I have a naturally cheerful disposition but there’s an awful lot of gloom around. Last Saturday was Hallowe’en. Desperate for some respite, I spent the afternoon watching rugby, hoping that England’s finest fifteen could lift my spirits. For Covid reasons, the much delayed Six Nations competition could only be settled in the final match between France and Ireland, but England got to play Italy first. As I watched, people started messaging me about a long overdue Number 10 press conference.
Knowing Boris is a massive rugby fan, I didn’t bother changing channels; I knew he wouldn’t appear at the empty lectern until our game was won, and sure enough, he didn’t. Once it was safely over, Boris immediately popped up to put on his Hallowe’en horror show. His solemn doom-laden U-turn was exactly as had been leaked in advance; his tables and charts looked hopelessly confusing. I couldn’t get them in focus, but did they really suggest this lockdown was the North’s fault?
Governments love making new laws; in one single week, Tony Blair’s banned smoking, smacking and hunting, although compared with now, that seems like inconsequential tinkering. A year ago, who would have believed that visiting your Mum or Gran would become a criminal act?
MPs, including our own Sausage Bob, are mostly lawyers and journalists, very few understand that businesses can’t just stop and start willy-nilly. Cashflow is the biggest business killer; you have to keep the tills jingling, the money coming in. Hope doesn’t pay the rent and wages.
Many Island bars, café’s, hotels, events and restaurants were already teetering on the brink, so what now? In our half-dead Island towns, the surviving retailers have massive Christmas stocks to be sold and if they’re not, many could be bankrupt by Christmas.
Surprisingly, MP Bob reacted to Boris’s miserable news saying he strongly disagreed with a second lockdown; he wants tourists! Eager for promotion, he couldn’t even bring himself to rebel properly – taking the coward’s way out by abstaining. Fence-sitters get splinters in uncomfortable places Bob. Covid is undoubtedly scary, and frankly most of us prefer pretending that death is something that happens to other people.
Those with the strongest faith cope best, believing one day we’ll all be reunited – that’s a great comfort. That said, few of us go to church these days, not even managing an hour on a Sunday morning, so you have to wonder why we’d want to spend eternity sitting around in heaven after we’ve died; the other place sounds more interesting. Woody Allen said he’s not afraid of dying, he just didn’t want to be there when it happens.
Amen to that. If you’re curious to know some real IW death facts, pre-Covid, almost two thousand of us were expected to die annually, around 40 a week. Of that number, two-thirds would be over 75, with heart disease and strokes mostly responsible (note to self, lose weight and keep the blood pressure down). If I’m unlucky enough to die before I reach 75, statisticians will consider mine a ‘premature death’ – that’s not hugely comforting.
Pre-Covid, across the whole nation, around 1,700 of us are expected to die every single day, which I believe puts those unnerving Covid numbers into perspective. Why not try and visualise four to five giant 747 Jumbo jets full of people – because that is what a normal days’ dead would look like. Actually, I’m not sure that works. If we did lose that many people every day in aeroplanes, our nanny state wouldn’t let any of us near an airport ever again.