Should we fly abroad for a holiday this summer?
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” was Samuel Johnson’s view. After fifteen months of lockdown, this woman is so bored of Britain she could drown in the English Channel trying to make good her escape. But things aren’t much better in France. Nor in Spain. I can’t afford flights to Bahrain. So I’m stuck here on another summer staycation, melting in a one-bedroom flat which was built above the block’s communal boiler.
It’s no more selfish to say this situation must end, and the government must lift travel restrictions, than to say you enjoyed it (implying everyone who hated it is just self-centred). Imagine if you’d been working as a delivery driver all year, battling on to make sure everyone else could stay home safely; now you have two kids and six weeks of summer holiday approaching, but are unable to afford the jaw-shattering cost of Cornwall, where it will probably rain all week anyway. We’ve been living like this to give the government time to vaccinate old people vulnerable to Covid-19. Now they’ve been vaccinated (yay!) it’s time to let everyone live again – which means jumping on a jet plane to wherever the damn hell the working class want.
“Now old people have been vaccinated it’s time to let everyone live again, which means jumping on a jet plane to wherever the damn hell the working class want”
For a year now the government has been telling us we may make plans – so they can then make a U-turn and order us to cancel them (and serves us right for trusting them). So I’m taking no chances on my unstable income. If another lockdown comes I’ll probably lose all my work, again, so yes, I’m saving up to fly away. Winter is coming. Cold and flu season will return. I didn’t take any state money first time around because I wondered how the hell the nation could afford it. It’s not as if things are going to get better Covid-wise if everyone stays at home because, after suffering many tragic deaths, our population has antibodies now. It would be better – for the whole of society – if the fit and healthy flew about again, proving the pandemic no longer rages on.
The only hold-up in booking my flight isworking out how to never come back. Texas and Florida have been out of lockdown for months and seem unlikely to plunge back into one, ever. So the real question, on a personal level, is where would I fit in best: a cattle ranch or an alligator farm? Do cowboys want mail order brides? Being bored of Britain won’t be so bad if I can make it to the Free West.
Emily Hill is a journalist and author of “Bad Romance”. Her book “Love in Late Capitalism” will be published next Valentine’s Day
The Baby Boomer
Covid has taught us many things, among them the fact that the old, the infirm, the not so well off and the non-white are highly vulnerable to viruses of this nature. Where precisely the virus came from – was it the lab in Wuhan, the wet market there, or somewhere else entirely? – hardly seems to matter.
What does matter is that these pandemics teach us something about our, humankind’s, frailty in the face of nature, that they should encourage in us some humility. As James Lovelock has made abundantly clear in his various Gaia hypotheses, the planet itself will always win. The more pressure we put on the natural world, the more it will simply respond as it sees fit, seeking its own, impersonal balance regardless of our fate. And currently that balance is likely to result in an environment which is ever more hostile, bringing with it more fire and flood, more drought – and plague.
But will these lessons be learnt? Will we become better custodians of our planet? Will we understand we can’t endlessly invade the habitats of species that may harbour viruses injurious to us? I doubt it.
“What should have been a big environmental wake-up call has been drowned out by the angry complaints of those saying it’s not fair… Well, tough”
It’s one thing to want to be able to go down the pub, to have a meal in a restaurant, to see a film in a cinema and to be in close touch with friends and family. But the idea that we can once again enjoy all our massive privileges and start flying everywhere, trailing toxic aerial pollution in our wake, is absurd.
What should have been a big environmental wake-up call has been drowned out by the angry complaints of those saying they are fed up, that it’s not fair they can’t do what they’re accustomed to doing. Well, tough. The part of the population, in the UK at any rate, that is now suffering most following Covid’s ruthless dispatch of some 128,000 souls surely consists of the children and teenagers at school or sixth form, and the students at university, all of whom have either missed a significant part of their education, been mis-graded by an algorithm or not enjoyed experiences vital to their growing up, and have been plagued by mental health issues.
So to hear anyone say they’re bored or pissed off about their holiday opportunities doesn’t wash. I’d humbly suggest, in Miles Davis’ words, that they just “get up with it” and think about the planet for a change; also that they spare a thought for all those who live in countries where vaccination rollout hasn’t been as smooth as it has been here.
Le Hibou is an ancient and rather grumpy Green. This week he is listening to JS Bach and John Lee Hooker