Saturday, 20 November 2021

Going to hell in a handcart

I think it's hell you're after, matey.

Blimey yes.  There seems to be an air of malaise and gloom about us in the world.  If what I read and watch is accurate, something bad is happening almost everywhere. Even though I no longer watch the news, read newspapers or listen to the radio, I cannot miss the podcasts and videos on YouTube and from what I can see, there is no hope.  And then I go out from my home here in Bognor Regis, and everyone is still as nice as they ever were, the shops are full of stuff and everyone is going about their business, bustling about together and living the good life.  I wonder then, whether I am just protected in my tiny provincial town by the sea and the badness hasn't caught up with us yet.  I see protests in big cities on YouTube.  I hear Australia is now a totalitarian police state.  I see Austria has declared a lockdown for their unvaccinated citizens  with Germany and Europe set to follow suit and in America, the vaccine mandate is not only now steamrolling ahead regardless, it is successfully legally challenged and still it is steamrolling ahead.  I see on YouTube and in various articles that I do read that Gibraltar has cancelled Christmas, Canada and New Zealand have become wet and authoritarian beyond belief, and I wonder - why is Bognor Regis still managing to get by without all of this affecting us?  Are we just not affected yet?

There is, if you look for it, a change in the psychic weather.  Something has happened to we ordinary people and though most of us have retained our good manners and many are happy to go about our daily business, there are billions bound by a new fear, a new terror, that somehow they are going to die.  Not the old existential we-are-all-mortal die, but a gruesome, germ-warfare die.  It is here in the whole world, this fear.  It is attached to a new threat that was science fiction only a few years ago, but now is, we are told, and we utterly believe it because why would we not, lethal, indiscriminatory and almost supernatural in its power.  It is new and we are all going to die and it comes from China. Aaaaag. Certain actions will save us, we are told, and if we do not do them we not only effectively commit suicide (we die horribly and it is our own fault we were warned) but take others down with us too (they died tragically because we did not do what we were told to do and we knew others would die if we disobeyed, and still we did not do as we were asked and now not only are we dead, but everyone else is too thank you very much), so we are effectively murderers too.  But despite religiously doing what we are told, the fear increases because we start to not only fear dying suddenly from something we can't see that seems to have all the power in the world, we fear not doing these things as if that too will strike us down, and then we fear each other and now, billions of us fear everything.  And worst of all, this great invisible threat to life as we know it ignores all the roadblocks our great leaders and those in charge of what story we are told, tell us will stop it. As far as we can see, it is still out to get us.  It knows where we live.  And still, as far as I can see, life in Bognor Regis just tootles along. 

There is something that goes hand in hand with this fear.  It is compliance, compliance with whatever we are told to do and believe in, which far from making the fear better, makes it worse.  It gets worse because the information about the invisible super killing enemy in the air keeps changing, and the invisible super killing enemy is not taking any notice of what is in place to defeat it, so nothing really works and we have to find someone to blame.  Well it is not us, that is for sure.  It must be them, whoever they are, and we conveniently make them responsible for making we who have played by the rules, look foolish.  

The compliance is understandable.  The messages from our great leaders who thought up the life saving steps to defeat the enemy in the air, are clever, and make us feel like they care, and our great leaders have access to all manner of ways to make us believe in them.  We are all so deeply traumatised by the Russian roulette manner in which they tell us we are all to die or survive, that we hang on to our great leaders' every word, even when not much of it makes sense.  The thing about compliance is that it makes us feel as if we are doing something, we are in control, we are in this together, and as a group the thing we most fear can't get us.  And our leaders tell us that we, ourselves, are the most dangerous thing of all and so despite being in this together, we need to be in it together but far enough away from the next person that we cannot touch or breathe on each other, so that this thing that we are now personally responsible for cannot get anywhere. Or at least, it can, but it may get my neighbour or the next person in the queue and not me, because I am obeying. I am safe.  Unless I come across someone who is not complying and then it is an all over. Oh what to do!  Tell us, great leader, and make it strict and tough so we feel that you care!

Browsing the aisles in a carefree manner.  Not yet in Bognor though.

I do look at social media and I do look at headlines on the papers in the shops.  What I see there is a mad, crazy world of blame and counter blame, a panic driven wish to hide whole societies under the kitchen table in hazmat suits and to denounce ordinary living as lethal.  I see that vaccines are the answer, to protect the world from this armageddon.  Great, that is a relief.  But now I see that they lose effectiveness after about six months, and that they work wonderfully well (thank God) but they don't actually work that well, and it is all very confusing.  The narrative goes now, that unless all people from birth onwards take this magical vaccine, life on earth will end.  And to help us to do that, take the vaccine, we are given free doughnuts and cash prizes and always a pat on the back for our selflessness.  And anyway, if I read the headlines, social media and YouTube correctly, if we don't get ourselves vaccinated (once, twice, three times and now four and possibly more ad infinitum), we are too dangerous to work, to shop, to travel and to be around.  Best get it done then.  Phew.  And yet, many are not vaccinated, carry on living quite happily, and what does that mean for all those who are, and what does it mean for life on earth?  Oh it is all so maddening.  

Back to Bognor Regis.  I do not know who is vaccinated or not and no one is dying in the street.  There is no division into clean and unclean in Morrison's. People wear face masks that they take out, shake off the fluff from their pockets and put on in shops, and that is possibly the only way we are playing our part.  We make our masks suit our outfits and feel lovely in them, taking them off to chat and eat and drink, and to smoke too of course.  The fact that we have them, probably many of them in different colours, is enough. We have not had any riots or demonstrations, and so far, we are milling around and buying all our usual stuff on the High Street.  Maybe those who are still very afraid are still under their tables in their hazmat suits, so of course we won't see each other. 

But there is a malaise in the air.  Things are different out there, beyond Bognor.  It is not a good idea to be ill and need care at the moment.  It is not a good idea to want to travel out of this country.  It is not good to need to work and fear being made unemployable by not having a vaccine that you thought you had the right to decide to take or not take.  Not good to fear our great leaders shutting down everything for our own good, except that it is not for our own good, if we cannot earn money to live.  There is a malaise in the air and it is not good.  If I believed all the hype, I would say we are going to hell in a handcart.  It may be true, but so far, in Bognor, it is not.  

It's like this every day in Bognor.

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