Monday 22 February 2021

Then and Now

 Among its many uses, a blog serves as an excellent aide-mémoire, even a portal into the past. Looking to see what I was up to on this day two years ago, I find that I visited a fascinating exhibition of Rembrandt prints and drawings at the British Museum, and dropped in on the church of St Giles in the Fields, 'the poets' church', to have a look at a particular monument. Back then I was still writing the book that was to become The Mother of Beauty (hurry hurry while stocks last). And now, as I write, I am at work on another book, this time a short one on butterflies – indeed I have nearly finished it. I'm hoping it will be launched on a startled world later this year...
Oh for those days when we could wander at large with no restrictions (or masks) and actually 'drop in on' things – galleries, churches, museums, pubs, bookshops, cafés, restaurants... Now all are either closed or hedged about with so many restrictions and conditions as to rule out all spontaneity. Having surrendered a great swathe of our basic rights and freedoms in what appeared at first to be, just possibly or at least arguably, a good cause (remember 'flattening the curve'?), we now seem to have settled into a way of living that a year ago – well, two years ago – would have seemed utterly unthinkable. And the glimmer of light we are promised in the PM's announcement looks likely to be a feeble flicker in the middle distance at best, despite mass vaccination and falling infection rates etc. All this for a virus that mostly kills old people, has barely registered in terms of Qualys (quality adjusted life years) lost, and has restored overall death rates to parity with 2003. Can the costs of all this – social, economic, educational, psychological and physical – possibly be justified? It looks like madness to me. And I would rather like to have my life back, please.


  1. Another use of blogs is that readers - most especially those (me) who have just been horrified to discover from YouGov's latest polling that 82 per cent of the public approve or strongly approve of forcing school children to wear masks - can be reassured that someone else is also not convinced by any of this radical stuff.

  2. Absolutely, Zoe. And it's not as if there's any good scientific evidence that masks work – or lockdowns, come to that. Madness...