Death and Glory.


I’m sitting watching Michael Portillo ride the trains of Viet Nam. He’s arrived in Hanoi and is showing viewers the bunker below the Metropole Hotel and telling of the 1,000 people killed in the US bombing of Hanoi. Only a 1,000?

We’ve already had the stats that more people in the US have died as a result of COVID-19  than US soldiers in the Viet Nam war.

So what other comparisons do we have?

Next Friday is the 75th anniversary of VE Day. I remember my mum describing the joy of that day after the dark days of war. Everyone went out and cheered and danced and celebrated. There was the story of Princesses Elizabeth & Margaret sneaking out and celebrating with the crowds around the ‘wedding cake’ fountain outside Buckingham Palace. 

That’s part of our history, right? Part of the glory of Empire and of the bulldog spirit reincarnated first as part of Brexit and now in the war against COVID-19.

A quick look at Wikipedia.

The blitz lasted 8 months and 5 days (by the time this is over probably comparable) During that time 40,000-43,000 civilians died mainly in London. 

In the whole war 67,000 UK and crown dependency civilians died. 

By the time this is over the figures may well be comparable but it will not be a moment of glory to be celebrated by a Bank Holiday. 

There is only one way to avoid death and to be able to feel remotely personally glorious! That is to follow the rules and continue with social distance.

I could also say close the borders, take temperatures, track and trace & enforce but sadly my country is not yet up for that. The UK Government has been dragged kicking and screaming to what it is doing now. Had we responded like other countries we would be in a better place now. But we are where we are. Where do we go from here?

Stop going out unnecessarily. Stop going into your neighbours and friends houses. As the weather improves the number of people passing my back door increases. Often they are not family groups. Often they pass two or three or more times each day. Some are doing their own risk assessment some just don’t think there is a problem.

I confess to being tempted. I’d like to walk my dog twice a day but I know if I go out in the afternoon I’ll meet lots of folk. I confess that yesterday and today I did but there are too many people out there to risk it regularly. Walking in the rain has become positive and safe – because no-one else is out there! If it’s busy here in a Highland village it must be much worse in the cities. I’ve almost forgotten what Inverness looks like. My last trip was to the dentist the week before shutdown. As for Edinburgh, Glasgow, London…?

It’s great to praise people who follow the rules but we need to call out those who don’t. They are just prolonging the agony and people are dying.

And as for messaging – the idea that we have reached and passed the peak is dangerous. We need local messaging. I think we probably have reached the peak in London and I understand that people need to know and celebrate success but where I live the daily cases are still rising. We are small in population though large in geographical area. We have an older population so please let’s not lull local residents into a false sense of security. We need local messaging and local action.

This is the worst crisis since WW2. It might end up worse still! Individuals – you are not invincible. Government you could do more. Your responsibility is to protect the people. After all you could have managed this a lot better had you observed and listened and respected the experience of others. As  to the economy – I’d rather be poor than dead thanks!

I’m lucky. I have a house with a garden and countryside where I can exercise without coming into close contact with people. I have friends, a phone, a computer, the internet. I’ll get through. I’ve reconnected with friends I haven’t spoken to for years which is positive. I’ve been inconvenienced by holiday cancellation and the hassle of getting refunds. Despite all that I could still die from this nasty vicious virus and I don’t want to! 

Others aren’t so lucky (and as a retired Dr don’t get me started on support for NHS and social care staff or we’ll be here until tomorrow and my blood pressure will seriously suffer!). Others are not as lucky as I have been so far. Health workers (and others) are dying doing their jobs!

In high rise flats, having to work in the gig economy ( A HUGE thanks to the couriers by the way – unsung, unsung heroes all) life is not good and people continue to die. Perhaps not at the rate of before but 10s of deaths in Scotland and 100s daily across the UK is just not acceptable.

So Government – do your job and properly protect your people and people please follow the rules, do not think you are invincible -YOU ARE NOT! I really don’t want you to find that out and I want to be here 12 months from now and I want all my friends of whatever age and health here too!

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