In the morning, the world is as the world should be. The sun rises, as predicted for this part of England in early December, at around twenty past eight. Shortly after this, I get up, go through the usual morning routines, have a quick breakfast, wash up, and am at my computer by ten o’clock. The hours pass unexceptionably until lunchtime. And then I can no longer put off the trip to the shops.
Going to the shops is something I do as little as possible nowadays. Once I might have walked in and out of the nearby town centre several times in a day, without thinking twice: but that was when I could move from home to street seamlessly, with no jarring transition between here and there.
Now it’s different. Now, beyond the protective confines of our home lies a parallel universe, a place of outlandish rituals and dogmas, where grotesquely masked figures pass each other warily on the street or, in the supermarket, lurk out-of-touch behind symbolic plastic screens. Instead of muzak, as I follow the prescribed route between the aisles, disembodied voices warn of death and disease, order me to protect myself and others by maintaining distance and keeping my plague-ridden exhalations to myself.
“We’re in this together!” they proclaim.
In less than a year some malign necromancy has transformed the fearless social beings who once thronged shops and cafés in the run-up to each Christmas into an infestation of dangerous, outsized germs: or, if scrupulous examination of the facts has left you confident that “the novel coronavirus” is no more threatening to moderately healthy people than the nastier brands of flu, into the crazed adherents of some apocalyptic cult.
Since I have spent the past nine months scrupulously examining the facts, the eyes now peering out at me over the inadequate face-covering of that woman beating a hasty retreat behind the cans of tuna as I approach are, it seems to me, those of a poor, unhinged lunatic. But then, I am an unbeliever. I do not wear the mask of allegiance. Marked out by the lanyard around my neck, I do my shopping as quickly as possible, and hurry back to the embattled sanity of domestic life.
Yes, even here embattled: for as the onslaught of propaganda continues without remission, only complete divorce from the outside world can afford protection. Fortunately, since the arrival of the computer I am beyond the reach of programmed television, but in order to wake to the accompaniment of pleasant but undemanding music, I used to put up with the intermittent smattering of adverts on Classic FM. Now that government has become the media’s most lucrative source of income, however, this is no longer tolerable. Who wants to be roused abruptly from sleep by inane incantations of “Hands! Face! Place!”, sometimes repeated twice within five minutes ?
“It’s just an actor!” my husband pleads with me, as I hurl execrations, and worse, at the radio. But whether it comes from actors or health ministers, the brain-washing stinks. “Don’t you just long for a nice commercial about sofas?” a friend asks mournfully, as we discuss the incremental take-over of advertising slots by the government’s ‘nudge unit‘. Even bona fide adverts from the likes of Boots and the big supermarkets are made nauseous by mealy-mouthed assurances of “safe” shopping. The only kind of safe shopping I long for is shopping safe from constant reminders of The Virus: shopping unmasked and convivially mingling; the chance to browse unimpeded in bookshops, and linger socially-undistanced over cups of coffee in a crowded café.
Why this campaign of terror, you have to ask? Why, in the midst of a genuine pandemic, would anyone need to be reminded unceasingly that death is dogging their footsteps? That at any moment The Virus, wafted abroad by some super-spreader passed fleetingly in the street, might be insinuating itself into one’s body – or, worse, that we ourselves, infected but unaffected, might be silently contaminating a loved-one?
The short answer is, they wouldn’t. In a genuine pandemic, this constant mental battering would be superfluous. If the Black Death were raging outside my door, government would know full well that they didn’t have to fork out millions to convince me to stay inside; more likely, they would have to pay me to leave the house.
Yet this government has bought the mass media lock, stock and barrel, at vast expense, with the sole purpose, it seems, of hammering home a message of impending doom. Instead of calming our fears with facts and rational arguments, they have seen fit to flood the airwaves with slogans calculated to maintain panic; with disingenuous appeals to the emotions; with out-of-context death counts, wilful obfuscation of the difference between cases and infections, a criminally dodgy PCR test and graphs and computer models (rubbish in, rubbish out) carefully selected to emphasise the worst possible eventualities.
And not content to cow us into submission with a constant diet of skewed and incomplete information, they have unleashed the army’s 77 Brigade to troll social media exchanges and snuff out any lingering dissent – or, as the government prefer to call it, “misinformation“. The aim can only be to induce maximum public terror in the face of a virus which, without all this deceptive ballyhoo, would hardly have been noticed by the population at large.
Why are they doing this ? Surely, by now, they must be aware that increasing numbers of highly esteemed and experienced scientists contest policies which are killing vastly more people than they are saving, and which will go on killing well into the future!
True, non-scientists could get lost in all the reams of conflicting information churned out since we were first put on terror alert back in February and March, but one question is both fundamental and easily answered: are excess mortality figures for this year significantly above average? Only a huge and sustained divergence from the norm would indicate the presence of a new disease deadly enough to justify the extraordinary measures the government have taken.
The Euromomo charts for the UK show no such anomaly. In Northern Ireland there has never been any substantial increase in deaths overall. In Wales, too, mortality has hardly diverged from the normal range. Scotland had a well-above-average peak in the spring, but since then has remained almost entirely within the bounds of normality. Even populous England, despite a death rate which soared sharply to a great height in March before falling equally sharply back by the middle of June, has spent most of the year chugging along below the “substantial increase” line, with the usual increase as winter approaches. A further chart at Covid-19 in Proportion? shows that
Levels of mortality in 2019/2020 are very similar to those suffered in 1999/2000
Definitely not the Black Death, then, nor even the 1918 influenza. In fact, one of the world’s premier epidemiologists, John Ioannidis, has long been assuring us that the infection fatality rate of Covid-19 is comparable with that of a bad flu. His early estimate, in March, of a case fatality rate in the general population of between 0.05% and 1.0%, as indicated by the outbreak on the cruise ship Diamond Princess – a conclusion for which the eminent professor was, hilariously, censored by the non-scientists at YouTube.
Yet now we are being told that only mass vaccination against this fairly run-of-the-mill virus will allow us to return to any semblance of normal life. By special dispensation, millions of doses of insufficiently tested vaccine are already in the pipeline, with a guarantee of no come-back for Big Pharma or for doctors turning a blind eye to the precept “First to do no harm”, should those treated be hit with damaging repercussions on their health or, indeed, on life itself.
We are told that we should all accept the suspect panacea regardless, in order to beat “this dreadful virus”: it’s quite safe – honest, you’ve got my word for it, says Matt Hancock. Yet, side-effects apart, there is no assurance that the Pfizer vaccine, received with jubilation on 8th December by its first grateful recipient, will be effective in preventing either the disease or its transmission: and even if it does turn out to offer initial protection, this may last for as little as three months, so presumably regular repeat injections will be required.
What? Repeat injections! Are the young and healthy facing a lifetime of booster shots against a disease that is dangerous almost exclusively to the old and sick ? And if this isn’t crazy enough, we are being told that, even while being turned into human pin-cushions, we will probably need to go on wearing masks and holding our friends and family at arm’s length well into the future: a future, it is hinted, of health passports and routine mass surveillance, if we wish to travel on public transport or generally engage in life beyond our doorstep.
This, it seems, will be the New Normal – but not to worry! After all, you’re already masking up automatically when you leave the house, aren’t you, and following the one-way footsteps on the pavement as a matter of course? And if it becomes too much of a nuisance to carry your proof of vaccination around with you, well, we should soon be able to offer you the trouble-free alternative of an implanted microchip, to cover all eventualities: health; finance; your social credit score …
Sometimes I think it would be better to be one of the masked zombies. Trusting, obedient, they live in a world which, though threatening, they understand and accept. It is real to them. They know, unquestioningly, that a dreadful plague has been visited upon us, a plague which threatens to wipe out the species: and they know that if they wear their masks faithfully, wash their hands a thousand times a day and steer clear of other human beings, they will be doing their bit to save the nation, and, eventually, be granted the supreme unction of a vaccine; after which, they believe, everything will go back to normal – perhaps with a few more bicycle lanes and wind farms, and somewhat fewer jobs – but hey! – what will that matter, when the nice, compassionate government is promising us all a Universal Basic Income?
For the rest of us, it’s not so simple. The rest of us must live in a world where our own perceptions are remorselessly challenged by the prevailing lie. Guided by rational thought processes and the evidence, we know that we are at no more risk from Covid-19 this year than we were in previous years from one of the more aggressive strains of influenza, but as soon as we venture into the outside world, everything contradicts our inner reality: and though we may not participate actively in the maskerade, we are condemned to a perpetual state of cognitive dissonance, compelled to acquiesce silently in the grand illusion being played out all around us, under the direction of the government.
And to what end ?
If it were ever possible to put the enormities which have taken place since last March down to mere blundering, it certainly is not now. The argument that the government has simply blundered, and is now trying to save face by digging itself in deeper does not wash. Nor does the line about saving the NHS. The NHS has regularly survived winter flu seasons which saw beds lined up in corridors and staff rushed off their feet.
Besides, the Nightingale hospitals were quickly whisked into existence: and if the amount of money poured by the government into fear porn and the purchase of dud PCR tests and hastily concocted vaccines had been diverted into more beds, plus better pay for nurses and other non-administrative staff, the lesson might at last have been learned, and future winters made less chaotic.
It was obvious from the start to anyone with a basic education who bothered to check the facts that closing down the economy would be more damaging to life and limb than any virus. Why was this not also obvious to a prime minister with a PPE degree from Oxford, who is surrounded by whole cohorts of colleagues and advisers armed with equally prestigious qualifications?
Even granting an initial surge of panic when faced with hysterical predictions from the Imperial College fortune-telling team, it would have been possible to withdraw in fairly good order after the first lockdown, when many scientists were already saying that the danger had been exaggerated, that the virus was now endemic, and widespread natural immunity was in sight.
Why didn’t our government seize the opportunity, in June, to give themselves a pat on the back, announce that the lockdown had worked, and ease us all back into rationality via an interval of sensible voluntary precautions, as practised in Sweden?
Given a modification of the propaganda, the country would have believed them. When adroitly handled by the Behavioural Insights Team the country, it appears, will believe anything.
Why, then, insist on sticking to the advice of SAGE, and continuing to give credence to the serially failed speculations of Neil Ferguson, rather than attending to the more balanced suggestions offered by Carl Heneghan and Sunetra Gupta?
Instead, the government chose to fan the flames of fear with an intensification of propaganda and orders to mask up, extending the reign of unjustified terror into the autumn, when the annual onset of respiratory diseases began to fill up hospital beds, and allowed the death counts and lockdowns to resume. One by one, those small businesses which survived the first onslaught are giving up the ghost, and it seems that our rulers will not rest content until every last man, woman and child in Britain has been thrown into the linked arms of corporate and state dependency.
What price conspiracy “theories” now ? What we are dealing with are facts.
As countries throughout the world commit consensual suicide to a rousing chorus of “Build Back Better!”, what makes more sense? To shake the head in puzzlement, that so many nations, with one accord, should not only have made exactly the same mistakes earlier this year, but are now insisting, in unison, on entrenching the evils that have been unleashed ?
Or to contemplate the possibility that a network of powerful supranational agencies – banks, corporations, NGOs – have for some time been collaborating to direct the course of world events through placemen and beneficiaries in local and national governments and their attendant bureaucracies, and that “the novel coronavirus” is being used to achieve the final push into an era of artfully camouflaged “global governance”: an era where policies devised by centralised, unelected committees are handed down to elected heads of state in the shells of what were once independent nations, and passed on by them to regional mayors and administrators for implementation and enforcement.
I caught the Asian flu in 1957. So did my mother: the only time I ever knew her to take a couple of days off work. The infection swept through the country, and tens of thousands died. In 1968 the Hong Kong flu passed me by, but once again the death toll was in the tens of thousands.
On neither occasion was it considered necessary to destroy millions of lives and livelihoods by closing the country down, nor was any attempt made to terrorise its inhabitants. Covid-19 is no more lethal than either of those previous infections – less so, unless you actually believe that all those currently described as dying “with Covid”, or dying within 28 days of testing positive, actually died from Covid. Never before have such destructive policies been inflicted on the nation in a futile attempt to wipe out a virus. Never before, outside war time, has the population of the UK been subjected to such outrageous assault and battery by a government propaganda machine.
Draw what conclusion you will. I’m off to feed the ducks. They don’t do anti-social distancing, and they don’t wear masks.