If you want to know where all the vegetables are, we’ve got them. The same goes for the wine, the gin and the tonic, and then of course all the presents. I reckon we must have all the presents because our little house is crammed full of the things. Bags of nicely wrapped Christmas goodies, all thoughtfully selected by Wifey to give to a bunch of people that may as well be strangers to me. Tomorrow (hopefully) she’ll load them all into her car and, like Santa in a Mazda, will go to work and distribute them, to friends and enemies alike; she hasn’t just captured the spirit of the season in our house – she is the spirit of the season in our house, because it’s certainly not me. As for those vegetables, well Wifey got a bit manic the other day when things started to tighten up and so put a last minute order in. The basket must have said ‘if you wish to order the entire annual vegetable output of Lincolnshire please tick here’. And so she did. I don’t quite know who she thought would be chewing through it all like Bugs Bunny, but it’s highly unlikely to be me; I’ve got the wine. Still, bravo her for pre-empting our latest little Covid adventure.
If you have yet to join the gilded chamber of Tier 4 then let me give you a brief but hopefully informative guided tour. Tier 4 is the latest exclusive restriction zone and it really only covers me, Wifey and about 700 million other people. If you live in Tier 4 you can’t leave, and if you don’t live in Tier 4 you can’t visit someone who does, which makes it all feel a bit prison camp-ish if you think about it for too long. Christmas has been given a lethal injection in Tier 4 and if you want to celebrate Christmas Day physically with someone you don’t live with then think again. Interestingly there will be plenty of people who won’t want to celebrate Christmas Day physically with someone they live with, and that will be a tragedy for them. If you’re desperate you can meet one other person in an open space (I think) but not in a private garden (I think) and anyone caught outside doing anything else like flying a kite, dogging or digging a hole for a relative will be taken to a secret chamber somewhere near Aylesbury and never seen again.
Of course there is the one crucial loophole of being in a bubble, in which case you can take a warm shower with the other person in your bubble (assuming they’re not someone you physically live with or a ‘loved one’). If, like David Vetter, you have a serious immune system issue and have to live in a bubble just to survive then you are allowed to be in what Matt Hancock calls a ‘Double Bubble’, a term and concept which will no doubt be promptly satirised by Ben Elton in a musical called Macbeth’s Immunodeficiency Covid Christmas. It is to be understood that you cannot travel from bubble to bubble during this period of not-a-lockdown-but essentially-a-lockdown-not-that-anyone-followed-the-last-lockdown-anyway, but must instead just make do with picking the person you hate the least or one that doesn’t smell too overpoweringly of urine and lavender. Anyone outside Tier 4 can apply for a ‘smug fucker’ card which they can flash whenever they walk close to the Tier 4 perimeter fence on their way to a full range of non-essential services or a drink served with a substantial meal of the same size or larger than a mince pie or a tight fisted pickled onion.
If you have been moved into Tier 4 (which is far more depressing than being in Tier 4 based on where you live) then you are now stranded and your car has been remotely wired to burst into flames the minute it crosses into a county that is in any other Tier, provided that Tier is numbered lower than 4. If that Tier is numbered higher than a 4 then you are now in Tier 5, which was announced about five minutes ago in a surprise press conference where Boris Johnson looked like he had just spent an hour in a box with a lion. In Tier 5 you aren’t allowed to contact anyone by phone or the internet because the virus has mutated itself to travel via satellite, and you also can’t look at anyone directly in case the virus is transmitted by the gift of expression. In Tier 5 you are also not allowed to share any humorous or depressing anecdotes or discuss how your Christmas meal was in case you make another person happier or sadder than they already are. Other than that Tier 5 is much the same as Tier 4, only a lot, lot worse; but even then, believe me, it’s a fuck sight better than being in Tier 6 (literally, 30 seconds ago, quick – go and switch on the telly!) where people are being forced to make their own non-biodegradable sack from discarded PPE and into which they will be sewn and fed liquidized sprouts by someone who has already had the vaccine.
Anyway, like I was saying, we’ve got loads of vegetables so if at any point we get bumped back down a Tier or two then we might be able to chuck you a few pre-sanitized parsnips or some ‘seasonal’ carrots (that means they’re a bit fancier, and a lot more expensive, than ‘non seasonal’ carrots, which used to be known simply as ‘carrots’). If you are enjoying the giddy atmosphere of a ‘two’ or ‘three’ (I don’t think we know anyone who lives in a Highland bothy or Cornwall) then do exactly that: enjoy it while it lasts because at the rate this new strain is mutating it’ll be so abundant that you could catch it just by thinking of a word that sounds like Covid (the best I can do at the moment is ‘ovid’). Oh, I almost forgot that there is one rule that cuts through all Tiers, restrictions and guidance and that is that if you are a selfish, thoughtless, ignorant, silly, stupid, fucking shit (especially one in your early 20’s that embraces illegal indoor raves as a fundamental human freedom, or someone who drives a Range Rover with blacked out windows) then you can just go ahead and do whatever you like because, well, you know, you probably won’t get Covid anyway, so what’s all the fuss about?
G B Hewitt. 20.12.2020