I’m beginning to understand the concept of writer’s block.  Already Tuesday and, with the afternoon almost gone, it has taken me until now to open my laptop.  Not really like me, I am usually quite disciplined when it comes to these posts but I think I have just run out of steam – and enthusiasm.  I really don’t have anything positive to say as I observe the world around me.  A year on, little has changed as the goal posts are constantly moved.  The word on the block is ‘normal’; six letters forming a word, the concept of which was, by its very nature, always elusive.  What exactly isnormal’?  Defined as ‘conforming to a standard; usual, typical or expected’, I realise the word is, actually, quite relevant … when it comes to sheep; and sheep, most people continue to be.

Easter weekend heralded the dismantling of the first restraint and Saturday’s sunshine seemed to recognise the celebration – before the snow!  Only in this country.  Still, I am grateful for the memory of sitting with my family on the dunes of the West Sands – beside Pop, of course – in the evening sun.  Picnic basket to hand, we revelled in our chosen beverages and nibbles whilst looking towards the iconic skyline.  Saturday was a good day.

A memory as the baltic temperatures set in, along with strong winds and even snow!  Impossible to predict the unpredictable.  Then, there is the predictable, as shown on the news the next day: Ikea was open, once more, and, as though programmed, they all got into their cars and headed for the nearest store where they could do what they do best – form an orderly queue, snaking round, seemingly, for miles, to stand in for hours!  Seriously?!

I think despair is the correct choice of word, evoking the feeling of hopelessness – or, perhaps it is more frustration – as one realises that this mess is set to continue for … who knows how long; maybe forever?  As the government attempts to stem the growing fear associated with AstraZeneca, the worry that this may blow the lid on the experimental nature of these vaccines must be very real.  There is no escaping the possibility of unexpected side-effects, particularly in the long term; there can be no denial that the collection of data is ongoing.  Still they keep plugging that, in the ‘game’ of Russian Roulette, death from COVID is a greater risk.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  You choose.  Whoops, that’s not really allowed, is it?

COVID passports.  Once, the very suggestion was denied but no longer.  Talk of apps on phones denoting one’s personal medical history, once deemed strictly confidential, to enable access to large gatherings?  There is even mention of pubs and restaurants!  Thankfully, those who still value their personal freedom – and privacy – enough to oppose such control are beginning to make their presence felt.  After all, it makes no sense.  What happened to All Hail the vaccine?  The vaccine which was to procure our freedom?  Don’t be silly, haven’t you seen Dr Who?  There are mutations; variants which will, in turn, bring a third wave!  Yes, the vulnerable are protected against the original strain but … boosters.  Boosters are required.  Oh, and social distancing and the wearing of masks must continue, just in case.  The government emergency coronavirus powers?  Well, they have been extended until the end of September, thus far.  How else can the daily lives of the proletariat be restricted?  God forbid, we adopt the notion that we can think for ourselves!

Nothing makes sense.  The only thing one must remember, however, is that while the vaccine is essential, it makes no difference!  Confused?  That’s the point!

Meanwhile, I read an interesting – alarming though not surprising – article by Gordon Rayner in The Telegraph of the 2nd April.  Entitled State of fear: how ministers ‘used covert tactics’ to keep scared public at home’, he reports on the intense debate which has emerged as dozens of psychologists accuse ministers of using ‘covert psychological strategies’ to manipulate the public’s behaviour.  Believing said public has been ‘the subject of a mass experiment in the use of strategies that operate “below their level of awareness”‘, they have made a formal complaint to their professional body who will, now, decide whether government advisers ‘have been guilty of a breach of ethics.’  The key phrase, surely, is ‘below their level of awareness’!

This is a long article, at once, sinister and insightful.  One need almost look no further than a key piece of evidence in the form of a document prepared for the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) at the beginning of the pandemic a year ago.  Dated March 22nd, it is a paper written by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) which states:

‘A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened; it could be that they are reassured by the low death rate in their demographic group, although levels of concern may be rising … the perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging.  To be effective this must also empower people by making clear the actions they can take to reduce the threat.’

Thus, the constant manipulated data denoting the number of deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID test, devoid of further explanation or context in terms of seasonal norms; daily figures for hospital admissions with no mention of how many had recovered.  Even today, a year on, Captain Tom was in the news regarding the legacy of his foundation and they couldn’t let it go, adding that he died in February having tested positive for COVID.  He was 100 years old and had been suffering from pneumonia!!  Give me strength!  ‘Below their level of awareness’?  Frighteningly, correct, in most cases but, I can assure you not in mine!  Contrary to what one is led to believe, there is intelligent life on this planet.  Engulfed, perhaps, but still very much a force to be reckoned with.   The rising discontent is testament to that.

The problem with fear is that it clouds rational thinking.  You become more reliant on government messaging, which makes you more frightened, which makes you even more reliant on their messaging, creating a doom loop.  We have forgotten how to analyse risk.’ 

Laura Dodsworth

Enough.  No wonder I don’t sleep!  Thank God for Jeremy Clarkson … mind you, in his inimitable way, his new programme, It’s Clarkson on TV – ITV, last Saturday night – only served to highlight the preponderance of the intellectually challenged in our country.  On the subject of a ridiculous series, ‘Darling, what have you done to your hair?’, he commented:

Now, the reason why inane drivel like that gets on television is that TV producers believe they need to dumb down because the viewer can’t handle complexity.’

Harking back to ‘Below their level of awareness’, once more, it all makes sense.  If one needs any further justification for the success of the ‘mass experiment’, one need not look beyond the existence of a programme entitled ‘Diva Forever’.  The name Gemma Collins should suffice.  I noted down a quote I cannot bear to give light of day – there are some things, Jeremy, on which you and I differ!  My question, though: How can we possibly have sunk so low?  At this rate, we’ll all be voting SNP …

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.’

George S. Patton

This is Trish, signing off.