Freedom

Freedom!!!! But don’t go crazy.

These are the days:

July is half over, school is a month in the past, the mornings are bright, and the afternoons long and lazy. My friends and I spend our days at the creek, where time slips by—steamy and sultry—while we splash in the green water. It’s summertime, and the living is, indeed, easy.

Who could have predicted, during those long summers of my youth, that I would end up, many years later, living in Britain, sipping tea in a quaint café, watching an equally steamy and sultry afternoon slip by, while waiting for life to once again, become easy?

Tomorrow, they tell me, is Freedom Day, the day we are supposed to put the pandemic behind us. One might imagine, after a year and a half of waiting, that the anticipation would generate some excitement. Alas, that is not the case. The best I can muster is weary resignation and the unwanted, though stubborn, conviction that things are not about to get better and will, very likely, get worse.

To be fair, there was some excitement, and optimism when it was first announced. But then it was postponed by a month, and then Delta the Variant raised its ugly head (and torso, and showed its fangs and razor claws) and still, as of this writing, runs rampant and unchallenged through the population.

What better time to let everyone off the leash?

However, despite the UK currently riding the upward crest of a third (or is this the fourth?) wave, we are doggedly determined to have our Freedom Day, though the Freedom bit has been quietly side-lined. It’s now just a Day where a few of the restrictions we operate under are being lifted. For now.

With the virus booming, the restrictions that would be the most effective and least costly to maintain would be the wearing of masks and the washing of hands, especially as we will shortly be gathering in larger groups in closer proximity. The government, therefore, chose to drop this regulation, but keep the lunacy of the ill-conceived, poorly run and ruinously expensive Track and Track System.

For those of you not familiar with the UK, what this system does is randomly ping people who have been in the same locality as someone who later comes down with COVID. Those people, and their families, are then required to remain at home for the next ten days, even if they are fully vaccinated and later test negative for COVID. Given that there can be hundreds of pings per COVID-positive person, and that the number of COVID-positive people is rising exponentially these days, the number of healthy people being forced into house arrest is so staggering that industries and critical services are already shutting down for lack of staff. And those who know about such things predict that, in another week or so, there could be as many as four and half million people in unnecessary isolation. (They are calling it the “Pingdemic.”)

Naturally, the Government has opted for their tried-and-true method of ignoring reality and are, instead, gleefully reminding people that they have a benevolent government to thank for the privileged of huddling together in large groups—without masks—as of tomorrow morning.

What, as they say, could possibly go wrong?

I could, if I chose, allow this to cloud my afternoon, but it is such a lovely, summer day, and despite all the national (and local) shenanigans, and the mess the wider world is currently in, my little part of it remains a pleasant place to be.

And tomorrow morning, when my wife and I go shopping, we can go into the supermarket without being legally required to wear a mask.

But we will.