Yesterday a leaflet was posted through the door asking me to join an organisation to ban
the Chinese Communist Party. This morning there is a picture of Stanley Johnson and his youngest son, awfully cosy with Chinese functionaries – big fans, it says, of China under the jurisdiction of its Communist Party. Gwyneth Paltrow says she is suffering from the effects of Long Covid, citing “longtail fatigue and brain fog” and then goes on to detail such a restricted diet one is left to wonder if she is simply hungry ? Wellness is an old word placed anew, I am so wary of it. And Wol, pragmatic and well remunerated professional, suddenly asked me – oh conspiracy theory – if I thought the pandemic was real ? And the trouble is the balance.
There are two reasons why you know things: one is because you find them out by chance and the second is because you set out to discover them.
And in both cases you have to understand what you have discovered.
Yesterday a friend lent me a book (Kiss Myself Goodbye by Ferdinand Mount) about a strange relative who lived in one of the great modern houses in the south of England. Came WWII and it was taken out of private circulation and used for engineering research: after that, something else and then, industrial diamonds for Gulf War missiles. In the meantime the house had vanished.
It wasn’t even indicated on Ordnance Survey. Its presence and function were not admitted until much later. Discovered by chance.
The news has been patterned for a year – which is a long time – by what this politician or that says,
what this or that government functionary says (agreeing or disagreeing) and the alternative position voiced by housewives, medical staff, mothers, teachers, bin men, assenting and dissenting scientists, other party politicians and so on. News stew.
The unsettling message of this is just what my friend has responded to. He doesn’t watch the news. He finds it unattractive, monotonous, utterly confusing and depressing. He’s not alone. And, when all the shouting’s done, he doesn’t know what to believe. It was his partner of 25 years who made sure he had the first vaccination.
“What is all this ?” he asked me last night about Covid
and because our conversation was one to one, and I was trying to be clear about it, he listened. I think.
I have heard some sense about Covid. Sense to me means sentences I can understand, delivered in a tone I can access, by a speaker who is not trying to sell me a position – or at least, not one that gets in my way. Everything I have found out has been by listening or reading (same rules apply) and I was never any good at science or maths at school. As soon as you start quoting figures at me, I glaze over. Amalgamate one lot of figures with another, I know it is unreliable and I switch off.
But show me a patient who thought it was going to be “just like the flu” and has learned to their cost that it isn’t, the exhausted nurses and doctors doing everything they can to help, often without success, show me the paraphernalia of wearing and changing protective clothing –
the human cost I understand.
And because of the segregation of one person from another, one group from another, there are endless home made contributions which apparently sit well with the majority, endless quite separate talking heads – which visually undermines the notion that “we’re all in this together” . . if we ever accepted it.
So it is hard to tell what this means because if you’re anything like me, you don’t understand. You haven’t found out by chance and you didn’t set out to discover. So, may I hope that you like me are not going out when you don’t have to, not having anybody in the house, washing your hands like a religion or using sanitiser, wearing a mask in every closed space eg bus, train, shop ? It’s called being sensible, holding the balance. And it is what we can do.