Do you ever feel like a small boy, strapped in the back of a powerful motor vehicle, being driven to Barnard Castle by a man that can’t see?
He’s doing his best, probably. He knows the way, more or less. He can hear the barked instructions from the satnav. The only problem is that he is completely oblivious to the world around him.
As Boris Johnson moves up through the gears of his end-of-lockdown plan, which bears absolutely no relation to anything that is actually happening in the country, at least he is providing the metaphors as we go.
The days and nights pass by like forgotten prizes on the Generation Game conveyor belt. The seasons change but nothing changes. Who of us can even know where the anxiety dreams into which we wake and fall begin and reality ends?
“In one hundred yards, turn right.” The indicator clicks. BUT THERE’S AN ARTICULATED LORRY RIGHT THERE DAD! DAD! DAD!
And now you’re watching the Downing Street press conference, and there’s Johnson, announcing the new quarantining measures that should have been introduced three months ago, instead of scrapped.
“We’re asking those arriving from abroad to isolate so that they don’t unknowingly spread the virus.” BUT WE’VE GOT THE HIGHEST PER CAPITA DEATH RATE IN THE WORLD DAD! IT’S NOT THE PEOPLE ARRIVING FROM ABROAD YOU’VE GOT TO WORRY ABOUT DAD!
“We will explore the possibility of international travel corridors with countries that have low rates of infection, but only when the evidence shows that it is safe to do so.” Sorry, what? Corridors, with countries that have low rates of infection? That’s not a corridor, it’s an escape hatch. If you let the average Brit have a fortnight in Spain, if they had any sense they’d never come back. Except that, oh yeah, they have to now, because they’ve had their freedom of movement rights taken away.
And now you’re watching Prime Minister’s Questions, and there’s Johnson, having it explained to him by Keir Starmer how, two weeks ago, he’d said he’d have a “world-beating test track and trace system, and it will be in place by the first of June.”
You’re pretty sure it’s 3 June now, and it’s not in place, and it’s certainly not world-beating, because the woman in charge of it has freely admitted that it doesn’t actually have the ability to trace enough people to map local outbreaks, which was the whole point of it, and nor does it have a clue how many tests it’s doing.
And there’s Johnson saying that, actually, “It was up and running, by 1 June, as I said it would be”, and the fact that it isn’t in any way fit for purpose is neither here nor there and anyway you can all go round each other’s house for a barbecue now so what are you even complaining about and continue straight on the A688 for three miles and DAD! DAD! THERE’S A WOMAN WITH A PRAM DAD! DAD!
At this point, the blind driver of the car has another rhetorical card to play. It turns out that you don’t even have the right to point out that he clearly hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing, that he’s blindly winging it, and that he’s going to kill people.
If you’re Starmer, patiently pointing out that the test, track and trace system doesn’t work; that you’re easing lockdown restrictions even though the scientists have refused to raise the Covid alertness level that is your own condition for easing restrictions; that you know you can’t see but you’re driving the car anyway, well here’s your answer.
“He is casting aspersions on the efforts of tens of thousands of people. I do not see the point of his endless attacks on public trust and confidence.”
That, I’m sad to report, was not a dream. That’s was what Johnson said, at the despatch box of the House of Commons.
Listen son, it’s not me driving even though I can’t see that’s the problem. It’s you, undermining the confidence of other road users by screaming in terror in the back.
Point out that Johnson is flailing in the wind, hopelessly out of his depth, and going through the motions oblivious to all around him, and it turns out, to return to an old favourite phrase, you’re talking the country down.
Yes, we really are back there. Well, not back there. We never left. It’s all they’ve got. What’s the point in worrying at this point? Just dig your nails into the upholstery and close your eyes. It’s all they’re doing in the front, after all.
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