December 31st, 2019 was full of hope for millions of people as they looked back on what may have been a great or possibly shit year and looked excitedly forward to the new year that lay ahead. The usual new year resolutions such as “I will start that diet” or “I will join that gym” likely littered the minds of many. But along with the usual cliche’s there was the smell of optimism in the air as people promised themselves new beginnings.
I very much doubt anyone would have imagined that as December 31st, 2020 fast approached they would now be living in a world that now resembled that of George Orwell’s much read novel, 1984. A world in which you could no longer legally see your grandma, or have friends round for drinks, or stand up in a pub, or enter a public indoor space without hiding the majority of your face behind a piece of spit lathered cloth. A world in which the government of the day treated its citizens like uneducated children incapable of using common sense.
It was in late January just as everyone had given up on their cliche resolutions and settled back into their old ways that the whispers came. Whispers of a newly discovered virus causing people to collapse in the street in the city of Wuhan, in the “Communist” (I would argue more Technocratic and Fascist) Republic of China. Even then I doubt very few could have predicted what was about to unfold.
Pretty soon the apparent dangers became all to real for the public as images of “overwhelmed” hospitals in Italy started to be played on our TV screens. This new virus was no longer on the other side of the world, it was in Europe and it was getting closer. This was probably the start of the propaganda. News documentaries of tiny hospitals full to the brink of elderly patients, all on ventilators in tiny towns and villages in the north of Italy. Of course this had nothing to do with the fact the Lombardy region and the Po Valley in northern Italy rank among the most air polluted areas of Europe. Just a coincidence.
Then the illusion of a problem started in the UK. The government, it’s circle of scientists, and the mainstream media did a fantastic job of whipping up hysteria and creating a pandemic of fear. Such a good job that 10 months later the stench of fear engulfs the air of whatever public space you can now legally venture.
By the end of March even the most optimistic Prime Minister in living memory had fallen hook, line and sinker for the one dimensional science of the doom mongering scientists within his circle. The country was shutdown. Restaurants closed. Pubs closed. Clothes shops closed. Businesses closed. Businesses ruined. Lives on hold. Lives ruined. But we didn’t have to worry as this would only be for a few weeks and then our lives could go back to normal.
But those 3 weeks came and went and the normal never appeared. Instead our compliance was bought with the introduction of a furlough scheme that promised to save our jobs and pay our wages. Ten months later and all that has done is delay our unemployment and bankrupt the country. But the majority happily accepted the extended arm of the state, too blinded by the perception of fear they found themselves in to think of the long term consequences.
Soon summer came and a whiff of normality started to encroach our senses, how naive we were to imagine that would last. For 5 long months the mainstream scientists and the government “being lead by them” had insisted there was no evidence to support the wearing of face masks to protect against this supposed new disease. So just as normality threatened to return due to the official numbers no longer supporting the draconian actions (just a coincidence of course that all respiratory diseases tend to die off in the summer months) they decided to rip out the stitches that were healing the surrealism of the year and impose a new law, to wear a face covering in all shops. But these face coverings were of course only effective once they had become law 7 days after the announcement, supported by the fact barely anybody wore them for the first 7 days after the announcement until it had become law. I doubt the government and their one dimensional scientist masters could quite believe how well they had managed to train the general public to comply to their every word.
Then as we all know autumn arrived, as did the return of all the seasonal, respiratory diseases, an occurrence that has happened annually throughout everyone’s life, although a lot of people have forgotten this fact and believe they are a new occurrence this year. With autumn came a predictable rise in the numbers and the justification for yet another lock down. Restaurants closed. Pubs closed. Clothes shops closed. Businesses closed. Businesses ruined. Lives on hold. Lives ruined.
And now here we are, December 31st, 2020 only round the corner. Still unable to legally have friends round for drinks. Still unable to visit grandma. Still unable to stand up in a pub, or enter a public indoor space without hiding the majority of your face behind a piece of spit lathered cloth. A whole year that has nearly passed us by in the flick of an eye. A whole year where we have been unable to live our lives, enjoy the company of our friends and family, meet new people, laugh and love. A year of misery for most. A year of loneliness for many. A year of change for all.
I find myself wondering whether or not there will be a smell of optimism in the air this new years eve, or if that stench of fear will be too overwhelming?