4 am, and I can’t sleep. Sat in bed with a roll-up and a glass of water, wondering what to do. Why not write a one-off, middle-of-the-night blog post?
Our prime minister, Boris Johnson, is unconscious and in intensive care.
And that’s unreal, almost fictional. And I’m praying for him. Praying that he makes it through the night. Years ago he sent me several signed copies of a few of his books, and a big cigar that took me about an hour and a half to smoke on a lawn in Devon one sunny day. So I have a small personal connection to him.
He’s in great danger, suffering from a new disease of which the medical profession is only just beginning to gain experience. He could easily die. I pray he doesn’t. I hope that in a few weeks he returns to the House of Commons to a round of cheers as prime minister again.
Meanwhile the country is leaderless at the height of a pandemic. The acting PM is someone called Dominic Raab. I know nothing about him. Is there going to be a power struggle in the Conservative party as Boris floats between life and death?
It’s not just here in Britain. The coronavirus pandemic has taken over the whole world. We’re all in the same boat together, caught in a very strange storm. Everything is changing. And it’s making what was happening beforehand seem trivial, unimportant.
Earlier today I was reading that the coronavirus pandemic might bring the demise of the EU. It had shown how little solidarity the EU had, when it refused to provide assistance to Italy. What’s the point of the EU? The open borders are now closed. Europe is being run by its nation states, not by Brussels. Perhaps the EU has already ceased to exist? The coronavirus was far too strong for it.
With the UK in lockdown, lots of companies have ceased to trade. Are they all going to restart trading one day in a month or two, as if nothing had happened? I bet they won’t. I think Britain’s high streets will be filled with empty shops that closed and never re-opened. But that’s a future coronavirus outcome, yet to be unveiled.
Is anything going to be the same again? Not just here in Britain, but everywhere else as well. This is looking more and more like a six-month global hurricane that’s going to leave everything broken. And when it’s put back together, it won’t be the same world it was. It’ll be a transformed world.
Are we still going to have Identity Politics after this? Are we still going to have Climate Change? Are people still going to be “woke”? Are they still going to hate Donald Trump? I think it’s all in process of being swept away. I think all that is going to look like past history. I think people will wonder why anyone was ever concerned about all those silly, unimportant concerns. We’ll all be different.
Maybe I won’t even be bothered about smoking bans in pubs, because there won’t be any pubs. In Britain they’ve all been closed, and quite likely many will never re-open. I often write about how life changed on 1 July 2007, but I now think that everything is changing again right now in 2020.
And we’re not yet even at the climax of this storm yet. It’s been blowing for 3 months, and has another 3 or 6 or 9 months to run. And already it’s had huge impacts. It’s changed the perception of China in the world, and it’s changing the relation of China to the world. It’s probably changed China as well. In fact it’s changed the relationship of everyone to everyone else. It’ll be a new political universe when it’s over. Everything will have shifted around. There’ll be a new reality.
Am I overstating things? Isn’t it much more likely that, in a years time, we’ll be seeing much the same world we were seeing before it all started?
The odd thing about this pandemic is that we’re all in this storm together, everywhere in the world. And we don’t want anyone to come out of it badly (not even China). It’s an uniting event, not a divisive one. We’re all going to feel closer together than we were, for having all been through the same thing, like passengers who survived a plane crash.
It’s going to be years before things recover, before everything settles down again.
Praying for Boris is praying for a world in which everything is being swept away, including prime ministers. It’s praying for everything and everyone, including people that I don’t like.
And now with the dawn breaking, maybe at last I’ll sleep.