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  • Writer's pictureJack Martindale

Well I’m not going into work now!

Corona virus or COVID-19 (takes me back to Methodrone evolving into M-CAT for those that know who you are who were around during that phase over 10 years ago) seems to be the ultimate curveball.

Being amongst the first to have any grasp of the severity of the outbreak is certainly not something that I was. Despite how globalised our planet now is and how worldly any pretention that I inhibit allows me to classify myself, I always felt so detached from this apparent now so ‘real beast from the east’, with China’s Wuhan having the first recorded cases as of the 31stof December 2019.

Mocking anybody who’d use Corona to try to get out of doing anything that they didn’t like doing, thinking that they’d inevitably pay the price when things really did get serious, in having already tried the patience of their employers. Well, regardless of whether we could have prevented the spread of Corona in Britain, now is surely the time to act in any way possible to help to minimise the chances of being a vehicle to spread this infection.

Even casting altruism aside, to me it is always a duty to protect the most vulnerable in society. This is why I decided today – early enough in the morning to question whether it was an impulse – that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I were spreading infection in a less than completely unwittingly way. I am fortunate in enjoying my job and I’d be going to work largely to enhance my own feelings of self-worth and appreciating the routine that this provides.

In my heart of hearts, I know that the homeless people that I work with would be safer without the risk of contracting a virus, that with their lifestyles, I am without confidence that they’d be able to withstand. Corona Virus can feel like a most brutal example of survival of the fittest.

You would hope that our civilised 21st century society has moved beyond this. Still, I felt that as a healthy 31 year old fit and healthy male, I could not be responsible for transmitting disease to people that almost definitely couldn’t sustain being seriously ill.

The current epidemic has been compared to that of the Spanish Influenza, which managed to kill more people than the trenches during the First World War. This was largely due to such an unprecedented number of people being moved to live within such a close proximity to one another; given how well connected the world currently is, I feel that we did pretty well to avoid such a repeated performance on such a wide scale in over 100 years.

As always, with these diseases, they start of mildly, then mutate into something unprecedented. Even the Plague of London in 1665 is something that automatically springs to mind, in terms of us not having moved that far over the past over 350 years! Hopefully we won’t need a great fire next year, as in Great Fire of London in 1666 for its eventual eradication.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be so jovial in trivialising the matter, though humour has always been my best and most reliable defence mechanism; tragedy is what we are experiencing nonetheless. On that note, I feel that given my history I should have well overused my portion of nights spent is hospitals for quite a few years to come.

Boris Johnston has always been an embodiment of the most loathsome aspects of humanity in my eyes. To have such a living caricature to be relied upon to guide our country through this crisis has to be the sickest of jokes. More clandestine, is the lack of any real direction that we’ve has throughout the Corona outbreak. I mean, Johnson isn’t solely to blame; with Trump on the other side of the Atlantic, is any wonder that we’re being left with a primitive ‘each man for himself’ sort of attitude? Cancelling my work was purely a decision made on my basis alone. Having the fortune to be in the position of being able to afford to do this, the whole attitude to Corona Virus seems to amount to some depraved form of social cleansing.

Widely speaking, those performing in the higher financial tier tend to be able to work from home at ease. Those holding the invaluable positions such as educating, in healthcare (who have disgracefully not even been able to get tested for Corona Virus), warehouse workers etc. etc. I am privileged in so far as my work with the homeless not being my sole source of income, because the majority of my colleagues are likely not going to be in the position to sustain themselves and follow the guidance – however loose – on Corona prevention. Not exceptionally, but I’ve often felt there to be a great deal of correlation between the greater your salary, the less beneficial what you actually do is to overall wellbeing. Excuse the side.

One of the principle difficulties that I had with the decision to stay home from work was in the fact that somebody would have to care for the homeless. I could have felt incredibly self-interested. Yet, we can hardly assume responsibility for the rough sleeping in our capital that has drastically increased since the Labour Government was overthrown in 2010 and it is not in nobody’s collective good to be individually left to take decisions on such matters of importance anyway.

I’m going to have to try hard not to simply rant at what I see as the UK politics being a most unkempt post-war state; factionalism, egoism and an inability to navigate the priorities of a technological age seem to dispel. What this Corona virus has seemed to prove is that our contemporary society can seem almost prehistoric in knowing how to have a handle in looking after the safety of its citizens. A combination of healthcare and the police should clearly have be better directed at how to protect the needy. A quarantine option for rough sleepers shouldn’t have been that hard to try enforce through law in it being set in stone for the protocol of such charities.

The brazen cynic in me may even suggest that with the voter turnout amongst the homeless being so poor, you could hardly expect this Government to prioritise their welfare. The point is, that organisations such as my workplace should have a procedure for how to deal with circumstances such as the current state of affairs. In which case, I could have gone to work knowing that I would not be imposing an unknown and potentially lethal threat.

Where we go from here and when that’ll be able to be is the main question to which nobody seems to have any answer. As only confirmed by the new Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s promise of suddenly having £330 billion (is how you even get to the nearest ten billion, let alone a figure such as this for this vast quantity of money as mystifying to everybody else too?), it all feels so abstract. Difficult for me to comprehend this figure in the face of the Tory’s supposed need for austerity in scrapping safety nets of our society.

Upsetting as this situation is, I am hoping that lessons will be able to be drawn from this experience of turmoil and losses; the incompetence of this Government being proven to the majority would be a priceless lesson for the British public to be aware.

In the meantime, let’s all just take extra care to wash our hands and look forward to the honorary St. Patrick’s Day celebrations that we’ll be overdue due to this year being such a washout!

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