Now did you read the news today, they say the danger’s gone away, but i can see the fire’s still alight, there burning into the night. There’s too many men, too many people, making too many problems, and not much love to go round. Can’t you see, this is a land of confusion. [Genesis, Land of Confusion].
Eventually, when I manage to sum up the emotional and mental resources to write a proper update, I will continue with my formal, ongoing COVID-19 series. It is not that that there is nothing much to say on the subject, for indeed there is much, but I need to be in the correct frame of mind to write lucidly, passionately, objectively, while at the same time actually believing what I write. This, insofar as I would prefer to go back six months, maybe six years later, and reassure myself that I have been an accurate commentator of events, albeit with that particular Rookwood flavour, is my excuse anyway. The toxic clouds of confusion that surround this whole topic are really getting to me now, so I must retire to my core values and interpretation of the world, otherwise I would go, quite literally, insane. So please look upon this piece as a “COVID-19 update lite”, rather than a meatier in-depth research piece.
I may well be adding two and two and making five here, but I suspect not. In the Rookwood household there are mountains of books in every room, with the exception of the kitchen and the bathroom. They are on shelves, in drawers, some almost lost forever, having fallen down behind dusty and immovable furniture, only to be rediscovered years later. In amongst this collection there is a book, its name I cannot recall, but the wisdom of the author has struck a melodic chord with me in the current circumstances. The exact words I cannot remember, but the visceral impression has been indelibly stamped upon my soul. No doubt based upon the quote by Mussolini that “Fascism equals Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”, the warning was stark. We have entered the age where the Fascist is not some dark-shirted public politician, rather he has has re-emerged in the domain of the corporate executive suite, where accountability is via shareholder and invisible forces, rather than any channel of public interest or democratic mandate. Unaccountable, inaccessible, nameless and faceless, more slippery than Tony Blair, surrounded by the concentric moats of public relations, profit, never ending growth and corporate branding, this beast thrives on the parallel lie that we live in a democracy and have freedom of choice as consumers, when in fact the hidden claws of cartel, shady practices, market dominance, government collusion and global reach prove otherwise. The man on the street has even less redress to the corporate animal than to the political, other than voting with his wallet, recommendations or a possible outburst on Twitter, and even then those routes are well nigh ineffective whilst the concentration of corporate power heads towards a global singularity. For what is possible via scandal or the ballot box is impossible when faced with immutable corporate policy, and an effective lack of choice. The new fascists are currently thriving on the poisonous air of this scamdemic, and every business operation from the sole trader to the global conglomerate, in a mere matter of months, has suddenly developed a “COVID-19 strategy”, irrespective of motive. While part of this, quite rightly, is based on duty of care and social responsibility, there is a much more sinister aspect to all of this. In effect, governments worldwide, have delegated the responsibility of policing social distancing and public healthcare to the corporate business realm. Unlike any regular accountable political or legal framework, this is a master-stroke of psychological and social manipulation. The rules of the game have changed post 2019, if you want a particular service or indeed any particular goods, you must agree to whatever particular corporate policy is in force, be it liberal or paranoid. And you don’t have much choice. One can be certain that the former will be under ongoing attack from those who worship at the alter of the freedom muzzle, whereas the latter approach will be reinforced with a nod and a wink from central government, despite all the mixed messages concerning the correct protocols surrounding holy worship at the alter of a new global religion.
So I must admit I am rather ambivalent about donning a face nappy. On the surface, it is a practical manifestation of good practice insofar as “Coughs and sneezes spread diseases”. It might reduce the spread of infection of the disease from those who are already infected to some degree, but as to truly reducing overall health risks, the jury is still very much out on that one. During the early stages of the AIDS epidemic, there were a number of cases that puzzled epidemiologists. These cases did not fall into the normal pattern of sexual promiscuity or drug use, and then the terrible truth started to dawn. HIV/AIDS was discovered to be a blood borne illness, but more disturbing still, it had been “In the wild” so to speak for so long that irregular transmission vectors were having to be considered as a legitimate path for infection. And then the inevitable silence as the narrative was reborn. The myth was formed that to catch the disease you only had to be homosexual or a drug user, and so it remains to this day amongst the poorly informed. Likewise, we will no doubt discover other routes than just breath and coughing to be a transmission vector for COVID. I am not trying to scare-monger here, just being realistic and highlighting the fact that primitive viruses often are very crafty in how they spread, and being a natural organism, man will always be at the mercy of nature to a greater or lesser extent. If tomato plants can spread by seeds in the faecal matter of creatures who eat the fruit, mother nature has much hidden up her sleeve that we must accommodate. In fact, I would not be surprised if it transpires that masks are actually counter productive if you do catch the infection, by trapping moist air in the upper repository tract. It is worthy of note that the healthcare professionals who died of COVID-19 had extremely high viral loads, and some have placed that risk firmly at the door of PPE. That is aside of the other risks to health for asthmatics, COPD sufferers and the clear dangers of hypoxia and excessive carbon dioxide. As to the mental health effects, anyone who suffers from claustrophobia will no exactly be enamoured with this new regime. I for one, will not be wearing one, maybe reconsidering if this years flu season is particularly vicious. Saying that though, I have not been out of the house for some time now. While blue skies and sunshine appeal, the dank, dark backdrop of winter does not. It may not be something I have to worry too much about.
So I am resolute in my belief that wearing a mask should be a personal choice, unless you are working in a high risk heath-care environment. Which is why I am so perturbed by this perverted form of public-private partnership, now that it appears that wearing a lip burqa is to become “Mandatory” in certain circumstances. I wouldn’t be overly concerned if HMG had actually decided to bring this rule in with fines for non-compliance and a clear route for exceptions, e.g. medical certification by your GP. But no. Anyone and his dog can print off an “I’m exempt” leaflet from gov.uk, which just makes a complete and utter mockery of the whole statute. Even the supermarket sector is confused, a commercial sector generally united in not sending mixed messages other than “Shop here and buy one”. Some leave it to the individual, other strongly recommend and some, quite disgracefully, demand unswerving obeyance. I’m sorry, but if they are willing to overlook the offence to my tender sensibilities of fellow shoppers wearing pyjamas or slippers during their weekly shop, the same “Freedom of choice” rule should apply even more so in matters of public health. Of course, there will be the eventual back-pedalling and exceptions will be made, but as a COPD sufferer I am not in the slightest impressed with this intrusion by the corporate into the political and ethical minefield of healthcare. This is not health and safety, it is corporate blackmail, customer manipulation and reduces the ant-hill of risk with the sledgehammer of authoritarianism. I am always extremely wary of anyone, or indeed any organisation, that takes such superficial steps in an attempt to solve complex problems, as it immediately telegraphs the fact that the perpetrators rank very high on the Dunning-Kruger scale. Or to put it more simply, pig shit has less viscosity. They may be well meaning, but the road to Hell is paved with such intentions.
And that is the core reason why I am so angry about the way this whole disease outbreak has been handled. The goodwill and well-meaning intentions of so many people has been cynically played, to the point that people don’t know which way is up anymore. I could handle a lassiez faire approach, I could handle a strict clampdown, but this mealy-mouthed, insipid gesture just creates and breeds confusion and chaos, and demonstrates a dearth of true leadership. It is classic government by committee. The dark sciences of psychology, social engineering and public relations are taking precedence over common sense, practical healthcare and indeed, historical precedent. As an asthmatic child of the early 60’s, I remember my mother making sure I wrapped a scarf around my face when faced with the great smogs that were common from the 1950’s onward. Even the NHS were distributing free masks then. Unless I am sadly mistaken, these were not compulsory nor did shopkeepers ban entry to those not suitability attired. Even in the austere Post-war climate, such strictures would be verboten. Despite this, as a child, I once had such a severe asthma attack that I was turning blue. I fully understand and endorse the principle that we each have to take personal responsibility for our health, but I refuse to accept the diktat that the vulnerable should dictate the behaviour of others to their possible detriment, be it physical, mental or psychological. Yes, by all means if your conscience says avoid me please do so, and take every civilised and rational step to prevent infecting me if you have the lurgy, of whatever genetic pathology. But please, in the name of all that is holy, don’t use my vulnerability as an excuse for whatever agenda you have, be it conscious or subconscious, good or wicked. I am not quite so demented that I can no longer appreciate the purity and importance of personal consent for everyone.
That, in one small word, sums up one the worse outcomes of this whole debacle. The erosion of consent. Personal responsibility has now declined to the point that a supermarket can demand that I wear the latest fashion accessory for the good of my health. From a society that knew more or less what the rules were, we have descended into such chaos, what was true 12 months ago no longer applies. As a fully mature individual, I have come to terms with the fact that life is risky. I might walk out the house tomorrow and be hit by a bus. That I know, as my corporate career has been littered with occasions where rather than being given credit for what I have achieved, I have been told that I must step aside to allow other departments or external businesses to reap the awards of my labour as I might fall under one. Call it “Tall Poppy syndrome” or whatever you wish, but we are entered a phase as a society where the public avoidance of risk, however implausible or confected, is paramount, irrespective of the wishes or desires of the individual. While up to recently this could be shrugged off, the poison contained in such immoral fruit is beginning to manifest. The hidden payload of paralysis now emerging. Like the patient waking up mid-operation, desperately wanting to move to escape the agony of the scalpel on internal organs, but unable, the true horrors are just beginning. I honestly care not if all of this is down to deliberate malfeasance, cock-up or conspiracy. All I know is this nation is now in the vice-like grip of chaos, birthed from a terror that while real, in essence, was exploited and amplified by well meaning fools with good intentions.
© Rookwood 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file