Huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ but no minglin’… and no testin’

Done because we were too menny

I know these are unprecedented times. I know it’s hard trying to find a way through all the mess that seems to be the ‘new normal’. I know how irritating it is when people use the phrase ‘new normal’. But really, does the government have to make it so obvious that they are making it up as they go along? Lord knows I’m a big fan of ‘winging it’ but experience has taught me that the best way to be able to wing it is to do your homework and preparation.

This, it appears, is not something that this particular government seems to be very adept at. Boris’s whiffling, bumbling flying-by-the-seat-of-his-pants persona is getting a little tiresome. I think much of the goodwill he gained by nearly dying of coronavirus has been squandered by the basket case that is the testing regime for Covid-19, the stay-in-but-go-out hokey-cokey and pretty much anything that Dominic Cummings says.

The infection rate for Covid-19 is now rising, and, as a result, we cannot meet up with anyone if to do so would take us above the magic 6. But even this isn’t straightforward. I can meet with as many people as I like as long as we all bring our own shotgun and take aim at a few grouse because a shooting party will count as ‘organised team sport’. Policing minister Kit Malthouse had to cancel his own child’s birthday party next week and, as a result, is determined that we should all dob our friends and neighbours in if they refuse to do likewise. Bumping into friends on your way to the park and having a quick socially distanced chat is OK though….oh, no, wait a minute, according to the Home Secretary this morning that’s illegal. I’ve a mental image of harrassed parents in parks grabbing their toddlers and bundling them away from groups of other children: “No, no Jimmy, You mustn’t play with those children. They are TOO MANY.”

Why are we getting this increasing infection rate? It’s probably a combination of a number of things: the return from summer holidays – whether abroad or here, the mixing and mingling in pubs and restaurants as part of the government’s own scheme, people getting blase about social distancing, a mutation in the virus so it is now affecting different parts of the population, or simply an increase in the amount of testing that is happening.

Of course the government isn’t just messing up the Covid campaign; I can’t even bring myself to think about the complete dog’s dinner that the Brexit/EU Withdrawal Agreement-that-now-isn’t-agreed-at-all has turned into. The agreement that 21 MPs were sacked because they wouldn’t vote with the government that has now decided that it’s not what it wanted after all.

Maybe if we hadn’t had the pandemic, this would all have been sorted out by now. And maybe not. I’ve rather lost confidence in any of them to be able t organise the proverbial in a brewery. Which, of course, is now illegal. Unless you’ve brought your own gun and grouse.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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