Covidian Nonexistence

BY ALEXIA JAMES

It must be said that mainstream media has become extraordinarily unalluring during this pandemic. People are learning to live without. On a Zoom business call just yesterday one of those present asked if anyone had seen Boris’ latest Coronavirus press conference and four out of six on the video call admitted they had not bothered tuning into even one.

Meanwhile the newspapers are scratching around for stories aside from those about Coronavirus and lock-down. “How to get perfect eyebrows from home” and “Dogs go through a stroppy phase when they hit puberty” are the less than enticing stories covered by the Daily Mail while the BBC Website is even more full of bosh than usual – “Will this crisis make us more generous tippers?” and “Moving house in lockdown felt like a crime” are such unappealing reads one feels forced to switch to The Sun. There you find yet more rubbish amongst the dozens of Coronavirus headlines – “McDonald’s will open 15 of its restaurants today – see the full list” no doubt has the salad-dodgers pirouetting with glee while “How to deal with dental problems at home” is an article one would hope never to have to read.

Frankly, the news is either grim or bloody boring. It is just not worth looking at. Alas body parts found in a suitcase in Coleford was the highlight of the week.

Do not get me wrong, Coronavirus and its death toll are important news and the journalists covering the main story de jour are doing a fine and courageous job given the circumstances. The news is just repetitive and dull. My point is that if we citizens are to remain obedient and alive to the ongoing battle we rather depend on our media seducing us. No football, no cricket, and no decent stories in the press – hardly a winning formula to keep the nation’s grey matter titillated. There are only so many novels and Netflix series one can binge on before needing something real and gossipy to feed off – and right now there is absolutely nothing out there. “It’s all bollocks,” as one of this magazine’s stalwarts has a habit of saying.

Last week I ask my brother how he survived boarding school terms of fourteen weeks. He replied that he was rarely bored even though he never left the school grounds during those fourteen weeks. He played sports, he was surrounded by friends and he studied much of the time. For him lockdown is a pleasure – he has read loads, has really enjoyed teaching his children and is rediscovering how to spin bowl in mammoth cricket contests with his sons in the back garden. He says boarding school helped condition him for these days – he has set a year in his mind as the term length for Coronavirus and his mental cocoon was initiated by simply switching on old habits and behaviours.

I find this lockdown much harder and am relieved of this week’s easing measures. I am disappointed that we are left with so few alluring options emanating from the mainstream – it is time the footballers and cricketers stepped up to entertain us. What if we are fed up of clapping for the national religion of the NHS? Why should we clap for the NHS when it is a bottomless pit and the NHS includes managers who, frankly, the NHS could do without? Why do we cheer for the NHS when there are families who for generations have sponged off it and some who have made fortunes out of it? Why cheer for the NHS when its procurement offices think a half percent discount is a successful negotiation in procuring masks and gloves? Why don’t we have a clap for the care workers every Thursday and a mass booing for the NHS apparatchiks every Friday?

The routine right now is getting stale and it is dull.

You may sense my restlessness. I know I should not complain. I feel for those imprisoned in studio flats and those who are ill or grieving because of this bastard illness. But where is a Telegraph expenses investigation or Newsnight scoop when you most long to indulge in some intelligent and alluring news? Someone please find a vaccine for this wretched lurgy or we will all end up brain-dead and malleable – fodder for communist maniacs and bearded theocrats. Someone please end this Covidian nonexistence and soon.

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