Frankie Boyle 27th April 2020
It seems, on reflection, that there are some drawbacks to electing people who are fundamentally indifferent to human life. If you’ve ever wondered what it would take for the British media to really take this government to task, well it’s not nearly a thousand deaths a day. The fact that we seem to be struggling to count the dead doesn’t suggest that this is going to go amazingly. Indeed, the media seems to have settled on an incredible piece of framing: that there are actually many more dead if you count care home residents as people.
Somehow it seems absolutely fitting that the way we hear about the end of humanity is a slide show presentation fronted by Dominic Raab. His briefings aren’t even the least inspiring: Priti Patel is like a candidate from a version of The Apprentice where you want to work for Satan, while Matt Hancock has the air of someone who’s still in the friend-zone with his own wife. Of course, I’m very glad that Boris Johnson didn’t die in hospital but I would like to see clawed hands rise from a vent in the ground and drag his living body into hell.
It’s rare that the incompetence of a government has been so starkly highlighted. With the whole power of the British state to call upon they can’t, over a period of several weeks, source some face masks. Some of what we might loosely term the “planning” has been bizarre: Deloitte the accountancy firm running a testing centre in Chessington World of Adventures is like a suggestion shouted out at an improv night. Still, I’m sure the daily death toll deeply saddens many of the Cabinet, as, let’s face it, there’s only one winner in a sweepstake.
To maintain social distancing football clubs have told their players not to spit-roast anyone shorter than 6 foot 2. I like the two-metre rule; finally the British can be open about their mutual revulsion. Finally we can admit to ourselves what our social nods have always meant — I see you, but I don’t trust you. It’s interesting to note, now that we’re living through The Hunger Games, that I didn’t need to hone my archery skills, just put on a really large hat to buy a third packet of fusilli. The trick — as preppers are fond of saying — is to “go early”. I plan to head for the woods the moment I see Dignitas vouchers pop up on Groupon.
You have to feel for all the folk who voted Tory thinking they would only fuck up life for other people
You have to feel for all the folk who voted Tory thinking they would only fuck up life for other people. It would have been nice if the British had realised delivery drivers, care workers and vegetable pickers were more useful than a meeting about advertising strategy without having to dig mass graves. All those years of complaining to Yodel, and now a delivery driver skimming a quiche up your driveway is the best thing that’s ever happened. Just going by how horny everyone seems to be, there’s a real chance that once this is over we all get locked down again about a month later, due to an AIDS pandemic.
Labour MPs are great in a pandemic (able to maintain a strict social distance from someone simply by imagining that they’re a party member) but the party’s response has been insipid. I’ve seen more statements from Aldi than I have from Labour. Keir Starmer, a sliding doors Tony Hadley with a head so rectangular he uses a bread bin for a cycling helmet, and a voice which, a hundred years ago, would be doing patter over a ukulele. A man so lacking in charisma each time he greets his wife she experiences nothing more than an unnerving sense of deja vu. Sir Kier is wondering about an exit strategy. He must know the way it goes by now — he’ll be undermined like a cottage with Japanese knotweed, then fuck up an election.
In the States, Trump is at war with the virus for attention. The way things are going there, next years Oscar obituary segment is going to make The Irishman look like a gif. He likes to refer to the “Chinese virus”, and you almost have to admire the dedication it takes to be racist about a pandemic, which is not that far away from being transphobic about earthquakes. Not that Biden would be any better: he exhibits a terrifying cognitive decline and was recently the subject of a grim sexual assault allegation. Surely if anything could add to the horror of sexual assault, it would be the perpetrator entering you and then forgetting what he’d come in for.
Perhaps this ends with us all forcibly chipped like a posh dog
This pandemic has been great for conspiracy theorists; largely men for whom the term “unattainable woman” is a tautology. There’s a real chance that soon 5G towers will be getting pulled down quicker than the Queen’s knickers on VE night. Using your smartphone to tweet your fears of being tracked by a sinister corporation is like sending “You go girl!” to Greta Thunberg via a skywriter.
I bet the tech bosses can’t believe how cheap it’s been for social media to hijack our Stone Age reward neurology. Even pigeons would at least expect to get the odd piece of corn from it. Perhaps this ends with us all forcibly chipped like a posh dog, or maybe we’ll have to accept even greater infringements on our liberty. Maybe by 2022 we’ll have to roll around in giant Perspex balls like pet hamsters. The first sign of civil unrest and a van will screech up with a telegraph pole strapped to the roof, Ronnie O’Sullivan at the wheel, skilfully knocking ringleaders into strategically positioned restraint pockets. Of course, I can guess the motive behind Bill Gates’s vaccine. One minute you’re dropping your trousers in the chemist, next you’re coming round to find that you’re an Illuminati after-dinner centrepiece, bread rolls cushioning your knees from the tabletop, as you’re spit-roasted by two giant mechanical Paperclips. The last thing you hear before you pass out is the faint murmur of “It looks like you’re trying not to bleed to death through your rectum. Can I help?”
If you don’t think comparing this to World War II is an insult to the elderly, picture yourself recounting it to your grandchildren. “We had to have mild cheddar when we’d wanted mature… then there was the night Netflix was overloaded. Every movie was like the Lego Movie!” They’ll sit enthralled on our laps, as by then they’ll have high-definition VR contact lenses and be transfixed by their avatar dismembering hookers in a burning casino.
Maybe in a decade, a wealthy old person will gain an extra half-century by having their head and shoulders grafted, like an apple tree, onto a young healthy human rootstock
It’s certainly quite the cultural turnaround to start worrying about care homes: they’ve been widely regarded as dust-covered battle-arenas where those who dared to raise us and those who dared to travel here to work are set against each other armed only with a bottle of Dettol and a fly on the wall documentary. This scare could just lead to increased efforts by the wealthy to transcend their fragile human physicality. Maybe in a decade, a wealthy old person will gain an extra half-century by having their head and shoulders grafted, like an apple tree, onto a young healthy human rootstock. It could get interesting when Alzheimer’s kicks in for a war veteran fused to the body of a twenty-year-old lumberjack. “Better write a thank-you card for Nana son, or else she might rip you limb from limb.”
Boris Johnson, flapping about like a poorly-tethered bouncy castle, is supposed to serve as a distraction, a furball coughed up by a supervillain’s cat. He isn’t supposed to actually lead us through anything. We have a government that has no interest in governing up against an opposition uninterested in opposing. It feels like we’ve got Owen Jones, graffiti, and breakfast news against a ruling class, media, and virus that are broadly in agreement.
The austerity they’ll tell us they need to introduce to pay for this will make the last decade seem like Christmas at Elton John’s house
Of course this government are failing to deal with a pandemic. At the fag end of neoliberalism, they don’t exist to do much more than transfer public assets into private hands. What we’re living through is exactly what would happen if we’d elected a firm of bailiffs to cure polio. That’s not to say that they won’t use this crisis, as they would any other, to advance a profoundly reactionary agenda. The austerity they’ll tell us they need to introduce to pay for this will make the last decade seem like Christmas at Elton John’s house.
There’s an old joke about a guy going to hell. The Devil shows him round all the rooms where people are being tortured in a variety of brutal ways. Eventually, they come to a room where everybody is standing knee-deep in shit and drinking cups of tea. The guy chooses this as the place to spend eternity, and the Devil shouts “Tea break’s over lads, back on your heads!” That, I suppose, is how I feel when I hear people crowing about how the government are being forced to implement socialist policies. Pretty soon, we’ll all be back on our heads.
Frankie Boyle 27th April 2020