Yesterday evening, went out to Waitrose. First outing for 4 days. Roads fairly quiet but not empty. It was after 1900 hrs, though.
At Waitrose, the car park almost empty, though a source told me that a Tesco supermarket, in another and more populated area 21 miles away, had been packed earlier in the day. Different factors though: that other area is quite suburbanized, is on a major “A” road, the time of day was earlier, and of course Tesco is more popular than Waitrose anyway, being slightly cheaper.
At Waitrose, the Handmaid’s Tale militia (Waitrose “marshals”) were few, in fact I saw only three loitering outside or cleaning shopping trolleys. There have been as many as half a dozen in recent weeks. There was no line to get into the store; in fact there were almost no customers at all.
Inside, disappointed to see no last-minute offers at 10% or 5% of the usual price (I can be rather a scavenger), but for once no shortages. All the usual suspects were available: bread, dry pasta, rice, pasta sauce, even bleach. I think that the shopping public has decided that the “panic buy” emergency is at an end and so there is no need to join the throng. In any case, in my area, many people must be sitting on mountains of loo paper, kitchen roll, pasta and rice.
Still, there is still a background panicked atmosphere around. I saw one silly woman wearing a thick scarf very loosely wound round her mouth and neck. Very unlikely to make any difference whatsoever to getting or not getting the Chinese virus. Even more ludicrously, I saw another and even more silly woman driving out of the car park, alone in her car and wearing a face mask! So…she is afraid that she might transmit “the virus” to…herself? Or is she afraid that, somehow, the air that comes into the car might harbour “the virus”? Which is impossible.
Some recent tweets by Peter Hitchens, who is worth reading because he is one of the few who has stood up against the Government-sponsored “virus” panic (etc) which has recently swept “the nation” (which latter does not exist any more, but let’s leave that aside).
“The virus that turned up late”
“Covid-19 is no more than a nasty, but basically normal, viral respiratory infection, though you’ll be regarded rather as a mullah regards a blasphemer if you say so. Why is this?
After all: it is precisely because its symptoms seemed so similar to viral pneumonia that the initial outbreak in Wuhan was missed until the numbers built, and it is now clear that we have been missing Covid-19 cases diagnosed as pneumonia in Europe at least as far back as December, probably earlier. In the vernacular: it looks as though it was bubbling away for ages before we noticed.”
“There are really only two particularly unusual things about the Covid-19 epidemic: the timing of its arrival and the lockdown some countries declared. And if we ask “Covid, where is thy sting?”, it is lockdown that will sting: in the UK, the death-toll of people not turning up to hospital with cardiac issues (admissions are down 50% across the country) is now unmissable in the weekly non-Covid excess death figures published by the ONS, now running over 3,000 per week just for England and Wales. The downstream toll from missed cancer diagnoses (referrals are down 67%, as stressed by Professor Sikora) is heartbreak yet to come.
This is to say nothing of the toll on education, liberty and the economy. We’ve given up everything we should hold dear for a virus that just turned up three months later than similar viruses normally do.”
Some of the comments appended to that blog post are also of interest:
“It’s also a consequence of the media being increasingly dominated by young people, who thus have no sense of historical perspective. We see it in the climate change debate – weather events that are bog standard in any sort of medium to long term time span are immediately termed ‘unprecedented!’ by the media, whose attention span (and personal experience) hardly goes back more than a decade or so. Thus the idea that something that happened in the 1990s could be relevant to what is happening today would be laughed at.” [from above blog post comments section]
“Life today driven by demands of the minority of vocal pathetic snowflakes’ demands for “no-risk”. Just look at the headline today about the Unions not wanting to go back to work until they ‘feel safe’. This is the language of infants.” [from above blog post comments section]
“Three points. Lockdown started AFTER peak infection and peak hospital admissions. Continuing infections/deaths occuring despite weeks of lockdown because hot spots of infection unaffected by general population, they are in hospitals and care homes. Sweden, Japan, S Korea, Taiwan had no lockdown, considerably less deaths than UK.
Lockdown has had minimal effect on the normal bell curve of infection/deaths.” [[from above blog post comments section]
A “free country”?
Meanwhile, away from the toytown police state imposed on the British people, and in the real world:
“Five boats carrying 82 migrants were intercepted in the English Channel on Saturday as people smuggling gangs stepped up their operations during the good weather conditions.”
“It means a total of 227 people have been brought from Calais to the south coast of England in 13 small boats within just two days.”
My view about “lockdown”
It is clear that some countries which have had little or no “lockdown” have done much better than the UK in dealing with the Chinese virus, and have at least tried to save their economies from ruination; others, on far more strict “lockdown”, such as Italy and Spain, have done worse than the UK (per capita) and now face economic meltdown.
I blogged from the start that (as the UK Government said before crazed advisers caused it to go mad) the only known way to safeguard yourself from getting this virus is to keep thoroughly washing hands with soap and water (or gel, if in transit). The other “measures taken” have been driven by public relations rather than any scientific facts. I mean the “2-metre social distancing”, the facemasks, the “stay home” mantra. As to those three aspects, it may be that a tiny number of people have been protected by such measures, but at what cost?!
Meanwhile, the London Underground has stayed open, though (you couldn’t make it up!) with reduced numbers of carriages, thus making the conditions even more friendly to “the virus” (and other viruses and bacteria). And let’s not forget the influxes into the UK: air passengers allowed in freely, and migrant-invaders “caught” in the Channel or on beaches, then directed to free shelter, food and cash, and allowed to mingle freely with the unwilling host population.
As for “Protect the NHS”, well the sacred cow has been protected, but at the cost of thousands of lives: those often elderly people bundled up and shunted off back home (to often-inadequate home care), sent back to residential care homes where they and other residents have been dying in droves, while the “clap for NHS” rabbits have been virtue-signalling on cue every week (though not as many ever did it as the propaganda would suggest, and the display has almost died out now; where I live, it was always only a tiny minority doing it).
Then there are the uncounted thousands who have died and will die because “lockdown” has delayed or cancelled consultations, treatment, surgical operations etc.
One may laugh at Boris-idiot and his “government of fools”, but these opportunists are killing people, by their half-measures but also by their over-reaction and by their sheer ineptitude and negligence.
I do not think that “lockdown” is very useful, and in any case I think that the Chinese virus is far more widespread than at first thought. It probably started to infect people in the UK in January or even last December. Neither do I think that the “social distancing” measures are hugely useful. What I do think useful are closures of crowded nightclubs, pubs, busy cafes, sports venues, pop concerts and (which was never done) closure of public transport in crowded cities like London. Places where people are jammed together and may breathe over each other.
My bottom line? Whatever the truth of any of the above, either way, the fact is that “lockdown” (especially) has huge economic effects, despite and even to some extent because of the ameliorating measures put in place by Rishi Sunak.
The Government has scared people silly, unnecessarily. Now, the public is only gradually getting used to the idea of not being under a kind of house arrest, only gradually getting used to the idea of going back to their —in many cases, boring— jobs. The 80%-of-pay furlough payments (capped at £2,500 per month) add up to 100% of pay for those making under £36,000 a year and who pay for transport to and from their usual work.
Apart from the niggling restrictions, the civil rights aspects and the sheer boredom, the “lockdown” has, thanks to furlough payments, not been too bad for many. However, the Government simply cannot indefinitely bribe much of the public not to work, not at that level.
For me, that is the bottom line, beyond all of the medical, scientific and other arguments around “lockdown”: it simply cannot be maintained endlessly, because it cannot be paid for.
Many have accepted “lockdown”, as a temporary measure, because they are not suffering financially. Indeed, that is what the furlough payments (etc) were designed to do. Furlough alone is costing £8 billion per month. By way of comparison, the NHS, with 2 million employees, costs £11 billion per month to run.
I doubt that the Government will authorize furlough payments after the end of June. Maybe until the end of July. Not later. Then those furloughed will either return to work or, in many cases, go onto the”Universal Credit” dole.
We do not know yet the full economic cost of the Government’s imposition of a toytown police state. Everything has been frozen: redundancies, sackings, domestic property evictions, commercial property legal actions for recovery of rent; and so on. We do know that the “ruthless entrepreneurs” and “hardnosed private enterprise” chancers, like Branson, have all been demanding, or begging for, money from Government. Many will beg without satisfaction.
Airlines (and so airports) may be uneconomic for months, for years. Ground support companies as well. Retailers may soon be failing by the hundred, by the thousand, not only from “lockdown” itself but because people will have less money to spend and may prefer to spend what they do have safely, via the Internet. Fancy a holiday in Spain or Italy? I doubt it. Not for a year or so, anyway. Ferry companies will also struggle. The list continues.
“Nine in 10 people do not want the lockdown to ease immediately – with 50 per cent happy to stay off work if they are getting paid or receiving government subsidies.
As Boris Johnson prepares to unveil his ‘exit strategy’, a poll found just 4 per cent believe the draconian restrictions should start to be lifted now, and another 7 per cent were not sure.” [Daily Mail]
So half the workforce are “happy” to stay off work so long as they are still getting paid? Well, there’s a shock (not).
The Daily Mail graphic is interesting, if accurate:
So hardly any of the public (4%) want an end to the “lockdown” nonsense immediately (well, it’s not the first time I have stood as part of a small but worthy minority), more than a quarter think that the end of this month would be best, but a fifth think that the end of June would be best (!), while nearly a quarter prefer the end of July or even later!
I doubt whether many presently content to sit at home indefinitely, or at least for another month, so long as they still get paid, are aware of the probably lasting damage that this is doing to the UK economically. They will only notice it when it hits home in terms of no job, no home, no future for their children etc. By then, the virus may be in the past, but the negative effects of “lockdown” will be very much around.
Sitting in my car earlier, I heard a Radio 4 broadcast of a 10-minute speech by the person currently posing as Prime Minister. I should say that it was somewhere between mediocre and poor. A half-hearted attempt to reprise Churchill in 1940 fell very flat. Johnson called Coronavirus “the most vicious threat to the UK I have seen in my lifetime”. So it seems that the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact and the Cold War passed “Boris” by?
Johnson seemed overwhelmed. This was not the easy prime minister stuff he wanted to do. He gave the impression of being not quite big enough for the role. His speech was pedestrian, forced, unconvincing. An overgrown schoolboy pretending and posing and whistling into a cold wind.
As for Johnson’s movement on “lockdown”, too little by far. He also went through a list of matters which only served to underline his incompetence and that of his Cabinet.
What Johnson does not seem to understand is that people are not waiting for his permission to do things such as drive places, walk through parks or national parks, or on beaches. Or maybe he does understand that he, the Government and the toytown police are losing control. His remedy? To make “lockdown” easier before people just ignore it.
Oh well, at least that stupid “Stay at home; Protect the NHS; Save lives” slogan is now dumped. Dump the weekly “clapathon” too!
Van der Valk
Another episode of the new Van der Valk. Slick compared to the mid-1970s original, a more developed storyline (in 2 hours compared to the original one hour), but somehow slightly missing the heavy Dutch atmosphere of the original 1970s stories.
In fact, I have just read on Wikipedia that the 1970s original was revived in 1991-92: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_der_Valk
I did not know that the series continued after the 1970s. As to that Dutch atmosphere, both productions were/are British, though filmed on location. I myself was first in Amsterdam in 1975, and made subsequent visits in the 1980s.
One aspect that seemed to be unnecessary in the new production was the introduction of a young black detective in a semi-comic role. Out of place.
Overall, I should award the new production 4 out of 5 stars. It is well done for the most part, though it suffers from the same problem as the first Van der Valk, namely the characterization of the title character. Somehow insubstantial or vacant. What makes him tick? Compare Van der Valk to Inspector Morse, Lewis, Endeavour, Wallander etc. Point made, I think.
Seems that I am not the only one appalled by how out of his depth Boris Johnson seemed today:
and to date there are 117,000 more tweets in the same vein.