2007 - 2022

Christmas Crackers

As tinsel time approaches things are getting weird (er). With the prospect of a face-mask and some sanitizer in your stocking and “It’s beginning to look a lot like Covid” ringing out, the festive season just doesn’t have the same fuzzy  twinkle. This week the Scottish Government issued the 5-4-8-3  plan (five-day / four nation / eight-people / three households) approach then said: “We’d rather you didn’t actually do this.”

Politicians seemed to be sensing us all teetering on the verge of turning into an angry pitchfork-wielding mob, though to be fair we’re probably too exhausted to mount any kind of revolt beyond a series of irate emojis. The decision to allow us all to get together for Turkey is 100% political, “Give them a bit of turkey and a bit of Cliff, should be fine” (… Christmas time, Mistletoe and Wine, Children singing Christian rhyme…).

Listening to the radio yesterday I heard a report that the govt – apparently in seriousness – recommends that people visiting families for Christmas should “socially distance” around the table, possibly by using pasting tables. Eight people, two metres apart?

Among this rush to have a John Lewis Advert knees-up it’s worth noting that the Home Office plans to deport up to 50 people to Jamaica next week. This includes people who arrived in the UK as children. It would separate 31 children from their fathers. In covid times we are literally Turkeys voting for a White Christmas. As we endure this ongoing double-act of Johnson-Patel’s Populist-Yulefest-Racism it’s like being ruled by Bernard Matthews and Bernard Manning.

Yesterday our Prime Minister bellowed: “Your tier is not your destiny – every area has the means of escape” – somehow managing to NOT capture the mood and sound vaguely threatening. Christmas 2020 feels something like a Maze Runner prequel.

In further cluster**** news Grant Shapps has now said quarantine measures will be relaxed from 15 December to allow people to travel from high-risk ‘red list’ countries to visit relatives for Christmas.

This means that passengers arriving in the UK can end self-isolation after 5 days if they get a negative Covid test result. Gatwick is saying it will have lots of passengers and flights once Covid restrictions are relaxed in the run-up to Christmas. They are aiming to have around 100 flights per day by mid-December (compared to about four in the main lockdown). This report details how flights-as-incubators destroyed New Zealand’s covid response (the study details an outbreak linked to one passenger on an 18-hour flight from Dubai to New Zealand in September.)

Everybody can see that this is profoundly stupid. But we – or rather our glorious leaders – seem incapable of supporting people with genuinely useful advice for mental health or social isolation. They seem incapable of re-designing cities or economies other than just yearning to “bounce back” to the profitable past rather than imagine a better future. They’re incapable of facing up to the reality of the situation. They just default to the original setting which seems to be hard-wired into the world: buy more shit, fly away. Repeat.
Even in times of pandemic they are – and perhaps we are – incapable of recognising that unlimited travel for spurious reasons isn’t just ecologically disastrous, its actively spreading a deadly virus. It’s an odd sort of social compact. The moral code of Christmas – either as winter festival or sharing of food or exchanging of goods – is just drowned out by a soulless consumerism – any conviviality is expunged by being diverted through online shopping.

This might be a well-worn truth but it seems to be codified in covid lockdown evoking a fear of Neo-Feudalism, as the Hacker Manifesto says:

We do not lack communication. On the contrary, we have too much of it. We lack creation. We lack resistance to the present.”
Anyway, get your pasting tables out. Remember: do this, but don’t really do it. As you were.

Comments (7)

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  1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

    I don’t get it, Mike. On the one hand, you’re saying we have too much communication and, on the other, you’re saying there’s not enough, that we’re woefully ill-informed by government about what we should do to maintain our health during the pandemic.

    It seems that, to head off a glut of civil disobedience over the festive period, government is giving us back our freedom of movement and association for five days of so, with the caveat that we use it wisely. That’s certainly the message coming from Jason Leitch during the Scottish government’s daily communiqués: to ‘think carefully’ and to travel and/or gather ‘only if your need to’.

    The government message is clear enough and univocal: whatever kind of Christmas you choose to have – however you choose to use the freedom we’re allowing you – be responsible.

  2. Mark Bevis says:

    I’ve not done christmas for some years now, so it is quite bemusing to see the populace in general being told they shouldn’t do it either, but you can if you want.
    Looks less like advice and more like a get-out-of-jail-free card for governing ministers.
    “By all means do christmas, but do it responsibly.” Presumably by responsibly they mean to the shareholders dividends.

    Do christmas as it was previously done and there’ll be a lot more people who will only get to enjoy their tokens of consumerism for 3 weeks – would you accept that responsibility?

    Meh, the Peter Principle in full flow, these so called leaders totally out of their depth of no one with the knowledgeable authority to replace them. We are victims of the only system of governance & economy we were allowed to vote for. It’s not going to end well until we accept that all our futures are going to be a diminished level of energy, activity and affluence.
    Mind you, at the rate the new Avian bird flu pandemic is wiping out farm stocks, there might not be any turkeys or chickens for christmas.

    1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

      It’s a way of retaining power, Mark. Government is allowing us to do what [most?] folk would be doing anyway. It’s relaxing the rules so they won’t get broken.

  3. Border Post says:

    Really enjoyed reading this.

    My pet-hate, in addition to all the other pet-hates around Covid miss-handling, is the regular reference to ‘the FOUR nations of the UK’. I presume the 4th is not a reference to the Isle of Man, but to the six north-eastern counties (often also wrongly referred-to as ‘Ulster’), of the ancient land of Ireland. The will of the Irish people couldn’t have been more clear in the all Ireland general election of 1919 where the Unionist vote was all but wiped-out in favour of an independent Ireland. However the UK government, in alliance with the terrorist so-called ‘Ulster Voluntier Force (UVF) and the threat of all-out war against Ireland saw-off the democratic outcome they didn’t-much favour. ‘Northern Ireland’ has no history as such; it’s six of Ulster’s nine counties and is not even Irelands most northerly point; which is Donegal.

    1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

      Mind you, in an all-Britain general election, the separatist vote doesn’t amount to much either.

      1. Brian says:

        I suppose the point is that Scotland and England were two countries/territories/kingdoms prior to forming Great Britain. Ireland also then joined the union as another territory/kingdom/country. A vote for said territory/kingdom/country to change it’s status would include all of Ireland OR Scotland OR England, not all of Ireland AND Scotland AND England.

        The vote in 1919 delivered a huge All Ireland majority for home rule. At that time there was no political subdivision/partition in Ireland. Ireland as a whole joined the Union. No one could have imagined the partitioning despite the demographic and cultural differences.

        1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

          And didn’t the Government of Ireland Act 1920 deliver home rule to Southern Ireland and devolution to Northern Ireland, where the electorate returned mostly Unionist MPs? And wasn’t this partition arrangement first imagined in 1892 in recognition of demographic and cultural differences between the two geographic areas, a ‘Scots-and-Irish’ vision the Unionists rejected in favour of their vision of a united Ireland? In fact, wasn’t the issue of partition the main focus of discussion at the 1914 Buckingham Palace Conference, a discussion which rested on the assumption accepted by both sides the southern counties would be separated from the nine counties of Ulster?

          Perhaps we should be imagining a similar partition for Scotland, with the Tory Southlands remaining in the UK while the rest of its regions are allowed to go their own separate way into independent statehood.

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