Tuesday, 2 June 2020

What kind of world can we hope for?

THERE will be few charity shops on the high streets of Britain in the future. How can you ensure the clothes and others items are not infectious? And have them rummaged through. And make a profit.
There will be few places to stand at the bar and take the ale with your friends in Britain in the future. How can you chat at the bar and be six feet apart. And how do you turn a profit like that?
There will be few chances to meet your friends for a cosy chat over a fine dinner in the future. Six, eight to a table with room for staff to safely serve? And make a profit?
Your family doctor may have changed back to the 50s system of queuing just last year but it will be back to appointments in the future. And fewer seats for waiting.
And school and uni will take a long time to return to the best years of your life.
And holidays will take a long time to become as easy, or cheap, or accessible as they had become.

However...
Specialist shops are better able to serve safely – butchers, delis, fruiterers, farm shops. All have shown they can deliver their goods more safely. So they will, in the future.
Outdoor eating and drinking will be more the norm, maybe under canvas like those continental systems for sun and rain.
Al Fresco eating will be more normal in the future, allowing family gatherings with room to not breath each others air.

SO it will be a different world when we finally get used to living with coronavirus. For that is how it looks like being. Two things we need to start this brave new world. First we have to have a vaccine that truly protects the vulnerable and by doing so protects our health services. And secondly we have to find the therapeutic treatments that mean everyone has a better chance of coming home or even of not going to hospital at all.

THESE two things are essential if this dreadful disease is to be brought to heel.Like influenza has been. But it cannot happen if we kid ourselves it is any way like influenza. Or others kid us so. It is a truly deadly disease for all.
Why all? Well some young do get away with it but not all. And anyone of any age with serious health issues is at risk. And finally if you are over 65 it is very risky; over 80 and virtually a death sentence.
That is not the influenza way. And yet it once was. But for the flu – the real job; not man flu or whatever excuse you used last – we have remedies and treatments. And better still we have a vaccine which thus far we have endlessly re-purposed for each new strain.

MUCH scorn is rightly poured upon the current vogue for talking about herd immunity. But it is only the foolish modern approach which is wrong headed. If having covid-19 confers immunity as it seems to then it is absolutely true that one day herd immunity will be our protection. But the events from here to there are even more horrific it seems than we have yet to experience.
Only a vaccine can avoid the reality that tens, even hundreds of thousands must die to get enough of the population immune to protect us all. That is what makes the glib proclamations about it now so deeply offensive to us all. And especially to those who have worked, and struggled and fought to get our society to where it now was.Throwing us under a bus is a denial of all that is good about humanity.

BUT, on the evidence of our elected leaders today and for many weeks now, confidence in any of this is not high.
Let us hope that the oft-exhibited jingoism and national flag waving does not prevent us from finding treatments and vaccines for all. For all...

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Should have gone to Specsavers - or better still security

READING the transcript of Dominic Cummings statement to the media (https://preview.tinyurl.com/ybtc27pa) is more illuminating than listening to him. It is full of holes and inconsistencies that give one serious pause for thought.
I am not going to attempt a forensic examination of it. Firstly I am not really qualified but more importantly I do not have the resources to check details. Others I am sure will.
But there are points which are easily examined. For example, right at the beginning of the saga Cummings tells us that the 'usual childcare' arrangements in London were not available. Yet by the time he returns 15 days later they are, in his words, able to 'enjoy childcare'. Either way it is an odd professional couple who have not nailed down their care package.
More critical to me is his failure, before embarking on the five hour drive to Durham, to consider his security options. He says he was under siege at home. Yet he does not turn to the extensive Number 10 security arrangements for assistance. Indeed the real escape for him was right there.
If he had explained the situation the security team would have advised him to take the Durham option BUT driven the family themselves. Why? Because the media scrum would have been left at Cummings home, securing him and his family AND ensuring their whereabouts were known.
Frankly I find it equally worrying that a senior adviser with all the knowledge he will have in his head is able to vanish from his home and remain in Durham ex-communicado. Or did he?

Then of course there is the clearly questionable eyesight test. His wife drives so why did she not drive if he was not up to it? That is what we did in similar circumstances when in west Wales. What would a short drive tell him more than was already obvious? Why if he was that bad did he risk his wife and the child? Once they knew he was OK why did they not turn around and come home?
It sounds far too much like a construct to explain why, on his wife's birthday, they took a drive to a beauty spot.
And we have as yet no idea how long they were there. CCTV en route will be checked pretty soon. If brief, OK. If not, then not OK.

One more point worth considering is how many words are spent convincing us of his enthusiasm for lockdown.This would be fine but we now have allegations of revisions to his blogs from that earlier period.
So much of what he writes has all the hallmarks of hindsight. A version put together to cover all the various allegations just well enough to be credible. Except not quite. One PR trick is visible. He concentrates on debunking one allegation that is palpably not true.
He reveals a chaotic situation inside Number 10. No testing of key personnel. People at work after being ill but untested, others gpoing off variously. He makes much of how important his work is, especially with his cheerleader off sick, but he appears able to vanish without rocking the boat.

In the end the real problem is simple. He made a bad decision. He has been slow to confess the details. He is a spad but became the story. The decent thing is always to fall on your sword. Thus he is further convicted of arrogance.
There are only three logical conclusions:
One – the Johnson secret he holds is massively significant;
Two – this is the diversion, the real story is huge and imminent and will break the day he announces he is quitting;
Three – It is he who is in charge of Johnson.
All are entirely improper, unreasonable and corrupt.