Swept Away

Really now:

The British government has ordered a large range of public businesses to shut their doors from Friday afternoon and to not reopen indefinitely, in a bid to prevent Britons from socialising in pubs, clubs, and other spaces during the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking to the nation in a televised press conference Friday afternoon shortly after he ordered a wide range of businesses to shut their doors immediately, the Prime Minister said: “We are taking away the ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub. And I can understand how people feel about that.”

Following the government’s advice given on Monday for the public to avoid public places and pubs and restaurants, Boris Johnson made the instruction official Friday, ordering cafes, pubs, clubs, restaurants, nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms, and leisure centres to shut immediately.

It’s nothing new to me. I lost that ancient, inalienable right 12½ years ago, on 1 July 2007. I’ve been sitting outside ever since. And now everybody else is losing the right too. 21 March 2020 is going to be a day for them to remember.

I July 2007 was a shocking day. 21 March 2020 is going to be an equally shocking day for anyone who expects to be able to meet up with friends at some pub tonight. They’re going to feel bewildered. They’re going to feel shocked.

I know all about social distancing. I’ve had 12½ years experience of that as well. Now everybody’s going to lose their friends, because there’s nowhere to meet them any more. They’re going to find themselves living atomic lives in an atomised society.

But in their case it’s a temporary measure. In a few weeks the pubs are supposed to re-open. Will they? What if the pandemic is still raging a year hence? Or ten years hence?

Lose one freedom, and you lose all freedom. Because freedom is indivisible.

We’re supposed to be living in the Free World, not in top-down controlled Communist China. But when the lockdowns come, we’ll find that it’s really no different here than there.

Is it all part of some fiendish plot? I don’t think it is. I don’t believe in fiendish plots. I don’t believe that what happens has always been planned by somebody of suitably fiendish disposition. We’re watching the whole world melting down, but it’s not part of anyone’s plan. What we’re seeing is complete loss of control. We’re watching a giant global motorway pileup. There’s nobody in control. And we’re all part of it.

The pandemic is the least of it. The real problems are going to be the economic and social and political consequences of it all. And they will start to emerge in the weeks and months and years ahead.

The old world – which was the world as it was two weeks ago – is being swept away, and it’s never coming back. We have a new world now, and we haven’t a clue what’s going to happen next.

It could be August 1914, but it probably isn’t. What we’re looking at is a global economic depression far deeper than in 1930. Today in the UK millions of people in the hospitality trade are going to become unemployed. And the same is going to happen everywhere else in the world,  if it hasn’t happened already.

Yesterday’s concerns are going to be replaced by today’s pressing new concerns.

Does Brexit matter any more? In the past week the EU has disintegrated, as borders have been slammed shut. It’s now everyone for themselves. Europe is dissolving back into what it always was: a collection of nation states.

Does Donald Trump matter any more? Yesterday I pointed out how some people on the American Left, who’d been reviling him for the past 3 years, now suddenly see him as “the kind of leader that people need.” Why? Because everything has just changed, and changed completely. America now needs a strong leader, and Donald Trump is as hard as nails. And people on the American Left can suddenly see it.

Britain needs a strong leader too. Is Boris up to it? We’ll find out soon enough.

Does global warming matter any more? No. Greta Thunberg is going to vanish. And so is Extinction Rebellion.

Smoking bans don’t matter either. Nor Political Correctness of any sort. It’s all being swept away. It’s all past history. It all belongs to an era that has just ended.

The new world is one of global mass unemployment, starting today. The next few months and years are going to be focused on restarting the crashed global economy.

And mass-producing respirators. It’s already started.

About Frank Davis

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15 Responses to Swept Away

  1. wobbler2012 says:

    The over-reaction in the UK to this is utterly astonishing.

    The blame can be firmly laid at the feet of two things.

    1. The mainstream media ramping up the paranoia.
    2. Social Media.

    Think back to the last “epidemic”, the H1N1 virus from 2009, social media was around but nowhere near as prevalent as it is today (Twitter was only 3 years old, Facebook was 5.) All the panic buying can be laid firmly at the feet of social media.

    If we do manage to escape this we need to make sure that we don’t over-react like this again because we can’t shut down the entire country again over a few hundred deaths, the majority of them with underlying health conditions.

  2. Rose says:

    I was in the garden centre again yesterday and normally I have the seed aisle to myself, but yesterday it was surprisingly busy.
    The seedsmans catalogues come round in autumn with reminders in January , in the dark days of winter these catalogues provide a cheering read with a cup of coffee and the next years order is usually in by January as that is when some of the first seeds are started off.
    The seed aisle is mostly for new ideas or things you have forgotten.

    I am beginning to think that in view of the recent stripping of supermarkets and the closure of schools, people who can are beginning to “digging for Victory”

    They better be quick, the last of the seed potatoes are in the garden centres and the main sowing season is now.

  3. Rose says:

    Dig For Victory

    And apparently Americans stationed here joined in.

    Dig for Victory

    “15th July, 1943: On the edges of American airfields and between the barracks of troops in England it is no unusual thing to see complicated and carefully tended vegetable gardens. No one seems to know where the idea originated, but these gardens have been constantly increasing. It is fairly common now that a station furnishes a good part of its own vegetables and all of its own salad greens.”

    “The things that the men want to raise most, in order of choice, are green corn, tomatoes, and peppers. None of these do very well in England unless there is a glass house to build up sufficient heat. Tomatoes are small; there are none of those master beefsteak tomatoes bursting with juice. It is a short, cool season. Green corn has little chance to mature and the peppers must be raised under glass. Nevertheless, every care is taken to raise them. Men who are homesick seem to take a mighty pleasure in working with the soil.

    The gardens usually start out ambitiously. Watermelons and cantaloupes are planted and they have practically no chance of maturing at this latitude, where even cucumbers are usually raised in glass houses, but gradually some order grows out of the confusion. Lettuce, peas, green beans, green onions, potatoes do very well here, as do cabbages and turnips and beets and carrots. The gardens are lush and well tended. In the evenings, which are very long now, the men work in the beds. It does not get dark until eleven o’clock, there are only so many movies to be seen, English pubs are not exciting, but there does seem to be a constant excitement about the gardens, and the produce that comes from them tastes much better than that purchased in the open market.”

    You live and learn.

  4. Mark Jarratt says:

    Disproportionate overreaction based in the false belief that humanity can control all risk. The only means of reducing risk to zero is not to engage in the activity.
    People die all the time. Little consolation to those who are affected, but destroying society and economic activity will have many more enduring adverse consequences, and enforced authoritarian social lockdown almost guarantees no “herd immunity” will develop. Is life worth living in an open prison? Not that there will be a huge difference for cynically robbed and exploited smokers, made pariahs by our own governments, inflicting bourgeois purity by diktat. They can’t arrest all of us!

  5. slugbop007 says:

    I have had several encounters on the sidewalks of Montreal with people who are so busy tapping their thumbs on their cellphone keyboard screen that they don’t even look where they are going. I veer to avoid contact but they don’t notice me at all. On several occasions I barely avoided a few pedestrian head on collisions with some of these cellphone obsessed people. The expression ‘all thumbs’ no longer means just awkward or clumsy, it has become the symbol of the fear of social interaction.and another example of Social Distancing. How much more distancing can we put up with? On the whole, I think that Social Media is bad for us. Every second of every day a potential catastrophe is occurring, developing or threatening us and we must react immediately. Some people love it, like CNN, but I find it very over the top, stressful and soul destroying. Thirty years ago, perhaps less, COVID-19 would not have been global front page news and we would not be in the mess that we are in now.

    The result of the Social Distancing that some people have passively, others actively, embraced in the past twenty years or so has now achieved pandemic levels, and there exists no vaccine to control or curtail this virus from spreading even more.


  6. slugbop007 says:

    Cream ‘We’re going wrong’

    The attached jpeg file, starting from the left, shows tthe back of my head. To my right, my brother Trevor’s head, examining several drumsticks that slipped from Ginger Baker’s fingers and landed on the stage just in front of us during his ‘The Toad’ drum solo. My youngest brother, Eric, cannot be seen in this photo, but he still has these drumsticks hidden away somewhere in his Paris apartment. There were more still life photos taken that night to see if you type Cream Whisky A Go Go. Those Were The Days before Social Distancing became a global, household word and contagious diseases had no chance of becoming as widespread as they have become today. Bye Bye Globalization, say hello to Social Distancing. The New & Improved World Order.

    In some ways this situation underlines how much the Mantras that have raining down on us for the past who knows how long really was a load of bunkum. All the smarmy know-it-alls, every one of the boffins, CEOs, politicians, the whole kit and kaboodle, did not make our world a better place to live in, they made it worse.


  7. Clicky says:

  8. Stephen Helfer says:

    I don’t think the left here in the U.S. is saying “Trump is what we need now.” They are blaming him for what they say is the ill-preparedness of the country and hopeing that they can use Covid-19 to beat mim in the November election.

  9. Russtovich says:


    I could be wrong but… is it true that the ‘safe distance’ to be apart for Covid-19 reasons is lower than the safe distance from a smoker? ;)

    Cheers from Canada
    (still driving my wife’s lunch truck every weekday) :)

    • Rhys says:

      In Vancouver it’s 18 metres away if you’re smoking. 1-2 metres is considered proper ‘social distance’. So….

  10. slugbop007 says:

    To Russtovich says:

    Here in Quebec there is a nine meter rule for tobacco smoke and the warnings are posted all over the city on the doors and windows of shops, cafés, bars, restaurants, universities, boutiques but most people ignore them. There is even one posted warning at the entrance to my HLM, plus a no smoking sign in the elevators and the exit door to the outdoor patio. The latest sign posted told us not to intimidate our neighbors. Look who’s talking about intimidation! The entrance to my HLM is now covered, wall to wall, with signs admonishing us to not do this or do that. Most of us are over 60 years old but they treat us like first year grammar school children.


  11. Russtovich says:

    Thanks. I’ve got it all figured out now. Every time I leave the house I’ll just have a ciggy in my mouth. No one will come near me! :)


  12. Scot says:

    Yeah – well I spark up a cig – then they will “self-isolate” from me as far as they can, it’s kinda flipped my reality upside down!

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