Earlier this year, I noted the suggestion (made by an American academic and run with by a swathe of the British press) that we may be about to enter a party decade. The claim was that much as the Great War was followed by the Roaring Twenties, so the Covid era might be followed by a roaring 2020s.
Advocates of the theory might point to the queues of young people waiting to get into the country’s nightclubs at one minute past midnight on Monday’s so-called ‘freedom day’. But I would suggest that there is more evidence accumulating in the opposite direction. Far from roaring, I would say it is more likely that we are entering the era of the Boring Twenties.
Much has already been said about how underwhelming ‘freedom day’ was, not least because our twice-jabbed Prime Minister gave his great national address from self-isolation. Adding to the feeling of merriment, he then warned that from September anyone over the age of 18 hoping to go into a nightclub or other venue ‘where large crowds gather’ will have to show papers demonstrating they are fully vaccinated. Meanwhile the NHS ‘ping’ app has already closed musicals and other live performances that were finally about to return. The future rolling out before us is one not of greater freedom but of endless pings, masks, boosters and variants.
And yet it is the response of wider society, and not just officialdom, which suggests a problem. Small yet suggestive case studies have hinted that we are keener to put the dampeners on than we are to take them off.
Take the response to the antics of Charlie Perry who made national headlines after celebrating England’s Euros final in traditional fashion. The 25-year-old roofer had by his own estimation drunk around 20 cans of cider since 8.30