I don’t get out much nowadays. I don’t even write letters to Private Eye, though I have been tempted. I don’t actually subscribe to Private Eye: our neighbour, a very kind man, lets me read his copy when he’s finished it, and in return I’ve taken to giving him our used copies of the Eastern Daily Press. Admittedly it is not so funny, but there’s more of it.
Anyway, reading anything is more fun than going out, because the world out there is becoming increasingly unrecognisable. Yes, there are people moving around as always, and for some reason there seems to be just as much traffic, but something is missing.
I conducted a number of studies on this, involving a variety of research groups at distinguished universities, and got a number of different results. This is not unusual, because no research group wants to be the same as other research groups, and whatever research group is most recent is inevitably right. Unless, of course, it isn’t.
This is the same basis that is used for creating Covid regulations. The result is that Covid regulations are universally ridiculous – or as some would have it, locally ridiculous. They are so ridiculous that only politicians could take them seriously – and of course the BBC. I am not going to explain why they are ridiculous, because if you don’t know, it is already too late.
My own research, undertaken entirely independently of universities, scientists, the NHS and Highways England, has uncovered something remarkable. The real threat to each and all of us is not a virus of any kind, but the removal of joy from daily life.
When was the last time you saw anyone smiling? Admittedly the lack of smileyness is partly because the imposition of masks prevents you from seeing whether someone is smiling or not, but is is also because they really aren’t. There is no longer any fun in popping into the city or going to a restaurant, or driving to the coast, because wherever you go there will be a lot of dreary people either carefully obeying the Covid regulations, or wishing they were in Benidorm.
What makes the human race human is our capacity for love. In most cases demonstrating love requires contact with other people, if only in the form of a handshake or a hand on the shoulder (thank you, Sergio Aguero). In extreme cases, it calls for a more thorough bodily contact, and it is no accident that more and more people are ending communications with the words “Hugs and Kisses” nowadays.
In the street, giving people a couple of metres space – apart from being impossible – gives the impression of avoiding them, or not wanting to risk contact. It is the kind of thing people used to do when they considered themselves superior to another race, or sex, or class.
One of the myriad “recent surveys” revealed the frightening suggestion that even when Covid goes away, 48% of those responding will continue to keep distance from people where possible. What sort of people have we become?
Separating people from their loved ones in care homes and elsewhere is not a solution: it is a move that should never be considered.
Covid is not the plague. It occasionally kills people, but so does the flu, and so do cancer and many, many other illnesses and accidents. Death statistics generally are no worse this October than they were last October. Covid may kill me: I am 75 and have been in hospital this year. But it probably won’t.
Whatever happens to me, the real measurement of death from this pandemic (if that’s the right word) can be found in the absence of love, the dearth of merriment, the artificial avoidance of physical signs of affection, and the care-worn eyes behind the pesky masks.