Reluctant Anger

I often write angry letters and emails and never send them. A while back I remember getting my secretary to type a letter (immediately you know that really was a long time ago). I had scribbled it out in fury after been treated very badly. The indignation spilled out of me and I squeezed every bit of venom out of my pen. When she gave me the draft, she just looked at me and uncharacteristically offered some advice “That’s a really good letter” she said “It’s well written and totally justified .. and … you should bin it.”  It was a snatch of wisdom I haven’t forgotten. It is always a good practice to leave something you have written in a kind of quarantine for a while before you send it. Because, as we all know, it is too late afterwards. It can’t be unsent. 

I have been holding fire on a letter (one of many) to our first minister for over a week now and it was about to be dropped in the bin, but on hearing the daily briefing yesterday and hearing of the distress to a very good friend, I caught it just before it fell.

She is a dear friend and is quite distraught because she is prohibited from being at the funeral of a family member because of the ridiculous and wholly arbitrary cap of 20 persons. Because of these cruel regulations she is unable to be physically there to support her own daughter at this critical moment. The moment when a physical presence is so important.  It is so cruel and it is so unnecessary. It points up how serious this whole thing is and there is no end to the folly of it.

Anyway, this was my letter and I suppose, in journalist parlance, it is now an “open letter”

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Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon

Dear First Minister

LIFTING LOCK-DOWN

I am sorry to add to your inbox with yet another letter. I guess you may not have the time to reply or perhaps even read it, but I am writing out of sheer desperation and not a little anger when I see the continuing and needless destruction of so much of our national life in the fixation and obsession with this virus and the folly (for that is clearly what it is) of the continuing and re-introduction of lockdowns and all the associated restrictions on the business of living.

This is not about me or my family or my grandchildren but the health of our people, physical, psychological, mental, social and spiritual, which has been severely damaged by this obsession and the ugly business of the state interfering in our own personal lives, treating us like children and scolding us on our behaviour. I can tell you it is a painful and embarrassing business listening to the daily reprimands and the patronising and condescending encouragements to be subservient.

Is this what an independent Scotland is going to look like?  Will this be the new normal?

My particular responsibility, as an elder in our local church, is for the care of our people and the community around us. From the start we have obediently followed all the rules and the guidance and have shut up our building depriving the people from coming together to worship God, to pray together, to sing and to hear the Gospel  and all the unseen pastoral work that goes along with that, for almost half a year now. The damage that has been done and continues to be done to the lives of so many, some who are very vulnerable people, and to our society as a whole, is uncalculatable. It is difficult to put into words what a terrible thing this is. The trouble is that it is not seen. It does not register in hospital admissions or Covid positive cases. It does not directly impact on the economy. So, it is extremely galling that we are still under the burden of these quite ridiculous regulations.

Really, First Minister, if anyone actually thought about it for a moment, they would realise that it is wholly unjust and discriminatory and does not make sense at all. To allow pubs and cafes and restaurants to open almost as normal yet impose insane restrictions on churches is quite bizarre.  You can have a glass of wine and a pack of crisps in a pub but you cannot share in a communion service. Children can return to school but cannot go to Sunday School.

I wonder if anyone in your advisory team actually knows what happens in churches or how it works? The church is not a club of people with a niche interest, people who like and are helped by that kind of thing or a fringe group weirdly concerned with airy fairy spiritual things. People don’t go to church, like they would to dancing classes, yoga or meditation or because it works for them. It is something quite different. The church is the people gathered from all walks of life and backgrounds, languages and cultures to worship God. And It is a family. It is understandable that people who are not involved in church perhaps do not realise this. We are a family made up of old and young, singles, married, young families, internationals, professionals, tradespeople, unemployed, students, confident and vulnerable. It is anathema to expect our church family to que at the door, wear a mask, be shown to a seat, arbitrarily distance from others, not to talk, mingle, speak before during or after the service, not share a cup of tea not sing, to have their details recorded and to leave without the chance to share fellowship, problems, worries, struggles, happiness, joys and every human experience. We would be exchanging an atmosphere of welcome to one of suspicion, instead of inclusion, exclusion, instead of help and support, distance and cold detachment, instead of comfort, a cold glass of water.  It would be like treating people as lepers. People who might have a terrible disease and might infect us, or we them. We can’t do that. We can’t live in fear. We have to follow Jesus who touched lepers when no one else would.

Meeting like this, whatever you might call it, is not a Worship service. A family would not exist or function under these restrictions. It is like saying the pubs can reopen but no one is allowed to drink, or the shops, but you must not purchase anything.

Today, a dear friend of ours explained how she would not be allowed to be at a family funeral and not able to be present and support her grieving daughter at this most critical time, and all because of an arbitrary cap on numbers at funeral services. She is distraught. We can hardly believe it and are saddened and quite appalled.

Please, please, this has gone for far far too long. The risks are so negligible. What people lose over this time cannot be recovered. The lives of our people are so much more important than not losing face or doing another Uturn. Continuing with these restrictions is completely disproportionate to the risk . Please, please, lift all these restrictions now.

Yours most sincerely

Crawford Mackenzie

It’s time to Grow Up


At the beginning of this debacle, the contrarian libertarians were warning us that once a government gets a taste for extraordinary powers, in a declared emergency, they can be extremely reluctant to relinquish these powers, even when the emergency has long since passed. The many instances when this was shown to be the case seem to bear it out and I am beginning to think that they are right.  Power is a bit of a narcotic and those who are hooked on it seldom go into voluntary rehab or cold turkey. If you have prime television time each day to address a compliant nation and answer questions from a docile press, if you have a completely ineffective opposition, if you can ride any storm, any scandal, can undertake any number of u-turns with a mere blink of the eye and an apology, all of which in normal times would destroy a political career, why give it up? Who wouldn’t? 

With no deaths attributed to Covid-19 for three weeks, a few hundred people hospitalised and less than a handful in intensive care, the emergency, in Scotland at least, has truly passed. That fact is indisputable, still our government  are extremely reluctant to let go of their recently acquired power.  And this is demonstrated in the daily briefings, the constant updating, the changing of advice, telling us what we are not and what we are allowed to do, scolding footballers and party goers and threatening the rest of us with stricter measures in a form of collective punishment, if those naughty boys don’t behave. It is excruciatingly painful to watch. But this, it seems is the “New Normal” that sinister phrase that has been slipped into the conversation. This is what they meant. In it we will no longer be free but have the intimate details of our lives, our personal hygiene and habits, intimate relationships and social intercourse, forever scrutinised and directed by a government obsessed and intoxicated with its own sense of destiny.   After a meeting the other day (for legal reasons, I am not permitted to say whether it was carried out under strict social distancing measures or whether the participants were wearing mask or whether contact details were recorded)  my client in weary exasperation and in the confusion over whether a handshake was right or not, grabbed mine and said “Awh….. grow up!” That was exactly how I felt. It is time to grow up.

The “lock-down” was imposed, you might remember, to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed.  It turned out not to be overwhelmed and the vast overflow facilities, which epidemiologist say were quite the wrong thing anyway, were largely unused and mothballed. We have probably forgotten that. I spoke to a trauma surgeon and heard second hand from a consultant friend this week and both commented on how little they do-  two days a week at most and otherwise they are idle. One was so bored he started on a major building project on his house single handed. “I have to do something” he said.  Whether the lock-down had anything to do with saving the NHS is actually debatable. It is more likely it was saved by shifting older people to care homes and by cancelling just about every non immediate procedure. We now know the horrendous cost of that policy in the lives of people left to die in care homes and the heavy backlog of postponed cases that the our health service now has to deal with. For some it will be too late.  

The crisis, if it was as big as it was made out to be, has passed, but it has been replaced with another crisis, this time, a concocted one – the “second wave”. The way the government and the media have scampered about leaping on any tit-bit of data that would give credence to this alarm is almost comical. Great play is made over localised spikes in cases, but little is said or revealed about how many of those, who were tested positive, were requiring intensive care, or were hospitalised or were in fact exhibiting any symptoms at all. What is also seldom compared is the rate of testing and how this affects the increase in cases. And there is the whole question about how accurate testing is with so many false positives and false negatives. That information is hard to find and I think I know why. It doesn’t fit the narrative.

All of this, conveniently keeps the thing on the boil. More importantly, it keeps the population in a measure of constant fear and allows ministers to continue to interfere in our private and social lives. How people simply accept this with hardly any protest is quite beyond my understanding.

The moving of the goalposts, the inability to forecast an end, the forever “coming-out-of- lock-down” process must be one of the most depressing things to watch, but it is more than that, it is the slow boiling of the frog, it is the silent choking of our society, it is the insidious disabling of our human associations.  And the point of it all?  Well you tell me.

I guess that time only will tell whether the cynics were in fact right, but it looks like they were and we can be sure that those in power will milk this one for all its worth, even if it ends up tipping us over the edge.

Crawford Mackenzie

A Heartfelt Plea

I wrote to my MSP and to the First Minister again this morning. I doubt if I will get a response or if my letters will actually be read. In the past, the best I have had is a bland acknowledgment and a referral to the relevant spokesperson who responded by suggesting I take a look at the government’s web site. I have a terrible feeling I am wasting my time, but it helps me release some steam, for there is plenty of that to be released.

From the beginning I have felt that the lockdown was a terrible mistake and I was so disappointed that when the Scottish Government had the opportunity, as the issue was one of health, to steer a different course, in the end, we seem to have slavishly followed Westminster in its panic over Covid-19, for panic it certainly was. Any difference between the administrations was only cosmetic, over timing or extent and that doesn’t augur well for an Independent Scotland, if we are going to end up meekly following in line with Westminster.

But it happened, we are where we are, and we have to live with it, and I can’t express how totally depressing it is to sense that there is still no end in sight. The deadly slow pace of the lifting of all these extraordinary measures is excruciatingly painful and with each passing day gradually sapping the life out of our communities, in almost every area. This is not about me. my family or my close friends, but about our society and how we can mitigate the terrible harm that we have done by imposing this horrible lock-down.

I had a long and difficult conversation yesterday with someone who is part of a pastoral group in our local church. While we come together as a congregation for worship services in our church building, we also have pastoral groups, and this works in various levels, for study and prayer and for practical support. The groups include all ages married, with families, old folk and a number of single adults. Some have serious mental and other health issues and depend very much on the regular support which these group gives. I was moved and challenged with the conversation. Although I had suspected that the sudden loss of this precious opportunity of meeting together would have serious consequences, I hadn’t fully realised what it would cost for the most weak and vulnerable. The whole conversation seemed to be a desperate cry for help and at the end, I was left with her plea  “Please, can you do something, can you do something..”

I was stung by the plea and sat down to work out, as best I could within the current regulations, to see if there was some way that our pastoral groups could return.  The more I studied the rules and guidance, I realised that it would not and could not work in any meaningful way because it came up against the brick wall, the curse of “social distancing”. I really do think it is a curse, as it is totally against human nature and is slowly blighting our lives.

So my plea was simple, to end this horrible imposition and to do it now.  To release this muzzle which is destroying the very fabric of our society, turning us into an unfriendly nation full of distrust and suspicion of the “other” and causing terrible harm to the most vulnerable.

I am not holding my breath.

Crawford Mackenzie

This is what history looks like

It was something Douglas Murray said. He of the “The Strange Death of Europe” and “The Madness of crowds” and one of the few people who seem to have a handle on where we are.  It was in the course of an interview, when he was describing a story from Tolstoy’s “The death of Ivan Ilych” when the judge thought he was dying and remembered being on a train, convinced it was going one way, when it was always going the other way. “How on earth could something like this happen”, he was thinking, followed by the realisation that it was happening.  It seemed to sum up the way Murray wasfeeling about our present crisis. There was no end and no limit to the absurdity, the irony and the crazy happenings. The thought that “This can’t be happening. This is not what happens” quickly followed by a second thought “Yes this is what happens, this is history, this is what history looks like.” 

It was also something that David Starkey said about history. We think history changes gradually and morphs smoothly into different phases. He said it didn’t. Things slowly build up and then explode. History pivots on one small event. A bullet takes the life of a Duke and the World is catapulted into a war when million are slain. A plane flies into a tower and hundreds of thousands die in a land far away. A cartoon is published in a newspaper and gunmen are on the rampage. A mobile phone video is released and statues are thrown into the sea. History it seemed, turns on a pin and in the case of the current crisis, in a matter of a few days, over a weekend, when the nightmare of lockdown was birthed.

We have seen the build-up, for a long time now. This was best explained for me in the two most incisive studies that I have read on the subject: “Dominion” by Tom Holland which showed how we have what we have and “The strange death of Europe” which showed how we are throwing it all away. The dismantling of marriage and the dismembering of the family, the relativity of truth, the fluidity of reality, the replacing the real with the material, the worship of the gods of health and wellbeing instead of the one true God. David Robertson in “The wee flea” has at the same time consistently shown that by destroying the root we eventually destroy the fruit. In one of his more recent and devastatingly pertinent posts (https://theweeflea.com/2020/06/09/a-free-peoples-suicide-the-end-of-law-and-order-in-the-west/) he suggests that law and order itself is on the point of collapse.   

So with each day as the news become more and more bizarre, it is genuinely quite hard to believe if it is all true, if this is actually happening. Whether it is the sudden obsession with statues, the police kneeling before protestors, the laws clamping down on individual’s liberties but winking at thousands on the march. the insanity of social distancing in schools, or the prime minister mumbling about bubbles. And I was recalling a conversation with one of my siblings recently, when we were wondering about the world and the seismic changes that have taken place in recent years. Could our parents have possibly imagined that this was at all possible? No, they simply would not have believed it.  Truth be told, I would not have believed it either. I would have thought “this is not what happens” but now I realise, when I recognise the sound outside my window, the sound of our world crumbling, I realise “Yes, this is what happens”. This, it turns out, is what history looks like.

And I imagine a history class in a future era where the pupils are studying “The rise and fall of Western Civilisation”. The reasons for the fall were clearly documented and now very obvious but the curious thing is what actually tipped it over the edge. It was a tiny invisible organism that travelled from the East.

Crawford Mackenzie

THE NEW NIGHTMARE

Yesterday the Scottish Government produced its route map out of the Coronavirus “Lock-down”.  The message was clear. There is light at the end of the tunnel, we will meet again, but we don’t know when. You will get your freedom back, the freedom we have taken from you,  the freedom to associate, to work, to trade, to congregate, to socialise, to worship, to play, to travel, to welcome strangers, to visit and embrace your family and your loved ones. You will get that back, but only when we decide the time is right. Only when “The Science” tells us it safe to do so. And just in case you become too relaxed about it, if things change, we can reverse things at any point. So be warned.

From the beginning I felt that the prison term “lock-down” had more than a little resonance to the situation we were in. I think I have been right about that. Now we know that before being fully released we will be effectively be in an open prison, allowed out in stages, on day release, where we will be given some freedoms to demonstrate that we can use these responsibly. Once we have proved we can, we will be given more until we have full freedom, but even then, we will still be out on licence and liable to be brought back in at any moment. Too many Portobello incidents, and we will all be back in “lock-down”. That has been clear.

It is really hard to believe that all this is happening. But it is. It is really hard to believe that almost all good people have accepted it with barely a whimper of protest or question. But they have. It is hard to believe that the shaky models, the selected statistics, the loaded graphs, the unequal comparisons as well as that mysterious “R” number have been given such an uncritically free ride. The merest scratch would have shown that the case for the “lock-down” was and is based on the shakiest of foundations and would not withstand any serous intellectual challenge by people who know. Do you think that the government and all their advisers together could hold their case in an open debate with the likes of Jonathan Sumption, David Starkey, Lionel Shriver or Peter Hitchens? No neither do I.

It is unlikely that the politicians and their advisers will have the courage to admit that they made a mistake, an error of judgement, and even in a future enquiry they are likely to shield behind a Nike defence that it was “Right at that time” It is also unlikely that the general population, we who have invested so much in this sacrifice, will want to believe they have been fooled. But I think we have.

What truly scares me is the legacy of the “lock-down” which may survive for a long time after the whole thing has passed by and forgotten like any other seven-day wonder. We can see that legacy already being introduced into the “New Normal” with the continuation of that cruel and inhumane policy of “Social distancing”. Nicole Sturgeon said that Scotland should “take care not to slip back into old and bad ways of doing things”. She didn’t say what the bad ways were. Maybe it was just the filthy habit of not washing hands, or careless sneezing or spitting but I suspect she was hinting at a new normal where social distancing becomes the norm, where the fear of infection eclipses everything else, where we see every stranger as a possible carrier of a deadly disease, and we withdraw into our own bubbles, avoid embracing, touching, reaching out, offering handshakes or any form of physical expression of welcome or concern or comfort to others.

Welcome to the New Nightmare.    

DON’T STAY HOME

Our 80+ year old friend dropped a bag of compost round at our door this morning. We were able to catch her before she was off on her brisk daily walk. She is one of those exceptional octogenarians who has such an enormous energy for life and spends most of her days caring for others, people much younger than herself. She also spends her days in prayer. She wouldn’t stay at home. She told me of a couple she cares for whose family forbad them to go out. “But there is no one to forbid me “ she said with a smile.

From the start “Stay Home” really irritated me. I think it now makes me feel angry. I hated it at first because I hate being told what to do and I groaned each time I saw it. But it was much more than a personal annoyance. It seemed wrong. It seemed a bad idea all together. The more we learn and the more that is revealed, the more I am convinced that it was a thoroughly bad idea.

Reading a report this morning of studies done on the progress of the virus by The University of Maryland, Anglia Ruskin University, the University of Oxford amongst others, made it obvious. Sarah Knapton brought together a few strands of science which, in many ways turn out to be little more than common sense. It was what doctors knew long ago, that the sun was a healer, that getting out into the fresh air and wind, sleeping with the window open and exercise all supported your immune system and helped you to recover from illness. Viruses on the other hand fester in crowded spaces, in air conditioned rooms and ducts, behind closed doors, shut windows and pulled blinds.   

“Stay Home” was balmy.

But I now fear it was worse that that. It was created without any thought of what it would mean. “Stay Home” is fine depending on what home is. It is fine if your home has room and you are not crowded, you live in harmony with your house mates, you have a garden and easy access to open space and can enjoy the new stillness, watch the plants grow and listen to the birds singing. It’s not, if your home is a flat on the thirteenth floor, crammed with difficult house mates who don’t get on, not to mention those partial to abuse, with little light or fresh air and no access to any outdoor space far less one with grass or trees or birds or wild life.  And when the bold did venture out there was the police to send them back in. Compelling people, without thought, to lock themselves in for weeks on end like this is a shocking and cruel thing to do and no one should be surprised when it turns out that Coronavirus has had its worst impact in poorer urban areas.

It was the worst possible advice.

1968

1968 was a momentous year. I was a student and, in the summer break, working in a cheese factory close to our home on a west coast island. There were milk deliveries each day so the factory worked a seven-day week. After seven full days working, you had a day off. So on the morning of August 21st, my long lie was abruptly disturbed by my father at the bottom of the stairs shouting up to all those still in bed  “Russia has invaded Czechoslovakia”.  The news sent shock waves through my body. There is something about hearing the news of some dramatic event by word of mouth that carries a dramatic tension missing from news you hear over the wires.  When you get around to reading it in the paper or watching it on TV, When Kate Adie or John Simpson get to the scene, you know it’s under control and you can relax. It probably won’t affect me. Normal transmission can be resumed.

1968 was historic, at least in my memory, and not just because it was the year when I first asked a girl out. There was Martin Luther King’s assassination in April and Robert Kennedy’s in November. There was Vietnam, which was on the screen every night, the Tet offensive and the protests in Grosvenor square. There was the massacre at My Lai, though we didn’t hear about that till much later.  There was Apollo 8 and the Beatles white album played over and over in our studio at college. There was Enoch Powell referencing the Tigris and the black panther athletes with their black gloved salutes and then there was the Prague spring which gave its name to every spring after and brutally turned into winter with guns and tanks.

One of the major events during that year, which moved into the next, was Hong Kong Flu pandemic, which accounted for over a million deaths worldwide. In the UK 80,000 people are reported to have died from it yet, strangely, interested in all the other world events, as I was at the time, I have no memory of it. I don’t remember it being talked about or on the news. There was no shut downs or masks or mass testing or tracing as far as I was aware. It must have been just one of these things that a nation and its people live with. I do wonder if there was a lock-down, a policy of inverted quarantine adopted then, if it would have made any difference, in the same way that I wonder if this lock-down has or will.  I really doubt it has. True the spread of infection will have been slowed down. That makes sense. But like the dams we tried to build on the burn, when we were little, they only slowed the water for a little while. It was fun but it didn’t work. You can’t stop the waves with sheer will power that’s for sure. King Canute knew that.

Let us go

Walking through the park in the beautiful yet eerie stillness of the morning, the words to Psalm 122 come to mind. I know them off by heart and recite them to myself. I also know them in the 1620  metrical form. We sang it as children to the 18c tune St Paul  with the almost clumsy double note at the end of the line in the second verse, to cope with the extra syllable. I remember singing it on one summer Sunday morning  on the Isle of Muck. We had travelled earlier in a launch from our home in the nearby island of Eigg and scrambled over the slippy rocks to be treated to tea and fresh scones before making our way up to the school building. Through the tall windows behind the make shift pulpit, some sheep had left off their grazing to stare at the strange creatures standing inside singing. Somehow the relevance of the psalm, with the tribes gathering in Jerusalem and the houses packed together, so far away in space and time was quite lost on me. But today they have a special resonance.

The Psalm moves beautifully and quickly from the first person to the second to the third and then to the destination the home of the King. “I was glad when they said to me let us go to the house of the Lord”. It is full of movement in a single direction, a going up, a coming together, a closeness, a sense of belonging, and a sense of security, prosperity and of peace. You know that the Psalm writer is not describing something ephemeral, virtual or abstract. He is not talking about an idea, but an actual physical event and the joy that the invitation gives him.

Deprived of that special blessing, meeting each week together in church, I feel the loss so keenly today. This absence makes the heart go much more than a little bit fonder and the virtual replacements only make the longing for the reality that bit more intense.  We have a weekly digital service and a sermon from one of the finest young preachers I know and afterwards we have digital coffee in cyberspace with our online home group. It is astonishing what technology has achieved and the blessings that can come from it, but it just doesn’t compare.   

And I wonder why the church has, without, it seems any protest or question, followed the government instructions, cancelled services and closed buildings and so easily surrendered this most precious thing.   It is not, of course, surprising that a secular government would view these gatherings as an unnecessary luxury in a crisis, while bicycle shops, pet shops, DIY  centres, and off-licences on the other hand, are seen as essential to life. It is surprising, that the churches themselves think so too.

Still, in the vacuum, with social distancing, in the new normal, I will pray for the peace and security of Jerusalem. “For the sake of the house of the Lord our God I will seek your good”

The Scream 3: Going to war

When you take your country into war you must first decide if you are likely to win it. If the odds against success are great then it’s probably wise to think again. Peace with its inevitable compromise might just be the best option. When you drag the country into a “lock-down” you should know how to come out of it. The inability of our government to know how to do that, must be one its most damning shortcomings.

The Lock-down

For anyone who has had a connection with a prison establishment the term “Lockdown” will carry a lot of resonance. It is an emergency procedure where inmates are literally locked back in their cells to allow some form of order to be restored. Why the government and the media and everyone else, it seems, have adopted this term in the Co-vid crisis is intriguing. It is not a lockdown. Any locks that are thrown are done from the inside of people’s homes. No one, other than those in secure institutions, are actually locked down.

But when words are used and given creative new meanings, it is inevitable that we smell a rat. We have George Orwell to thank for that. When specific instructions and guidance is given by experts, by people who know, to the rest of us, plain folks, it is inevitable that I become cynical.  I have my big brother to thank for that.

Of course, there are other terms that could have been created for the effort, so why this one? Could it be that it carries a barely concealed hint of authoritarianism? After all, while a government’s chief responsibility is to protect it’s citizens from bullies within and without, the lure to control them must be a very persistent and powerful one.  A compliant controlled population is easy to manager especially if you get them to do what you want them to do. If you can get people to stay in their houses then at a stroke it deals with a whole host of policing issues, crowds, football hooligans, protest marches, music festivals and religious gatherings.  It must be very seductive. And I must be very cynical.

But I do wonder if anyone has actually thought of the effect this kind of language might have on the population? I wonder if anyone has actually considered where this most unusual and probably unprecedented action will lead? I wonder if anyone actually knows what it means to force social beings, who thrive by the interaction with others, in a whole network of relationships, not to be social? Well we should do. We have plenty of evidence of what happens to human beings when they are forcibly placed in solitary confinement. It destroys the person. It could be the most inhumane form of punishment. And has anyone thought about how humiliating is to have work and being able to work but being prohibited from doing so because your work is considered non-essential. The fact that it is the way you provide for your family seems not to count. That the government will offer compensation for employed and self employed, who are affected, sounds good, but it only rubs salt in the wound. Being paid not to work is the final straw.  And of course, the real tragedy is that we cannot know for certain if these extreme measures will actually make any difference at all.

As for me, I am enormously privileged. I share this large house with two others and we get on well. We have a garden front and back and 100 yards from a beautiful garden (which the authorities would find difficult to seal off). I work from home and have done for many years and I know how to organise my time. I have many interests and ploys and can easily be absorbed in them. So, it is easy for me. I am sure it is also easy for those who have made the decision to force the shut-down but I shudder to think of what it will mean for possibly the vast majority, those in cramped accommodation in high rise flats with young children and those coming to the end of their lives to spend these days in solitude estranged from those they love. It sounds like a particular cruel form of punishment. It is not of course, but it sounds like it and calling it a “lock-down” reinforces that.

There does seem to be a complete disconnect from the middle-class office workers retiring with their laptops to the leafy suburbs and those who actually work in manufacturing, agriculture, construction or the energy industries- ie the ones who actually power the economy and who now are told that there work isn’t really important. And this is where the divide is so scary, because if the economy is driven on the rocks then all the services fail and the biggest gobbler of public finance, the NHS, will be the first to suffer. So to protect the NHS we may actually be dealing it a death blow. It’s all been said before, of course, and better.  

It is tragic and I hope I am wrong, but I genuinely worry that the treatment might end up killing the patient.

Crawford Mackenzie