The good, the bad and the ugly.

On the whole, this has been a much less depressing weekend than it might otherwise have been. Why, I hear you ask. Because finally we in the UK are beginning to strike back against the virus. The private medicine sector has been co-opted by the health service to help out in this crisis, bringing with it some 1100 ventilators and 20,000 staff. A small army. To be honest we need a large army but it all helps.

A big story and it was interesting to observe how that tasty morsel was given to the journalists. The NHS had, at substantial cost, bought up the private sectors services to fight coronavirus. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful, terribly grateful, for anything that will make our chances of surviving this improve. But it’s significant, to my knowledge, that the NHS made the approach. As I understand it, this wasn’t a case of the private sector saying “how can we help you?” It was more an example of Boris saying “what do you want for the ventilators?” Now I may be completely wide of the mark (in which case please correct me) but I have the impression that this was no bargain buy.

In actual fact neither party had any real choice. The NHS needed the ventilators. The private sector had ventilators. Some agreement was bound to be reached. People would not put up with the accelerating daily death toll in the NHS if the private sector was continuing business as usual. But wouldn’t it have been a much better headline if the private sector had made the offer rather than waiting to be asked. As I said before, correct me if I’m wrong but they seem a little slow out of the blocks.

The good?

The good news for me was the way in which small engineering firms (and some pretty big ones – let’s not forget McLaren) have turned their hands to making ventilators out of… Well more or less anything. I saw one man taking an angle grinder to a Dyson vacuum cleaner – and who hasn’t wanted to do that. Everywhere, saws, hammers, screwdrivers and who knows what else are being turned on household appliances to produce contraptions worthy of Professor Branestawm. You’re probably too young to remember him. This is British inventiveness at its absolute best. It’s what happens to men when they have power tools and a shed far enough from the house that nobody can hear what they’re up to. These are men who played with Meccano and watched Blue Peter during their formative years. And I’m not talking about the Johnny come lately’s of the more recent series. I mean Valerie Singleton, John Noakes and Peter Purves. At a pinch I will admit Lesley Judd. We can debate that one.

If anything defines British resolution in the face of adversity it is this. Small-scale, fussy but effective solutions with huge ramifications. Think of cats eyes in the road. Same deal. And if anything gives me hope in this pandemic it is this kind of garden shed engineering. Forget about stealth fighters at $100 million each or whatever it is and are the fruit of design teams bigger than towns. This is a testament to the use of hand tools and gaffer tape. This is what built the empire. This is why men have sheds.

The bad?

Despite being given a substantial smack on the wrists, the British public still continues its pillaging of the food stores. It really is time to stop this nonsense. All this will achieve is rationing. And don’t think the government won’t do it – look at what it has done in the last week. And you really don’t want rationing – you might get broccoli.

But that’s not my biggest bugbear. The thing that is really worrying me is the extent to which people are ignoring the advice, nay instruction, to stay at home for your own benefit and that of others. Only today I saw a troupe of people heading up my street. Three generations of the same family it appeared all in close proximity with linked arms and hugs. I thought initially that they were making some kind of statement but, on reflection, I don’t think that’s the case. I think they just simply don’t appreciate the importance or choose to take the risk. They may be “determined to carry on as normal”. Good luck to them. The virus is certainly carrying on as normal. And that means killing people. Sadly the actions of stupid people will be paid for by everyone. If the isolation instruction is ignored, and in places it is, there will be many more deaths than necessary. This isn’t rocket science. It’s that simple.

The ugly?

Well that’s easy. You don’t need to look further than the White House and its orange occupant. At least the American people are finally seeing the man for what he is. Morally bankrupt and both intellectually and emotionally inadequate. His dawdling and denial cost valuable time. Many more will die as a result.

That’s all for today. Continue isolating. Start isolating. This is not a drill. If we don’t lock down voluntarily, you won’t believe what happens next.