Still attempting to catch up with himself, diary-wise, Pissed-off Toff presents you with the latest, along with photos, from a deserted London.
THURSDAY 2 APRIL
I receive an email from a friend in the country. “We are rather enjoying this self-inebriating malarkey,” he writes. But he wonders, as we all do, for how long it can continue. “I can only talk to my piggies for so long,” he proceeds, “and there is only so much chain-sawing I can do!”
Another friend directs my attention to a piece in The Times by Lord King, a former Governor of the Bank of England, saying that young people will soon rebel against this ‘lockdown’. I’m not young, but I certainly feel rebellion welling up in my heart.
Nor is my mood improved by the fact that a helicopter has been hovering overhead for the last hour. London is deserted. So why the helicopter? There are few enough compensations for this Coronavirus business, but the main one is the blessed silence. And now the Police chopper puts paid to that. I entertain fantasies involving an Exocet missile.
* * * * *
Out for my daily ‘permitted’ exercise.
Here is Westminster Cathedral, closed, with the square in front of it abandoned.
Here, once again, is Victoria Station at 5 o’clock on a weekday.
Here, we are looking along an empty Buckingham Palace Road towards the iconic tower opposite Victoria Coach Station.
Victoria Coach Station is all but abandoned. Indeed, I have received an email from National Express saying that from midnight on Sunday, all their services will be suspended, nationwide.
As usual, people are queueing outside Waitrose Belgravia. And as usual, I wonder why they don’t go to Waitrose in Bressenden Place, a ten-minute walk away, where there is only rarely a queue.
I wander down a mews lane off Belgrave Square to contemplate the closed doors of the Grenadier pub. Fancy a pint? Forget it.
Or fancy looking in at your club for an evening drink? Forget it. (I’m not a member of the Caledonian Club, in fact. But you get my point.)
8pm. The sound of clapping and shouting emerges from open windows along the street as an obedient populance pays homage to the NHS. I play the piano throughout this craven act of group-think.
FRIDAY 3 APRIL
A friend who lives on his estate in the country tells me that he has had nothing to drink for the last month, and has subsequently lost a lot of weight and is looking much better. I, on the other hand, am self-medicating too much and have put on weight.
I can’t bear to watch the TV news any more, but someone puts The Evening Standard through the door and I learn that there are so far 53,241 deaths worldwide as a result of Coronavirus. This strangely precise death-toll is roughly the same as for every other year, isn’t it? And yet this time we are committing mass economic suicide.
I also learn that the Metropolitan Police want military vehicles to combat civil disorder. No doubt they’d enjoy that. They certainly enjoy whizzing around with their sirens screeching loudly. Just look at them:
An email arrives from EasyJet informing me that all their aircraft are now grounded; which prompts me to reflect further on the unthinkable amount of damage that we are doing to ourselves … all because of a flu virus. My mood swings between bewilderment at this madness, and anger.
Indeed, are tempers everywhere beginning to fray? In my local Waitrose this evening, an elderly man was asked by a member of staff – a pretty young black girl – to pay at the automated checkouts. This, presumably, was part of an attempt to promote ‘social distancing’ and to minimise contact between people. However, the girl offered no explanation for her instruction, brusquely delivered, and the man said, quite reasonably, that he would prefer to be served at the till, which was open.
“Are you deaf?” replied the girl. Enraged by this rudeness, the man started throwing his shopping trolley around, while the manager attempted to comfort his young member of staff, despite the fact that she was at fault.
Back home, I ring a friend in Yorkshire who informs me that he overheard the neighbours quarrelling, no doubt because of the ‘lockdown’ (he has never heard them quarrel before). “I’m going to fucking kill you,” yelled one of them at the other. And these were prosperous folk in a large and comfortable home … not penniless proles locked up inside their cell at the top of a tower-block on the outskirts of Manchester.
SATURDAY 4 APRIL
A glorious spring day. Nature oblivious to the catastrophe we have created for ourselves.
Long telephone conversation with a landowning friend in Cumbria. Like everyone else of his sort with whom I have spoken, he thinks the course we are embarked on is pure madness. And like everyone else of his sort, he is aware that he is lucky to be confined to his large house, his children with him and money in the bank.
Now, in London, it is quite usual to see people walking in a leisurely manner in the the middle of previously busy streets. Here are a couple of people strolling along Buckingham Palace Road this Saturday afternoon.
In Belgrave Square, the embassies are now abandoned. Here, too, people are walking in the middle of the road which once was full of cars hurtling round the square at break-neck speed.
Now here’s an interesting photograph. I stepped right into the middle of a large and normally very busy yellow intersection in Grosvenor Gardens to take it. In ordinary times this would have been an act of suicide. I doubt that anything like this photo has ever been taken before.
SUNDAY 5 APRIL
Yet another glorious spring day.
A friend texts to say that ‘Matt’ Hancock is considering imposing a nationwide ban on all outdoor exercise, this because a few groups of young people have apparently been seen meeting up in the parks.
So rather than let the Police get on with the job of enforcing the ‘lockdown’ with the help of the very considerable new powers that have been given to them, the new Health Secretary now entertains the fantasy of locking up the entire nation, not just for most of the day, but for all of it; as has already happened in Italy.
Where have we got to, when an insignificant twerp like Hancock has the power to imprison us all 24 hours a day? Or even to contemplate it? What sort of nation have we become? A nation of bleating, obedient sheep, it would seem.
Meanwhile, my elderly neighbours, who are fully signed up to the Coronavirus scare, are sitting on their balcony, enjoying the sunshine and happily reading the papers. There is complete, blissful silence. Nor are their pensions threatened by the act of suicide which the rest of the nation is busily carrying out; for their sake.
* * * * *
Out, in the early evening, for my daily walk.
The tramps and homeless are ever more visible on the streets. Some trudge along listlessly, pulling a two-wheeled trolley behind them. Others, even lower down the pecking order, being apparently without possessions of any sort, walk along in a daze with a sleeping bag wrapped round them.
Others – stick thin, with rotting teeth and hatred and madness in their eyes – are probably on coke, and rush along the pavements with a strange, angry urgency. Almost all of them are surely past redemption.
As I pass a small encampment of these poor souls and take a rapid photo, one of them shouts out a demand for money. “Oi! That’ll be three quid, mate!” he says. I’ve occasionally overheard the homeless exchanging tips about the best places to beg and about the various tricks of the trade. And there seems to be an agreement among them that £3 is a good sum to ask for … just as the charity adverts on the TV invariably ask for £3 per month.
Here, a black tramp, high on something or perhaps just insane, is doing a dance routine in front of Westminster Cathedral.
This poor female tramp wants a cigarette.
As usual nowadays, there are almost no cars on the roads. Just masses of empty red buses.
Very few things about the present situation are funny. But one of them is that the awful politically-correct show Hamilton has closed.
More homeless. Here, a drunken East European tramp with a pot belly is doing some sort of jive in front of Victoria Station.
Ah, and now here he is, inside the station, being arrested.
As usual, Victoria railway station is entirely deserted. And despite the fact that there’s no-one around to read it, here, yet again, is that same large electronic poster saying “Thank you to our amazing NHS staff.” It’s all over London, everywhere. I reflect, once more, that the fools and incompetents who run the NHS are less concerned about the wellbeing of their ‘amazing’ front-line staff than they are about cash for themselves. LSD. Of which they are given lorry-loads every year. And this is their bid to get even more of it.
The Queen is due to address the nation tonight. Why do they have to drag her into it? I am not going to watch.