Opinion: Robert McNeil: Social bubbles mean trouble – HeraldScotland

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SOMETIMES I appal myself. But I cannot deny that a small, reprehensible part of me will regret the lifting of the coronavirus lockdown.

Let me be clear, as all the best dissemblers say: I’ve hated going to the supermarket under the restrictions, I’ve missed the hardware store, and I’ve rued not being able to go to the village gym and sauna.

I think, too, that the effect on many people, particularly the over-70s and families in flats, must have been terrible, and I believe better arrangements might have been made for giving access to parks and nature, and even perhaps for excusing the demonstrably fit elderly.

But I’m worried about the easing of restrictions on exercising and socialising. As regards the former, there has been more exercising in public rather than less.

It has been difficult to avoid joggers and cyclists, and there has been irresponsible talk of these dispiriting practices becoming even more common once we’re forced to be free again.

Oddly enough, as reported exclusively here before, folk have taken the “exercise once a day” restriction as an instruction, and have done more exercise than ever before. It’s disgraceful.

As for socialising, the lack of irritating party invitations or, worse still, folk turning up at the door with a bottle of wine or other gifts, has been a godsend.

However, it’s reported that, under an easing of restrictions, people will be able to create “social bubbles”. I’m toiling to see how these bubbles can be other than trouble.

I’m terrified people will want to include me in theirs and invite me to small parties or soirées, which invitations I will, as always, have to decline. Indeed, there are fears that sociability could increase drastically, with people taking leave of their senses and partying as if there were no tomorrow. Well, this news just in: there is a tomorrow. And it’ll be along any minute.

I also worry what sort of political madness will follow the ending of the lockdown. Recently, there’s been less political rancour, with irksome debate replaced by comforting Government announcements. It’s been brilliant.

However, this week, a gaggle of celebrities and scientists joined forces to call for radical change, with in particular an end to “the pursuit of consumerism”.

Luminaries signing the letter to Le Monde included leading philosopher Madonna, top economist Robert De Niro, and venerable statesmen Cate Blanchett and Jane Fonda. Several scientists and Nobel laureates were also roped in, though they probably didn’t understand much about it.

I don’t get the bit about consumerism. Are we not to go to Markies or buy a CD or DVD featuring some of the aforementioned celebrities?

Indeed, it’s fair to say their clarion call hasn’t gone down particularly well, with the lieges retorting that these celebs made their pile out of consumerism, and that it was nauseating to hear the wealthy, like these folk, telling the poor to up their game.

Still, there will always be a constituency, too, that applauds such sentiments. I wouldn’t be surprised if, post-virus, there are protests in the streets, with people irresponsibly exercising their right to demonstrate.

I might even join in myself, if the protests involve demands for Universal Basic Income and the imprisonment of anyone “earning” more than £100,000 a year.

Otherwise, I think it behoves us all to keep the heid when this is done. Maintain social distancing. Exercise responsibly, either in the privacy of your own home or in properly accredited gymnasia – not in parks or other public places where you spread depression and an aesthetic deficit.

We have come through this together. Let us go forward together – but not too closely.

Dancing: a lot of balls

DESPITE what some idiot said earlier, I’ve hated the coronavirus lockdown. Some of the phenomena it has unleashed online have been demoralising, not least people singing but, worst of all, performing displays of dancing.

Previously, this lewd, satanic practice – designed to encourage mating – was restricted to special “halls” where the dissolute would foregather.

When this was fortuitously forbidden on account of the virus, uninhibited people – that is to say, women – took to disporting themselves in the house and filming the results online.

Even the VE Day celebrations, which should have carried echoes of a better era when people behaved themselves, were used to encourage people to perform seedy “swing” dances popular among the wicked in the past.

Decent ratepayers were also urged to bake carrot scones and Marmite swirls, risking the ruination of an entire generation’s digestive systems.

The coronavirus has made many people reassess their values and wonder what kind of world might emerge after the lockdown.

Get on your knees and join me now in praying that it leads to a clampdown, not only on dancing, cycling, jogging, partying, hugging and kissing but, crucially, on making bakery products with root vegetables.

Five things we learned this week

1 Tory minister Michael Gove’s wife ill-advisedly put pictures of the household bookshelves on Twitter. Some books were by right dodgy right-wing writers, prompting liberals to say it was important not to understand fascist authors, whose books should be burned.

2 Poop news, and scientists say 22 fossilised Ice Age sloths the size of elephants may have been killed by drinking water contaminated by their own ordure. A similar thing happened last century to 140 hippos in Tanzania. Animals: they never learn.

3 Billionaire spaceman Elon Musk named his baby X Æ A-12 from X, the unknown variable – ken? – and his wife’s Elvish spelling of AI, with A12 referring to the couple’s favourite aircraft. In Scotland, the child would just be called Muskie anyway.

4 From the Daily Telegraph’s letters page, we’re indebted to the correspondent who pointed out that Boris Johnson’s hirsute bairn brought to mind Wilfred the Hairy, a medieval Catalan warrior, who had to pay homage to Emperor Charles the Bald.

5 A Bulgarian woman has had 20 injections in her lips in a bid to have the world’s biggest mooth. Andrea Emilova Ivanova got a mixed response online, with one commentator saying she’d regret it when she got a cold sore.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald

Source: heraldscotland.com

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