The Lockdown Diaries 10: The Most Intriguing Paradoxes
The UK government’s hilarious mail-out warning the nation’s at-risk population to shield – ie. lock themselves in an oubliette and throw away the key, is doubtless falling on deaf ears. It’s the latest ‘most intriguing paradox’ worthy of WS Gilbert; you’re at risk if you have an underlying condition. If the condition requires you to attend hospital every day you cannot shield. You are vulnerable if you live alone. If you live alone you cannot shield.
It doesn’t end there. You can go to work in London, but you’re advised against traveling to your office. You can buy a kebab in a takeaway but you can’t socially distance in a coffee shop. Supermarkets have dinky little plastic shielding panels installed, most of which I’m taller than. We want the clean air and wildlife back, but we want commerce to send it all away again. Paradox ad infinitum.
Speaking of wildlife the canal outside my window is finally clear to the bottom. It’s not a pretty sight. Although it is full of carp, which I’m told by a Polish friend you can eat after flushing with fresh water for 24 hours. Today there are half a dozen geese, moorhens, herons, ducks and something that looks like a knackered cormorant yelling at each other, although the ducks may just be laughing.
The good news is that locally, a great many independent stores have adapted smoothly and seem to be doing a roaring trade, while all the monolithic chains have failed to reopen. Sadly the local McDonalds is due back soon, heralding the return of litter and hovering drug addicts. The photo at the top says it all. In Belfast, McDonalds got the Mayor to re-open its junk food chain after they built a walkway over two streets to reach it. Like Subway, KFC and Burger King, they bring nothing but toxicity as they hollow out city centres, but it’s just another paradox; councils promote healthy lifestyles while actively courting junk food dispensaries.
We want the world to be better, and help to make the world worse. I have too many friends conflicted by the need to earn a living and the desire to do something worthwhile. Perhaps – hope against hope – the new upside-down landscape will remove some of the these paradoxes, restore a modicum of common sense and redress the balance.
But of course we need paradoxes to survive. I think of this every time I see someone with a low-fat yoghurt pot and a cigarette. A human being is a collection of opposite energies bundled into an engine that just about runs. Perhaps we’ll learn that there are better ways to keep things running smoothly. Now I’m going back to the two books on my pile; ‘The Origins of the Anglo-Saxons’ and ‘Kim Newman’s Video Dungeon’.