My Dad didn’t have a great war. After, there were long periods of mental illness and almost no social benefits. Mum and I survived on the generosity of Uncle Les and Auntie Ivy, they kept us together.
We squeezed into their small home. On top of the day-job, Uncle Les chopped firewood, to make an extra few quid, to keep us going.
Dad recovered, relapsed and tried again.
He had to earn a living but the claustrophobic environment of the grocery trade, to which he’d been apprenticed, made him worse.
In the end, he converted my baby-pram, into a barrow, borrowed some ladders, a bucket and built a window-cleaning round. Combined with odd jobs and playing the piano in pubs, he clawed our way back to being a family.
It left an indelible mark on Mum and Dad’s lives, for years and influenced much of their thinking, attitudes and what, today, we call resilience.
I wonder, how much of the tumultuous events, happening today and what I fear is to come, will leave their mark on our thinking, attitudes and resilience.
Everything we take for granted is and will be disrupted, for months. The impact felt for years.
If the power stations and water company employees get sick, we’ll have another hiatus to deal with.
The number of youngsters in the parks tells us our messaging has been wrong. This is a disease for the human race, wether spreaders, sufferers, survivors or not. Youth is not a vaccination.
The response to the pandemic has gone from;
- it can’t be that bad, to…
- this looks bad, to…
- how bad can it be, to…
- how bad can it get.
The government, our government, most governments have been caught flat-foot.
Stuck between reassurance, knowing better and faux competence. Eventually, they realise you can’t beat science with stirring words… you need a chequebook.
Shut-up, close-up and pay-up is the best any government can do.
We are watching as much of our political infrastructure and belief-system unravels.
The nation needs solutions. Where are we going for solutions? Are we going to markets, competition and capitalism? No… too fragile.
Markets have collapsed, the high streets are ghost-towns. We are all socialists, now!
The ugliest face of capitalism, the owner of Witherspoons, telling us his pubs are the safest place we can be… now looks ridiculous. Britannia Hotels, dumping live-in staff on the street, the new Dickensians.
Adverts on TV, selling gold-coins… exploiting fears.
The government’s response, to pay our wages, is pure socialism.
The State has set aside competition rules and supermarkets can syndicate central buying and keep the shelves filled and costs down.
Private hospital beds, from today, taken over by the State.
Health and social care data rules dissolved by the State, allowing services to do what services do and what they’ve long been unable to do for years.
Health providers have been encouraged to use FaceTime, Skype and WhatsApp… previously clinicians have been dragged before regulators for doing it.
And, the NHS…
Unlike the fragment health systems of most of the EU, the crazy Jenga, of the US and the pitiful systems in Africa and much of the far-east, the NHS, will come through.
It is run by the State, centralised and can march in step.
Competition, tendering, contracting, adds nothing. The NHS is relearning a word it had forgotten. A word the likes of Alan Milburn and Andrew Lansley tried to expunge from the lexicon of care… solidarity.
Social solidarity. People working together for the benefit of being able to stay together.
Irresistible forces have blown a rightwing Tory administration further to the left than any Labour leader would have dreamed of, or dared to go.
Capitalism has been of no help. The State will keep printing money.
How much of this social solidarity will we want to give up?
How much of the data protection madness will we want to reinstate. How many patients will prefer a trip to hospital, to a chat on their smart-phone. How many of our services will we want to compete for?
How many of our least well-off will want to work for the likes of Witheringspoon or Britansien.
After 1948, a war-weary public dumped Churchill. I wonder if a similar fate awaits Bojo?
When this is all over, we’ll have some thinking to do.
News and Comment from Roy Lilley