“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
George Orwell – “1984”
Here it is, as promised a few days ago.
I am embarrassed to admit that I lived for many years, and )read many dystopian novels, without realising the word existed. However, I’m not so embarrassed that I won’t use the fact to start a blog post. That sort of blind-spot, I’m afraid, is the mark of a self-educated man. Looking on the bright side, though I lack a degree, I also lack the debt that goes with it in the modern world. Given the choice of being debt free or knowing the word ‘dystopian’ I’ll settle for ignorance.
However, after learning about it a few years ago I find it’s a useful word for our current circumstances.
During the recent lockdown we mainly behaved like sheep and obeyed the instructions of the government. It was quite disturbing, but far preferable to the prospect of the NHS being overwhelmed.
Once the panic buying had subsided, I felt quite relaxed. The roads, when I had to use them, were empty, and the air quality improved.
Some police forces were, to be fair, a little too keen to use the extra powers that Government gave them, and supermarkets have seemed a little too keen on issuing instructions, particularly as their staff are some of the worst offenders when it comes to ignoring social distancing. Other police forces, such as Durham and Leicestershire, seemed unwilling to use their powers (see remarks on Dominic Cummings and Sir Petrer Soulsby below).
Shops have also used the virus as an excuse for refusing cash. They have wanted to go to a cashless society for a long time now, as cash handling incurs costs and security problems. The Government also wants to move away from cash as it wants to know all about your money so that only rich people with accountants are able to avoid paying tax. The “cash job” of the working man will no longer be an option.
Of course, when restrictions were relaxed, people reacted by flocking to the beach, holding raves and street parties, and even by rioting, in an exhibition of selfishness of staggering proportions.
Even before that, a number of high profile figures had been caught breaching regulations, and though several did the decent thing and resigned, some didn’t. It was a shame to see a number of scientists resigning for giving way to human weakness, particularly at a time when we needed scientific guidance. It was also a shame to see that a number of politicians, when caught out, didn’t resign. I include Dominic Cummings in this, despite him not being elected, and Sir Peter Soulsby, the Mayor of Leicester.
As far as my mental journey goes, I have lost the ability to mix with people. Strangers are no longer just friends I haven’t met, they are potential sources of infection. Even friends I have met are a potential source of infection.
The world has been spoilt and I may never feel the same about it again.
Whilst reading for this post (not that you would guess any scholarship actually goes into it), I enjoyed this article immensely. Especially Number 5.