May 2020

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I finished the blog in April with a call for us all to be more positive and to look to the future when things improve (and they will) and then we can all embrace some level of normality again. Well, there are signs of that normality emerging, or at least a return to more familiar behaviour. Some people are returning to work (of course, some never left and I hope we never, ever forget that) and that makes the world seem a little more level. Some extra shops are opening to sell non-essential items whilst maintaining social distancing rules and we’re told we can venture out further and more often for exercise.

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These all make life that little more bearable. However, there is an underlying discomfort in the way that some things are unfolding. Without wanting to be too partisan, it must be excruciating for a Tory government to be forced to adopt socialist policies, to be handing out money to people in the way that they have in the last few months. They had no choice. Circumstances dictated that they were forced to behave in this manner. Paying the wages of people who are not working; acknowledging the unbelievable effort of our essential workers, especially those in the NHS (while all the time secretly undermining them); propping up businesses that would simply fold without intervention. It is simply not in their nature to be benevolent. We should all stand or fall as dictated by market forces. Unfortunately, the shutters are down on the market. And this is where the discomfort sets in. They are now beginning to encourage and approve of behaviour that goes against their own advice: Get back to work, get back out in the sunshine and sunbathe in the parks, travel further out, get those pesky kids back to school.

It is the latter that causes the most distress for many of us. The thought of putting a child at risk fills me with utter dread. And yet we have a government who are clearly happy to risk the lives of innocent four and five year old children in order to get the country back to work. There is no other rational explanation, especially given that public schools are not going back until September. I have read a few articles on how various schools will be handling the reintroduction of children and it’s, quite frankly, horrifying. Bubbles of one square metre of space in which to play with no interaction with other children; staggered meal times with no food allowed from home; personal see-through pencil cases that have to be sterilised and specific to each child; strict toilet times with no child allowed to visit outside his or her allotted time; no parents allowed in school under any circumstances. It sounds more like Belmarsh than school. And how that is ever going to work with the very youngest of kids is utterly beyond me. For the sake of a few weeks to take us into the summer break and then arrive in a (hopefully) safer environment in September, the government are willing to put those young lives at risk.

It is beyond shameful.

And now we have another test case for our glorious governments level of hypocrisy. Cummings. He’s been bad news from the offset, from Gove’s disastrous meddling in education (removing any sign of real education and replacing it with simple tasks that can be measured and tested) to his sordid and dishonest approach to Brexit and all the misery that has brought us.

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Regardless of which side you fall, the divide was created and fed by the likes of this man. The arguments in pubs and online between people who were good friends or family has been caused by his ideals and those of his ilk. He is now emerging as the brains behind ‘herd immunity’ in which most of us would have died (and maybe tens of thousands of deaths are actually down to his influence in this area as well) to his now apparent lack of respect for his own rules. Rules that became law for everyone except himself it seems. I know people are sick of blame and side-taking and bitching about how bad things are when we should all be pulling together but that’s the point, isn’t it? We should all be pulling together. And most of us are. Those that are not are being dealt with by the police where possible and I have heard of no-one defending the rights of the general population flouting lockdown rules. Quite the opposite. And yet I keep hearing the same thing from right wing voices: can’t we all just calm down and be reasonable about it all? We all make mistakes. But, rule makers cannot be rule breakers. It doesn’t work like that.

I’ve had enough of him.

And now the much less than prime minister has backed him all the way and said he was only acting as any concerned father would act. So, those of us who haven’t flouted the rules are clearly unconcerned parents. We evidently couldn’t give a shit about our kids. It’s bollocks. He even claimed that, to test that his eyesight was up to the nearly three hundred mile drive back to London, he drove for an hour to Barnard Castle and back with his wife and son in the car. It appears to have passed him by that driving with buggered eyesight is also illegal. You can’t drink a gallon of cider and then climb in the car to see if you’re too pissed to drive. Does he think we’re imbeciles?

I guess that question is rhetorical.

I know none of this is groundbreaking news and this blog is supposed to be about writing and art and maybe even music or dance and it has been utterly hijacked by the three fucking stooges: Johnson, Gove and Cummings. Between them they have wreaked havoc upon the nation. No matter which side of the fence you sit on (see banner photo), or even on top of the bloody thing, there was no fence there before these jokers were on the scene.

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It reminds me (though less chillingly) of the day that Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt created the divide between east and west and, ultimately, the Iron Curtain. That’s as near to Churchill as that sloppy, useless, straw-haired slob will ever get: causing misery and fear. I spent my entire childhood and early adulthood in the firm belief that our lives would end in one blinding flash as we were vaporised in a nuclear exchange. It sounds ridiculous now, especially as we know that none of the pratts involved could afford to do it. But it was real then. Talk in the playground about what you would do in your last three minutes; wrestling with conscience when considering bringing new lives into the world. I remember Ronald Reagan blowing up Gadaffi’s son and thinking that I was thirty minutes away from my kids and in the middle of a major city. I might never see them again. Those three morons in 1945 caused that and I will never forgive them. That cloud hung over me until the Berlin wall came down. Now we have three more morons who are attempting to create as much fear and loathing as their equally useless predecessors.

Jesus! I guess that’s been waiting to come out.

I’ve been mostly gardening. Gardening and reading in the sunshine and working on new plots and deciding that my ideas are not nearly as good as the ideas that I’m reading and then, having finished what I’m reading, thinking, ‘I could do much much better than that.’

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And then not doing that. I’ve been re-potting, weeding (we have a major problem with bindweed/convolvulus), cutting the lawn, painting the fence, titivating. It’s been very relaxing, despite being a prisoner in my own home. I had some respite yesterday, I was able to drive to Chesterfield to deliver a piece of equipment to someone who works in the health service. A perfectly justified drive (Don’t!.. go there again) But mostly living on our own patch. Running round the block, drinking gin, watching cool stuff on telly (basically crying at Repair Shop), rebuilding the log store, ripping CDs and scanning old photographs. All good stuff and all stuff that might not have happened (as efficiently) if we hadn’t all been locked down. So there is a silver lining.

My only fear now is that people will start to behave by the example set by our troublesome leaders and that the situation will slide into something more dangerous. We are so close to getting out of this mess: numbers falling and a vaccine almost ready. It would be an absolute tragedy for this effort to have been in vain.

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I am desperate to meet up with my family, to hug my children and grandchildren and my friends. It has been a long time and everyone’s mental health has taken a battering. Even the strongest of us have moments where we just think that enough is enough. So, for the sake of a little more time, let’s hope that everyone does the right thing. Rail and spit and swear at our useless government and bitch and complain and shout at the moon and boo Boris if you have to (he couldn’t give a fuck so it’s a waste of breath) and keep clapping for our health workers and everyone who is putting their lives on the line for all of us. Keep that in mind and play loud music and dance and drink until it gets light again and hug those you’re allowed to tighter than you’ve ever hugged anyone because soon, hopefully very soon, we will be able to hug everyone else once more.

The last picture is of Lovage because we need more of that.

The rest of the pictures hopefully provide some contrast to my moaning.

See you in June (hopefully!) and don’t forget to visit my Website. There’s a couple of novels you can buy on there.

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