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  • Writer's pictureJack Martindale

Time to be a bit kinder?

This writing comes at a time where goodwill and benevolence may justifiably feel to be in short supply. That is in that we have so recently entered into a grizzly second phase of lockdown across many areas of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The need for us to be in this lockdown is not something that I have the capacity to contest. If it’s good enough for London’s Mayor Sadiq, it is good enough for me and I would never want to argue against any measure that promotes greater safety for anybody; particularly the most vulnerable. What riles me especially is the way in which a second wave of COVID-19 was an inevitability foreseen since the offset of this pandemic becoming common knowledge in March, yet the way in which our leadership has been so shamelessly mismanaged has allowed it to disadvantage those most in need. Almost in being staged as a surprise by the Government, they’ve attempted to absolve their blame in thrusting irresponsibility upon us. Never, never, never (as much as I never thought that I’d have to cite the late Ian Paisley!) has the opposite been truer.

Putting number one first may be a cornerstone of any conservative philosophy, though I feel that even Maggie may have found it in whatever actually existed of her metaphorical heart, to have afforded some direction to our citizens. Instead what we appear to have ended up with, is for millions of people working hard and honestly, to have found themselves in incredibly precarious positions through absolutely no fault of their own.

Having a 3 tired system for levels of threat seems to have been the answer. London now joins York and four more of our cities in being upgraded to level 2, whilst poor Liverpool remains on Level 3.

As much as I cannot fault the reasons for a enforcing a second phase of our lockdown upon many cities, I cannot condone how it is being handled at the expense of those most I need of protection. Here, I’ll use the example of one of my most favorite establishments and staples of culture in the UK; the humble pub.

No matter how much I may resent talking about something that I so love in such a negative context, the public house provides the perfect allegory for the fable that we’ve all been fed. They probably were opened too early. Not that I see us punters or landlords to share a shred of responsibility for this. I do what I am told – more may be the pity – and I was again allowed to do one of the things that I was guilty of always taking for granted and enjoy doing the most; going down the pub. Grim as the reality is, pubs could be considered too much of a danger to open within our infectious climate. The people occupied with running of these havens of reflection and merriment should expect to be given the support to which they are entitled. But oh no!

The pub as many other hospitality industries, has been forced to bear a brunt of the uncertainty of not being eligible for a furlough scheme. Crafty is an understatement. I see this as that from Saturday the 17th of October 2020, pubs are only allowed to stay open technically. This is in that I do not see how drinking houses will be able to feasibly survive, given that mixing with other households in any indoor setting is against the rules. Another senseless endeavor that only works to sever any faith that we may have in our Government having any command or strategy for bringing us to the other side of this crisis.

The policy is loaded with double standards, such as colleagues having to have close contact with each other in their workplace, despite not being warranted to decompress for a second in any indoor social setting after work. The failures of our test, track and trace system being feasibly established, only serves to illustrate that it only feels that we are being led by the blind leading the blind.

It is just the chronic inconsistency of it all. In April we all got behind a spirit of co-operating with the Government in beating this fight. Almost as in romanticizing some sort of rekindling of that mythical ‘Blitz-Spirit’. Despite the hypocrisy that this was tarnished with; i.e. clapping our key-workers, despite having elected a Government intent on doing nothing but devalue their profession in under-funding and under-supplying.

Fed-up barely even cuts the mark in describing the general mood of the country. To top it all, the nights are fast drawing in and we’ve put on the central heating. It feels like we’re living through some contemporary version of the gestapo, as we have the fear of being snitched on by our neighbours should we be using our discretion to flout the rules. I find it incredibly bitterly ironic that some of the greatest proponents of so called “civil-liberties” – something that I’ve at times felt to be quite a do-gooding middle-class preoccupation (however crudely inaccurate I may be) – are now so often the greatest endorsers of more being curtailed under combating Corona. It is not that I am arguing against any preventative measures, it is just that how they can encroach the mental-health of communities is all too often apparently overlooked and we must have to find some workable ground somewhere; for the well being of all.

I’ve always had a sordid penchant for talking in clichés and with this, it really does feel like an endless long and winding road that we’ve all been thrust upon. Always it is far too easy – not to mention lazy – to blame people for a predicament. With there being no clear ending in sight, preoccupying ourselves with their being a lack of ending just feels like an oversight. It is surely much more about looking after one another whilst we’re in this mess and understanding rather than belittling other people’s position. Another overused phrase may be that there are “always people worst-off than yourself” and I’ve never felt that there has been any greater time for me to be appreciative of this fact. Let’s just take care of one another best possible.

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