Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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Letter from Local Lockdown Land

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‘TO the future or to the past … from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink – greetings!’

So wrote Winston Smith, trapped in the dystopian nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Well, it’s not quite as bad as that here (not yet, anyway), but I know how poor Winston felt. So, from the age of Big Boris, from the age of the Covid Marshal – greetings!

You see, we’ve just learned that from Tuesday, we’ll be put into local lockdown in our part of the world.

The measure was announced on Friday. Now any sensible person would think that if the situation was as urgent and serious as it’s made out, the stricter regime would have been imposed straight away, there and then. 

But Matt ‘Here Comes Your 19th Local Lockdown’ Hancock has kindly given the virus a long weekend off to recuperate after its recent exertions before we start doing battle again on Tuesday. Along with many others, I simply cannot understand the logic of that.

The other thing making heads spin is the details of the new rules. You can see here some of the permutations, accompanied by a map that looks like the one at the start of Dad’s Army.

One puzzle is why the regulations apply to the whole of Lancashire with the glaring exception of Blackpool. Do they hope to attract all the virus-spreading ravers and revellers to one place and arrest them as they sashay in groups of more than six along the Golden Mile in their Kiss Me Quick hats?

Even as I write, the BBC Six O’Clock News has Second Wave Warning emblazoned across the screen, reporters are pointing microphones on long sticks at masked and bemused citizens in Liverpool and Wolverhampton, then upward-thrusting graphs and numbers with lots of noughts are alarmingly displayed. Talk about putting the frighteners on us.

Having said all that, like millions who grudgingly comply with the rules, I still don’t know enough to judge whether coronavirus really is an existential threat worth ruining normal life and the economy for.

But, with the shambles the Government has manufactured so far, it’s tempting to think that it’s all just a big b***s-up by Johnson, Hancock and Co and they’re now covering their backs by hiding behind the pronouncements of the nutty professors advising them.

What I do know is that there are lots of learned people who have a different story to tell about Covid-19 and the Government’s reaction to it, but we rarely see or hear them on the mainstream media. If anyone’s been locked down, it’s these experts.

And as if the impending further restrictions weren’t bad enough, there’s a new threat to our mental wellbeing … the coronavirus soundbite has mutated into something even more inane. 

First we had ‘Stay home – protect the NHS’, then ‘Save lives, stay alert, control the virus’, followed by ‘Don’t kill your granny,’ then ‘Hands, face, space.’ 

The latest gem from the Ministry of Making Up Silly Slogans is that we’ve now got a series of ‘circuit breaker’ lockdowns.

Well, a circuit breaker is a sort of fuse. And there are lots of fuses being blown right now by baffled, angry folk here in Local Lockdown Land.

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Henry Getley
Henry Getley is a freelance journalist.

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