I DON’T suppose the science fiction writer John Wyndham is much read these days but in the 50s and 60s his books were very popular. Recently one of his plots has been playing on my mind.
The Day of the Triffids (1951) opens with a shower of green meteors over Britain which draws nearly everyone to watch. Next day the spectators are all blind, the only ones to escape with their sight being a handful who were unconscious or otherwise unable to see the meteors.
I am starting to wonder if some similar Wyndham-style phenomenon has affected all but a very few of the population, disabling their critical faculties and making them unquestioningly, even gladly, receptive to every word issuing from ‘authority’. It is hard otherwise to explain how so many previously sensible people have believed the government propaganda and given it the status of holy writ.
The vast majority can personally know no one much under 80 who has died of or ‘with’ Covid-19 (in other words picked it up in hospital), or even been seriously ill.
Sensible people can surely not believe that a piece of cloth or paper can act as a barrier to a virus. It is like using a football net to block sand, but not as efficient. Yet they obediently mask up, even in the open air, even when there is no other person within 100 yards.
Something must have taken over their brains – there is no other explanation.
I used to work in newspapers and so did many of my friends and acquaintances. I have known some for decades. It would be hard to find a more cynical bunch, never taking anything from officialdom at face value. They are quick-witted, humorous and intelligent, and I like, trust and respect them. I assumed we were on the same wavelength. Yet these same friends, to a person, have been suckered into fearing a virus which is dangerous only to a tiny minority, and into believing that they must have a novel type of vaccine in an early experimental stage. Where is the scepticism they always used to show? They seem to have taken leave of their senses.
At the end of The Day of the Triffids, a paramilitary faction emerge intending to take control of the remaining sighted people, while a few dissidents establish a community on the Isle of Wight. Maybe I’ll see you there?