As the days turn into weeks, Pissed-off Toff continues his diary of London in lockdown.
THURSDAY 16 APRIL
We are today informed that this lockdown is to be extended for a further three weeks at least, at further incalculable social and economic cost.
The justification for this lockdown is a ‘model’ created by Professor Neil Ferguson and a team at Imperial College London. And I learn, today, that far from being the infallible oracle that he is treated as, this Professor Neil Ferguson has a history of being spectacularly wrong about almost everything.
For example, back in 2002, he predicted that up to 50,000 people would die from mad cow disease. In the end, 177 died of it.
In 2005 he claimed that up to 200 million people might die from bird flu. In the end, the number of deaths was just 282, worldwide.
Then in 2009 he and his team created a model which led the government to estimate that up to 65,000 people might die, in the UK, as a result of swine flu. In the end it killed 457.
But we have closed down the entire country on the say-so of him and his team of alchemists with their fantastical ‘model’. Why? Because he’s a ‘scientist’ and ‘scientists’ are always right. Right?
No, not right. They are very frequently wrong, as Ferguson himself has demonstrated.
And have you seen a photo of this Neil Ferguson? Google him (but don’t confuse him with his near-namesake Niall Ferguson, the entirely worthy academic and journalist). He looks barely 20 years old. So: a weedy swot with a talent for making predictions which are not just wrong but the stuff of fantasy … this Neil Ferguson tells us to shut down the country, causing more damage to our society than if we embarked on another world war. And we blithely do so. No questions asked.
* * * * *
In need of respite from these thoughts, I go for a walk on this glorious spring afternoon.
As usual, there are almost no cars … but the Police are everywhere. Why? There’s no trouble, no rebellion, not even a hint of it. So why are police vehicles with their aggressive ‘liveries’ lurking on every street corner?
In the middle of an empty street in Westminster I pass a woman who jumps away from me in horror, as though my face were covered in weeping pustules, or as though I were the Grim Reaper with his scythe. Perhaps, on the other hand, I just really badly need a shave and a haircut.
In Lord North Street I come across a row of three large Georgian houses, all shuttered up … prompting me to reflect once more that those of my friends with houses in the country have all left London … as have the owners of these nice places in Lord North Street.
FRIDAY 17 APRIL
A dull, cold day.
I read a summary of a study by a certain Professor Yitzhak Ben Israel of Tel Aviv University, which says that regardless of whether a country goes into lockdown, as most of the countries of Europe are doing, or whether it opts for business as normal, as Sweden is doing, the Conoravirus peaks and subsides in the exact same way. In other words, this virus has a life of its own and lockdown would appear to serve no purpose.
What we are looking at, says the good professor, is ‘mass hysteria’. He can think of no other explanation for our reaction to this virus.
And another thing, says this same summary: when Donald Trump reluctantly ordered lockdown, he did so on the advice of a certain Dr Fauci, who was predicting 2.2 million deaths in the US if lockdown were not implemented. And what was Fauci relying on for his terrible prediction? He was relying on the flawed ‘model’ developed by the soothsayer Neil Ferguson and his team of acolytes at Imperial College London.
It seems quite incredible that the self-destruction of both the UK and the USA was induced by just one misguided ‘scientist’. However, the madness we are now witnessing is not science fiction. It is all too horribly real.
* * * * *
Wherever you go now in London, it is impossible to avoid the ubiquitous advertising campaign in which the management of the NHS is pretending to thank its ‘amazing’ staff. The big-hearted adverts we see everywhere are, of course, a charade, because what the greedy managers of the NHS really want is unlimited funding from a compliant future government. And this is their bid to get it.
But the ploy is undeniably cunning … because not only are we – the taxpayer – paying for the NHS to lobby the government for more money, but we will then have to hand over the money that we are paying them to lobby for. In Dickensian terms, it’s like paying Fagan to persuade the Artful Dodger to pick one’s pocket … with Fagan keeping the proceeds.
Here are three versions of posters from this shameless and hugely expensive advertising campaign … the cost of which will be added to a national debt that is already spiralling entirely out of control.
SATURDAY 18 APRIL
When we look back on this lockdown lunacy, we will remember that at any rate the silence was nice. This morning, however, there’s not even that. One lone but relentless drill ruins the peace.
A friend sends me an article from the 16 April edition of The New York Times, about how a couple of Chinese companies, AllTest Biotech and Wondfo Biotech, recently offered two million home test kits for the Coronavirus to the panicked UK government, at a total price of at least $20 million … i.e. $10 or £8 per test kit.
“The asking price was high, the technology was unproven and the money had to be paid upfront,” the article reports. “And the buyer would be required to pick up the crate loads of test kits from a facility in China.” Not only this, but the two companies were so unknown that “the British Foreign Ministry hurriedly dispatched diplomats to China to ensure [that these companies] existed.”
Despite all the flashing red lights, the order was placed. “There was one problem, however,” continues the NYT. “The tests did not work. […..] A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care said that the government had ordered the smallest number of tests allowed by the sellers and that it would try to recover the money, without specifying how.”
Not surprisingly, the NYT chortles with glee at this story of idiocy and naivety. More seriously, a friend who recently visited the Far East on business tells me that he was surprised to realise that the Chinese quite simply despise us.
And who can blame them?
* * * * *
In the late afternoon I go for a disconsolate walk and look in, as usual, at Victoria train station. As usual, the place is abandoned. But to judge by the departures board, the trains are all running as normal … this despite posters urging us to stay at home and “save lives.” Would there not seem to be something a little push-me-pull-you about this?
Elsewhere in the station, a numer of bored individuals with the legend “Enforcement Officer” on their backs are patrolling the station. Since it’s now probably illegal to photograph them, and since they are no doubt looking for something to enliven their day, I wait until they are standing in front of the departures board, of which I now take a photo, with them in it.
One of the ‘enforcement’ proles now comes up to me, wanting – but not quite daring – to challenge me. “Are you all right?” he says. “I’m fine, thank you very much,” I reply. As I walk off, I once more reflect that London is now swarming with these ‘enforcement officers’, ‘marshals’, ‘patrol’ men, and God knows how many others of a similar type, all of them itching for a chance to exercise whatever small amount of power they now have.
* * * * *
Above the entrance to the previously busy underpass at Hyde Park Corner, there is now a huge illuminated advert with the legend #StayHomeNow. I’ve never had any interest in word games or crossword puzzles, but even I can work out that this is ‘NHS’ backwards. And just in case we don’t get it, the design work makes it clear: it’s the NHS logo rotated by 180°.
The advert merely strengthens one’s conviction that the management of the accursed NHS are using every means at their disposal to instil into the minds of the public that this bloated and hugely wasteful institution should in future be given even more money than it already receives, to throw away as it pleases.
* * * * *
In front of the closed wooden doors of Westminster Cathedral a lone figure is kneeling in prayer. I see her almost every day.
What is she praying for? Her soul? The beloved departed? Or an end to the death-wish which has taken possession of the whole western world?
I walk home, make myself a strong G&T, and sit down at the piano.