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A barking approach

8 January 2022

9:00 AM

8 January 2022

9:00 AM

We are considering privatising or selling off our dog, Jessie. She seemed a rather wonderful idea when we got her nine years ago. But since then she has become a hideously bloated, entitled creature who almost by herself determines how we live our lives.

In winter she is particularly tyrannical — she has three walks a day, and with darkness falling at four o’clock that means almost every hour of daylight is spent servicing her needs. We cannot go out by ourselves without ensuring she will not be unduly inconvenienced, and as she has grown older so the costs of keeping her have spiralled — and will continue to spiral.

Is she grateful? Not a bit of it. The food and treats we give her are never sufficient and so she follows us around demanding more, outraged. The walks are never long enough. And when she’s not out on a walk or stuffing her fat face she lies in a corner looking resentful.

Perhaps the worst thing about her is that she has been transformed from a dog into a cow, a holy cow. She can never be criticised. If I mention the enormous imposition she places on the rest of our family, I am immediately howled down in a torrent of misplaced sentimentality — even though my wife and daughter understand very well indeed that this is not how the family should work. It is the tail wagging the dog, for want of a better simile. But suggest this and it’s all: ‘Oh shame on you for having a go at Jessie! How dare you!’


In other words, my dog is exactly like the National Health Service. Exactly. It would not surprise me if one of these days she insists that we go out on to our front doorstep and bang saucepans together in her honour.

All of our lives are at the moment determined by the endless, fathomless demands of the NHS, an institution which will never have enough money or staff to meet our bloated expectations of it and which rejoices in insisting — at every turn, on every day of the year — that it is ‘in crisis’. Every announcement of extra funding is met with complaint and to criticise its ravenous maw is to bring down the wrath of the gods. Turn on the radio at any point during the day and I guarantee you will hear a nurse explaining that she can’t take any more stress, or a doctor criticising the government for not having us put in lockdown permanently and allowing us all out only once a week to the supermarket while wearing a face mask.

Not much, these days, is to Boris Johnson’s credit, but refusing to indulge in another bout of self-imprisonment and self-flagellation — as demanded by our medical clergy — most certainly is. We are faced, at the moment, with a Covid variant which could be less harmful to the individual who contracts it than the common cold. And yet for weeks the health professionals and the government advisers contested the charge that Omicron was much, much milder than both the Delta variant and the original Alpha variant, despite the very clear evidence to this effect from South Africa and indeed from the early slew of cases in the UK. These experts are never challenged when interviewed by journos: their views are accepted as being utterly factual, much like those of third-sector charity bosses and Palestinian negotiators. But the mildness of Omicron was very, very clear at least three weeks ago.

Nor have cases of Omicron ‘doubled every two days’, as we were assured that they would by the same experts: that may have happened in the first two or three days of its arrival here, but it has come nowhere near reaching that exponential spread since then. The doctors and those commie advisers in Sage also tried to tell us that even if Omicron was a ‘slightly milder’ form of Covid, its rapacious yearning for transmission would have the same effect on the demand for NHS beds. This has not remotely happened. Notice, they always said ‘slightly milder’ — of an illness which in many cases afflicts its victims with a bit of a sore throat and a case of the sniffles. In fact, there has been comparatively little increase in the demand for NHS beds, still less for intensive case beds. (Incidentally, when some quack is on the radio shrieking that 90 per cent of his hospital’s ICU beds are taken, why doesn’t the interviewer point out that this is what’s meant to happen? And that the occupancy rate of ICU beds in winter tends to be around the 95 per cent mark? And also ask how many ICU beds they have — the answer usually being somewhere in the region of eight.)

It looks very much as if Omicron has passed its peak in London. At the very height of the supposed surge in the capital, between 21 and 28 December, the number of Londoners in hospital as a consequence of Covid rose by only 433 — there are more than 90,000 hospital beds in London. Meanwhile seven-day case rates have been falling in the capital since the high point on 20 December, although of course these figures may be less reliable than usual because of the holiday period.

Our kids went back to school this week, much though the teachers carped and cavilled. They will be forced to wear face masks when in any communal area (i.e. the whole school). This horrible and pointless imposition is a sop to the medical lobby and also to the teachers, who seem to be itching to get back to the halcyon late spring of 2020 when half of the nation’s children went without any meaningful form of education for four months. It is more evidence that we are not being led by the science, if we ever were, but by people with a vested interest.

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