Now we’re in the serious period of the pandemic, as scientists warn, we can stop it spreading by wearing a slither of cloth on our face. No wonder this is controversial – it puts the sacrifices of the Blitz in the shade.
It’s understandable that, although the face masks could prevent a surge in virus infections, we don’t have to wear them until the 24th July. Because you don’t achieve anything by rushing. It would be the same if I found hundreds of scorpions on my floor. I would make sure I started wearing shoes in the house, from 24th July onwards.
And if a swimming pool attendant notices a Great White Shark in the pool, it’s important they make sure everyone gets out of the water in a week’s time.
Presumably the virus has kindly sent us notice it will be leaving infected people’s mouths and noses from 24th July onwards, in the same way terrorists give an hour’s warning before a bomb goes off.
Some Conservative members are leaving the party in protest at the rule on masks. One teacher in Wimbledon said, “We should be given a choice. This is the final straw.”
You can understand the frustration, because while the masks could save thousands of lives, if it turns out they don’t make much difference, we’ll have worn a bit of tissue unnecessarily at odd moments of the day for NOTHING.
It’s bad enough that we have speed limits. It should be a matter of individual choice if you want to drive round a school at 140 miles an hour in a Formula 1 Mercedes as the kids come out.
If we’re losing the liberty to cough deadly germs over random strangers, what next? Before long they’ll take away the human right to walk into someone’s house where there’s an old man with diabetes and gob into his dialysis machine. We might as well be run by the Spanish Inquisition.
Some people have claimed that making it law to wear the masks is the same as a religious order forcing women to wear a veil.
They have a point, because this is probably how Isis got the idea. They tricked women to cover themselves up, saying it would stop coronavirus, and now they’re all in burqas, thinking they’re being careful not to infect anyone in Lidl.
Many of those who are angriest about having to wear a mask are the same ones who say the finest example of British superiority is the “spirit of the Blitz”. Some people believe this was when the population acted communally to darken cities at night, hide in shelters and help neighbours in distress. But it must have been when we all said, “No one tells me to turn out my lights, it’s my choice. I’m setting up floodlights in the garden tonight so I can play five-a-side football, and if the Luftwaffe use the light to bomb your house, I’ll sift through the rubble and swipe your cutlery.”
To be fair, even in the Blitz you didn’t face the horror of covering your mouth in the Post Office. They had it easy.
One group in America protesting against the masks declared, “We don’t live in a Communist country.”
It’s an accurate slogan, because wearing a face mask has always been the first aim of communism. This is clear from Lenin’s famous quote “The toiling masses must seize power from their oppressors, and in that glorious moment taste the FREEDOM to strap on little masks, taking care to cover the nostrils. DEATH to tyrants who expose their mouth!”
But our government has been clear throughout on this issue. At first, they told us masks were pointless, and possibly made things worse. Then, two months after they were compulsory in most of Europe, the advice was to “Wear one in a public space if you can.”
That makes it interesting, to add “if you can”. What would be a reason why you can’t? Maybe some people said, “On Tuesdays I don’t have a face. It goes to the seaside, leaving me with nothing to attach the straps to.”
Then some ministers said you can wear them if you want, like a waistcoat, some said you should, others said there was no point, then they said you must wear them in sandwich shops but Michael Gove went in a sandwich shop without one, so now they’re saying you don’t need one in sandwich shops, which must be because scientists have discovered the virus bounces off bread.
It seems likely that as one of the ways the virus spreads is through particles that come from the mouth or nose, it would slow down the spread of the virus if we all covered our mouths and noses.
If Michael Gove lived in a forest in Canada, he’d say “There’s no point in shutting the door, it will make no difference as to whether snow or a bear comes through the door.”
But it might not matter what they say, because most people now take no notice of government advice. Even when they did set rules, their own chief adviser broke them with a surreal excuse about having to check his eyesight by going for a drive and seeing if he killed everyone.
So you can be certain by seven in the morning on July 24th, five members of the cabinet will be filmed walking round Waitrose with no masks, naked, dribbling into bottles of milk, which they’ll say they had to do as they were looking after a neighbour’s rabbit.
So we might as well accept that everyone can wear whatever they want: a mask, a flame thrower, a sweater made of radioactive waste, shoes made from live angry rattlesnakes. It’s all a matter of choice.