I’ve always believed that the best way to solve problems is not with incendiary language, but with calm and reasoned presentation of (possibly different) points of view. However, I am going to break my own rule.
The debacle over Covid-19 testing is down, in my opinion, to sheer incompetence. The wrong people are running the system, are planning (or not) for its future and are allocating resources as demand dictates (or not). So enough with the platitudes, some people need to be fired. I don’t know enough of the details to know if the first person to go should be Dido Harding, but it seems to me that would be a good start. No commercial company would survive with this level of incompetence, so why should a branch of government. Someone needs to get a backbone here and do something.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak could kill two birds with one stone. If Waspi women were allowed to retire "early" he would right a perceived wrong and create more job opportunities, all at a relatively low cost to the Treasury.
Surely it's obvious, if you want to "mingle" with more than six people then just arrange to meet in your local Weatherspoons, but not one where staff have been infected – if only we knew which – or arrange to meet up on your local grouse moor.
You’re not alone
The recent story with Tony Williams, a man seeking new friends following the passing of his wife, broke my heart. I felt especially guilty reading it because I am a 30-year-old woman who is single and gets a great deal of her social interaction at work and I often wonder how my life will be when I retire. If it's of any consolation to Mr Williams, I spent a lot of time during the pandemic suffering from a severe depression which left me feeling suicidal and which I am still dealing with now.
I felt terrible because even though I was with family, I felt unsafe and upset in my own mind and would often leave the house without telling anyone, wandering blindly around our hometown and unable to acknowledge or focus on anything or anyone - yet hoped that I might miraculously bump into someone, somewhere, who would have the magic words I needed to help me feel better.
On more than one occasion, I ended up sitting propped against my mother's gravestone in tears. I realise my situation is different to Mr Williams, but I felt incredible empathy for that shared desire of reaching out into the world for an answer. I hope my story reassures Mr Williams – and others – that they are not alone in their pain, even though we can all feel as though we're the only ones suffering and struggling. I'd be happy to give Mr Williams a phone call and check how he's doing!
If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email email@example.com, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
For services local to you, the national mental health database – Hub of Hope – allows you to enter your postcode to search for organisations and charities who offer mental health advice and support in your area.
Food for thought
I totally agree with Sue Breadner in yesterday’s letters page when she highlights the distant countries from which so much of our food is imported and asks if it is really necessary to have the wide range of fruit and vegetables at all times of the year. I was a child in the 1940s and 50s and remember looking forward to the strawberry season or the salad season. Because these and other seasonal foods were not available all year round, they tasted wonderful. We are now spoiled for choice, no longer anticipating the arrival of any particular food and are the poorer for it.
There’s a saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. In the case of the Johnson government, it Is more accurately expressed as “When the going gets tough, those responsible keep their heads well down”.
Wherever is Baroness Dido Harding? Since she now manages what was Public Health England, she should presumably be responsible for explaining why there is a severe lack of tests, but she is nowhere to be seen. In this, she follows the lead given by Boris Johnson.
I read the column by Jon Stone about all living former PM's coming out in condemnation of Boris Johnson breaking the law.
Which I would imagine was a given really and no actual surprise. Although David Cameron, who called the referendum on leaving the EU in the first place, shouldn't look so chipper, as it was on his careless watch that this whole Brexit debacle imploded. But I agree that these men and women would never have countenanced such a kamikaze action. So again, the blame lies at the feet of the gang of three. How in heaven's name and all that is proper, sane and right, should Dominic Cummings - an adviser - have such sway and power is completely beyond me. Mind you, I feel that our prime minister, gloriously verbally savaged by Ed Miliband, looks as if all the stuffing has been taken out of him and this game of his has turned far too serious, for his once comedic and ebullient persona.
Judith A Daniels
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk