Life Under The Virus Taliban

This is really quite a depressing situation, isn’t it? The Virus Taliban has taken control of our lives…yet somehow I remain cheerful.

I remember reading a story about this Coronavirus just after New Year – going back to work and people talking about the new year and how good it was going to be, but I jokingly mentioned this virus might wipe us all out. I wasn’t taking the threat too seriously, but I did have in the back of my mind all the warnings I had read in publications like The Economist for the last 15 years that one day there would be a global pandemic.

Then when China started imposing lockdowns, I reassured myself that wouldn’t happen here – couldn’t happen here because we are a liberal democracy.

Even when Italy started bringing in such measures, shocking as it was to go against my beloved liberal ideals, I still didn’t think it could or would happen here.

Barely 10 days ago I was only worrying about whether I’d still be able to go on holiday to Japan in May. Now I don’t know whether I will be able to go to Tesco in April.

I get the reasoning behind it. I am not arguing against it. No health system can cope – even if my immune system should be able to handle it…I say should as I was hospitalised twice as a child with severe pneumonia, it is fucking painful I can tell you, plus I am obese, male, on the verge of getting diabetes and have mild asthma. So whilst not bang in the middle of an “at risk” group, I cannot say I am assured that it would be just a “mild flu” for me.

Interestingly I wonder if it may end up leading to improved health outcomes in the long-run? People that normally eat McDonalds might actually discover a love for home-made salad?

Dystopia

I already knew I had to sort my shit out in terms of my weight and sugar consumption so this situation gives me extra focus. And I have lost weight, circa 4.5kg this year. I have massively cut out cake and chocolate, fruit yoghurts too which I didn’t realise had so much sugar in. Alas, I probably need to lose 25kg in total to be a healthy weight.

And now I cannot go for my two walks a day which is annoying. Again, I get it. I just need to work out what time of day is best for my walk. I quite like early mornings when I wake up but the local supermarket shelves are too empty then. I tried lunchtime today which didn’t especially work well, but at least there was a scattering of fresh vegetables in Sainsburys. Tip to stay sane – don’t try Tesco Express. That should go without saying in normal times but it was fucking dystopia in there.

Oh and my healthy diet cannot be that healthy when I am struggling to find healthy food to eat. I was having to ration vegetables – normally I have just vegetables for lunch, and meat and veg for dinner. Alas, there is not enough around for both. I had cheese and biscuits for lunch today though I’m not convinced that is the way forward.

I still have a month left to go for my 3 month detox but I really cannot keep going any longer. I read the news – and I really am trying not to read too much now, but it is all fucking miserable. I loathe having the Virus Taliban in charge, telling me what I cannot do, even though I was not doing much for the last two months anyway because I was on detox. Though it is probably the first time that I have ever been happy to have my birthday in January!

Cancelled

I did have good stuff planned. Needless to say that my holiday to Japan is cancelled – British Airways are giving us a voucher so that if they don’t go bankrupt we can exchange towards flights which will probably be far more expensive than the ones we booked. I had stuff planned with some good friends…including a very dear one exiled in Norwich. And Easter with my family…though I had never quite got around to booking train tickets.

The worst thing probably is a lack of roast dinner outings…my adventures across London were part of my soul and kept me going no matter what else was going on. Friends or no friends, detox or no detox, engineering works or the Metropolitan line actually running on time – I had a roast dinner somewhere. No I don’t miss the Metropolitan line. Yet. I will do at some point.

I never took life for granted, I never really took my freedom for granted and always argued the cause for others around the world who don’t enjoy the wonders of liberal democracy, as imperfect as it is. One of my main tenets of argument to staying in the EU was wanting myself and all other British people to keep Freedom Of Movement. For sure I am not the first to suggest that I miss Brexit, but despite my prisoner status I can still enjoy the irony of Nigel Farage complaining about him not having Freedom Of Movement.

One thing that I am trying to do is give more to charity – I am saving money by not commuting (the joy of working from home has not yet soured!) so trying to give at least a bit of that to charity. Not that I always find it easy to find charities that I want to support. Though I’m aware that my own job is perhaps not as secure as it was a couple of months ago.

Economics

How long will people’s patience last? Will people get used to the situation and not be bothered to come out? Will this change society forever? When it is relaxed, will everyone come out and have a great big party or will there still be a huge amount of nervousness? Will it affect people’s mental health? Will we actually get all of our freedom and liberty back?

My biggest worry is what it will do to the economy. You may roll your eyes in leftie displeasure, but health outcomes and GDP are interlinked. The richer a country, the longer people live. The richer a country, the healthier a life people lead. And, of course, the healthier the richer too – it works both ways.

I don’t argue against the measures in general, especially those supporting business and individuals. However this will leave us with much higher indebtedness as a country. I assume bond markets will still be willing to fund this, interest rates on bonds haven’t yet increased much from what I can see.

The main issue seems to me to be a supply issue – not a demand issue. There is very much the potential for there to be not enough supply of goods/services to meet demand, and we have seen what happens to house prices, for example, when there is not enough supply.

Could inflation start rising quite steeply? Especially with the further expansion of QE. If inflation rises then interest rates will have to rise – and then those who have bought unaffordable houses on the idea that interest rates will remain super low will struggle – then feeding again into deepening the recession? Far cleverer people than me will have worked on this policy so I’m not going to judge until I have spent more time researching the potential effects. Though I do know what we will be dealing with the economic effects of this for a long time – it may well make the alleged “austerity” of the last 10 years look like a joyous time.

For now, I shall just try to enjoy my one daily allotted escape from the clutches of the Virus Taliban. I await my delivery of both pies and beers. Maybe I’ll even finally get around to reading one of the 20 books I have bought over the last few years.

Stay sane.

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