A glimmer in the gloom

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass

Nearly half the people in this country are now going about their daily lives under either Tier Two or Tier Three Coronovirus restrictions. Apart from those in Scotland of course, who have five whole Tiers to get their heads around. Which makes sense, I suppose, when you consider that the region includes some of our most populous cities – Glasgow, Edinburgh etc, and some of our most remote – Orkney, the Shetlands, the Highlands. Places where the birds outnumber the humans considerably are unlikely to be hotbeds of community coronavirus transmission. Wales, too, has got its own rules, some of which are bizarre when it comes to working out which goods count as essential. The list seems to have been compiled by someone who has never done any actual, you know, shopping, in their life. I understand that the point was to stop supermarkets being able to sell goods that independent shops which have had to close, can’t, but it makes no sense to be able to buy enough alcohol to get steaming drunk, but not the aspirin to cope with the hangover afterwards.

Still, the idea, I suppose, is that if we stick to the rules, then we might be able to relax a little by Christmas, and be able to get two sets of grandparents, or siblings gathered around the turkey and the Queen’s Speech on December 25th. Virulent viruses are, of course, notoriously reluctant to come out to play at Christmas. Said no virologist or medical expert anywhere, ever.

If being in a big family group for two days of the year is important to you then it is important to you and the rule of six might seem grossly unfair. However, in the great scheme of things, is it so bad? There are a lot more things to get worked up about in my opinion. The effect of the pandemic on the economy is only just being felt. Sure, there seems to be a V shaped recovery in many areas, construction included, but construction doesn’t exit in a vacuum, it forms part of the wider economy and, in true chaos theory fashion, the huge job losses in the entertainment, hospitality and events industries – and those are just the headline ones – will have a knock-on effect on all the other sectors. If you’ve lost your job in one of those industries, the chances are that you are not going to be rushing out to get that new extension built. Or that bedroom redecorated or that garden relandscaped.

Time to look at something more positive though. The pandemic has brought out the best in a lot of areas. Look at the huge number of businesses offering to provide school meals for children during half-term holidays. Some of those are jumping on the virtue-signalling bandwagon, but a great many more are doing what they believe to be right and proper, despite the fact that they probably need all the help they themselves can get.

Look at the efforts that merchants and manufacturers went to throughout the initial lockdown, making PPE and sanitiser, increasing their charity donations, using their skills to help others. We had merchants using their distribution skills to get food to those who needed it, we had merchants nd manufacturers donating PPE and running charity drives to raise finds to help support the NHS workers with PPE and hot meals at the height of the pandemic. And it’s continued because it will need to. Tippers and EH Smith, for example, joining with other construction companies to support a local homeless charity is just the tip of the charitable iceberg in this industry.

Good people, doing good things for others. When it all starts to feel as though we are heading off to hell in the proverbial handcart, it’s heartening to see those that are doing their bit to slow that handcart down.


About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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