After Boris Johnson announced plans to loosen the lock-down, columnist James Forthright sent VICE this article, which was spiked by 'The Spectator’ for being too coherent. After a lot of pleading, we agreed to publish it. As told to Simon Childs.
The PM pinged off the lockdown guy-ropes on Sunday, and I've been walking on air ever since. Watching my old pal Boris chart our course to freedom sent tingles down my spine. His talk of "working to establish new guidance for employers" was positively Churchillian. The only "second peak" we're about to hit is a peak in British civilisation – a Golden Age of health, wealth and Brexit.
But surprise, surprise: the usual parade of lefty troublemakers have been queuing up to claim that Boris' call to stay at home while going to work – to welcome back your nanny while avoiding your mother – because the devilish illness is nothing to worry about was somehow unclear. Guardian columnists; trade unions; the London Chamber of Commerce – Corbynite agents of subversion sowing chaos and confusion.
First they wanted to know how "Stay Alert" is helpful advice when faced with a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease. Well – it can't hurt, can it?
Then they wanted to know what protections were in place for workers. Only last weekend we celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day – when freeborn Englishmen stormed the gates of Hitler's Berlin with nary a thought for adequate PPE. Now we need the nanny-state to hold our hands on the way back to work, like nervous children on the first day of school.
Next, the lefty whingers will be asking the Prime Minister to explain how to wipe their pampered little bottoms, no doubt.
The announcement came not a moment too soon. It's like I said to my cleaner: The fact is, we have got to get the country up and running again. Any further delay would kill the economy, figuratively speaking.
Zofia wasn't that keen on coming back to work at first, but I encouraged her with a few friendly words about her duty to the nation's recovery, and she soon saw the truth staring us all in the face. If my wife has to put up with another week of cleaning up after me night and day – moving my dirty mugs from the living room, sweeping up the toast crumbs when I forget to use a plate, wiping my urine away from the toilet seat and brushing away my faecal residue from the back of the pan – she'll go berserk. If anyone can think of a solution here other than my cleaner coming back to work – well, answers on a post-card, please.
When I put it like that to Zofia over WhatsApp, along with a gentle reminder to not to forget to dust the top of the bathroom cabinet again, she offered no response. With no rebuttal forthcoming, I knew the debate had been won. The house moved, the motion was carried! I have forbidden Zofia from taking the bus, obviously, but I did lend her my old bike, and the 18-mile round trip is doing the old girl's crooked back a world of good, probably.
For those of you still feigning confusion: look, it’s really not that hard. If you can work from home – for instance, as an entrepreneur or newspaper columnist – then you should stay at home, because the deadly virus is still out there lurking, ready to strike at any moment.
If you can't work from home – for instance, as a ribald scaffolder who cares not a jot for PC culture, or a chummy electrician who voted for Brexit so that we can finally ban the burqa – you should go to work, and not worry about the panic spread by hysterical lefty media attention seekers.
That said, use your common sense. If government guidance – not to mention the mortal danger faced by workers – hasn’t convinced your boss to provide adequate PPE and social distancing measures, then a quick, casual chat with valued staff should do it. In my experience, a personal approach always works best – from my father begging his old pal to let me into Oxford, to my father blagging me a wine column in Standpoint at the Spectator summer drinks party.
All these lefties who profess to have workers' interests at heart are missing one vital point: any economic fall-out caused by further delay will be borne entirely by the poor and working class. Don’t interrogate that statement. It's just a sad fact of life. And that means one thing: it's imperative that we lift the lockdown not for people like me, but for people like Zofia. Allowing her to languish without pay for another month would be sexist and discriminatory. Not to mention the fact that my fridge is absolutely filthy. Something for the woke younger generation to think about.