Peter Rhodes on going forward and hijacking the rainbow flag
The trouble with sunny weather is that because it's fine we tend to assume everything is fine. How can a virus possibly be stalking us on such a lovely day?
And yet as Britain slips out of lockdown, 7,000 poor devils every day are being diagnosed with the disease and hundreds of patients perish. We worry about a second wave but are we absolutely sure the first wave has passed? Seven thousand people who thought they were safe yesterday are having second thoughts today.
Another week, another batch of extremism in the media. I regret to report that moderation was the first casualty of this pandemic. As it spread, there were no minor hiccups or slight snags, only catastrophes, disasters, cataclysms and apocalypses. Latest horror is a few snags reported by a few people having difficulty with Whitehall's track and trace software. In saner times, we might have referred to these hitches as teething troubles. Today they are taken as proof that the entire system is a shambles. Some of my colleagues in the national media have developed an extremely low shambles threshold.
The BBC's Emily Maitlis saw nothing wrong in introducing Newsnight with this angry little outburst: “Dominic Cummings broke the rules – the country can see that and it’s shocked the Government cannot.” She was duly censured. But she isn't the only BBC staffer to overstep the mark. She was just the only one to get caught.
The rainbow flag, once an icon of the gay and lesbian community, has been hijacked by so many worthy causes, including the Clap for our Carers campaign, that some LGBTIQ folk fear they are losing it. As a gay man in Manchester told reporters: “I do think it's unfair. What will our rainbow flag be if wider society sees it as something different?" Fair point. But the NHS supporters are by no means the first to adopt the flag. At the last count, it is or has been the banner of various groups in Buddhism, Judaism, the Basque country, the Andes, Armenia, the 1960s Peace Movement, the left-wing Patriots of Russia and the Reformation. As the old saying very nearly goes: imitation is the sincerest form of flaggery.
Meanwhile, going forward, I note the reappearance of a particularly irritating expression. We hear it a lot because people are talking about how the pandemic will change things, going forward. And clearly, going forward, things will not be the same as before. Because if they were, we'd be going backwards. Which we must avoid, going forward.