One of the most enjoyable rules confusing us at the moment is the one about pubs and restaurants shutting at 10pm. Because it makes no difference, but looks as if we’re doing something, which is the important thing.
So over the next few weeks, we should see more of these strange restrictions. We’ve heard about potential plans to shut pubs and restaurants altogether in certain regions. Next, the government will announce that all teaspoons must face north, and no one is allowed to eat a tomato in the afternoon.
From Tuesday in Leicestershire, no one will be allowed to look at a tree. Humming will be banned across Nottingham, and in Humberside, you can only breathe in on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and breathe out on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Sundays, you have to live underwater.
If you meet a Welshman, you have to clean out your ears with a hurling stick, and if you yawn you must stay in and sit on the toilet for three days, drawing caterpillars.
An added problem at the moment is the government is now split, between those who are panicking and want to do nothing, and those who are panicking and want to do something pointless.
This week, Rishi Sunak was reported as advising the hundreds of thousands in the entertainment industry facing financial disaster, to retrain for another job. His supporters laugh that this has “enraged the luvvies”.
You can see why though, because entertainment isn’t a proper industry. How many real, proper ordinary people bother with la-di-da entertainment, such as films or radio or music or comedy or television or taking their kids to panto? Proper people spend their weekends counting the worms in their garden.
Who do they think they are, wanting to preserve luvvie luxuries like having somewhere to live, with their attitude of, “Oooo I’m too precious to sleep in the park and lick discarded boxes of chicken nuggets from the bin because I play the guitar”?
This is why the Conservative Party has always been wary of the snobs who work in entertainment and put all their effort into preserving proper manly jobs, like mining.
The government is now so split that Boris Johnson is split between himself. He recommends imaginative new restrictions such as the 10pm rule. But three months ago he appeared in a pub to make a speech that went: “The pubs are OPEN, and I OPENED THEM, so go to the pub otherwise it means you HATE BRITAIN, you jihadi. Every day from now is on National Pub Day. Try not to cough blood over anyone but apart from that feel free to celebrate your freedom... which is all down to me.”
Who could have guessed that a contagious virus would start spreading again once pubs, schools and universities returned to allowing people to be close to one another?
It’s as confusing as seeing a tap running, turning it off so the water stops and turning it back on to see the water has started running again! There’s no controlling it, it’s as if that water has a mind of its own!
At the moment, as far as we can tell, the severest restrictions are in the area known as “the north”.
The way the news about new restrictions there was conveyed, was via a leak in The Times. This is the most effective way to pass on information to people in the north. Because every morning all northerners gather in the car park outside Booths supermarket in Chorley, where the staff read The Times out loud. “There’s some right goings-on int’ Department o’ Trade,” says Jean from home furnishings, before reading out a column to the crowd on imports from New Zealand. “There’ll likely be a 9 per cent increase in butter from that part ot’ world for a start-off, just you see if there won’t,” she says, before asking Norman from men’s underwear to read the rugby reports.
Next week, they should add more fun to this procedure, by hiding the information in the crossword, with clues such as: “Stay indoors from next Tuesday making canals rise and fall in Northern Ireland county perhaps”.
Or they can inform people of Birmingham when their lockdown starts, in a review of the new Shimano fibreglass fishing rod in October’s Competitive Angler magazine.
Matt Hancock even chaired a “gold command” meeting on Monday. This is a suitable name because that’s the first phrase that comes to mind when you see Hancock. “He’s so in command of events”, you find yourself saying out loud, “He’s not just in command, he’s in gold command.”
Every time he stands before that lectern looking like someone who has no idea how cars work when the mechanics ask if the head gasket has been leaking – you wonder why he’s never been made gold commander of a spaceship.
His command is now so gold it turns out Public Health England missed out 16,000 positive test results from its system. This is the track and trace system that would be “world beating”. Maybe this is all part of an attempt to beat the world record for the biggest gap between the official description of something and what it manages to do. Southern Rail will join in, by renaming itself “Inter-Galactic Instant Arrival Trains”.
They mixed up the spreadsheets, apparently, which is an understandable mistake because the most golden part of Hancock’s command is that this track and trace system has so far cost £12bn.
But never mind, because incompetently preparing spreadsheets is the sort of real industrial muscular job that needs subsidising.
If people in the entertainment industry had any sense, they’d all retrain as designers of useless s****y track and trace systems, and they’d never have to write or rehearse anything ever again.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies