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17.04.20 – Darrell Priestley
I like to imagine this blog at this most unprecedented time as a personal flotation device, something light enough to bouy you up, knowing that, at sometime or other, everyone is going to need someone or something to lean on. The tone on this occasion, however, is a mite subdued. Running through today’s blog, then, is the Bill Withers song, Lean on Me. You know it well, I’m sure. If you ask Alexa, she’ll gladly play it for you while you read this.
For four Thursdays in a row, we have honoured our heroes, those who go into danger each day, and who we rely upon to carry us through this most difficult time. It’s a shocking responsibility, more really than anyone signed up for. So it’s difficult to grasp how it can be that many retired health professionals have answered the call to support their fellows at the front end, on intensive care wards and elsewhere. Humbling, yet inspiring.
In the three weeks since the nation first assembled outside their collective front doors to cheer, applaud, sound horns or bang a pan with a wooden spoon, so many good people have been lost in standing up to this threat, including stoic individuals at all levels of health care. Many of us know people around us who have been touched by the pandemic, including some we will not see again, and the tragedy of it all can be overwhelming.
Arguments rage about PPE, and about whether the British Government should have excercised the option on the table to joint venture with the EU on procurement of vast quantities, £1.3 billion worth of vital protective equipment. It is very hard for most of us to rationalise why as a nation we would not take every option available to us to protect the lives of those in greatest need as they treat sufferers of this terrible disease.
SInce Margaret Thatcher’s notorious ”There’s no such thing as society” in the 1980’s, people have increasingly grown apart, society fragmented, and communites distanced themselves. When I grew up, everyone knew all of their neighbours; that would be unusual now. It has taken a crisis, a common threat, to throw this into reverse. Thursday night applause is one aspect of this, while 99-year-old Capt Tom Moore and his hundred laps of his garden, meant to raise £1,000 for the NHS and so fair raising over £17 Million, is another. Suddenly, other people are popping into sharp relief. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers are active, people rousing themselves as a help force, and looking out for friends they didn’t even know.
So yes, we are isolated, but the sense becomes ever stronger that we are in this together. People count, and people care. We used to call this brotherly love, and it had been on the wane for quite a while. Now it seems it’s back with a bang. So, we offer our respect for regular people, going about their regular lives, doing regular jobs. Because they are the fabric of society. Let us rejoice and celebrate the people who make things tick, who get us to work, who deliver our food, provide our water and power, and of course those who save our lives while risking their own. It has been tough, but life becomes better for each of us the more we love and respect one another.