Once upon a time, in those serene days when there were no unexplained back pain and the whole world looked like this “all right” dog cartoon, this coming weekend would have marked the beginning of a season of stupidity. Parliament is on vacation, the country is closed for the summer: usually the news would go to the beach.
The stupid season has been different for several years now. In the midst of the Brexit crisis, it seemed that politics never stopped, no matter how much everyone wanted it. Then Boris Johnson took over, and nonsense that was once only spread in August became the central pillar of the government’s communications strategy. This year, while there are many adjectives that are tempting to attach to stories that currently emanate from Westminster as a viral aerosol of news, the word “stupid” is not among them.
The biggest concern this week is, of course, the government’s decision to stick to its timetable for ending isolation, despite the arrival of another wave of the virus. Freedom Day on Monday was supposed to be a moment of national celebration: life was put on hold, education was interrupted, love affairs never started because we all agreed to lock ourselves in an enclosed space to protect each other for the duration of the event. So the sight of people dancing when the nightclubs reopened made me feel genuine excitement.
The only fly in the ointment was the news that the UK reappeared highest daily incidence of Covid-19 in the world. Don’t panic too much about this. Although the number of cases is as high as in the height of winter, the death rate is low. tiny fraction from what it was: the vaccination program is clearly working. However, fewer restrictions on social contact means more cases, which will mean more hospitalizations, which will mean more deaths. The United States is worried enough that now advising their citizens should not visit the UK. In the meantime, the film industry is again canceling film releases, which began to happen last spring and suggests a clear disbelief that any cinemas will be open to show anything.
In the middle of it all, the prime minister said he was very concerned about “the continuing risk associated with nightclubs.” He’ll probably be furious when he finds out who opened them again.
All of this would be bad enough, but literally on the day England finished opening the business, the government cheerfully informed the people that it lateral flow tests ended and that they should try again tomorrow. Fortunately, this seems to be a short-term issue, although the government is reportedly thinking about charging people for such tests in the future. This will definitely help drive demand. This will not help you deal with the virus.
Other things are missing: the Internet is flooded with blank photos supermarket shelvesas both retailers and distributors report staff shortages. This is partly due to the number of people forced to spend their first week of freedom alone due to the NHS Covid app pinging them. But the shortage of drivers for heavy trucks caused by Brexit and the increased difficulty of getting fresh vegetables from the EU’s single market are also present. As Shane Brennan, executive director of the Cold Chain Federation (which turns out to be a real trade organization, not the bad guys from Star Trek), who clearly knows how to start the summer off with a bang, issued a statement beginning with the words: “The real food crisis begins now.”
And despite all this, Dominic Cummings sits on the sidelines, explaining why Brexit, whom he helped, and the government that he helped elect. should never have happened in the first place… It’s like a Greek choir whose only role is to constantly whine that the piece you’re watching is crap.
Nobody wanted that. We don’t deserve this. We’ve all had hard times: an economic collapse, months of home schooling, and a long stay locked away from friends and family that we can no longer remember what they smell like.
All we wanted was a pleasant summer vacation so that we could arrive refreshed, recharged and ready to resume the crisis in the fall. Instead, we end up with empty shelves, a pingdemic, and Dominic’s awful smug face, damn Cummings. What would I not give now for a good old silly seasonal story about a dog that can predict the weather.