IAIN ROBERTSON 

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Donning his best gold lame jacket, stage smile and sparkling teeth, Iain Robertson reflects on a government enforced staycation, at home, along with pretty much the rest of the population, as we weather the impact of Covid-19.

When you have been a scribe for as long as I have been one, you get used to isolation, apart from the trips to foreign climes, or some stately home in the UK, to drive fancy new motorcars…none of which is happening now and is unlikely to do so for the next several months. In many respects, it is a status that I relish.

Sitting upstairs at my rosewood desk, in a back bedroom converted into comfortable office, surrounded by reference books, magazines and stereo system, it is easy to get locked into one’s scrawlings, blissfully unaware of what is happening in the big bad world. Headphones on, listening to a new, or favourite music album, or Jeremy Vine, I cannot hear the postman, or even the occasional visitor, knocking at the front door.

IMGIsolation has been a boon, when editorial productivity is demanded. The prime difference today, is a psychological one…knowing that near neighbours are at home and that there is no milling around outside. In fact, even the springtime bird chorus is largely absent…can they get it too? Yes, it is a different type of isolation.

No matter what your political vibe might be, the fact that our government is governing, for the first time in the past four years, is a major step in the right direction. I would venture to suggest that our floppy-haired PM needs a decent dose of the clap for the positive actions he has taken. As to the Chancellor, well, he deserves a medal of some description, for tackling a financial crisis like no other, with generosity that ventures into socialism…most unusual for a Tory.

Of course, isolation also provides time and opportunity for contemplation and, let’s face it, politicians love disruption and a national hideaway situation is like manna from heaven for most of that class of individuals. What smoke and mirrors mischief can they get up to, when we are all self-isolating? Is there another agenda at play? You can almost guarantee that there will be.

IMGYou can treat this isolation, which could last for any period between a fortnight and 12 months duration, as a chance to carry out some personal soul-searching. A retreat, if you will, from societal confusion, which has been rampant since that fellow Cameron suggested that we could have a ‘once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity’ that truly did for his career almost four years ago. If you decide that it possesses religious relevance, the best of good fortune to you!

Yet, it is isolation created by the actions of others, whom may not have our highest hopes at heart. Good old Boris loves the cosy and romantic concept of treating this like a wartime effort. Well, I am too young to recall what happened between 1939-1945 and our parents were never very good at explaining those horrors to us. Neither the Korean, nor Vietnamese conflicts were anything but page notes in my scholastic history jotters. The Falklands conflict was pretty much the same as those held in the Middle East in recent decades; a remote televisual ‘treat’ that could be switched off, when it got too much.

In isolation, we have time to read, digest and formulate neat little conspiracy theories. Is it America’s fault? Are the Chinese to blame? Is Putin’s lot behind the viral ‘release’. They are the superpowers, with China and Russia both capable of outgunning us, without raising a weapon to their shoulders. Is it a Cubby Broccoli sub-text, a JB007 story being rewritten slightly for today? Copernicus might know.

One thing is guaranteed, it is unfunny. I am not about to lambaste the hoarder-shoppers, the panic-buyers, or the bulk-purchasers. They are only exercising a misbegotten right to personal survival…without thinking about others. The retail industry must be rubbing its hands with glee, or some other unctuous substance held in the back store for sanitising their own hands. It has made a fortune since the start of March. Yet, nobody has broached the subject of waste, of which there will be plenty imminently.

How ‘at risk’ are shopkeepers, service station personnel, some teachers, care home staff, sanitation specialists, emergency services personnel, nurses and medical teams? They are in the frontline. We are just observers.

While Rishi will probably come up with a solution to the freelancer’s lack-of-money syndrome, I wonder about how many people will regard this as a most fortunate fortnight’s extension of the traditional Easter break? I have overheard it said, injudiciously. Are people to be expected reasonably to ‘work from home’? Will it change working practices forever? I believe that, much as ‘9/11’ changed both travel and politics forever, Covid-19 will introduce major social upset like never before.

Will isolation draw us ironically closer together as a nation? We do not have Italian balconies from which to sing the National Anthem and fly the Union Flag. We do not have Policias prepared to serenade us at street level. We shall probably be as ‘palsy’ as a two-metres distance from our neighbours will allow us to be but the Euro-idyll of multi-cheek kissing and hugging will be canned for the foreseeable, even within our own abodes. Try explaining that to the kids.

One day, perhaps in a few years’ time, we shall be told the root cause of the problem, an issue about which we are not particularly well-informed today, when dealing with the dis-ease is the priority. Yet, addressing its real origins may just provide the solution, not just for today but also for the future.

Keep safe. Keep clean. Keep healthy. Life may return to a semblance of normality within the next few months…God and government willing.