Mark Andrews on Saturday: Old fridges, hubris, and the nasty side of tribalism
Read the latest musings from Mark Andrews.
Boris Johnson has taken some ribbing over his suggestions on how to estimate the two-metre social distancing gap. Three refrigerators seems a bit vague, particularly when you are out and about and might not have three fridges to hand. Besides, what type of fridges are we talking about, those little gas ones that were around in the 70s, or the giant American things the 'buy to rent' retailers try to flog to the unemployed?
If the Prime Minister really wants to help people understand two metres, he could always do the unspeakable, and give the measurements in English – 6ft 8in, or the height of a tall bloke.
Of course, a bit of joshing about the width of a fridge is nothing to the grief Boris has been getting about the Dominic Cummings affair.
Cummings' biggest crime has been hubris. Maybe, just maybe, if he had said on Monday that while he believed he was acting properly, but with hindsight he had made an error of judgement, and apologised for the embarrassment he caused to the Government, he might just have got away with it. But saying he regrets nothing just rubs people's noses in it, the same people who have been diligently obeying the strict regulations, and whose votes he was desperately courting a few months ago.
It smacks very much of former chancellor Norman Lamont who, when asked if he had any regrets about the rise in unemployment caused by his strict monetary policy, thought it would be funny to quote Edith Piaf: "Je ne regrette rien", or "I don't regret anything." At least he didn't until he saw the next day's papers.
As for driving 30 miles to test his eyesight for the journey home, did it never occur to Mr Cummings that there is a much simpler way of doing this, which all of us will have done before getting our licences? Stand 67ft from a car and read the number plate.
Then again, when you see the hate mob descending on Cummings's house, shouting abuse while filming him on their phones, you almost feel some sympathy for the man. In a similar vein, a critic of former Dudley North MP Ian Austin has taken to Twitter suggesting somebody should 'blow his head clean off his shoulders with a shotgun'. Now I realise some people are bored at home, and get a kick out of goading people into a reaction, but aren't there better ways to spend your time?
I've never understood this unpleasant tribal hatred towards people of different opinions. But then again, I seem to be the only person at Villa v Birmingham City games who actually watches the match rather than screaming about how I hate the other lot.
If you eliminate all opposition, there is no football match and no democracy. Maybe some of these people find the idea of a one-party state quite appealing, assuming it's their own party obviously. But looking around the world at the moment, it doesn't look like that system works terribly well.