You needed sunglasses on to protect your eyes from the optimistic glare of those newspaper headlines last Thursday.
Then Boris Johnson delivers his speech. Do go out but don’t go out, go to work but don’t go to work, meet your friends but don’t meet your friends. Go to work if you can’t work at home but don’t take public transport. Don’t stay home but stay alert, do stay home
Not so much Happy Monday then as Muddle Monday.
Fifteen minutes of fist scrunching as Johnson again drags out his karaoke Churchill act – “We will beat this devilish illness…”
So what have you got for us, Boris? Ah, for you I have the shape of a plan, the first sketch of a road map… God, but you wouldn’t want to be asking that man for directions to somewhere important.
That road map isn’t encouraging. Still, it fits the scribble on the back of a fag packet done when the virus was first putting its dirty running shoes on. You know, back when things that weren’t done should have been done.
The only safe response is to keep asking yourself what’s he telling us here? And to put on your lie-detector glasses, the ones you hardly ever take off nowadays.
“I have consulted across the political spectrum, across all four nations of the UK,” Johnson says early on.
It soon turns out that consulting across the four nations doesn’t include bothering to tell the leaders of the other nations.
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon says the found out about changing the slogan from “Stay Home” to “Stay Alert” in a newspaper headline – and she didn’t agree.
So Johnson’s plans apply to the whole country, apart from those bits that intend to ignore his suggestions.
This morning’s newspapers are more circumspect than last week, with the cheer-leading Sun confining itself to “Ready, steady, slow”, while the Boris propagandising Express opts for “Boris: our route to freedom …in baby steps.”
Ahem, we’re walking to freedom in baby steps following a sketched-out road map that might not lead anywhere.
Of all the confusions rolled up in that tatty magic carpet of a speech, the work/don’t work advice is the most dubious: go to work if you can’t work at home, but don’t take public transport. So how do you get to work if it’s an hour’s commute away; how to you get to work if it’s too far to walk or cycle and you don’t have a car or you live in a crowded city where driving is impractical or even discouraged?
Not a clue was offered.
It is telling that this address was recorded earlier. This suggests cowardice on the part of Boris Johnson’s handlers, who don’t trust him to do it live – and also something lacking on his part, as leaders should be able to speak to the nation live.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer – interviewed on the BBC live straight after the recorded speech – came up with a decent Johnny Nash line about there being more questions than answers.
Incidentally, did you enjoy hearing Boris Johnson interviewed live everywhere this morning to explain his speech and stir up courage in the populace? Of course you didn’t as others were sent to do the job for him, as always.