Pulling Together

One week down...

A week ago I posted about my fears of what might happen as a result of a few people’s anti-social challenging behaviour. The next day it did.

That seems so long ago now. Life is severely restricted and few of us can now get out and about in the way we’d like. I now divide my time between trying to support a vulnerable person to get through very difficult times and trying to get enough to eat. The government insists there is no shortage of food, but it must be over a month since I could buy bread flour or yeast in the shops. I have been reduced to ordering a wholesale quantity of the stuff from a mill, and the flour arrived today, but not the yeast, so it’s not much use and it looks as if I still cannot have bread. I have a pinch of dried yeast left, so I've mixed up some flour and water paste and added some of it to that. The result is in my airing cupboard. I need to keep it fed and watered and hope for the best.

Last Friday I had to visit a pharmacy to collect a prescription. That involved a 15-minute queue just to get to the door, and then I had to queue for another ten minutes to reach the door of the local supermarket, where I found bare shelves again.

The government says people should order food online for delivery, but the delivery slots are all full for the next fortnight or more because home delivery has insufficient capacity to deliver to all, and even then, it’s unlikely the delivery will match the order. For some reason, supermarkets believe it’s acceptable to sell the same item to more than one customer and not reserve it for the one who has paid for it and awaits its delivery. Instead they think they can provide something that was not ordered and could be quite unsuitable as an alternative. Add to that the delivery charges might be as high as 50% of the order for anyone who lives alone and only needs relatively small amounts, and it becomes clear online ordering is not really an option. The government must know that even while they urge people to use it.

On the radio yesterday I heard Lord Sumsion express concern the behaviour of ministers and police at present resembles that of an authoritarian state where the police are tools for enforcing political power rather than citizens protecting others. He considered the scale of the threat of CoViD-19 to be insufficient to justify such widespread loss of basic liberties fought for over centuries. It does, of course, set a precedent that government can just ignore all our freedoms whenever it suits its agenda to do so, and that is worrying for those who care about political freedom. He is one of a growing minority of those who suspect the upheaval we are putting ourselves through as nations is similar in scale to the two World Wars when the scale of the threat to individuals and society is nowhere near as serious. A far higher proportion of the population would have died in those wars than is threatened by this sometimes nasty illness. Between 10% and 23% of the men who left for the trenches did not come back. That compares with a Death Rate from the current illness of around 1% of diagnosed cases, rising to perhaps 5% or more of elderly and frail people.

However, the reality for most of us is this is now the world we have to live in, and we must do whatever we need just to survive. No one knows how long it will last, so no one can plan for the future. Everything is on hold.

These are hungry times for many who search for food. Let’s hope the shops become a bit more normal soon, before people start to starve.

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