Monday, 23 November 2020

Covid Winter Plan Week 1: None of this Makes Sense

 The first thing I saw on Twitter regarding the Covid Winter Plan (because everything has to have a brand these days, including pandemic responses, somewhere the Grim Reaper is opening an ad firm) is a Tory saying that football fans will be allowed back to watch live games. A capacity of about 4000 limit. 

I'm going to assume this is a joke. Surely not even the Tories are this stupid.

So we're going back to the same three tier system as before (4 if you live in Bristol, where the mayor invented a 'tier one and a half'). I despair; that system didn't work before. It was filled with inconsistencies and proved confusing. Ultimately it proved unsuccessful which is why we are here, looking forward to a return to the same mess. 

Johnson says more places will fall in higher Tiers which will be tougher. I can't really understand how there can be more than 2 grades: either you're in lockdown or you aren't - but with appropriate social distancing and not opening the places that prove a vector, like pubs. But no, the doors will be flung open once again.

Essentially these are the rules:

a. In tier 1, the government will reinforce the importance of working from home wherever possible.

b. In tier 2, pubs and bars must close unless they are serving substantial meals (like a full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal), along with accompanying drinks.

c. In tier 3, all hospitality will close except for delivery, takeaway and drive-through; hotels and other accommodation providers must close (except for specific exemptions, including people staying for work purposes or where they cannot return home); and indoor entertainment venues must also close.

Also the Rule of Six is a thing, again. Utterly ridiculous, it made no sense before, it's not suddenly going to work now is it!

So in tier 2 pubs will just get round restrictions by serving 'substantial' meals (ie more than just a bag of crisps and 10 pints of lager). What a joke. It's good, then, that Covid is stopped by food. Right?

All this just to appease the economy. They pretend it's because they care about people's well being, but we know they don't. One look at the last ten years is enough to prove otherwise.

The following modifications also exist:

a. The 10pm closing time for hospitality has been modified to last orders at 10pm and closing time at 11pm. This allows customers to depart gradually and provides greater flexibility.

b. In tiers 1 and 2, spectator sport and business events can now resume inside and outside with tight capacity limits and social distancing, providing more consistency with indoor performances in theatres and concert halls.

c. The government is expanding eligibility of ‘support bubbles’[footnote 2]. This will help mitigate the impacts of the restrictions on parents of children aged under 1 (or under 5, but with a disability that necessitates continuous care) and for those households where a single adult cares for someone with a serious disability.

How on earth does this make any sense? They believe this is going to help make the conditions safe for a more open Christmas, but it won't. The disease is still prevalent and still dangerous and people are still asymptomatic. It may ease the burden on the NHS (which is really all the vaccine can do at this point since it's not going to be widely available until Spring).

The hospitality industry gets its way through a series of confusing conditions that don't do anything to stop the virus. People will of course still pile in and then pile out come closing time, even if it's an hour later. People won't depart gradually, they'll stay until chucking out time as they always do.

How mass events like sport and entertainment can now be deemed safe off the back of this second vast wave is beyond me. 

NO one wants this situation to continue, except, it seems, the Tories who are doing their damnedest to ensure it does.

You can read the rules here.

Wet Weekender 2: Does Covid Know It's Christmas?

The shitlord in number 10 is going to (or has given depending on when this goes out) another of his welcome thought shares, informing us of the conditions of Christmas under Covid. Sing No-sana!

Well now, who among can claim surprise at any of this. What is interesting though is that is strips bear the festive facade, revealing just how infantilised we are by consumerism (by which I mean capitalism) at this time. Even the Mirror is calling Boris 'the Grinch'! Gods, I'm certainly no apologist for the wretch, but this isn't journalism, it's just childishness. Covid doesn't care about Christmas, Grinches, or Boris. It cares about spreading. If dealing with that means moderating our behaviour, within reason, then yes, it's necessary. It's always been necessary, and had our response been, well, responsible, and coherent. Had we followed global best practice things could well have been different. 

So yes, in a way, Boris is the Grinch. But not in some Christmas cartoon manner. Not in this facile representation, that always accompanies this time of year when we collectively loose our minds before shiny baubles and consumer debt, but in the manner of arrogance and corruption. In fact Christmas was stolen late summer when, in the name of the economy, he sold students and schoolkids down the river, and threw open the doors to the nation's booze industry.

Now he faces the latest mad dog Tory sect, the Covid Recovery Group. The irony that these filth claim to care about people's wellbeing when they've spent the last decade curtailing life chances and cutting support for people whose wellbeing was already compromised. They are, as a party, antithetical to wellbeing. This is Parliament giving actual representation to fringe conspiracy voices in our society. The rightward drift continues, unabated. While we are not a fascist society, these are the stepping stones necessary. The normalisation of this fringe thinking, masquerading as compassion. If they really cared they would have handled this situation better from day 1, possibly preventing the need for the current mess we are in. Now they claim they want science to prove the case, but they have already stepped outside the bounds of science and so aren't going to be persuaded. Fortunately their number isn't likely to influence any vote on the matter.

None of this is good though. We can't have a week or two off from the virus, like the school holidays. Viruses don't play by our rules of sentimentality. Sadly no one seems to want to explain this to people and so it will be too late, being that lone voice in the wilderness. Fiddling while Rome coughs.

What abtou the wellbeing of the health workers having to dress in bin liners in lieu of actual ppe? Well we can clap, I suppose.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Wet Weekender 1

Wet weekender indeed. I think what sums up this lockdown for me is the real sense that we are locked down: there's nowhere I can go and noone I can really talk to. This is oppressive. The weather doesn't help; a heavy damp grey blanket. One of the, few, blessings of early night time is that it draws a hasty curtain onto a grey day. Most people round here associate though having kids and sharing that at the school gates, or, it seems, walking the dog. I have and want neither.

Government inflicted rules are always problematic. This is not helped by the slave and corruption on display, but that's why it's problematic: because those elements are unavoidable. The pandemic is not in our hand. The working class isn't even allowed ownership of that which is, for now, slowly killing us. Make no mistake it's affects the poorest the hardest, if only indirectly. Within that cohort there are intersections of even greater disadvantage; we know that people of colour are particularly affected. Vulnerable people in care homes. Those dependent on not being evicted as well. I could go on (and will for a couple more paragraphs, then I'll spellcheck and press 'Publish').

Of course, if we were rich we could ride it out playing golf on pristine pastures where the working class are only fit for green keeping and forelock tugging. Or complaining about how the elections was stolen from us (They stole it precioussss!). Meanwhile Mr Bezos is now the first human (and that's up for debate, he looks like a robot wearing human synthetic skin) worth two hundred billion. I had to write that out instead of numbers because it's that mind boggling. Just think of the good that worth could do for the species. Instead it's squandered in such a limited way. How many helicopters does one personoid need for god's sake?

My day involves clicking on the daily case notification, seeing how many are newly infected and how many have died, and where. It's became I thing I do. I can't remember not doing it. I don't even really feel it, though if the number's are excessively high I will. I can barely even remember the halcyon days of single digit infections. That seems a lifetime ago; a better time. Even then I was worried about travelling. It was only when everything started going way south that I ventured out. Doesn't really make much sense does it. 

Somewhere on the page there will be a picture of Trump sat looking sour, no doubt enraged at some minor slight. That has never not been there either. It's the wallpaper of the day.

Fortunately, although it's still early days, it does seem that the second wave is peaking or, hopefully, passed the peak. The death rate is lower this time around. The question is: will there be a third wave, or, perhaps more importantly, a third lockdown? Will this one continue, albeit with a brief sentimental yet ill-advised Christmas break? That is my feeling. I cannot see much re opening if we're to manage the virus without a nationwide vaccine programme, and that isn't going to happen before Christmas. 

I imagine the Queen's speech will just be footage of her and that vile zombie husband of hers getting the Royal Jab. A compliant nation approves, bowing and scraping, waving its plastic flags and doing with out. "We're 'appy to go without, it's what we did in the war!". Gawd bless 'em! 

Friday, 20 November 2020

Idiots On Parade 5: Half Time, Keep The Oranges

So we're two weeks into this current lockdown and today the weather has been miserable. Which you would think would make the lockdown better in that if we weren't locked down we'd still be sat in doors because it's pouring down. I sincerely hope this pattern of weather changes soon and for a good long while because it's bloody depressing not even being able to enjoy a walk.

This experience is full of incongruities and they do not make things easier at all. I go for a walk in the evening, after dinner. A very pleasant experience to end the day (when it's not pouring down), but with everything shut it's somewhat eerie. Except for the places that aren't locked down, like the convenience store, or the chip shop!?! It is the most incongruous sight to see people queuing up (outside as they do ensure customers socially distance, tbf). Any other time and I wouldn't bat an eyelid. Now, and the site of people buying takeaway food during a pandemic is oddly unsettling. Just seems unhygienic.

There are builders and tradesmen out a plenty during the day. You wouldn't think we were in a lockdown with the amount of building work people are having done. I guess some things you just can't put off. On top of that, houses are being bought and sold which really spins me out. The estate agents (yes, that's plural) are open. The charity shop isn't. One of the cafes (yes that's plural) is sort of open, though in practice I don't see a difference and neither would covid, but the community cafe isn't. The other takeaway (again...plural) is open and to get your goods you sit and wait inside. Makes sense.

None of this does. I'm not opposed to it out of necessity, but in a microcosm it's a mess of apparent contradictions. Not helped by those that still aren't wearing masks. What can you do, start an argument? Get punched in the face? No thanks. There's a kid that works in the convenience store who wears a mask, except he never actually wears it properly, it just cradles his chin like it's an ill fitting pair of trousers edging closer to your shoes. I'm so tempted to say something, but what's the point? If you don't to wear it, don't wear it! This half way house just looks slovenly. I can't believe how it makes me feel but when I see people like that, or the van full of builders who were behind me in the queue at Tesco, all without masks, I start to get angry! This is not good!

I shall come away from all this a tired and petty old soul. I'm hidebound in many ways, but rules are important for the way I perceive the world. Structure and routine are important to neuro diverse people such as myself. When those are upset it is very difficult.

And so here we are. Another two weeks of this twilight zone. Then what? I imagine another two weeks after that. "I have no choice" he will say, from his luxury apartment, privilege sparing him the reality of life in lockdown's increasing misery. They have conceded the fight, instead now hoping a vaccine will come along and fix things. Meanwhile everyone will be allowed a brief 'covid holiday' so they can spread the virus, I mean visit family, over Christmas. A bit like the football match in no man's land during the war. Except not, because Covid doesn't understand the offside rule and doesn't care that you do. So that'll be lockdown the third in January until April at least, when the scienticians are saying we'll be offered the vaccine en masse. Before then the only people that will get it will the vulnerable, ostensibly to ease the burden on the NHS. The rest of us will still face restrictions and social distancing, and possibly endless, dreamy, dreary, lockdown. All courtesy of the most incompetent sleazy government I

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Idiots On Parade 4: More Labour Stupidity

On one hand, I don't want to talk about Labour again. This is because they are irrelevant and redeemable. However even if they had all their ducks in a row and weren't hobbled by this antisemitism crisis (which is impossible, this was inevitable) I would still reject them. Labour's history is too closely aligned with capital. This isn't to say they have never done positive things (the NHS!), but those things are still dependent on capitalism and the continued support of the politicians. Whatever Westminster giveth, it can so easily taketh awayeth (the NHS!). This is because these things, under capitalism, aren't ours. The NHS doesn't belong to the community, certainly not the frontline workers that have been abused throughout this crisis. When conditions permit (when crises arise) the NHS and the like will face the chop. 

Furthermore, fighting for the Labour party, while sometimes necessary, as I believe it was last year, is a hiding to nowhere. This is the false dawn of electoralism. It's happening right now in the US. The trap is like this: vote for Biden knowing he sucks because you're really voting out a maniac. Then, when Biden wins, start wasting time planning for the next election. This detracts from valuable community and grassroots work. It's being put forward even now, plan for 2022 to get the Republicans out of the Senate, and so the cycle goes. The problem isn't wanting to get scumbags and dangerous narcissists out of power, it's that once you get into this trap it never ends. It should never have started. Anyway, here we are. What do we do?

Well we don't support Starmer. That is point the first. I read the article in the Guardian talking about Corbyn with a handful of his constituents (the Guardian really is shit and John Harris is a vicious turd), you can be sure the people they polled won't ever get to talk to Starmer. He won't represent, more likely these people will get booted out of the party for talking about the Forbidden Stuff! 

The bottom line is that Corbyn is obviously a popular constituency MP. He has a lot of respect. He's been there for decades. Starmer on the other hand was locking up kids for stealing some water and only became an MP in 2015. Suddenly he's the new hotness. That says it all really; Labour, in their rightward drift, are more interested in appeasing capital. Now they can't even get kicking Corbyn out of their party right. In so doing he may well have a case for being mistreated. He has the whip removed from him by the New Guy. They are provoking him, wanting him to seal his own fate. It's ugly stuff.

But like I said, it's their problem. I don't support them. Doesn't mean I don't have an opinion on how they're happy to smear a left winger.


Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Idiots On Parade 3: Walk Away

It will never end. A bit like Covid, though I hope not.

I speak of the antisemitism affair that has set fire to the Labour party. Maybe when the sun finally dies and the last vestiges of humanity float off into trans spectral space in their thought yachts, one of the Eloi will recollect the billions of years old drama and say "maybe Jeremy wasn't such a bad guy."

Look I get it. He has associated with people of questionable character. That's true of any politician - especially the Tories who sell guns and death around the world and shakes hands with horrific human beings. But that doesn't mean he hates Jews and engages in racism! The cognitive dissonance required to entertain that notion is frankly painful. But we live in the post factual world; where ideology wins. Jeremy is a racist because of course he is. Just like when people say, now, "at least Corbyn isn't in charge" when faced with the facts of our failed Tory response to a pandemic they themselves planned for.

There really isn't any point engaging anymore. Those that bash Jeremy will never stop. Sadly Labour has given in to these people. A minority within the Jewish community (I hope) who have the ear of the establishment, given a platform in the media, which is all to happy to hear how awful Corbyn is. Labour has hobbled itself. It's lame duck new leader is an inexperienced appeaser who has allowed the bullies to dictate how things should be. 

So they have reinstated Corbyn. This was only ever going to go one of two ways: either you kick him out permanently despite that he said nothing false defamatory or hurtful (unless you're looking for hurt) or you let him back in which just makes you look weak. As a consequence, and as we are now seeing, all the usual suspects kick up a stink. The idea that, if Labour accepts Corbyn (elected by his constituency, the more important standard), it is now an unsafe place for Jews is hysterical nonsense. But suspending him was just a sop which is why I call Starmer and inexperienced appeaser. 

Remember he's only been an MP five minutes. The guy is useless; so far his 'opposition' the Tories is just to fown at the utter incompetence of the PM. That's not difficult; Johnson makes it easy. But that isn't a substitute for being a good leader and having good policies. He is and has neither.

Anyway what do I care. People are better off out of Labour. They have always been a party of capital; good cop to the Tories' bad cop. Each are two sides of British capital representing nothing truly revolutionary. to capitulate to them is to engage in pointless electoralism and to devalue grassroots work. I still maintain that voting Johnson out was the best strategy last year given how damaging he has proven to be. But that's not an endorsement of Corbyn. 

The only change can come from us and the only venue for that is our streets and communities, not the talking shops where the Labour leaders will ban people for disagreeing with them in their 'broad church'.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Idiots On Parade 2: We Are No Longer United, Jack.

This lockdown is the worst of all possible worlds. It's happening at the worst time of year and has none of the novelty or even camaraderie of Lockdown 1, as well as, dare I say, the novelty. On top of that it isn't secure either. Plenty of things are open, just none of the things that I'm interested in other than the essentials. 

The local charity shop had to close again, along with the community cafe (unable to do takeout I guess). Meanwhile the estate agents, both of them (because one isn't enough I guess), are open. Perhaps they have particular arrangements or dispensation, but it makes no sense to me. The chip shop is open, serving people at the door. The other cafe is open but again no indoor seating, though it makes little difference as it's still full of customers. The other other cafe, properly a restaurant, is sort of open. It makes me sad: I don't know the owners, and they've only just opened which is why I feel so. They seem to be trying their best, but they aren't suited to it. I have no idea if they are OK, it would be sad to see their dream get Corona crushed.

I am curious, they operate in the morning selling, presumably, take out breakfasty stuff. I can't help thinking they'd be better off not spending the money running the business which, as far as I can see, can't be serving many people. Instead just take government furlough money. But I don't know how the scheme works, whether it's one or the other. I can't worry about other people's businesses, but to have your business start fresh at this time...that's just shitty luck. Not that capitalism cares. Dishy Rishy don't care; he'll be fine in his mansion with his millions.

We're almost two weeks into this Lockdown and I'm already tired. I expect you are too. It's just such a mess. I don't see much evidence things have improved. I hope I'm wrong, but the infection rates appear to be the same, around 20,000 a day, I don't hold out much for things improving when our four weeks are up - the government will have to continue the lockdown. Bad news for those believing they can hug their granny for Christmas, as the Daily Fail is recklessly promising off the back of a vaccine that has yet to be made. There's no chance I can see it happening in time for Xmas hugs.

I could be wrong, and if I am I'm certainly not going to complain!

I think it's clear at this point our government has completely lost the plot. Utterly unravelling and now pinning it's hopes on a vaccine saviour. If they get lucky, we all win, but the damage has been done. A year of disastrous mismanagement combined with utterly radiant transparent corruption. They don't care. Sadly their supporters don't care either; the ideology trumps everything. Children starving, thousands dead, but all that matters is you vote true blue Tory. It's tribal at this point.

I think we are witnessing a fundamental shift in society. Perhaps it began earlier, perhaps it began with Brexit. I don't think there's any turning back from this, not now. I wouldn't say we're headed for civil war, but god knows. Last year who would have said we're headed for pandemic! A culture war perhaps; something that will fundamentally shift the very landscape of the country. Maybe even the collapse of the union. We are no longer united, jack. It will take decades to play out, perhaps transcending my lifetime. I will be but a stone amid passing currents in a river of change. Perhaps a reed, if I'm lucky. Bendy with it. However climate change, like Brexit, will exacerbate things. 

What a time to be alive

Covid Winter Plan Week 1: None of this Makes Sense

 The first thing I saw on Twitter regarding the Covid Winter Plan (because everything has to have a brand these days, including pandemic res...