Although the ‘lockdown’ has led Pissed-off Toff to indulge in a number of eccentric activities and unlikely fantasies, he remains convinced that the true madness of our times lies in the suicide of this country which we witness on a daily basis.
MONDAY 4 MAY
Another lonely, shapeless day looms. This is made worse by the fact that my copy of The Spectator, which generally arrives with Friday’s post, has still not come. I feel like a grumpy OAP. Indeed, if this ‘lockdown’ is a foretaste of old age (and I fear it is), then I cannot imagine how I will cope with the trials that lie ahead.
Out shopping. I always put something ‘essential’ in with the gin, so if the Stasi stop me they can’t issue a £60 fine. Plus, I can now quote the Crown Prosecution Service’s own guidelines to our new keepers: if, at the same time as buying ‘essential’ items, a prole buys something ‘non-essential’, it would, advises the CPS, be ‘disproportionate’ for the Stasi to fine the prole.
On the way back home I bump into my elderly neighbour with the missing front tooth … which has now been replaced. I ask how she managed that, granted that her dentist has shut up shop. She said she went to a dental hospital where they were good enough to class her as an emergency, thus enabling them to do the necessary work.
* * * * *
My afternoon exercise routine takes me, as usual, through Victoria train station. And as usual, I wonder at the ghostly emptiness of the place.
Despite the fact that there is not a single passenger to listen to it, a loud message is announced over the tannoy. “Coronavirus!” intones a stentorian male voice which echos cavernously around the station. “Anyone of any age can get it! Stay home! Protect the NHS! Save lives!”
Having been improved by the prospect of fresh air and a change of scene, my mood blackens instantly. Is there no getting away from this patently false propaganda? As Professor David Spiegelhalter explained on the Today programme last Friday, for most people the increased risk to life as a result of this virus is virtually nil; and for healthy young people it is as close to zero as you can get. So the official claim that “anyone of any age can get it” – a claim that is repeated endlessly in the broadcast media and in Government-sponsored propaganda – is a lie. Or if not an outright lie, a deliberately misleading distortion.
As if this Big Brother exhortation were not bad enough, it is followed by another, in which a nagging female voice tells us that if we see anything suspicious we should report it to the British Transport Police. “See it. Say it. Sorted,” squawks the harpy. How much money, I wonder, did some advertising agency charge for dreaming up this slogan? £100,000? More?
As I leave the station I see a poster with the same infuriating message. There is no getting away from it.
* * * * *
Are there perhaps a few more people out and about today than usual? In the Duke of York Square at the top of the King’s Road, I come across a group of three friends drinking beer, while a group of four young black men cycles past, clearly having a good time. Although it isn’t yet illegal to smile or to look happy, both these groups are, I am pretty sure, breaking the lockdown rules. Good for them. I want a revolt, and I want it soon.
The fantasies of rebellion which increasingly occupy my mind are suspended by the appearance of a young girl of exotic origin, the generous perfection of whose forms is enhanced by tightly-clinging black leggings. This prompts a number of reflections, the last of which is that if one were concerned to prove the existence of God … well then, here – at seven o’clock on a lockdown evening somewhere in Chelsea – was a pretty good starting point.
TUESDAY 5 MAY
Nothing. Rien. Niente.
WEDNESDAY 6 MAY
Perfect cloudless sky.
Throughout the day, what would otherwise be blissful peace is ruined by a single relentless angle-grinder on a nearby building site … perhaps the only one still open in London. I reflect, for the umpteenth time, that noise is torture.
In the evening, my flatmate returns from Clapham and informs me that there was, as he puts it, a ‘sea’ of people out and about, far more than here in Westminster. Nor were the Stasi harassing them. He senses – and hopes – that people just won’t take lockdown for much longer.
THURSDAY 7 MAY
Another glorious sunny day … and another day ruined by that one angle-grinder on that one building site.
Locked up as I am, I entertain a lot of fantasies nowadays. One of them is that when I am dictator, I will impose a five-year ban on all building works. And, of course, a permanent ban on all sirens, all reverse-beepers, all leaf-blowers and all hovering helicopters. The people will love me for it and I will be dictator for ever.
FRIDAY 8 MAY
Yet another glorious sunny day. It is impossible not to reflect, once more, that while our nation is busily committing suicide, Nature offers us one of the most beautiful springs in living memory.
I also remember that today is a Bank Holiday, in honour of VE Day; and I wonder, as I sip my coffee listlessly, what difference that makes, granted that under ‘lockdown’ every day is exactly the same.
But in fact the Bank Holiday does make a difference. A huge difference. Why? Because the evil angle-grinder that has ruined the last days has fallen silent. God be praised!!
My flatmate has received in the post some sunflower seeds from an unknown benefactor in Poland. I have a spare pot or two and some spare compost, so I plant the seeds, leave the pot in the sunniest part of the balcony, and await developments, like Papillon on Devil’s Island.
SATURDAY 9 MAY
My mother had a King Charles spaniel called Lucifer. This sweet-natured hound couldn’t bear bluebottles, at which he used to bark furiously as they buzzed around above his head.
I share his feelings, and this morning I spend longer than I would care to admit chasing a bluebottle round the kitchen, dampened cloth in hand with which to swat it. All to no avail.
Eventually, however, the maddening insect makes the mistake of flying into the housekeeper’s loo, whereupon I slam the door closed behind it. The bluebottle is now in ‘lockdown’.
I wonder how long it will last with no food and no water. I intend to find out, and in the meantime I can use one of the other loos. Thus does one entertain oneself during this time of imprisonment.
* * * * *
Fearing that the Queen would be dragged into voicing support for our nation’s act of collective suicide, I did not watch her tribute last night to those who fought during the Second World War. Nor, I see from today’s paper, were my fears misplaced. “When I look at our country today,” concluded our Monarch, “and see what we are willing to do to protect and support one another, I say with pride that we are still a nation those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen [who fought in WW2] would recognise and admire.”
If only this were the case; because if the men and women who gave their lives for our country all those years ago could see how we have allowed ourselves to be stripped overnight of our most basic freedoms and enslaved without a single squeak of protest, they would not recognise the nation we have become; and still less would they admire it.
Indeed, I speculate that my paternal grandfather and uncle, both of them war heroes, would have nothing but contempt for the hysteria which has engulfed our once great nation.
A telephone conversation this evening with a friend who is no longer young reminds me, however, that for many people, my views on this matter are taboo. In this respect the Coronavirus is depressingly similar to Brexit.
SUNDAY 10 MAY
For much of the day I am kept occupied – or at least distracted – by the trivial pursuits of a prisoner.
My bluebottle has somehow escaped from the housekeeper’s loo, where I was hoping – Caligula-like – to preside over its death.
I have discovered, too, that in order to throw an empty 35cl gin bottle into the recycling bin from a few yards away, the trick is to put a spin on it. This works very well … in just the same way, I believe, that if a bullet emerging from the barrel of a pistol has a spin on it created by the engineering of the inside surface of the barrel, the bullet flies straighter and more surely.
There’s a technique to this bottle-throwing sport, and it has to be worked at. My practice is however interrupted by a telephone call from a friend who asks after the state of my ‘mental health’ following six-odd weeks of confinement … and no, his use of this ghastly term is not, I realise, a tease. So I tell him I’m well enough, thank you very much; and not wishing to cause him needless concern, I make no mention of captive bluebottles or of fairground games in the kitchen involving empty half-bottles of gin.
* * * * *
On the abandoned street below, a white van appears. During a series of lengthy manoeuvres its reverse-bleeper (or whatever it is called) creates a noise loud and piercing enough to wake the dead.
This happens the whole time hereabouts, from six in the morning onwards. Leaving aside the impact of all this on what some would refer to as my ‘mental health’, it occurs to me that these infernal reverse-beepers are, in their own way, a metaphor for the lockdown itself.
That is to say: like the lockdown, they represent an absurdly disproportionate and costly reaction (in this case the cost is noise pollution) to what is at the worst a very limited threat (i.e. the all-but-non-existent risk that some idiot might, in theory, be run over by a vehicle reversing very slowly in an empty street in broad daylight).
* * * * *
In the evening I turn on the TV to watch Boris’ address to the nation. This, I recognise, is required viewing. Thanks to the role he played in our departure from the accursed EU, I have so far been pro-Boris, whose clownish persona has not, until now, bothered me in the least.
But now that he has ordered the national suicide which is unfolding before our eyes, the music-hall act has lost its appeal, and I am decidedly anti. And indeed, for its bluster, empty rhetoric and sheer mendaciousness, the speech that followed could hardly be beaten.
Lockdown, he insists, is “the only way to defeat the Coronavirus.” No, Boris. No-one knows how to defeat it. There are only theories.
“It is a fact,” he continues (I note it all down, solid gold ball-point pen in hand) “that by adopting this strategy we have prevented a possible 500,000 deaths.” No! It is emphatically not a fact, Boris. It is, on the other hand, a fact that the idiot witchdoctor Neil Ferguson conjured up the wild prediction that in the event of no-lockdown, half a million people might die. It is also a fact that you allowed this discredited fool to dictate your policy of closing down the country.
We are next enjoined to “defeat this terrible disease together” and to “protect the NHS” … and we are informed that the lockdown will be lifted “if and only if the science and numbers support it.”
What? The ‘science’ of Ferguson and his fantastical ‘models’? Does Boris not understand that there is no settled ‘science’ on this? No-one understands the Coronavirus or how it works. All we know is that we don’t know.
And he winds up with his most preposterous claim of all. We will, he says, emerge from the lockdown “more resilient, more innovative, more economically dynamic, but also more generous and more sharing [sic].”
The claim that the lockdown-induced destruction of hundreds of thousands of businesses and millions of lives and livelihoods will leave us “more economically dynamic” is so far beyond absurd that I sit there open-mouthed. And as for the claim that we will all emerge from all this “more generous and more sharing” … well, I take that to mean that taxes will go through the roof, and that anyone with any cash left will be forced to ‘share’ it in a ‘generous’ manner with a Government responsible for an act of dystopian lunacy which until recently would have been deemed too far-fetched even in a work of the wildest futuristic fiction.
Among the lies, bluster and tub-thumping rhetoric, one thing is however clear: namely, that Boris is locked in to his lockdown. And when the reckoning comes and the terrible cost of this monumental error is revealed, we’ll all go down with him.