-open, particularly when many parents have no interest and see no value in schools or education.
It is – and this may come as a shock to the residents of Audi Avenue – a different world, and for all the hot air and humbug spouted in the main-stream media a fact of life for many thousands of people who live with it on a daily basis, not because as the press would have it, they are feckless benefit claimants. They have watched with increasing horror as their neighbourhoods turned into some sort of dystopian nightmare, aided and abetted by ‘authorities’ in housing, education, social services, policing and politicians, fronting some latest faddish initiative which usually involves creating more middle-income jobs and spending more public money until the next strategic review, which inevitably means closure of this or that facility.
Residents will tell you that many, or at least some ‘professions’, are doing their best (until they give up playing ‘whack the problem’ on a regular basis, mostly without any back-up from other professionals because they too are doing the same thing, running to step backwards) but at the end of the day these professionals go home in their nice little cars to their nice little homes and their mostly nice little lives and families.
Now, added to the mix in the patronisingly-named ‘disadvantaged areas’ comes resentment over illegal immigration and mounting job losses and mounting personal debts, (the tally man, by the way, doesn’t give debt ‘holidays’ and often has quite interesting and inventive ways of securing unpaid debts).
As opportunities for employment reduce across the class divide (notice how the main-stream reports this as ‘employment reduces’; nothing to do with unemployment rising then), it’s not going unnoticed, despite what government in the shape of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey, (no me neither) thinks or is being told.
Unemployed private sector workers have noticed though, that for now at least, public sector employees continue to enjoy life in the sun, working from home with the confidence that salaries and benefits and pensions are all safe while thousands have been made redundant in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors. I wouldn’t take bets on their staying quiet about that unfairness for much longer though, particularly when they notice that inflation is rising along with everything else and it’s no fun at all trying to live and survive on Job Seekers Allowance or Universal Credit Payments. No wonder then that applications for help to foodbanks are soaring even in areas that on the face of it appear ‘middle income’ and secure.
Many self-employed people received no crisis help at all from government funding. On the one hand we have Johnson ‘asking’ people to return to work, while vast numbers of state employees are refusing to return until its ‘safe’. This week, several Directors of Public Health Services (average salary £110,000 plus) are, with the assistance of local newspapers, reminding people not to car-share with anyone not from their immediate family bubble! Do these people ever think what they are saying? Maybe they don’t realise that many parents of school children also share their vehicles with the children of other families.
Perhaps they have never heard of taxi companies, police, ambulance and fire crews, people in the construction industry, driving examiners, driving schools – mostly self-employed who have seen their businesses decimated this year, not helped by the Driving Standards Agency, which stopped the issue of provisional driving licences during the lockdown, and admitted that following restrictions being lifted, tens of thousands of tests were cancelled and that it’s almost impossible now to re-book following a test failure, or in fact book a test. At one time the DSA web site was down! Government ministers may care to notice that the majority of people learning to drive are young people who have already had their future plans made difficult already due to the examination results shambles. Is this another Ratner moment for Boris you may ask!
It seems though the message is not confused at all. The message is: ‘It’s dangerous out there children, don’t go to work, stay at home, it’s much safer’. Perhaps these highly-paid County Council Directors of Public Health earning many times over the average salary of lesser mortals whose livelihood and futures don’t matter apparently, would like to tell us, in the interests of transparency of course, how much they personally have lost out financially from the shambles that they, along with central government and the media have created.
Part 2 of Wake up and smell the coffee will be published here tomorrow.