It has been in recent days, increasingly clear from all the various sensory inputs, that we – the general public – are becoming tiresomely self-righteous. Our moral outrage is relentless, self-harming, corrosively dangerous, and ultimately self-destructive.
There is an alarming rise in domestic violence as partners suddenly realise that their sense of smell has returned, or that they never knew that he/she always drank coffee at midday, with six spoons of sugar. The police are inundated with demands from Mrs Trellis in Northants that Old Bill comes and arrest the neighbours who have been running twice a day, or who appear to be having a garden party. A laid-off tradesman has been roundly abused by passers-by, for fixing his elderly neighbour’s guttering which was blocked. There was no question of social contact, he is up a ladder outside, she is indoors. Unless Mrs Trellis actually climbed the ladder, she couldn’t be infected either, but the near-total loss of common sense along with taste and smell appears to be one of the symptoms of this foul behaviour. I have heard of nurses in uniform being spat at and their cars vandalised for parking in certain roads near hospitals – for fear of their bringing the virus to Dunroamin, Nimby Avenue. 5G masts are being destroyed because….; there are people on full pay furlough, who are bragging on social media, while simultaneously belittling those forced to seek Universal Credit.
Our collective self-righteousness is, perhaps, partly driven by the monotony and frustration of the lock-down. But there is a more pernicious, aggressive noise emanating from the media, whose use of petrol to put out the fires they started runs entirely contra, to their oft-stated desire to hold to account – on our behalf – those in power. Of course, the Government is going to make mistakes. Of course, they will rely upon SAGE – that is all they can do. Whatever decisions they take then have to be implemented by tens of thousands of Civil Servants for whom historically, the Computer has always said No.
I want our leaders to think that we have their backs. I want them to know that we understand just how difficult it must be to get a Mandarin with a Masters in Earl Grey tea-tasting, to manage the acquisition of testing kits that work. I want our leaders to do well and to succeed and not to be constantly and wearingly attacked by a bunch of feral chipmunks, whose sole purpose is to avoid any note of sympathy and understanding. I’d like some display of understanding of the time frames involved – as I write it is only 105 days since China officially reported an outbreak and 100 days since the WHO issued their outbreak warning. We know that the situation was made infinitely worse by the Chinese who obfusticated, denied and then hid the truth from the world, (the first known case in Wuhan was actually some forty days earlier). It is also a shame that the UK press corps now seems curiously reluctant to place any focus on the Chinese Government’s reprehensible behaviour but instead chooses to focus on whether Secretary Bloggs delivered cornflour to his mum, in a shocking case of looking after his own first.
So please peeps, let’s try and be a bit nicer, and a little less worthy. You might think you’ll feel better if you can lash out and blame someone for all the ills of the world, but is this really the best time to do that? Let’s have a few less soapy-voiced ads declaring that we live in troubled times, but by drinking Dettol-flavoured popcorn juice, we’ll be saving the heroes of the NHS – and dear old mum and dad. Less of the dark humours and more of the light mixed with some common sense, as my dear old apothecary would say before applying the leeches.