Tag Archives: corona virus

Super Saturday?

On Saturday 4 July, (the first day on which pubs in England reopened), the so-called “Super Saturday”, I went to my favourite local pub with friends. For anyone who isn’t aware, the pubs (along with restaurants and many other venues) closed in March, due to an order from the government, the instructions being designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On entering the pub, my friend and I had our temperatures taken by a young woman. Then, our temperatures being normal, we sanitised our hands with sanitiser. Following this “new normal”, my friend and I where conducted to a table, from where we ordered our drinks.

Anyone familiar with the British pub may well have visions of people standing or sitting around the bar, chatting, reading newspapers or swearing at the television when their favourite team misses a chance to score a goal! Sadly, under “the new normal”, this has been replaced by the rule that customers may not congregate at the bar, and must be served at a table which, following their departure will be sanitised by pub staff.

Whilst it was good to catch up with friends (another friend and his wife joined us later), I missed the mingling which is part and parcel of the traditional English pub. There was no more going up to the bar and exchanging banter with regulars, nor could one (officially at least) invite someone who was not part of the original party to join your table.

The young woman serving us (the same lady who had taken our temperatures) was wearing a mask. Whilst I can, of course understand her reasons for doing so (to protect against the possibility of contracting or passing on the virus), I couldn’t help thinking how she would cope on a baking hot summer’s day!

If you read the reports of “Super Saturday” you will, no doubt come across stories of “drunks not socially distancing”. All I can say is that neither my friends or I witnessed any such behaviour. Indeed the pub was rather quiet, perhaps owing to the fear of contracting the virus which does (I know through conversations with people) pray on the minds of some.

Whilst I was delighted to enjoy a few pints in the company of friends, I felt a sense of sadness at the sanitised atmosphere. We have, I fear lost something, I hope not permanently. We have lost the natural vibrancy of the traditional British watering hole. We have lost the stopping to chat to old acquaintences at the bar as we order our drinks. We have lost the ability (at least officially) to invite strangers to join us for a drink at our table. All this may be necessary, but it is still a loss and there is no getting away from that fact.

Kevin

Cover Up

The journal Pulse reports that:

“the BMA believes face coverings should be worn at all times where practicable, including outdoors, in case social distancing is not observed for whatever reason.” (see http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/news/bma-calls-for-the-public-to-be-required-to-wear-face-masks-in-all-settings/20041054.article).

I have the greatest respect for the medical profession. They saved my life as a small child by removing a blood clot from my brain. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals work extremely hard, and have put themselves at great risk during the Corona pandemic in the line of duty.

I do, however hope that the UK government resists calls by the BMA for the wearing of face coverings “in all settings”.

We have been told that, when outside, the risk of contracting the virus is greatly reduced due to the circulation of air. Indeed the first lockdown restrictions to be lifted pertained to allowing people (not from the same household) to socialise outdoors. Yet we are now being advised (or told depending on how one interprets it), by the BMA that we should all be wearing masks as a matter of routine in all settings.

I for one would rather take the risk when in a park, strolling through the woods, or in some other place of beauty where the air is good, of not wearing a mask and actually feeling that I’m living a life (rather than merely existing)

Are we to be medicated to the extent that we remain “safe” whilst joy dies?

I accept the need for face coverings on public transport where social distancing is frequently impossible. However imposing the wearing of masks/face coverings “in all settings” is a step to far, and I sincerely hope that the government does not act on the advice of the BMA in this instance.

Are we really going to turn into a society where policemen pop out from behind trees in the forest and say, “excuse me, why are you not wearing a face covering?” The very idea is, at the same time both risible and rather sinister.

How to Assist a Blind Person During Social Distancing

I received this message from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA), the charity which trains guide dogs in the UK, and thought it would be of value to my readers as it offers useful tips on how to assist a visually impaired person during this time of social distancing:

“Did you know that only one fifth of the public ‘completely comfortable’ offering to help someone with sight loss while social distancing is in place?*

“Today Guide Dogs has launched a new campaign called ‘Be There’ to give the public ways of supporting people with sight loss during social distancing.

“Social distancing is the most challenging aspect for me in the whole Covid-19 situation… it would really help if people have an awareness of how they can play their part.” Jonathan, guide dog owner

Jon is not alone in this, we’ve heard similar stories many times over the past few months. That’s why we’ve come up with 3 simple tips for the wider public to help them support people with sight loss:

1. Keep your distance, but don’t disappear – People with sight loss may find it challenging to social distance, so if you see someone with a Guide Dog or a long cane then you can help them by making sure you keep 2m away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also offer your help.

2. Say hello and offer your help – Simply by letting someone with sight loss know you are nearby; you are giving them the opportunity to ask for any help if they need it. People often feel unsure about their ability to help someone with sight loss, but their request could be a simple as finding out where a shopping queue starts, or if there is a safer place to cross a road.

3. Describe the scene – We’ve all had to adapt to unusual sights during lockdown – people standing apart in long lines outside of supermarkets for example. But those with sight loss haven’t always witnessed this to the same extent, which can be isolating and confusing. By describing what you can see to someone with sight loss, you can help them to understand the environment and navigate accordingly”.

As a visually impaired person and a guide dog owner, I have, I think been lucky as I’ve continued to find the public helpful during the current COVID-19 situation. Just last evening I was walking home after having spent a couple of hours with a friend in Crystal Palace park, when I became aware that the pavement was blocked by workmen carrying out pavement works. Without me asking, one of the workmen offered me his arm and guided me passed the obstruction. Again, a few weeks back, a gentleman helped me navigate fallen branches in my local woodland by allowing me to take his arm.

(You can find out more about the work of Guide Dogs here, https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/).

Sex with someone who is not part of your household to be made a criminal offence in the United Kingdom as part of new lockdown measures

The UK’s “Daily Mirror reports that:

“Sex in your house with someone from outside of your household is set to become illegal today.

The government is introducing new lockdown measures that prevent people from socialising (or gathering) with one person from outside of their household in a private space.

Up until now the person visiting a house for sex would have been the one in breach of the measures”. (See https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/sex-your-house-person-another-22117105).

As a libertarian, (with a small l) I find this deeply disturbing. What consenting adults do (behind closed doors) should be no concern of the state or of society. And this legislation strikes me as being something one would expect in a dictatorship rather than a democracy like the United Kingdom.

Yes COVID-19 is a serious problem and I am concerned about the pandemic. However I am more concerned (in this particular instance) about unwarranted intrusion into the private lives of consenting adults. Just how many people are going to become infected with the Corona virus as a consequence of having sex with a person who is not part of their household? I would be astounded if anyone has carried out any research into this issue.

For what its worth, my own (non-scientific view) is that very few people will become infected as a consequence of indulging in sexual relations with a person who is not part of their household.

Apart from the massive impact on civil liberties, I honestly can’t see this law being enforceable. A few nasty neighbours may report someone they suspect of breaking this law, but the vast majority will, I believe mind their own business (as, indeed they should do).

This (proposed) law contrasts sharply with the sensible and liberal policy of the Netherlands where single people are encouraged (should they wish to do so) to find a “sex buddy”, (see https://kmorrispoet.com/2020/05/16/the-netherlands-advises-single-people-to-find-corona-sex-buddies/).

I never thought that I would see the day in a country I love where such draconian laws where even being considered.

Former Chief Justice Jonathan Sumption on the UK’S Corona Lockdown

Earlier this evening, I listened to a fascinating interview with the former Chief Justice Jonathan Sumption.

Much of Sumption’s interview is taken up with an exposition of his view that the UK’s Corona virus lockdown is “despotic”. Whether one agrees with his analysis or not, Sumption’s interview is well worth listening to for anyone concerned with civil liberties.

Many libertarians have (albeit reluctantly) accepted the lockdown, but Sumption remains of the view that it should be of a voluntary nature. Whether one accepts Sumption’s perspective or one rejects it, he raises profound questions about the liberty of the individual and the proper limits of state power.

For the interview please visit, https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08fjy9j.

(Note: in contrast to Jonathan Sumption, the UK Libertarian Party has expressed qualified support for the UK’s lockdown. See, for example this link, https://libertarianparty.co.uk/2020/03/23/statement-on-coronavirus-lockdown/. Sumption is not, to the best of my knowledge a member of any political party, and he mentions during the interview that he has voted for different parties at election time).

Crackpot Conspiracy Theories Have Consequences

On Wednesday evening, I received a telephone call from an acquaintence. Having asked how I was, she proceeded to relate how she’d watched a video which explained that COVID-19 (the Corona Virus) is a hoax and is, in point of fact caused by radiation generated from mobile telephone masts.

I responded that the persons promulgating such theories are “nutters” and conspiracy theorists and that such ideas are highly dangerous as they mislead people into believing fraudulent claims and by so doing actually help to spread not only the Corona Virus, but also the virus of misinformation. Eventually the conversation ended leaving me seething inwardly.

Lies/conspiracy theories have consequences as exemplified by the attacks which have taken place not only on mobile telephone masts but also on engineers tasked with maintaining them. See, for example this article in “Wired”, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/5g-coronavirus-conspiracy-theory-attacks.

One of the instances sighted in the “Wired” article concerns an engineer who was spat upon by a conspiracy theorist. The engineer subsequently developed Corona as a consequence of the incident.

I am not, of course arguing that all followers of the (wholly eroneous) theory that 5G is responsible for Corona destroy masts or attack individuals. Most people holding such crackpot views do not engage in criminal activity. However anyone who perpetuates such myths is helping to spread untruths and thereby contributing to a climate of unreason in which attacks on masts (and individuals) are made more likely.

The conspiracy theory that 5G is the cause of the current epidemic (rather than the Corona Virus), lies in a long line of dangerous ideas. Back in medieval times it was believed that Jews poisoned wells and horrific acts of cruelty where committed against them owing to this wholly irrational belief, (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Well_poisoning#Medieval_accusations_against_Jews).

Antisemitic conspiracy theories manifested themselves in their most extreme form in the Nazi “Final Solution” (the Third Reich’s attempt to exterminate European jewry, (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Solution).

I am not suggesting that those who believe the present conspiracy theory regarding 5G are antisemitic (although some of them may well be). Rather I am arguing that (as with antisemitism) the present crackpot theory is based on unreason and is highly dangerous. So next time you receive a message on Watsap (or via some other form of social media) regarding an outlandish theory, please think very carefully before forwarding it on to others.

Kevin

Share Your Poems

I recently blogged regarding an opportunity for poets to have their poems aired, https://kmorrispoet.com/2020/04/08/an-opportunity-for-poets-to-have-their-work-aired/.

The organiser, David Vickery, has created a Facebook page to promote the sharing of poems concerning COVID-19, which can be found here, https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100049345031282.

You can find David’s Youtube where he reads poems on Corona/Covid-19 which have been submitted to him here, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCERRl7-EinGfUMCKePVlD3A.
As of today (17 April), David has uploaded 1 poem, which can be found here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8S6YZQjCzw.

If you are interested in contacting David and having your poem read, please follow the above links

Kevin

An Opportunity for Poets to Have their Work Aired

I have received the below notification regarding an opportunity for poets to have their work aired:

“Dear friends and fellow poets,

We are sending you all our very best wishes for your good health and continued safety and would like to invite you to join in a brand new adventure while
all of us are in confinement of one kind or another.

We have had the following interesting idea shared with us and we want to invite you all to contribute.  

If you have written, or would like to write, about your present situation or want to reflect on the experiences of people around you in these strange Coronavirus
times then read on – start writing – and send your poems directly to David Vickery.  

kindest thoughts to you all

Caroline and Angela x

YourPoemaDay 

I’m no poet but I can read poetry and with my track record as an actor, announcer and voice-over artist in broadcast and non-broadcast work over the past
40 years, I know I can sit in front of a camera and read other people’s verse.

So, if you, or your friends would like to write a poem in response to Coronavirus, the lockdown, or any aspect of the current situation that is of interest
to them, then I’d like to read it out on a Facebook site I am setting up.  One thing – I am looking for poems that will cheer us up, not take us down.
Think positive.

The site will be promoted via Twitter and Instagram and I anticipate there will be an early  boost to numbers coming to the site as I have a television
entertainment friend in San Francisco who says he’ll happily talk about this on-air.

I can’t guarantee a poem EVERY  single day but certainly most days – and I obviously can’t GUARANTEE  to read out every poem sent to me but will try! Also
the inclusion of a little bit of background information about the poet to add some colour and texture to the content would be appreciated. There is no
set length to the poem or any other parameters beyond those stated.  The “on-air” environment will reflect a certain cheekiness. We have to smile our way
through these days.

One final thing – a small legal bit. There needs to be confirmation from anyone who submits a poem that they grant me usage to show and distribute their
poem. And that’s about it.

I have a busy working week ahead at the BBC, so my guess is that this will be up and running by the end of next week (15/16 April?). Enough time to write
a poem, or two?

Replies should be to 
davidvickery@me.com 

Here’s where you can find out about me 
http://www.davidvickery.co.uk
 .  Although I find them embarrassing to watch these days there are plenty of TVS Late Night Late videos to be found on YouTube from 30 years ago 

 but my approach will be somewhat similar. 

For anyone who is interested, THANK YOU so much! Let’s have some fun.

Best Wishes from South London

David”.

At A Time of Lockdown

At a time of lockdown
Some drown
Their sorrows, in beer or gin.
Yet alcohol is not
The only form of sin.

True, some may lose themselves in art.
But others grow hot.
Drink and art
Can not suffice.
Thoughts turn to vice.

Anticipation of pleasure,
For the coming warm weather
Will bring
(In summer and spring)
Roses into bloom.
And, despite the lockdown
Some men will not resist the perfume
Of roses.

The poet composes
And thinks “the woodland path
Along which I pass
Has no flowers in bloom,
But soon
Their scent will delight
Both day and night.
And I shall pass by
With a sigh.

Yet the woodland path
Is not wide
And when, on each side
There are such sweet blooms,
‘Tis not easy to pass,
And some may stray
From the narrow way …”.

He Stood to the Side of the Path

He stood to the side of the path
So that I might in safety pass.
I turned my face away
On a beautiful, spring day.
But thanked him with a smile, while
Pondering on what constitutes a safe distance,
And the persistence
Of common courtesy.
And what did he
Think of me
As I turned my face away?
I can not say,
But suspect he understood
As we did pass
Along that tranquil, woodland path.