How did we get here? A year ago, it all looked so rosy in the garden. The threat of the intellectually limited old marxist and his coterie of very nasty hard left ideologues had been seen off; the seemingly endless euro-debate was finally going to be put to bed (and I maintain that whatever one’s original view of the issue, a final resolution is in everyone’s interest); and we had an ebullient, positive figure heading the government.
A year later, that euro-issue is still not resolved, and the positive leader looks a shadow of his former self. Well, that’s where a global pandemic leads you, I suppose; the answers are not easy, and I certainly don’t have them to give. All I can offer is sympathy to those who have to make the decisions. They can never be right, because someone - usually the new leader of the opposition - will say, like Harry Enfield’s character of times past: “You didn’t want to do that”, and never, but never, offer any positive suggestion. And then the clever people of the media and social media - clearly virologists and epidemiologists to a man, woman, or whatever they choose to identify as today - will jump up and howl with derision. Please, nobody is really deliberately trying to get things wrong. It’s a new situation for everybody, and nobody knows what the next step will be. Cut them some slack.
Anyway, I thought of Lord Darlington (in Oscar Wilde’s ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’) on Sunday evening. I took my dogs for their post-dinner (theirs, not mine) walk, and the rain and clouds cleared away for a short while, and in the south-western sky I saw the super-conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn; given where the world is right now, I agreed with Lord D, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”. And since it is said by some that this close conjunction of the two planets was the original Star of Bethlehem, does seeing it make me a Wise Man? (No answers, please.) I’m not even going to speculate on whether Oscar would cut it these days; yes, he ticks one of the boxes (see Lord Alfred Douglas for details), but I’m afraid upper-middle class, raised in luxury by his knighted surgeon father in the best part of Dublin (at that time arguably the second city of the British Empire), Trinity College Dublin, Oxford (Classics), and moving comfortably amongst the higher echelons of late Victorian society could raise some hackles: mmmm………..lucky you’re in Père Lachaise, Oscar………
Well, all I can do is wish all readers of this the Merriest Christmas you can have, in these strange times, and to say, along with lots of others, that it will get better, normality (not the ‘new normal’) will return, and Covid and Brexit will eventually cease their danse macabre which is shredding the nerves and sanity of all of us. We know where the generation of one of them originated; the jury is still out on who caused the other……….