Distancing Retreat, Day 94: My first lockdown birthday

Aren’t these cupcakes (made by Kitty Peels) incredible? The shading is stunning. They taste amazing too, although I feel a little guilty about eating such works of art.

I’m not a huge fan of birthdays, and having one during lockdown set expectations quite low. I mean, non-essential shops are open, but spa-days, cocktail bars or parties are all out. I decided on a day of watching movies with my social bubble buddies, Rosy and Olive; but I soon realised I’d had enough of drinking while watching films. Meh.

We took a break from the films for the Daily Briefing, led by Culture Secretary Oliver Downden. After skipping over the daily death toll, we were told that today was an exciting day as premiership football was returning. Then Downden annouced that he is engaged in talks with the arts sector to look for a way forward. I’m not sure what the culture secretary has been doing over the last 14-15 weeks, but I assumed that a roadmap for the arts would have been produced long before now. And Downden’s use of the briefing to make a jibe at the leader of the opposition was in poor taste.

I don’t know why people are not very angry with how the British government has handled the pandemic. Today, the NHS track and trace app has been abandoned in favour of the Google/Apple model. Since every developer I know had said since the first announcement that this would be the case, the government should not be allowed to get away with claiming that they “backed both horses” – particularly when they denied doing this repeatedly. We should be told how much money has been wasted on this futile effort.

This is only the latest failure of policy. We have one of the world’s highest death rates, and are predicted to have the worst post-lockdown financial recovery. Quarantine was not put in place in the early stages of the crisis, which may have allowed up to 1,300 infected people into the country. The Track-and-trace programme was abandoned early on. Rather than expand existing local teams who already do track-and-trace locally, a national scheme has been put in place. Contracts have been given to private companies with little oversight. Elderly patients were discharged from hospitals to unprepared care-homes. (These points are summarised in a guardian leader). Our lockdown, which has proved hugely expensive, appears to have had little impact on the progression of the virus compared to countries that applied less harsh restrictions. More attention has been paid to re-opening garden centers than re-opening dentists.

I try to remain optimistic, hoping that the simple measures will keep the virus under control – things such as washing hands and sick people not being forced to go to work. But it looks as if the current government have actually managed to make a horrific situation worse. All the rhetoric and brave promises have delivered very little.

Early on, the government’s rhetoric was based around military metaphors. If the struggle against coronavirus was really a war, at this point we’d be looking to negotiate the terms of a surrender. I will be very surprised if things are back to normal for my next birthday.

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One thought on “Distancing Retreat, Day 94: My first lockdown birthday”

  1. Don’t get me started. I for one am angry, albeit contained.
    Agree with all of the above.
    And yeah those cupcakes were very professional, I like the Aciiiiiiiiiiiid one especially.

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