Monday, 28 June 2021


One consequence of this extended lockdown is to make us lose our perspective. We’re like someone in the Truman Show (the 1998 film about a TV reality show) or, worse, we’re in Ambridge and part of the Archers – “an everyday story of country folk” as it was cosily described.

Being stuck in the same place with nothing to disrupt one’s sense of time, space or thought makes us very short-sighted. Giles Coren, restaurant critic and columnist, for once got it right when he described his strange feeling of being out-of-sorts with a return to freedom. 

We are all, to a greater or lesser extent, undergoing Stockholm Syndrome – becoming  enamoured of our captors and place of captivity. Hence the high percentage of voters who want the lockdown to continue and why Frau Obergruppenführer Sturgeon has her subdued subjects daily enthralled in Scotland.

Our world has shrunk. Shrunk through Brexit. Shrunk through a lack of travel, of novelty and through the media we consume. The lack of perspective extends to a tendency to embrace conspiracy theories.

A friend told me, Britain was becoming like the Third Reich in 1933 -progressively eliminating all opposition and creating nationalist symbols – like a new Royal Yacht and a new school song. 

(By the way here are the lyrics of that song:

“We are Britain and we have one dream.
To unite all people in one great team.
Strong Britain. Great Nation. Strong Britain. Great Nation.” 

Dear heavens. This must be a joke foisted on us by the Daily Express.)

But the biggest joke happened on Friday with that picture of the Handcock snog in the Sun. How did the Sun get the picture, how much money changed hands and what sort of security exists in government following the Cummings exposures and now this? Do I care about the intemperate, hypocritical Matt’s behaviour? Since he broke his own rules on social distancing, yes. Henry Kissinger said “power is the ultimate aphrodisiac” Hancock proves that point I guess.  He’s in company with Lloyd George, John Profumo, John Major, David Mellor, John Prescott and many others. Resign? Yes, he should have resigned immediately instead of prevaricating. He was a distraction. But is no more. Let’s move on and regain a sense of perspective.

I read this misquote from Mark Twain in Patrick Kidd’s piece in the Times (most of Mark Twain’s sayings are made up apparently) that politicians were like nappies. They should be changed frequently and for the same reason.

Our perspective on one big issue has been changed by Covid. Many people have got closer to nature, to birdsong and to the green of our country. The climate change agenda has moved on hugely over the past year or so.

But the big issues we now face are what our strategy should be post-Brexit. Surely not to act as playground bully or try to be master of the universe – because we’re not. We’re moderately important economically but it’s time we became the voice of reason and perspective not playing gunboat diplomacy in the Black Sea.

Restoring proper conversation, listening and thinking and being considered and courteous sits more happily than sabre rattling. Good relations with China, especially China and the EU, America and Russia are what we should be concentrating on. 

I’ve heard lots of nonsense over the past weeks from politicians who should know better. We have a bigger role to play than the Sun, Express or social media – what a pernicious force for mischief that is. Let’s be civilised, sensible, kind and try to gain a real sense of perspective.

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