What a world of scaredy cats we have become. And we, the English, who once had a reputation for independent thought and ‘bloodymindedness’ are as much caught up in it as any other nation.
We have sacrificed the quality of our lives for quantity, and no one can see the end of it. We have surrendered our personal freedom to a degree unprecedented, even in the darkest days of the Second World War. The collateral damage – job losses, operations deferred, mental and physical illness, the burgeoning of the National Debt – will be with us for a generation.
Who remembers the catchphrase ‘Don’t mention the war’ from the Fawlty Towers comedy? Now in the media and the corridors of power they surely have another one, ‘Don’t mention Sweden.’ That country chose a different path. People were encouraged rather than forced to take their own precautions. No child missed a day of school, cafes and bars remained open.
It is difficult to obtain comparative figures but the latest I’ve heard is that the the Swedish economy has shrunk by about half compared to ours, and their death rate is lower.
In all this disturbance there are a few compensations. Some are finding that they can work from home, or cycle to work, which must be good for the environment. Some who lose their jobs will strike out on their own, as happened after the collapse of Rolls Royce in 1971. We may not be meeting our pals down the pub, but some of us are getting to know our neighbours.
Here at Staunton Harold we kept the lawns and parkland open The Nurseries and Ferrers Centre have restarted, but I cannot say it is business as usual. This mask-wearing and ‘social distancing’ make a visit to the cafes and workshops a less convivial experience. Most days at some point you’ll find a crusty old fellow loitering in the Ferrers courtyard; Say Hello and offer a handshake – he belongs to a saner world.