We commemorated one year of lockdown by sacrificing a goat to the Highly Revered Virus Deity on a hastily assembled altar in the back garden, in front of a blazing fire. We then drank a little of the creature’s blood and danced naked around a pentagram, delivering incantations to the Covid Divine — Oh Great Lord Of The Slightly Ticklish Persistent Cough. Vaccines were presented and respirators borne aloft. It all seemed a bit rough on the goat, frankly, which had done nobody any harm. But it was preferable to the usual rituals which we are these days enjoined to observe — the endless minute silences for everybody who has died of anything ever, taking a knee, banging saucepans to thank nurses for turning up to work. The Covid Divine’s emissaries and handmaidens were invoked to be appeased: the crepuscular daemon Long Covid, with his impressive beard and collection of doctor’s certificates for leave of absence; the sultry ‘whore-goddess’ Brazilian Variant, sweetly scented, bedecked in lotus flowers, but with a carnivorous vagina, according to legend.
We will do the same thing next year in the hope that it will help us in this existential struggle (except we are out of goats and may need to use a small child). Because we will be in a very similar position next year, won’t we? Middle of May for the next major lockdown and then another one in November is my guess, all ushered in with the assurance that one more sacrifice will do the job and we’ll beat this virus. You think I’m wrong and that the end is in sight? Give me the address of your dealer then. He must have some powerful stuff.
The latest news is that foreign holidays are off. Indeed, the government has now warned us that we must not leave the United Kingdom without ‘a reasonable excuse’ for doing so. No problem for me. I will be turning up at Heathrow with a list of 572 reasonable excuses, and I don’t think even the most obtuse bureaucrat could quibble with any of them. Here are just eight, selected randomly from that list.
1. The United Kingdom is full of people who are either mentally ill or wish that they were mentally ill. Mental illness has become the great new aspirational app. We have become obsessed with it and determined to devote almost the entire GDP to ‘counsel-ling’ people who, in truth, merely feel a little down in the dumps. A bit peeved. Schools devote half of their time to ensuring the kids are not going doolally — and so more and more children identify as having ‘mental issues’, because these days those are the things to have if you’re cool. It is the ultimate expression of a narcissistic society, this endless revelling in ‘feelings’, the consequence of a country where people have had it too easy for too long — as Durkheim, were he alive, might attest. The UK has become a giant booby hatch whose inhabitants seem to yearn for the straitjacket.
2. It seems pointless to remain in a country which is hellbent on eradicating its entire history on the whim of a tiny minority of intellectually challenged gobshites (to use the accepted northern term). From the university campuses to English Heritage, from Kew Gardens (now relabelling its racist flowers) to the smug little airhead Naga Munchetty sniggering about our flag on the BBC. Get rid of it all and what is left — other than the awfulness of Now? A country denuded of its history is no longer a country.
3. Corporate virtue-signalling wokeness in all its shameful and divisive manifestations. The eagerness and avidity with which every institution — including, of course, the advertising industry — presents a false picture of what this country actually is. The sense, when this happens, that the rest of us should be beholden and cowed and sign up. I don’t sign up. I can smell a rat.
4. ‘Excuse me, sir. The government requires all people who are leaving the United Kingdom to have a reasonable excuse for doing so. Could you please tell me what yours is?’ ‘Yes, Shami Chakrabarti.’ ‘Thank you, sir. Have a safe flight.’
5. The fawning over the young. Why do we do this, when they are in general both dense and dilatory? Their incessant whining is a fugue of idiocy and petulance — which would be fine, except that we are expected to take it all seriously, whereas previously we just patted them on the head and told them to run along. Sooner or later the voting age will be lowered to 16 and we will have become a moronocracy. No representation without taxation. Actually, no representation until you can spell your own name.
6. All chav leisure pursuits which involve loud, intrusive things, especially jet skis and off-road motorcycles. I am not responsible for your sense of sexual inadequacy so please don’t take it out on me. Go and read a book instead.
7. Rap, hip hop, grime and drill being espoused by schools, youth workers, parole officers and — inevitably — prison officers as a cogent expression from a wonderfully vibrant community, perhaps comparable in artistic merit to those old racists Beethoven and Mozart. When in fact it is quite often merely an expression of unrelieved coarseness and criminality.
8. The Don’t Judge Me culture, as defined back in the 1990s by Richard Hoggart in his excellent book The Way We Live Now. The notion that nobody is allowed to gainsay another for their stupid ‘lifestyle choices’ which have led them to penury and misery. The removal of the idea of social stigma as a means for regulating appalling or merely asocial behaviour.
That will do for now. As I say, there are plenty of other reasonable excuses for getting the hell out. But where on earth should one go? Hungary and Papua New Guinea are both high on my list.