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A Mid-Covid Night's Dream
A Satirical Play in Three Acts
This week, marking the first year anniversary of the UK going into its first lockdown (once Cheltenham was finished, of course), was cause for reflection.
Much has been written this week. The general theme typifies the Tory perspective:
"Mistakes were made, but not by us."
Thought back over the past year, perhaps for something to write, but nothing really came. Flicked through various word-pukes that came out this time last year, and stumbled across a mock "play" that I'd written: it was dated the 25th March 2020. You can see the date from this screenshot of my ‘Notes’ app:
It reflects the situation as it was unfolding in the UK at the time, and was a very poor attempt at satire.
Originally posted to the ephemeral social media, it quietly disappeared. So here it is, in full, reposted - and unedited - for the anniversary of the first UK lockdown.
A Mid-Covid Night's Dream
A Play in Three Acts
The Prime Minister................Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson
The Press.............................…..One-time Friends of the Prime Minister
Ribonucliec acid (RNA).......…Parent of the novel Coronavirus
The novel Coronavirus.......….Child of RNA
Professor Chris Whitty........…Chief Medical Officer
Professor Patrick Vallance..…Chief Scientific Advisor
Other Scientists...................….Friends of Whitty and Vallance
The Weaslrat........................….Dominic Cummings
Act I, Scene.I
Enter RNA and Coronavirus.
RNA: How now, Covid? Wither wander you?
Over hill, over dale,
Through brush, through brier,
Over park, over pale,
Through flood, through fire.
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon’s sphere.
And I serve the Covid-19,
To dew her virus upon the green.
The danger tall her pensioners be,
In their NHS beds you see.
Those be ventilators, fairy favours.
In those medics live their savours.
I must go seek some here,
And hang a Covid in every ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits. I’ll be gone.
Our viral replication come here anon.
Act I, Scene.II
The rest of the world is being hit hard. A room of Press question the Prime Minister.
Press: “Prime Minister, the rest of the world is being hit hard by this pandemic. We have limited time, and limited data. What is the plan?”
Prime Minister: “Look, we don’t follow what the rest of the world do. This is England. We used to play the Rest of World in football. Anyway, we don’t need to act because the rest of the world do what they like, but we are following The Science.”
Press: “What does this thing you call, The Science, what does this say?”
Prime Minister: “It says behaviour interventions are pointless because no one can do them. We’re going to aim for herd immunity. There’ll be some deaths along the way, it is important I level with the British people.”
Act I, Scene.III
Enter confused national and international scientists.
UK Doctors: “The strategy is demonstrably different to the rest of the world.”
Behavioural Scientists: “There is literally no evidence for this.”
Immunologists: “That is mental.”
Epidemiologists: “Do we even count as scientists anymore? Fine, tear up the playbook.”
WHO: “Test, test, test, trace, trace, trace…”
CDC: “Look Boris we’re dealing with one blonde thick eejit over here in Washington, don’t be a second.”
Act II, Scene.I
Another press conference. Now there are confirmed cases in the UK. The conservative media want picnics, not pandemics.
Press: “Prime Minister, this strategy has come in for major criticism by every field the crisis involves. Why don’t we adopt what they’ve done in Asia, Spain, and Italy are doing?
Prime Minister: “Asia? We gave that back in ’97. And look, we don’t base policy of what a holiday resort does, and I certainly don’t care for Herr Mussolini’s policies.”
Press: “That was Hong Kong, sir. And Spain is a sovereign country, takes up most of the Iberian peninsula. Also Mussolini died 75 years ago, it’s not 1940!”
Prime Minister: “Yes it is! We will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them in the streets…we will never surrender!”
Press: “Brexit is over, Prime Minister, viruses are invisible, we need a well equipped health service; you know…like the health service was before you guys came into power.”
Act II., Scene.III
Criticism of the policy mounts as the virus spreads. The government is pressed for its evidence.
Scientists: “Don’t you think this lacks transparency? We’ve seen no data. Please share your data with us, you are wasting time.”
Prime Minister: “I told you, the rest of the world can sod off because Britain isn’t just the home of cricket, and bitter, Britain is the home of The Science, too! So our No.1 priority is to protect The Econ…, eh, I mean, follow The Science! Yes, the Science. See, I’ve these two fine men standing to hear to legitimise our policy.”
Prof Vallance: “From what we have been briefed, the evidence is from a rat…”
Prof Whitty: “…actually, sorry to interrupt you there Pat, I saw the evidence in person and it’s actually a genetic hybrid between a weasel and a rat: a weaselrat.”
Enter The Weaslerat:
“Protect The Economy, let pensioners die, bring me more misfits I say! Boris, this is about policy-based evidence making, not evidence-based policy making: confuse the two again and there’ll be no more tummy-sticks from me!”
Act III, Scene.I
Pressure is mounting. Brexiteers, now calling themselves 'lockdown skeptics', protest outside No.10, with placards reading “Picnics Not Pandemics!” and “Your Inability To Grasp Picnics Are Not A Valid Argument Against Them!”
Enter Press: “Prime Minister, cases are mounting and things are getting real; shouldn’t we tell people to stay indoors, shut public areas, and try and suppress growth?”
Prime Minister: “Look, we NEVER said herd immunity was a strategy. Who ever said that? You must have misherd. We meant that to us, the Etonians, you’re just a herd…of commoners. But let’s not dwell on the past, it’s time to move on with The Science…”
Act III, Scene.II:
Pressure mounts to try and avoid the spread of the virus.
Boris: “Ok, NOW it is time for behavioural interventions! Ahaha, you thought we weren’t going to do them, didn’t you? Admit it! Anyway, the evidence from Pirates of the Caribbean the other night suggested, to quote Captain Jack Sparrow, to ‘wait for the opportune moment’; and that is EXACTLY what we planned all along! Haha, snap.”
Press: “Hmm, you don’t sound confident. What are we asking people to do?”
Boris: “Oh you know, wash hands, get infect…, eh, wait, I mean, just maintain distance, wash hands, you know that kinda thing.”
Scientists: “Hey, government. We did this modelling while you were chatting: see this number here? Oh, excuse us, we remember the Brexit bus: numbers aren’t your forte. That basically says hundreds of thousands of people could die.”
Boris: “LOCK THE PLACE DOWN! TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO BUGGER OFF! LOCKDOWN EXCEPT FOR GOING OUTSIDE, ON THE TUBE, TO WORK, OVER HILL, OVER DALE, BUT IT IS A LOCKDOWN!”
Act III, Scene.III
Press: “So basically now we’re doing what the rest of the world is doing? We could we have done this a month ago. How will we know if the strategy is working if we’re not contact tracing?
Prime Minister: “Oh now that question I can answer: body count.”
Just shy of 150,000 people in the UK have died (148,125 officially on record at the time of writing).
The Prime Minister has issued the hollowest of statements claiming "full responsibility" for the governments handling of the pandemic, and the death toll.
He remains Prime Minister.
The Weaselrat is no longer weaselling around No.10.
The government have decided that a public inquiry into its handling of the pandemic is not, in fact, "in the public interest." They have opted instead to introduce extensive police powers of arrest and to break up protests.
"Mistakes were made. But not by us."