Ed Lines – March 6, 2020

Ed Lines – March 6, 2020

HELLOOOO? Is there anyone out there?

If you’re one of the few survivors of the coronavirus apocalypse, are you reading The Press while wearing your grandad’s old World War II gas mask and a pair of woollen mittens?

Bit of a bugger trying to turn the pages, isn’t it?

Well, I’m not having it, all of this doomsday nonsense.  No sirree. Nope, nyet, non and as many other linguistic variations on the definitive negative as you can conjure. 

No.

Yes, there is a global pandemic, but it’s only vaguely related to the Chinese flu that’s seen off a relatively small number of elderly folk and others with serious pre-existing health conditions.

Surprisingly I’ve not seen Greta Thunderer jumping on the coronavirus bandwagon yet – but it can only be a matter of time, because just about everyone else in the media landscape has been swept along by the wave of mass hysteria that’s infecting the globe.

I imagine Greta’s probably hunkered down in a bunker right now surrounded by her climate extinction puppeteers, trying to conjure a link between a runny nose and carbon emissions.

It’s worrying, it really is – but not the Chinese flu; the sight and sound of the world losing its marbles. What on earth has happened to a sense of reasoned perspective? Why the panic stations? And amongst we stiff upper lip Brits of all people?

I can understand highly strung ‘newer’ nations like the USA and Australia throwing a mass wobbler because that’s generally what they do. They just love a drama. 

Indeed I’ve just come through Los Angeles airport and it was like a scene from that Brad Pitt film World War Z, with people all masked and gloved up, trying to navigate a busy terminal without getting within six feet of each other. 

Given how many Chinese and Korean residents LA has, I had a sudden urge to start snogging every masked person who looked like they’d be a dab hand at whipping up a tasty won ton soup.

(Although considering the nervous dispositions of local law enforcement officers, it would have been a toss-up whether I was sectioned or riddled with bullets. Either way, I wouldn’t have been returning next year for my annual rugby reunion).

That’s supposing anyone’s flying anywhere anytime soon, such is the rabid hysteria seizing previously sensible people, as politicians and organisations race to outdo each other in their bid to overreact with frantic reactions to the latestdoomsday predictions.

There’s one level at which I can understand the institutional panic. 

Can you imagine being the Prime Minister or Health Secretary who tells the frantic children running our major media organisations to grow a pair – that this is a new strain of flu that will come and go like every other?

And that yes, some people will be a tad poorly, some quite ill, and others will kick the bucket – much as they would if they contracted any strain of flu?

The politician who tried saying that would find his career on life support before you could say ‘a-choo!’ And if, heaven forfend, this actually is a doomsday plague (and it isn’t) there would be a headlong rush to unplug his metaphorical ventilator.

MY PAL Andy is a pharmacist, and his surgery was told this week to avoid sending people to two specific hospitals at all costs, because they were beyond capacity. 

Know why? The flu. The common-or-garden variety that kills thousands a year, despite our vaccination programmes. But that’s not ‘new’ as in ‘news’ so nothing for our over-excited media to get its knickers in a twist over.

Thus, afraid of being seen to ‘not be taking it seriously’ everyone with any form of public responsibility follows the herd, feeds the hype and turbo-charges the panic.

Another pal in Western Australia reports local supermarkets running out of bog roll, of all things, as people panic buy. Good grief.

Meanwhile the cost to worldwide economies is already phenomenal. Billions in lost trade as supply chains break down, heaven knows how many jobs lost because huge events are cancelled, with the possibility of even the Olympics being thrown under this runaway bus.

I’ve seen scientific predictions of 50 million dead worldwide and our own Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty suggesting we could see 20 per cent of the entire workforce down with it. 

And yet in front of MPs on Thursday, Prof Whitty admitted “the great majority” of people who are eventually infected will fully recover – even people in their 80s. Most people who get it have only mild symptoms, and many don’t get infected at all.

As such, am I being naively glib when I wonder why, short of stopping every flight, every public transport journey, closing every schoool, office ... indeed, isolating the world for weeks on end (which is obviously impossible) we bother at all?

As I write there have been 3,214 CV deaths, but just for reassurance, and to put that into some kind of perspective, from January 1 to March 2 some 9.9 million people died across the world.

Alarmed? Don’t be – there were 23.6 million births in the same timespan, so the global population had grown by 13.7 million. 

In fact coronavirus needs to start upping its game if it’s to make a dent on those numbers – because there’s no way we can make enough wind turbines, solar panels and vegan-friendly knitted jumpers to cope with the estimated extra 110 million people by year’s end.

Maybe that’s what wee Greta’s busy drawing up a cunning plan for...

PRITI Patel, the Home Secretary sounds like a particularly unpleasant piece of work, I have to say. Doesn’t seem to be the most touchy-feely, empathetic boss to work for.

Still, when you have the number and weight of nationally vital issues on your plate that she has, there’s probably not much time for pretty-please management.

It strikes me that Ms Patel won’t be crying herself to sleep over concerted attempts from within Whitehall’s bureaucratic bunkers to bring her down.

When Whitehall grandee Sir Philip Rutnam resigned with an unheard of public attack on his boss – and it sounded like he thought things worked the other way round – he fully expected her to be axed by messrs Johnson and Cummings.

Thank goodness they’ve stood firm, because this was an existential moment in their battle to bring the self-important civil service into line. But they might want to have a quiet word in Ms Patel’s ear...

WHAT is it about young women these days?

 I’d rather eat my own appendix than watch Love Island, but I’ve just seen a photo of one of its ‘stars’ Olivia Attwood, who looks like someone’s hit her in the mush with a cricket bat. 

It’s lip-filler, apparently, and it’s everywhere from Beverly Hills to Batley. I saw two young women walking into Asda and to say they weren’t exactly bonny is to rather understate matters – so why they thought pumping their lips up like bike tyres would be an improvement, I’ve no idea. 

This week I sat next to a very pretty lass on the plane – but she was the same, lips like a baboon’s backside. I know I’m turning into Victor Meldrew, but really, it’s not just me, is it?

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