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by Louise Wilson
23 August 2021
Sketch: Tinfoil tyranny and cowering from COVID

Credit: Iain Green

Sketch: Tinfoil tyranny and cowering from COVID

We’ve all spent the last year collectively cowering from COVID-19, according to Sajid Javid.

He felt fine after having contracted the virus and quite frankly he doesn’t see what all the fuss was about. COVID, schmovid.

The UK health secretary tweeted: “Symptoms were mild, thanks to amazing vaccines. Please – if you haven’t yet – get your jab, as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus.”

It really put the major disruption to all parts of our lives over the last 18 months in perspective. Perhaps if we’d only stood up to the virus from the start, it would have left us alone. Bullies never expect a forceful response, after all. If we’d only told coronavirus to get lost, made a show of strength, threatened it with guns and stuff, the pandemic never would have happened.

But instead we cowered, despite Boris Johnson’s best efforts to keep everything open while the “bodies piled high”. Allegedly. As in any military battle, there is always some loss of life. Cannon fodder. But it was a sacrifice our commander-in-chief was willing to make. Coronavirus may take our lives, but it will never take our freedom.

Until the PM cowered too.

So we spent the first months of 2021 hiding from COVID. We meekly accepted school closures. We tacitly consented to not seeing our loved ones for weeks. We quietly agreed to not overwhelm the NHS. We submissively waited for our blue vaccination envelopes. Meanwhile the enemy was having a great time, enjoying the freedom that comes with… not being able to spread as easily because of all the mitigation measures we so timidly accepted.

Javid has, of course, recently taken over from a man who declined to cower. Boldly refusing to let a deadly virus stand in the way of him and his libido, Matt Hancock was caught red-handed canoodling with aid Gina Coladangelo. At least now we know what she was aiding him with.

Then Freedom Day 2.0 was upon us. Bigger, better, stronger than before (after the first Freedom Day was delayed because we had to briefly cower some more). No more restrictions. Personal responsibility would be our new protection. Football fans celebrated by sticking lit flares up their bottoms. It wasn’t a distress signal, it was FREEEEDOOOOM.

Ironically the William Wallace mantra was not heard in Scotland. Instead, Nicola Sturgeon said: “Although the move beyond level zero will restore a substantial degree of normality, it is important to be clear that it does not signal the end of the pandemic or a return to life exactly as we knew it before COVID struck. Declaring freedom from or victory over the virus is, in my view, premature.”

Beyond level zero. What does that mean? Only a mathematician could tell you. Douglas Ross suggested it meant we were now “at level minus one or level minus two”. Are we underground now? Have we cowered to sub-human level? Does learning to live with the virus mean we must learn to live with rats and sewer snakes?

Tory MSP Graham Simpson seemed to suggest the minus referred to having fewer freedoms than in England. Specifically, the freedom from face masks, which some would say is a plus rather than a minus but who’s counting?  He asked: “What needs to happen for the First Minister to change her mind on face coverings, so that we can enjoy the same freedoms that are enjoyed in England?”

Ah, face masks. The true sign of oppression. Secret police forces, disappeared dissenters, murdered journalists and the wearing of 10cm of fabric across your mouth. It is why they are so common in China, after all.

Although… wait, what if face masks are why oppression exists? Like airplanes and chem trails, or vaccines and Microsoft chips, it’s all to keep the citizenry under control. Pliant. Cowering. Now is time to remove them! Stand up to the powers that be! Scrap the mask! Or at least start putting tinfoil between your lips and the fabric from now on.

Thankfully for Simpson though, there is a solution. If he really doesn’t want to wear one, he can head to a nightclub or take part in some “vertical drinking” at a bar. Skyping into a Scottish Parliament debate, half-cut, from a dingy basement pub in Motherwell could really liven up proceedings.

The decision on not requiring face masks in some venues caused a bit of a stooshie for the Scottish Government initially. John Swinney was deployed to respond, exemplifying his expertise in nightclubs on the BBC: “If you’re going to a nightclub to have a dance, I accept that you have to stand up and you have to have that dance and move about.” Totally on top of his brief.

When challenged on the contradiction of allowing clubbers to go mask-free but requiring them at restaurants, Swinney insisted: “We’re trying to say to people, let’s take all reasonable steps we possibly can to stop the circulation of the virus without impinging on our ability to socialise with those who are our friends and our loved ones.” And three hundred random strangers, naturally.

Maybe the cabinet secretary would have been better cowering from that interview.

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