Have you given up looking for reasons to be cheerful? Understandable. Nine months after the first lockdown, coronavirus infection rates are higher than ever. There are over 32,000 people with Covid-19 in UK hospitals. More than 83,000 have died. There have been over three million cases. With many more to come for sure.

But now there is hope. More than two million people, including my father-in-law, have already received at least one dose of a vaccine. All being well (?), I’ll have mine by the end of April. We fervently hope that it will protect us from the variants of the virus that are now circulating in London and around the world. In the meantime, we are doing everything we can to avoid making things worse. Aren’t we?

You’d think everyone would have got the message by now. You can only leave home in very limited circumstances and under strict conditions. Taking exercise once a day, accompanied by one person from another household, is allowed. Shops deemed to be essential (like garden centres!) are allowed to open. But you must keep away from other people as much as possible because… you can pass on the virus without even knowing you’ve got it.

Ruskin Park, Herne Hill

By and large, people are not congregating in large groups. At least, I haven’t seen it, with one exception: at our Sunday market in Herne Hill, which is still open. Certainly it was not as busy as usual last weekend, but people do travel to it from all across South London, often just to enjoy takeaway food and a coffee. It’s a great market, and we SE24 folk are very proud of it – but should it be open at this time?

It has become an established social event

There is nothing on sale that could be described as essential – apart from food, which is, of course, available every day of the week from supermarkets, corner shops, and online. With other concerned locals I am trying to get Lambeth Council to shut it down. We shall see; at least one councillor is on the case. But when I tweeted that I would very much like to see the rules being enforced, some pompous individual accused me of advocating a police state. Jeez. He was outnumbered 30-1, I was relieved to see. But there’s worse than him out there.

It seems that the influence of the conspiracy theorists who delight in telling people that Covid doesn’t exist is growing rather than fading. Who are these people and what is in it for them? On Sunday we had a flash mob, many reportedly drunk, running round Brockwell Park telling people to take their masks off because Covid was a hoax.

What could be worse than that? Well…

How about standing outside St Thomas’ hospital shouting abuse at staff who are exhausted from working to save people’s lives? This is not freedom of speech, but harassment. I cannot find words strong enough to describe such people. If these idiots were to die I would not much care. Unfortunately the virus, like rain, falls on the godly and the ungodly alike. But wait a minute… maybe they are right and the world’s entire scientific and medical communities are having us on? Perhaps I am even more gullible than I thought.

***

I was going to say something about the riot in Washington DC last week but that last rant has tired me out. I watched the shenanigans on TV with fascination and growing horror. Even House of Cards stopped short of an invasion of the Capitol, though it did predict an attempted coup, accusations of a stolen election etc. And of course this story, like Covid-19, is far from over.

I started this blog two years ago with the intention of avoiding making political statements, but with Trump still having his finger on the so-called nuclear button it’s impossible to take a “neutral” stance.

Be very afraid

The President is a dangerous maniac who should be in prison. Not too controversial, I trust? But at the same time the widespread distrust of politicians – seen as aloof, dishonest and on the make – is not unique to the USA and is not going away any time soon. But even so, why choose Trump as your messiah?

***

In other news, I stood down as Chair of the Herne Hill Society this week – not in a fit of pique but because eight years is enough. More about that next time, perhaps.

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