Pissed-off Toff continues his lockdown diary, and fears that almost overnight we have turned into a nation of sneaks and serfs.
MONDAY 27 APRIL
More than a month after we were imprisoned in our homes by arbitrary order of a new totalitarian state, it’s still difficult to make sense of it. My mood veers in unstable manner between bewilderment, anger, lethargy, despair, and sheer disbelief.
As always, I keep asking myself by what right the Government has turned us into a nation of prisoners and destroyed our lives and livelihoods? How could this happen? Without, it seems, the slightest resistance.
* * * * *
Nor, earlier today, was I even able to enjoy the only compensation that ‘lockdown’ offers: silence. For much of the morning a white M&S van squatted in the street below, its diesel engine idling noisily, while from time to time the driver made self-important calls on his mobile, which he had put onto speaker-phone, the better to inform the neighbourhood of his schedule for the day. By the time he drove off, I was contemplating murder.
Or perhaps suicide …
And here, during my daily walk, I come across a plaque installed by the Samaritans on a footbridge across the Thames. Ring us before you jump, is the unspoken message. As is already quite clear, the imprisonment of the entire country, inspired by the idiot ‘scientist’ Neil Ferguson and ordered by the Johnson buffoon, will not just permanently damage the lives of many millions, but will inevitably lead to an increase in suicides. Today, however, I see no-one jumping into the Thames with an iron ball chained to an ankle.
Walking back along Victoria Street, I come across a toothless figure slumped on the pavement. Young though he is, he cannot have long to live. For him, the immolation of our country is an irrelevance.
TUESDAY 28 APRIL
It’s cold and it’s pouring with rain … which is the signal for me to go to the Post Office, as I’ve been meaning to do for a while. Even more than usual, I calculate, people will be staying inside; and indeed, where once there was always a long queue, there’s now just one other desultory customer.
Back home. Lunch. Siesta (another bad habit from long ago, now resumed). Piano. Gin. Early to bed.
Indeed, during this ‘lockdown’ I’m going to bed earlier and earlier. I used to stay up till two o’clock in the morning, reading. History, mainly. But nowadays not even the easy option of television holds much appeal, and I sometimes switch off the bedside light as early as half past nine.
* * * * *
I am worried about money, now. At rare intervals in the past, between one job and another, I ‘signed on’ and became a burden on the State, perhaps for a total of a few months in my entire life. And I accept that granted the privileges I have received, it is shameful that I did even that.
However, since our prime minister has ordered us to become paupers … since he clearly envisages the ruination of the United Kingdom … well then, I think I’ll help him. I think I will apply for every ‘benefit’ I can, and will actively help in the task of bankrupting this country … from which I feel myself even more alienated than before.
WEDNESDAY 29 APRIL
I like fresh air, and I dislike noise, particularly mechanical noise. Therefore in normal times I make a calculation, thus: Bedroom window closed = less noise from street, but room stuffy. Whereas: Bedroom window open = fresh air, but more noise from street. And since my dislike of mechanical noise is greater than my liking of fresh air, I keep my bedroom window closed.
But now that it’s so silent, I have best of both worlds … until today, when I was woken up at around 5.30 by a deafening dawn chorus. Then, at seven o’clock, the one and only scaffolder still active in London got to work in the street below. Forced out of bed at this unaccustomed hour, I made my way to the bathroom in a bad mood.
With a four-day growth of patchy pepper-and-salt stubble, with long wisps of mousey hair in wild disorder, with eyes bleary and skin blotchy as a result of lockdown self-indulgence, the middle-aged tramp staring back at me from the mirror was an entirely repulsive sight, enough to startle the Devil himself.
* * * * *
Overcoming my reluctance to do so, I watch a TV programme about the Coronavirus made for Channel 4 in collaboration with the NHS. Throughout the duration, the logo #StayAtHome remains on the top of the screen, and from the outset it is clear that this is not a balanced documentary, but propaganda. We see a series of youngish people coughing theatrically to the accompaniment of a soulful soundtrack. We see a fat middle-aged woman blubbing; we see another weepy woman who is worried about being hospitalised; we see a fat man bursting into tears on screen because his very old mother has died, as she inevitably had to do.
The emotional incontinence of these people is nauseating, and I can summon up not one jot of sympathy for any of them. More importantly, despite the evident intention of the producers to ramp up the drama to maximum, at no stage do they succeed in demonstrating that this is anything other than a more-than-usually nasty flu. Furthermore, they give the impression that everyone is at risk from the virus, when it has by now been established that for the young and healthy, the danger that it poses is vanishingly small.
Already sickened by the emoting, lies and propaganda of the virus programme, I subject myself to further punishment by watching the ITV news presented by Tom Bradby. And here we go again: more drama, more exaggeration, more emoting. “Since this dreadful pandemic began [… etc etc …] unlike anything we have seen in our lifetime [… etc etc …],” he intones. Then more weeping ‘victims’ and more tearful nurses.
The next news item is a report on Sweden, which, famously, has not put itself into lockdown; a decision that Bradby clearly disapproves of. So whilst unable to deny that Sweden seems to be doing rather well, he also manages to put a negative spin on the fact that the Swedes are not dying as fast as they should be.
By this time I am in a foul mood, and I reflect that my decision not to watch the TV news was the right one all the way along.
THURSDAY 30 APRIL
During my afternoon walk I come across a large group of homeless people in Trafalgar Square, queueing up for something that is being distributed from the back of a white van. From a distance I take a photograph.
I then take another photo, closer up. The response is immediate. “Oi! you can’t do that, mate!!” shouts one of the men, more burly than the others; and he moves towards me aggressively; whereupon I walk off.
There is, I have noticed, a widespread idea that it is illegal to take any photograph that includes a person without first obtaining that person’s explicit consent. Indeed, only a few weeks ago I narrowly avoided being beaten up for doing so.
I now email a lawyer friend, who points me to various bits of legal commentary and assures me that in a public place I can take any photograph I want, provided that it does not constitute harassment and provided that it is not for purposes deemed obscene.
Eight o’clock, and from inside its prison an enslaved populus once more claps and shouts and cheers for the grossly mismanaged institution in the name of which it has been enslaved and imprisoned.
FRIDAY 1 MAY
A friend rings from the country and says that a few days ago he was bicycling along a road near his home and came across a man standing beside his car contemplating a puncture caused by a pothole. Being a decent sort of chap, my friend asked the man if he needed any help changing the tyre. The response took him by surprise.
“Get back!! Get back!!!” yelled the man, beside himself with rage. “Don’t you fucking dare come near me, you stupid cunt!!!!”
My friend replied in kind and rode off.
And this evening, I witnessed something similar in the local Waitrose, where a middle-aged woman was paying at the till. Behind her, at the now-statutory distance of two metres, was a young Romanian couple. They were cuddling, with the result that the man put one foot a few inches over the ‘social distancing’ circle marked out on the floor. Upon which the middle-aged woman went beserk.
“Step back! Step back!!” she yelled, in an educated voice that was strangely at variance with the hysteria which now possessed her. An altercation ensued, during which the Romanian man said that if she was so very afraid, she shouldn’t leave her home. “Yes, I am afraid!” replied the woman, by now quite demented. “I’m very very afraid!! And this is the first time I’ve left my home for three weeks!!! And now, step back!!!!”
The staff looked on impassively, and as I went home I reflected that this oft-repeated mantra of “we’re all in it together” is nonsense. Far from being all in it together in a fine warlike manner, we are revealed, by our reaction to the Coronavirus, as a nation of snivelling serfs and hysterical cowards.
Not just serfs and cowards, but sneaks too … because when, on returning home, I relate this incident to the person who also occupies the flat where I live, he informs me the the Police have received over 200,000 letters from members of the public denouncing their neighbours for breaking ‘lockdown’ rules.
What have we turned into?
SATURDAY 2 MAY
A nation of sneaks and cowards.
Sneaks: my gentleman-farmer friend rings me from his estate with more evidence of this. This is the friend who recently informed me, to my horror, that bonfires are now illegal. I am not sure whether this is a nationwide ban, or whether it applies in his county only. In any case, one of his neighbours is a woodsman who has no mobile and certainly no computer. Unaware of the ban, he was buring a pile of leaves and cuttings, and a member of the public rang the Police, who immediately arrived in force, confiscated the man’s matches and gave him a fine … which he cannot afford to pay.
Cowards: more and more people in the streets are wearing these silly masks which not only make everyone look like robots, but which are probably useless in any case.
* * * * *
In the early evening I look into Victoria Station, abandoned as usual.
And as usual, there’s that huge ubiquitous advert placed at huge expense by the scheming managers of the NHS. “Thank you to our amazing NHS staff,” it reads, followed by #thankyouNHS.
If I have this accursed propaganda rammed down my throat for much longer, I’ll scream! Yes, I will!!
SUNDAY 3 MAY
Everywhere in London we see new Soviet-style posters on the electronic billboards, all of which now show nothing but propaganda; all normal advertising having been suspended. And because the billboards are lit up like a television, the eye is drawn to them and they are difficult to ignore.
Here’s yet another NHS poster. “NHS staff, thank you for keeping Britain ticking!” it reads.
Here’s a poster sponsored by Southern railway, containing a photo of a white man and the obligatory black woman. “Key workers, we thank you,” it reads. “Millions of you are helping to keep our country moving and we thank you for it. We’re key workers supporting key workers.” Why, I want to know, this stomach-churning praise for ‘workers’ who are ‘working’? Can we not spare a thought, perhaps, for all the ‘ex-workers’ who have been ordered not to work and ordered, therefore, to embrace destitution?
And here’s a third example of this mawkish drivel, placed there by a lobby called #LondonTogether. “Thank you to our platform cleanin’ station staffin’ train drivin’ people movin’ heroes,” it reads, in a feeble attempt at matey jocularity that is presumably inspired by the “finger-lickin’ good” slogan in the Kentucky fried chicken adverts.
* * * * *
Why, however, is there no poster praising the Police? That’s a bit unfair, isn’t it? I suggest something along the following lines: “Thank you, beloved Stasi, for ensuring that we are all locked up like enslaved proles. Thank you for fining us at will. Thank you for abandoning the unimportant job of going after real criminals and for concentrating instead on the brave and patriotic job of persecuting anybody and everybody. For this we thank you. You are real heroes!”
And you know what? So completely are we in the grip of fear and hysteria, so obscenely disproportionate is our reaction to a perfectly manageable threat, and so completely have we abased ourselves as a nation, that the appearance on our streets of a Soviet-style poster in praise of our loutish jailors is surely just a matter of time.