Yes, it is the end of the world… the end of a civilized world respecting individual freedom.
I’ve always been proud to say I’m British – until now. The authorities’ bloody-minded determination to implement lockdown rules at the expense of people’s wellbeing is not what our great country should be about.
Sometimes you can be too close. You are looking, but you don’t see it. That’s where I found myself this week with the current state of Britain, amid another round of ever tighter restrictions caused by the pandemic.
Don’t get me wrong. There are loads of things I’ve always loved about my country – our traditional British good manners for example. Rather than see it as a sign of weakness, I pride myself on our reputation for queuing in an orderly fashion. I also like that we hold the door open for the person behind us.
I admire our outstanding National Health Service, which allows everyone to access medical treatment without having to dig out a credit card or an insurance plan. And I enjoy flying British Airways over far-flung lands, offering me some form of attachment – even if it is superficial.
I won’t apologise for tea being regarded as the boring and bland equivalent to freshly ground coffee – it’s our drink, and I love it. And the way we honour our war heroes with the humble poppy is thoroughly respectful.
But this week, some of that pride in being British died for me. It’s a very different sentiment I’m feeling. Beyond disillusionment. Fury even.
How could Britain have fallen so far in the way it treats its own people?
It began with the horrifying detention of a 97-year-old grandmother by police in the Yorkshire town of Market Weighton. Her daughter, a qualified nurse, wanted to bring her home from a care home to look after her during lockdown and quietly wheeled her out of the home.
However somewhere along the line, a jobsworth felt the need to justify their existence and reported what had happened. The episode ended with her granddaughter in tears filming a video, showing her own mother in handcuffs inside a squad car, while the old woman sat in another car, completely bewildered.
The police’s response? They were responding to “a report of assault.” Incredible.
The horror continued as students at the University of Manchester’s Fallowfield halls of residence awoke to find workers erecting fences around their facility to ensure they couldn’t leave. They were being installed following government guidelines asking students not to return to their permanent homes.
One student said: “They’re huge metal barriers, they’re connected to one another and there’s literally no gaps….it makes it feel like we’re in a prison.”
In what version of the United Kingdom do we keep our bright, young people caged like dogs? Unsurprisingly, some of the outraged students began to rip them down, causing even more angst.