So that is that. One year down and how many more to go? I didn't feel like joining in the commemoration rituals for various reasons. One celebrates a victory – Armistice Day marks the end of the Great War but who could possibly celebrate the day it broke out and the people who caused it? I suppose I could celebrate not falling sick, getting the Pfizer jab in the first batch in December and having had my second, and that so far I have known nobody who died from Covid during the year. Being retired, I do not have the loss of a job, caring for small children problems, or the education tribulations of so many young people in school or university. But no way could I join a minute's silence or light a candle with all those people flanked by at least one union jack too many, whose failures to act created far too many of the deaths being lamented. The time for clapping has passed.
Last week with summer holidays in peril, the Today
programme produced an 82-year-old lady who had booked a holiday in Greece starting immediately after the ban on foreign holidays is lifted in May. She sounded capable of making the decision and, as she made clear, if she doesn't go at 82 she may never get there again. Good luck to her, although I do not care one way or the other since she is younger than I am and my destinations of choice have every indication of being out of bounds for years to come. Covid apart, my preference for individual travel is something age will curtail anyway and losing a year or two could be fatal.
When I was young, London was the elusive pot of gold destination at the foot of the holiday rainbow, although I did get on a school trip aged about 15 to Paris at the exorbitant cost of £13, which was marked by our being served pink meat, something unheard of in Scotland then and possibly still, and being taken to the cinema where we saw Jean Gabin giving Michelle Morgan a bath. He put his hand inside her dressing gown and we learned a new phrase – 'soutien gorge'. Travel does broaden the mind.
For family holidays, we went to places like Largs, Elie, Ayr, Inellan and Seamill. Having been pretty well everywhere I want to go abroad, which is very nice for me I know, all this limited new world is depriving me of is going back to the places I liked best. On the other hand, the possibility of going to all the British places I have never visited – Llandudno, Liverpool, Oban, Crail, Arbroath, Oxford, Torquay, the Lake District, Skye, Iona, the Isle of Man and the Scilly Isles – has opened up. So forget abroad, at the moment, as my granny used to say – 'Hameldaeme'.
There is a lot of positivity around this week, as we move ever so carefully towards opening up society again in the UK. I know, I know, we have been here before with all the promise of shaking off the shackles, only to be plunged back into the darkness, just as our weary eyes were readjusting to the shape and colour of freedom. However, many of us have now had our first vaccination or, as we call it, jag, so the outlook this time around appears to offer more hope. Just don't glance over your shoulder towards the continent.
So all good? Well no, for some the gradual unlocking is not enough, they are looking for unlock deluxe. They see beyond the ability to socialise in as yet limited conditions, towards the advent of foreign holidays on the horizon. Not what we can do in a careful and controlled way to minimise the effects of the virus on our still highly vulnerable communities, but how far they as individuals can push the parameters in their own self-interest. (Thatcher still has so much to answer for.)
However, thinking about it, has it always been like this? I remember as a wee boy, if you were good you got chocolate. One of the earliest forms of coercion most of us were met with and, in my case, leading to an unhealthy eating habit which to my detriment has stayed with me throughout life. Though my dad to be fair did try to mitigate my intake of sweeties by only giving me money if I promised I would buy a Mars bar, as it contained glucose, which he reckoned was a less negative sugar.
Also, as I was growing up I got to know colleagues and friends, who while trying to lose weight by dieting, appear to have been obsessed with what food treat they would be able to have if they met their weekly target plan weight loss. In both cases, encouraged by short-term personal fulfilment and urges which triumphed over the long-term benefit of dealing with the real issues of behaviour and discipline.
The holiday hopers and to a lesser extent those demanding pubs and restaurant doors be thrown open immediately, appear to fall squarely into the me-first, hang the rest, and as for the common good brigade... Before you start calling me a Buzz Kill, I do understand that we all need to have things to look forward to and that for many the thought of warm sun on their face is something they have yearned for since the first days the virus began to sweep the globe. It will come if we can 'keep the heid' for a bit longer.
It feels to me that some people want to eat their cake and still have it, then attempt to sell the plate it was served on, which has already repaid its cost through multi-usage, for a cost in excess of the cake and plate put together. Be nice.
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