We’ve been told before that things will never be the same again – can we mean it this time?

BBC Home Editor Mark Easton joining virus patrol in Watford. Picture: BBC News at Ten.

Mike Parker

In these feverish times, what counts as an essential job?  Some are self-evident.  Doctors, nurses, carers and chemists, of course.  People in the food supply and distribution chain.  Transport workers, posties and delivery people.  Personally speaking though, I’d have to trawl down a very long list of decreasing vitality before I came to the BBC’s Shouting at People in the Street for being Too Close Correspondent.

Did you see him on the BBC network news last night?  Mark Easton is his name, and he was out with – his words – “Virus Patrols in Watford”.  In normal circumstances, that’s a job that sounds as if it’s based in a mobile swabbing unit parked on a Friday night outside Reflex or Pryzm, but these are extraordinary times, and for those, Mark is our man.

“Do you two live in the same home?” he barked – on the end of a regulation long microphone – at two startled young men, walking in vague proximity to each other in the sparkling spring air.  They said that they did not.  “Well, you shouldn’t be standing so close together then, you know that?” replied our hero, with a distinctly victorious tone, and possibly a twirl of his cape.

Anyone caught within six feet of each other was hollered at from across the street, if needs be.  Except the Virus Patrols themselves, strangely enough.  They cwtched closer than a puddle of toddlers, then all climbed back into the same car together, and Mark didn’t so much as raise at eyebrow at them.

Our Mark’s official moniker is Home Correspondent, a title that already comes with topnotes of Vera Lynn and ration books.  I fear it’s gone to his head.  During his report from the frontline (of Clinton Cards in Watford), at one point he intoned deeply and told us in all earnestness, that “the Prime Minister’s beloved land of liberty has become a kingdom of captivity”.  I’ll have whatever he’s smoking, please.

 

Shut up

This, you feel that he feels, is his moment. A week ago, he finished a report on the gathering gloom with these words (and I am making none of them up): “A storm is coming and we must build our defences for winds that will buffet and blow for many long months.  And it will be the test of a generation to find the Great in Britain and stay united in our island kingdom”.  At that point, the entire country passed out from the sheer airlessness in the room, while the last remaining Red Arrow sputtered and fell out of the sky over The Mall.

It was the economic crash of 2008 that turned Robert Peston, then a humble business reporter, into a highly marketable news behemoth, and I think Mark is hoping that history could land the same rewards in his lap.  He may be right.  Ramping up the Johnsonian rhetoric, all Spitfires over the sceptr’d isle, may fit one version of where we are now, but it’s the one that may well soon blow up in its own face, like a long-forgotten piece of WW2 shrapnel.

If there’s one thing that this pandemic is showing us, it is that years and years (or should that be Years and Years? Russell T Davies is a bloody prophet) of crap politicians being gently massaged by a crap media, and all to an agenda set by rapacious billionaires, has led us into a very dark corner indeed.  Aside from so very many of us who kept saying so, and were forcibly shut up for so doing, who’d have thought it?

And talking of the 2008 crash, remember how often it was said then that ‘things could never be the same again’?  But things were the same again, only more so.  The billionaires got even wealthier, the rest of us got austerity.  Our public institutions, and the glue that binds us together as a society, were stretched to – and often beyond – breaking point.  We’re hearing it all again in this crisis: ‘things can never be the same again’.  Can we make sure we mean it this time?

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K. K
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K. K

Nothing will change after this at all. The self centred culture will continue to permeate whilst those who have volunteered and the NHS will be kicked into the long grass and devalued once again. This pandemic will only benefit the rich even more what with 0.1% interest rates, widespread tax evasion and lower taxation of multinationals and corporations in general. The worst thing is that they’re actually brazen enough to do it in public now as well as witnessed by the Sports Direct saga. As for civil liberties then am I the only one who can see the similarities between… Read more »

Simon Gruffydd
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Simon Gruffydd

Thoughtful article. Asks some very pertinent questions. The MSM is whipping up a global panic fest beyond imagination. The governments seem to be falling for it. If you want to bypass the MSM hype and get updated facts and figures about the Coronavirus outbreak and effects in Europe as they unfold, the best source I have found so far is here: https://swprs.org/a-swiss-doctor-on-covid-19/

Dr John Ball
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Dr John Ball

READ the above link! Well done Simon for publishing it, That there is a “new” flu about is probably true and I am certainly not qualified to comment. BUT, what worries me are two things; first is the confused and often contradictory “evidence” and “advice” being peddled by numerous experts notably supported by Bungling Boris. The second is the use of words and wild comments: “panic” is particularly popular, random numbers of deaths is also popular (think of a number,,,) and I have even heard the Black Death mentioned!

John Ellis
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John Ellis

Good to read something calm and analytical to counter-balance the current prevailing spume of doom.

But I agree, the absence of Spain in the analysis may renders it comewhat less authoritative.

Steve Heaney
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Steve Heaney

That’s an interesting link, no stat’s on Spain though.
Are there no stat’s or do they upset the narrative?

KC Gordon
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KC Gordon

…and the police, out in pairs, walking shoulder to shoulder!!!

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

MSM + Governments world wide colluding to create conditions for even more intrusive draconian laws. These will be introduced as “temporary for the duration of the crisis…” but will be allowed to remain in force after the event as some other crisis will conveniently arise. I’m not yet totally sold on conspiracy theories but there are situations where that kind of diagnosis is quite plausible.

Ben Angwin
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Ben Angwin

The failed war of ideas (1848 to 1989) shows us we cannot change human nature.

Coronavirus will create new churches of morality, like Environmentalism and the Left have. But it will not change human nature, which is immune to morality because we are adversarial and free.

j humphrys
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j humphrys

Some pretty comments here. Personally, I go with the Americans on this, that this is a very aggressive virus, probably as bad as 1918, but thankfully we are healthier and have access to some useful tools. If you go with “herd immunity” chances are that the 50,000 000 dead of ’18 could be exceeded, but as yet the loonies are outvoted and we get to survive. Happy Anniversary, Louis Beethoven!

Gwyn
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Gwyn

Good article. Another example of Mark Easton’s antics was when he stopped a video blogger in central London and told him he shouldn’t be outside, even though he was doing EXACTLY the same thing as Mark – broadcasting on the situation – but just on a smaller scale. The implied snobbery was “I work for the BBC. Who are you?”

John Ellis
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John Ellis

Given that the generality of human nature doesn’t readily change, expecting the ‘virus experience’ to radically alter the way we do things once we get through it is surely, to put it mildly, over-optimistic.

One thing’s for sure: if most of us keep voting for ‘the same old same old’, we’ll just coasr back to the status quo ante. And thus far, most folk do keep voting that way.

Steve Heaney
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Steve Heaney

Yes, after the spending it will be austerity on steroids.
Let’s try to stop them spending on useless nuclear weapons.

Santa
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Santa

A dog is for life not just for Christmas