The episode of Dad’s Army last Saturday had eerie echoes of our current predicament. The wonderfully pompous Captain Mainwaring took charge, issuing permits before you could do anything, even run a bath or consume alcohol.
In the current crisis, some people are channelling their inner Mainwaring, snitching on neighbours or condemning anything they disapprove of; social shaming is now a thing. Have you been told off yet?
A British police officer arbitrarily prohibited the purchase of chocolate eggs last week. The majority of us may tolerate virtual house arrest, but take away our Easter eggs, and they’ve gone way too far. Whatever the justification we don’t allow police officers to make up laws, nor can they decide which items in our shopping trolley are essential or not?
I’m from a police family and usually support the thin blue line, until one PC in Devon told a man he shouldn’t be shopping at Sainsbury’s, because Morrison’s was closer. One of my mates was even chased off Culver Down last weekend, even though he’d walked there for his daily exercise.
It’s not just the police, I spotted someone online furiously drawing attention to an advert she’d spotted for temporary accommodation on the Island. The text said, ‘rentals from 3-6 months,’ she thought that was ‘evidence’ that contagious mainlanders were being encouraged to come here.
Sensibly someone asked how she knew the properties were not intended for temporary St Mary’s staff?
The current draconian government stay-in policy is undoubtedly saving lives, but some of the rules being imposed are nonsensical. Some seeing the crisis as a chance to impose rules on the rest of us that bear little relation to common sense. I’m a key worker, level 2 and I’m needed at work.
On Monday, I caught the 6.25am ferry from Yarmouth. As I presented my season ticket, I was asked ‘what is the purpose of your journey?’ Woah! It seemed a chilling echo of a world I am thankfully too young to remember. So what next? ID cards or ‘papers’, for the common good of course.
Captain Bob even popped up briefly to speak about something other than a Chinese communication company. Less than a fortnight ago he was defending the right of second-home owners to come on down for the duration if they wanted to. As soon as he realised that was hugely unpopular with Islanders concerned about the capacity of the NHS he performed a swift ‘about turn’! What about those that only rent second homes here Bob? Should they be allowed to come too? Oh, um, er, well…
Bob also decided that our ferry operators should work in cahoots. As soon as it was agreed Wightlink promptly shut down the Yarmouth ferry route, followed by the FastCat and cut down to a two-hourly car ferry service to Portsmouth. For those of us in the West Wight totally reliant on ferries to get to work in Lymington and beyond it’s a disaster. It’s great news for Wightlink though – while business is quiet, they’ll save themselves a fortune. It’s worth comparing their response with that of Red Funnel and Hovertravel.
Several of my fellow commuters work for the NHS in Lymington, as do other key workers. Wightlink must know that, but crass as ever, they blithely say we can ‘use the Fishbourne route to get to and from Lymington’. That’s a three-hour journey, twice a day. Even more worrying, if you are a foot passenger, their alternative offer is ‘at the master’s discretion’. Wow, who gave Wightlink the power to pick and choose who comes or goes from the Island? After this epidemic is over there needs to be some serious questions asked, but doubtless the MP will be keeping schtum!