As I scoffed down a fabulous supper in a candlelit room full of ecstatic diners, it struck me that this was what the Jazz Age must have felt like.
This was a night out at what can only be described as a speakeasy, complete with live music from a crooner serenading us from a safe distance, beyond the spatter range.
The mood among the merrymakers was very much one of living for today, for tomorrow we may be either dead of Covid (unlikely) or fined for breaking draconian bans on everything, everywhere (highly likely).
I had been temperature scanned and disinfected at the door with such ferocity that I feared the maître d’ might insist on a full set of bloods and a liver biopsy before I was allowed to proceed to my table.
‘Can I take your things?’ asked the girl on the coat counter, but as I instinctively then reached for my mask to put it away in my coat pocket before handing it over, she shouted that I must desist or I would be put outside. I must wear my mask to walk to the table — of course, silly me.
A few brave places in London have managed to salvage some tattered remnants of our civil liberties out of a loophole that means you can have a business dinner. I had a splendid business dinner that night, and I must say the ideas flowed much better than they would have done on Zoom, so as far as I am concerned, this loophole is legitimate.
If they close it, as though it were a kind of tax dodge, they will probably extinguish the last chink of light and hope in our capital city and with it the last forlorn trickle of revenue dribbling into their coffers, which they will need to feed the masses they are forcing into poverty by cutting off their ability to earn a living.
It’s the sort of thing they would do. They seem determined to continue on a futile quest to ‘control the virus’. No one in government seems to have stopped to think how one could control a virus, even in theory. ‘Le bacille de la peste ne meurt ni ne disparaît jamais.’ The Wunderkinder in No. 10 probably haven’t read Camus or have much interest in anything other than soundbites. When did we move from the plausible goal of herd immunity to this daft, blue skies ‘control the virus’ idea? One might as well set out to control death. Stay Alert: Beat The Grim Reaper at Chess!
The latest regime change of baffling rules will almost certainly end in tiers. I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. Surrey is in two different tiers, and I live on the border of Tier 1 and Tier 2. If I come out of my house and turn left, in five minutes’ drive I reach a high street where I may not meet a friend inside a café. But if I turn right, I can meet five friends inside a café or restaurant in any number of high streets.
As Gareth from The Office would say, ‘Some Questions…’ Can I go to a kebab shop in West Byfleet, in Tier 1 Woking borough, and queue up for a chicken shawarma with a friend who lives in nearby Weybridge, in Tier 2 Elmbridge borough? Can my friend in Tier 2 Weybridge come to where I live in the Tier 1 Guildford area and have a meal with me, indoors/outdoors, publicly or privately? If so, what’s the point of me not being able to go to her house? If I can’t invite her, then how is this to be enforced other than by the police raiding the homes of people in unlocked-down Tier 1 to make sure no one from Tier 2 is inside them?
Otherwise, if you don’t enforce it like that, all the same groups will still be mixing by just moving between the tiers. And is the whole thing not negated by the fact that all anyone has to point out is that they are having a business meeting, which they almost certainly are, the business most likely being a discussion of what to do now the economy is screwed.
At 9.45 p.m. the lights were turned up to signal kicking-out time and I blinked at my business associate who remarked that it was like being a kid at a disco looking for the first time at the person you’d been snogging to realise…
‘I’d leave the rest of that thought unspoken if I were you,’ I told him. I had been to the loo to touch up my make-up but as there was a lady in there wearing a mask and giving me the evils, I had to put mine on too, making it impossible to powder my nose.