In terms of work ethic I sit safely somewhere between the super eager beaver and the bone idle. I’ll work hard when I need to and I try not to worry when I don’t. It’s an approach that has so far served me reasonably well. I know that the top dogs in the government get paid well for their work but I’ve concluded that it must be far too much because from what I can see they’ve spent the last 6 months doing nothing at all. Interestingly the same goes for the highway maintenance gangs that have sat around scratching their hairy balls for half a year and then decided to tackle the vast backlog of roadworks just when everyone needs to go back on the roads, you know, to get the country moving again. Since most road crews currently appear (if they appear at all, that is) to consist of one heavily tattooed man in a high-vis jacket taking a shit in a layby while another watches from a distance to make sure it is done in a healthy and safe manner I don’t see why they couldn’t have been back at work a bit earlier. But then what do I know, it’s not like I run the country or anything important like that.
I’d say I’ve been pretty busy the last couple of weeks and highway maintenance aside I think it’s about time the government got back to earning their wages too, though it’s a given that you’d struggle to identify the last time any government in recent memory did that. And let’s remember that some of them don’t need to worry about the money anymore: recall the multimillionaire Jeremy Hunt shamelessly cashing in on the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme, or news that Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling is to be paid £100,000 a year for 7 hours work a week to advise one of Britain’s biggest port owners. The Grayling news is particularly hard to swallow (there’s a joke in there somewhere about Jeremy Hunt’s lunch) since he is a man who has consistently proved he can barely piss straight; I wouldn’t take advice from him (bearing firmly in mind he is the former transport secretary) on transport any more than I would trust him to operate a bedside lamp while the main light is still on.
Somewhat preposterously given Grayling’s appalling track record, there are a few shallow souls at the very top of the political power ladder that are doing an even more shambolic impression of a hard day’s work as we speak (I know we’re not speaking right now but that expression just makes sense in the flow of words that, rather awkwardly, this bracketed interruption has now effectively strangled). I would scurry away and look up the specifics for you – the dates and the stats and the cast iron promises that have been thrown around over the passing weeks like fake tan at a traveller hen do – but what would be the point since not a single target has been met nor a word of fact or sincerity or common sense uttered by a single sticky pair of lips since the wrong side of Valentine’s Day. Some fool says 500,00 tests a day by the end of October and another says 10 million a day as soon as that month of Sundays kicks in. Just how will 10 million tests a day work, I wonder to myself. Is such a number even vaguely conceivable, even if we were suddenly blessed with a crew that knew anything about anything?
The latest is that the country is slowly, bit by bigger bit, edging towards another semi-erect version of a lockdown. The places where people haven’t behaved themselves at all well are already being told to crawl back under their assorted rocks and some whizz kid has suggested that pubs may have to close earlier as a precaution, but I’d say most pubs are clearing out by 10pm anyway, except for the die hards, the die youngs and the die hopelessly unemployed. You see, we’re having our wrists smartly slapped by people who have yet to earn (or re-earn, if we’re being generous) our respect and that’s why there’s so much trouble about. Whatever they’ve been working on all these months hasn’t really worked at all and this time round it’s not because we’ve never been in this situation before but instead because misguided arrogance is still the go-to common denominator and has been found wanting: fool me once shame on you, fool me twice I’m a fucking idiot.
And now the line is that no matter what pains and deprivations we are asked to endure it will all be fine as long as we can save Christmas. That’s literally the payoff on the table – behave yourself and you might get a visit from Santa. This, I think you’ll agree, is beyond pathetic. I for one am very inviting of the idea of missing Christmas just this once. The least that could be done would be to tone it done a touch. How lovely would it be if families could really appreciate a Christmas without the overload of unbridled shopping, unwelcome relatives, unnecessary food, payday loan explosions, cirrhosis and domestic violence? A dark part of me deeply hopes that we continue to behave like selfish, spoiled children because then the threat can be carried through: we will have to miss Christmas and not only will that serve us right for not listening but it will also show that the government are capable of delivering something they have promised. Perhaps we’ll have to sit in silence and be forced to watch Italy enjoy their Christmas as an extra punishment. In some sense I suppose the government is a bit like Christmas – everyone hopes it’ll be good but in the end it just feels disappointing. Every single year.
Engaging a touch more clarity on the matter I don’t even see why Christmas has to have anything to do with it. Seriously, just fuck Christmas. Forget about it. If we can’t control ourselves accordingly there will be exactly the spike that has always been suggested (Boris refers to it as a sombrero or a dromedary’s hump, but he may well remember that beyond the cleverish comparisons he’s still referring to people dying and is therefore another oversized rubber shoe away from being a third rate, washed up clown) and so surely it would be far more effective to focus solely on that angry Covid cumulonimbus, rather than some invented blue horizon that may lie beyond it. What if the spike turns into a set of golf shoes and the land becomes littered with thousands more bodies? Will we still be in a festive mood if that happens? We think we’ve had it bad, but in truth we’ve only had ‘Bad Part 1’ so perhaps we could live without the EastEnders Christmas special after all and instead see whether anyone can run the course of this farce with anything like the requisite competence and conviction. And let’s be honest, that’s going to require some proper hard work; hard work that no-one seems to want to do. Maybe I could run the country on the days I’m feeling productive.
G B Hewitt. 18.09.2020