At the time of writing, Scotland’s National Clinical Director (who’s a dentist in fact, but there you go) has just told me to ‘get your digital Christmas ready’. How exciting! On Professor Leitch’s Wikipedia page, under ‘Awards and Honours’, Prof Leitch is attributed with being ‘The Grinch who stole Christmas 2020’. We shouldn’t be surprised at this accolade. I have in my possession a confidential government document, ‘The UK Government’s Coronavirus Strategy’. Opening the document (well, it comprises one paragraph actually), it says, ‘Oh my God! We’re all going to die of Covid. Tell everyone to stay at home until, er, um, can somebody make a vaccine please? Meantime, bombard the populace with meaningless, out-of-context data, dream up 3-line slogans, and look and sound really grim on the telly and the radio. That’s it.’ I’m not sure Churchill would have signed-off on that one, but hey.
The UK Government’s Coronavirus Strategy is having the desired effect. Well, perhaps not the desired effect as such, but it is having an effect. Overnight, the economy has been cratered into its worst condition in 300 years. Society has been transformed into dystopia. The national debt has been moved at warp speed to over £2 trillion, and climbing, to a proportion of national wealth implying that we’re engaged in global nuclear warfare. The arts, culture and entertainment landscape has been transformed into a wasteland. Even the Panglossians must be querying this strategy.
Meantime, for those of us under 64-years of age, less than 0.009% of the UK population has died of Covid since March – that’s fewer than 6,500 of us (ONS data). That proportion has been much the same since the novel coronavirus arrived in our midst. The average age of a Covid victim is 82.4 years. Now, is it politically incorrect at this point to ask, ‘Who’s doing the maths here’? In other words, are we allowed to view the situation through the lens of a cost-benefit analysis at societal level and ask, ‘Is the UK Government’s Coronavirus Strategy (see above) actually worth it?’
History tells us that it takes, on average, up to 10 years to develop a vaccine. Rarely is a vaccine developed in under 5 years. So, for the coming months and, quite possibly years, according to our Dear Leaders’ inestimable cleverness, what you have to do is this: place the emphasis of your life on staying (ie hiding) at home; avoid contact with family and friends (especially indoors); indeed, don’t socialise at all really; don’t touch anyone or anything; don’t hug anyone or shake their hand; cover your face (ie cover your smile); wash your hands interminably; don’t sing in church; indeed, don’t sing at all and definitely don’t be in the same room as anyone singing or playing a wind instrument; don’t dance; don’t join your colleagues at work (instead Work From Home, or WFH as it’s sexily known); don’t use public transport; don’t fly anywhere (no problem because soon there won’t be any airlines); don’t see your GP or go to the dentist; by law, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t … you get the idea.
This is all terrific stuff of course if you’re a politician (100% of salary, 100% of the time), a government scientist (100% of salary, 100% of the time) or a public sector worker (100% of salary, 100% of the time). Hanging in there indefinitely in the expectation/hope of a Covid vaccine is no big deal. It makes good sense if it means that not one of us will die of Covid (the only strategic objective). By the way, prior to Covid, 1,700 people died of various causes every day in the UK and, funnily enough, they still do. So, why don’t our Dear Leaders come on the telly every evening, grim-faced, holding back the tears, to recount details of the 1,700 people what have died that day, er, without Covid on their death certificates? Answers on a postcard please.
Incidentally, I still work (ha!) in the private sector. I’ve lost over 90% of my income this year. Wiped out without warning. I’ve no idea if I’ll ever recover my earnings. This historical episode will not have a happy ending, and one wonders just what it will take for our Dear Leaders to develop and implement ‘The UK Government’s Coronavirus Strategy (Reconsidered Version)’. Don’t hold your breath. According to the government, you’ll die of Covid before you suffocate. So, keep breathing and hiding: it’s called ‘the new normal’; the idea is to suck it up pending a vaccine.
Setting aside the self-inflicted collapse of western civilisation, one feels blessed nonetheless. Mrs Moraymint has maintained the pace all year on making stuff: conserves and preserves; arty-crafty things; wedding cakes and decorations (see below); birthday cakes and other creative and/or tasty offerings, as well as miraculously growing plants and vegetables against all odds in our windswept seaside garden. Elder daughter, Victoria, married Henderson, a farming consultant, in a captivating Covid-Secure wedding ceremony at their rural home in Angus. Younger daughter, Mary, and her boyfriend, Graham – and their 3 dogs – have moved from an apartment in Aberdeen to a terrific new-build, rural home on a farm in Aberdeenshire.
Together, Mrs Moraymint and I stepped in to organise another Covid-Secure wedding for Victoria’s friend, Keeba, and her (now) husband Dr Ben Critchlow (you can read all about it in the Mail Online here: https://tinyurl.com/y3ghhxwj).The original 100-guests-in-a-castle plan was trashed early on as Lockdown was imposed. Mrs Moraymint and I put together another Covid-Secure wedding for a GP-friend, John, and his (now) wife, Sheila, on the banks of the River Avon (pronounced A’an). Could there be a business in here somewhere under the government’s Covid strategy of Indefinite Uncertainty?
I’ve done just 5 days of business consulting and 5 days of hosting on The Royal Scotsman train this year; and that’s it. I’ve not Scottish country danced on one occasion since March and cannot foresee when I’ll dance again. Can you? Does your crystal ball glow with a Covid vaccine date? If so, do let me know. I’ve spent (ie wasted) time pursuing consulting and other opportunities, and scanning the jobs market but, guess what? OK, it’s more a case of me choosing to work than having to work, I suppose. However, the idea of transitioning to 100% retirement holds scant appeal, I have to say. That said, I’m now reflecting hard on this prospect and its implications. I may find that my world in 2021 looks markedly different than I’d anticipated just 9 months ago. Me and several millions of other ex-taxpayers will be hiding under our duvets, quaking at our < 1-in-10,000 chance of dying of Covid.
But, for now, ‘tis the season to be jolly, and – despite everything – jolly I jolly well am. You already know this, but I really do love Christmas and I intend to enjoy the festive season very much indeed. So, once again, as ever, I say to you … Merry Christmas Darlings! This too shall pass.
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See you down the pub … eventually.