Something for the Weekend: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Xmas

In the latest of his weekly columns, Ian Morris gives his take on anti-vaxxers, the Government guidance for Christmas and his family’s plans for the festive season.

They say a week is a long time in politics but in a pandemic, it can feel indeterminately long. This week has been a  rare one, in that there was more hope than despair. Three vaccines look promising in clinical trials and are now being reviewed by the MHRA to see if they will give them a licence. 

Sadly, of course, this triggered the Anti-Vax posters online and this is never good for my blood pressure. The amount of deliberate misinformation re-posted as fact is beyond ridiculous: the ‘you know what is in a vaccine’ posts where people list all sorts of spurious ingredients to frighten the bemused. You know that stuff you put on your chips? Perhaps you wouldn’t be so quick to do it if you knew it was made out of rotted malt and it’s a corrosive acid you know. And the white stuff on your chips? They use the same stuff that’s in mustard gas to make it, you know.

All perfectly true, but just saying ‘salt and vinegar’ doesn’t quite sound so sinister, does it? 

If all goes well and the massive logistical challenges to vaccinate most of the population are overcome, then we could have a normal summer next year. Those of you that follow my ramblings will know my sadness at the loss of this year’s blind cricket season but hope now dawns that next year I may get to turn my arm again. More good news was that the gym opens again next Wednesday, and the lockdown this time has been short enough that I haven’t turned into a melted wheelie bin.

Alongside all this good news though, was the announcement of the Christmas relaxation of rules which found me shaking my head. For five days (23rd-27th December) the rule of six will be waived and you can meet with three  households in groups of no more than 600 – OK, that last number is a lie but when I heard about this I stopped listening.

There seems to be a quaint feeling that, like in WW1, the virus is going to call a bit of a truce over Christmas and we can kick a football about with it, share a smoke and a bar of chocolate perhaps, before we climb back into our respective trenches and resume the war.  

Some argued that if the Government hadn’t done this then people would have simply ignored the rules and met anyway. This is complete dribble. I think the way the guidance on Covid has worked so far is as follows:

  • The sensible and compliant follow the rules – the vast majority 
  • Some bend or inadvertently break the rules – significant minority 
  • The selfish and feckless ignore the rules – small minority. 

By telling people its ok to have this Christmas truce the Government is effectively inviting the compliant to break the rules because it will be ok for Christmas. It won’t be ok! It will increase the infection rate and risk another bloody lockdown in January. If we kept the rules the same then yes, the feckless would still be feckless and perhaps more would be rule-benders  – such as, ‘Well as there are seven of us, I am sure it will be fine’ – but the vast majority would stay home. 

Deep breath.

But I am still hopeful. We had the conversation with the Parents-in-Law, and everyone knows that Christmas logistics is an adrenalin sport in normal years. Our nuclear family of four could meet with them and with my brother-in-law and his daughter…but their view was, ‘Why would we risk it?’  

On a number of online forums I am part of this seems to be the consensus view: just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. So we have agreed to take the dogs for a socially-distanced walk on Boxing Day, and I will barbeque a  turkey this summer – once we are all vaccinated – and truly celebrate. 

Something for the Weekend will be back next Friday, tackling national issues from a local perspective. In the meantime, you can check out all of Ian’s writing for S&C, here, along with past editions of the Pompey Politics Podcast.

Image by Wilfried Pohnke from Pixabay.

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