I have it on good (well, I’m not sure good is the right word) authority that tomorrow is ‘Freedom Day’. Forgive me for not expressing myself with absolute, undiluted glee. I don’t know who gave it that name but I hope that already they are in the corner, facing the wall and feeling very sorry for what they’ve done. Just what we’ll be free from is for thickos and optimists to say because at the moment I’m almost as frightened for humanity as I was 16 months ago. In fact, I’m possibly even more frightened, a variety of fear that comes from seeing how people cope with a problem in all sorts of different ways and then seeing that none of them really work and that it may just be there is no solution at all. And this pandemic, bad as it is, clearly isn’t bad enough for some people. What would the ‘Freedom Day’ gang think if we were passing on a virus that made us projectile vomit our kidneys out onto the pavement or involuntarily shit ourselves so hard our teeth disintegrated? Or maybe it’s just me that would find that frightening. Surely not?
We live in a global culture where every class, colour, creed and gender can see exactly how the other people live and exactly what their opinion is. This should never be considered a good thing. We have never been able to sense with such clarity who has more and who has less, who fell out of bed lucky and who doesn’t have a bed to fall out of; as well as how they feel about it. It’s what I’m doing right now. This, and the societal influences that we mop up regardless of how rational or otherwise they may be, mean that we are constantly judging and being judged and have to make quick decisions as to where we must face to shift in a generally better direction from wherever we happen to be. When people panic buy we can very easily judge them within the same stroke as going out and joining them in the queue. If we’ve had a double jab it’s easy to criticise someone who refuses to, and for anyone who refuses them it is equally easy to think anyone wanting a vaccine must be daft. Or crazy. I have friends who have chosen to do exactly the opposite of what I have done and that doesn’t mean I love them any less it just means that in a blunt manner we both think the other has made the wrong choice; just don’t bring it up at the dining table because it might kill the mood.
I fear I am spot on about ‘Freedom Day’ being one giant misnomer and a huge ball ache to boot. If there is anyone still left pacing up and down waiting for the 19th July 2021 then they will be the last to finally let themselves come out blinking into a world that has been significantly rearranged, alas by people who have no idea how to rearrange and no idea what the new arrangement should look like anyway. Yes, they are easy to criticise, but I wouldn’t trust anyone, and I mean anyone, to know how to do it properly, so this leads me to the conclusion that no matter what happens next we are essentially fucked for the rest of time and our next collective rogering is not a case of whether but rather a case of when and how hard. As I write this I am sheltering inside from the hottest weather Northern Ireland has ever experienced, which is naturally glorious and ingloriously unnatural. I have read the papers and I have seen the news and in between the heatwave and the floods and the racism and the pandemic I can’t see quite why we would be looking forward to being tomorrow or some dick’s idea of being ‘free’. I’d rather not be dead, of course, but that’s hardly saying much. Tomorrow is just the 19th July 2021. Stay in bed or get on with what you think your life should be. It doesn’t matter much to me where you sit on this pandemic, but if you think it’s ‘Freedom Day’ tomorrow then I think you may be a fucking idiot.
G B Hewitt. 18.07.2021