‘Enough Said’ – Letter from London
As I rightly predicted in my Blog last week the US Presidential election has taken place but in no shape or form has it been decided. Having watched CNN since March it came as no surprise that the debacle and threat to democracy taking place in America is now full on.
We initially started watching what was evolving across the pond because our anger and frustration at how the incompetent Johnson Government was handling the Covid-19 crisis became too much to bare. To be honest, as I said before, it was a respite and at times entertainment to see how far the failed businessman could push the American people before being found out. But over the months his prophetic pronouncement some years ago that he could “walk down Park Avenue and shoot a Nun and still get away with it” was coming true. Numerous lies, incitements, racism, religious zeal and ridiculous notions – who can forget the advice that ingesting bleach and then having a sun bed will help the fight against Covid-19 – seemed at the time to be the last breaths of a man completely out of his depth and shouting out anything to make sure he got on a life boat on the Titanic before any more women and children? But we were wrong.
There was much method in his madness. He was testing to see how far his core supporters were willing to go with him and like any dictator he soon realised that they would be willing, if necessary, to take up arms for him. Then he set up the idea that all voting was going to be rigged if he did not win the State, and we have now arrived at the most extraordinary and frightening place in American history whereby the whole constitutional process of democracy is now in jeopardy…”Totalitarianism for $200”!
As I write this, Biden has just taken the lead in Georgia and is looking good to take Pennsylvania and possibly Nevada and Arizona. I am hoping that progress continues, and it is all over bar the shouting. It’s just my fear (and it is deep rooted) that this time the shouting might end up with troops surrounding the White House and battlelines being drawn up.
Back on the home front, it has been another one of ‘those weeks’ for us as I am sure it has for many others too. The news that we were going into another national lockdown took on great importance for me once more, both professionally and personally.
Professionally and artistically the evolution of another national lockdown creates, once again, fear and anxiety as to when I will be back at work and not struggling as everyone else is to find the rent, buy food and pay the bills as work continues to be scarce. I can understand the anger of many that the lockdown and its continuing offspring of mini lockdowns is causing as many problems as the virus itself. It is indeed a heavy price to pay but there is no heavier price to pay than losing a loved one to the virus as well. It is just a complete mess that I feel could have been avoided as the root of the disaster was seeded a decade ago. The choice was made by the electorate to vote for austerity and not to borrow to increase productivity to pull ourselves out of the crash of 2008. Given that mandate, successive Tory Governments exercised their right to decimate the NHS, social services, policing, education etc. The result being that when a virus like this hits (and it was inevitable at some stage), we were woefully unprepared for it on every level. Proper test and tracing, isolation capabilities, lockdown measures early on would have had us in a far better position we are today. Now all we have is confusion and it is costing lives both through the virus and not through the virus. We must try at this most difficult time to remain together and take the fight from every angle to the incompetent government that is overseeing this mess until they or a new government delivers on what should have been done months ago. I fear this, like the US election, will be a long battle with one side not willing to listen to reason.
I have also been hit hard over the last few weeks personally. Two weeks ago I received the news telling me that my Mum, who has been in care home for the past year, was now being put on ‘End of Life’ care.
I had seen her not long before when we were allowed more freedom and could visit her outside for half an hour. I was a little concerned as I hadn’t been able to contact her on the phone for a few days and so rung to see what was up. It seems that she was declining more and more to eat or drink and the consensus was that ‘end of life’ was near. I immediately asked if I could see her. As it was under the ‘end of life’ rules my wife and I would be allowed to visit her in her room the next day, in effect to say goodbye.
I must admit the last few years had been tough for my Mum. Annoying, niggly illnesses followed by a couple of falls had meant she had spent last Christmas in hospital and then in a convalescing care home to recover from a broken hip. It was decided, out of my hands, that she would be better off in the care home on a more permanent basis. The home and its staff has been wonderful but I think the cumulative effect of not being in her own home for over a year and then the permanency of her new surroundings coupled with the onset of lockdown measures just sent her into a depressive whirlpool. The changing face of the weather with the dark afternoons drawing in and the cold beginning to bite I think just put her in a mindset that said she had had enough. “ When will it all end” she would often repeat when speaking about the virus when we visited her during the Summer. I had no answer but would always make sure she thought it would be soon. But in her quickening depressive mindset, even though it had only been a couple of weeks since our last visit, attitude and will can go downhill rapidly.
So it was with great intrepidation that we made the journey to see her for what could be the last time. My hope and conviction were that she had just declined because she was missing that most vital of human gifts – interaction; well, certainly interaction with an idiot like me… someone who will always enter any medical establishment as the doctor, and now more so than ever with all the PPE on! Someone who, with the Perspex between us, will always pretend to do a mime of the man looking over the wall whilst bumping into the screen to give the game away. And definitely someone like me who given an abandoned Zimmer frame can then have hours of fun as a disgruntled patient!! The old ones are the best ones…literally!! I knew as soon as I walked into her small but homely room that all would be well. Fully PPE-up, I gently called her name so she would wake up. The dawning realisation that it was me gave rise to a huge smile and immediately she seemed to brighten. More so after I had done my cheap gags routine explained above!
My time was up and Wendy my wife was then allowed to visit… again alone. Wendy secured the about turn as she oversaw my Mum eating her lunch followed by ice cream and of course her obligatory “cup of tea”! For years my kids thought my name was “ Do you want a cup of tea?” as these would always be the first words my Mum would say to me when we arrived at her home.
“Hello Mum!” I would say.
“Hello, d’yer want a cup of tea?” she would reply.
We visited her again on Wednesday before the stricter lockdown and my Mum’s new uplifting attitude seems to be prevailing which all bodes well for the next few weeks before we can visit her again and my awful ‘Marcel Marceau’ impression can be once again let loose on the world!!
My Mum has been a wonderful support for me both financially and emotionally over the years, especially when we hit extremely hard times a few years back. Without her I would not be writing this now, so it was extremely humbling for me to go some little way in repaying her faith in me, if not financially then emotionally, by giving her a few more reasons to battle on until such times when the current turmoil does “all end” and life can go back to some semblance of normality.
As I said to her on my leaving, that is a hope “Worth ‘aving a cup of tea for.”
November 6th 2020