by Rosie Langridge
Sunday being warm and sunny, we set off for the park. Not sure if that was a reasonable excuse or if we were indulging in a criminal activity.
There were crowds of people looking relaxed. Lulled – almost – into a parallel universe where life is as it should be. I wandered through a wide open door into a spacious café and looked around at the piled up tables and chairs, the barricaded display of artwork for sale, and the paintings on the wall. I just ignored the ‘people’ lined up in their masks. The ethical case for expecting me to overcome my aversion is slim. They choose to do it, not me.
I’d entirely forgotten about the one-way system business, and was unaware that I’d come in at the ‘wrong door’. I made my way backwards up the queue until a big burly man moved to block my way and towered over me saying, “There’s a one-way system for a reason,” and then blamed me for having “forced” him to speak to me. His muzzle was bizarrely emblazoned with “Lest we forget”. I nearly managed to remain polite.
But standing there I realised what we lockdown sceptics need to be doing now – our civic duty is to go into public places and behave in an ordinary manner, to show people that human interaction isn’t dangerous, and to re-accustom people to the sight of a human face. Go out and make our parks and streets crowded.
So, having recovered my aplomb, I fixed a cheery smile to my face and set off on our walk, exchanging nods and smiles with anyone who was ready to do so. And there were a lot of people out. It was lovely to see. I exchanged comments along the lines of, “Such a lovely day”, “So lovely to see the children having fun” (NB important!) – plus a few longer exchanges, taking opportunities where I could to talk about the issue of the day.
As an older woman was giving me advice, the man standing by replied that we are in unprecedented times with the pandemic. I said: “What pandemic? We’ve had flu and cold viruses all this time and there’s nothing different about a coronavirus.” The man walked off without even hearing me out. I’m still trying to think of a better reply to the “Unprecedented Times” meme but at least the woman heard my views.
I had a longer exchange with two women, one who said, “I’ve had enough, I just want it to all be over,” while the other both did and didn’t want to talk. Her opening gambit was excited mention of the vaccine. I had my wits well about me by now, and replied mildly that I wasn’t sure about it, the virus being not that dangerous. This got agreement and the conversation then covered the shortness of the vaccine trials, the risk of infertility, the huge profits being made and it being better to trust our own immune system – and that we can’t make an ‘informed choice’ as we haven’t been informed – most of this coming from them, all I needed to do was nudge the talk along – and so on to the economy and the Magic Money Tree.
To be honest, I’d rather just go for a walk in peace minding my own business – but other people did fight and die for our freedom lest we do actually forget. And I feel as if I owe it, not only to our youngsters and children, but also to our forebears to do all that I can to push back, all day and every day. And if this involves going for a walk and just talking to people, I shouldn’t be moaning.
Meanwhile, I’m still trying to talk to my neighbours, and say a little of what I think without causing ructions. Today I said that the Government would save a lot more lives and improve our quality of life if it used the money spent on Track and Trace to rid us of drugs gangs. She displayed no enthusiasm. To another neighbour I sympathised with her enthusiasm for vaccination but explained that I won’t be having it because I’ve already had Covid and I don’t think it’s right to put pressure on people to have it, they should be free to chose. I have got a lot more skilled at exercising my freedom of speech, and simply stating my own case firmly but without an argumentative tone of voice and creating a row. Thanks to the Free Speech Union, I no longer feel entirely on my own in terms of giving my politically incorrect opinions. For me, the psychological difference is enormous.
By way of reminder of why we must do this:
In Ireland people are not allowed to travel more than five km (two miles) from their home: two doctors who went for a country walk were snitched on and are now suspended and under investigation. The government is reducing this limit to two km.
In France you are not allowed out of your own home overnight, from 6pm until the following morning.
In Germany a vicious lockdown has been extended again.
In parts of America two year-old children must be muzzled, even outside, all the time, even when playing – and much more.
The cruel madness has infected people’s hearts and their minds. We have people refusing to visit friends and family on the basis that to do so ‘would break the spirit of the law’ – people who boast on Twitter that they have not visited their elderly parents for a year, and gaining thousands of ‘likes’ for saying so.
All of our protective traditions and institutions have failed us, but we can all take opportunities, and make opportunities, to reclaim the freedoms that are rightfully ours and we can all talk to other people and help one another hold onto our sanity and our humanity. To build up the weight of numbers of people who say ‘no’ is our only hope, and that depends upon you and me.