One of the great bonuses of being an optimist is that I am often able to push difficulties aside, or wait them out, or do something to challenge them. When no solution is available, I think of the old favourite children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, and the explanation that the woods, or the bog or the mountains are too high to go over, too wide to go round, oh no, it looks like we’ll just have to go through it. And I know, inherently, truly, that there is another side, that the problem will, at some time, be behind us. And I am certain, somewhere, that is still true.
But something now is preventing me from feeling it. It’s the politics. It’s the fury I feel in reaction to the politics. Precious connections via screens with loved ones are close to being overburdened, ruined by my anger. But there’s no getting away from it. I’m furious and it’s upsetting me enormously.
Covid-19 is hitting some people so very hard. The terrible sadness of friends saying goodbye to their dearly loved ones on a damned phone. For me, learning that my sister is in a very high risk group due to a childhood accident that left her with no spleen, it is frightening. I have learned to deal with the fears of ordinary anxiety, but this is a new situation and the fear sits, like actual pain, all around. Even if nothing goes wrong, I don’t know when I will be able to sit in the same room as her, and it feels bloody awful. And then I imagine how much worse it must be for her and her family. And how much worse again for other families dealing with loss.
All of this is terrible. For people with young children and little space, it’s terrible. for those facing financial uncertainty, it’s terrible. For those isolated and alone, it’s terrible. And it makes so many of us feel so very sad. But it is the anger that stops me from coping. Call me a big bloody baby, but I don’t know what to do when I don’t know what to do. And I’m so angry. The disdain of a government acting purely in the service of their own access to power is disgusting. In the literal sense of the word, I am disgusted by them. Telling health care workers, risking their lives to care for others that they have carelessly created the perils they face is disgusting. Putting the burden of a response that should rightly belong to all the wealthy on the narrow wedge defined by footballers (unlike many politicians not born to their privilege) is disgusting. Clapping a blocked pay rise in parliament then performatively applauding health care workers for the camera is disgusting. Deluded fan-girls in the print media telling us that the health of Boris Johnson is tantamount to the health of us all is risible, and ultimately, because of the personality-cult intention, disgusting.
Through years of austerity the Conservative government has demonstrated that they have the ability to look past people, to reframe need, vulnerability or bad luck as failings. They have, over and over again, signalled their contempt for people. They have, over and over again, roped in and deluded and pandered to people in order to sustain the trick that keeps themselves in power. And now their ghost writers in the national press talk about discovering who the really important key workers are, and wouldn’t you know it, they’re the minimum wage grunts, and we are supposed to applaud this signalled show of virtuous humility? Fuck you mate, most of us already knew this. Most of us haven’t ridden a tide of contempt over people’s lives for the last god, how many years is it now? How many xenophobic little voters with their Boris Delusion and their nationalistic malapropism of history, their red white and blue clenched little arseholes and their stupidly beating bulldog hearts? Why should I understand them? When I see what the players on the stage perform to keep them happy, I don’t believe they are misunderstood and left behind. I don’t hear, for example, the Boris fan club saying ‘Oo he’s such a fighter, and what a lad, he’s definitely our Brexit hero, but shame about the misery caused by the hostile environment and people dying of hunger because of Universal Credit.’ No.
So contempt is what has been doled out, for so long, in so many ways. And because they are clearly willing to do that to all of us, perhaps I am just returning the favour. They disgust me in a true sense, like something unhealthy and antithetical to our humanity.
Covid-19 hasn’t provided any new insights. and of course, is not the government’s fault. But it has created an environment when the hope might be to expect more, better, to expect something. And what was the go-to? Herd immunity.
There’s nothing, there never was, and in my view, from this government, there never will be. They are dishonest careerists who don’t need to reach very far into themselves to play the worst. This incompetence and callousness is all of it, and for so many, that’s apparently enough. And I’m fucking furious. And it makes me sick.