The Covid Coda.

Blog time : it’s July 2022 and I am taking a break from my boatbuilding project for a few weeks, in fact as I write we have just done the 8 hour drive back from the north Norfolk coast where we’ve had a week’s holiday – in the sun no less, which is a bit strange because, as usual, it’s raining hard here in east Cornwall. Norfolk was good for us both as I really needed to get my head away from problem solving on the Pathfinder and Jax urgently needed a break from her very understaffed coronary care unit – even when 300 miles from the hospital she was still getting urgent texts to cover a shift. If you were wondering then that’s a bit of a lead in to what I’m going to talk about in this post but first I need to explain some context.

Firstly then, I am a retired and soon to be unregistered Nurse and I spent a lot of my career working in an intensive care unit – even at the end of my career life I was still getting drafted back into the ICU to cover a shift so when the Covid Pandemic happened I rejoined the professional register in an emergency capacity, waited to get re deployed – which didn’t happen and I ended up twiddling my thumbs for most of that strange first year. Now, or at least any month now , I should finally fall off the nursing register along with everyone else who volunteered for service – I don’t think of myself as a registered nurse (RGN) any more but can still be considered as a trained one……not that you would want me running a ventilator nowadays.

Secondly then this is mostly a retrospective post about the Covid Pandemic and is partially based on a post I wrote during the Pandemic at a time when I was just getting into my own project while making some attempt to keep the sailing community engaged and entertained with my blog. In the post that i’m referring to I kind-of copied the feel of that time , the Zeitgeist if you will, by making up a set of rules about owning and running a small boat on a smaller budget ; my observation at the time was that everyone was making up new rules about anything , relevant or not (mostly not i found) so I played around with that idea and then broke most of my own just as Boris’s cabinet did except that I didn’t need to explain myself to some investigation or other.

Link (my small/budget boat coda)

Wells next the sea harbor…..tide seems to be out and the sun is shining.

Lets all create rules……any rule will do.

Those of you readers who are regular visitors will know that I like to tell sea stories whenever I can and that I do that because it’s a whole shed load more fun to do and far more engaging and interesting than a dry essay about some godawful ugly boat that some dweeb once designed.

Here goes…..

One of the most enlightening and maddening online moments that happened early on in the Covid pandemic was the creation of non existent and false ‘rules’ that had no basis in legislation, fact or even common sense ; with the one I have in mind it went something like this.

Early on in the new pandemic ‘world of rules’ it was decided and declared that we could only take one exercise session per day and also that it had to be ‘near to home’ – these were part of the actual rules and guidance issued by the Boris cabinet and pushed aggressively by the media and enforced by the police……really happened.

The strange thing that happened next is that on social media there was a sudden rash of posts and arguments/comments about posts that were stating that the one exercise session per day was limited to just an hour per day – many of the culprits that posted or argued vociferously for the one hour rule seemed to both absolutely believe it was an actual rule and did everything they could to shame and browbeat anyone who argued otherwise……it never was an actual rule. I saw the same argument going back and forth on social media sites both locally and on more general sites about walking, exercise and hiking ; some of that was in the form of a polite or firm ‘reminder’ that anyone who was out walking could only be out for an hour.

The enlightening part of this is that luckily many people stuck to their guns and kept pointing out the actual rule and legislation, even down to giving links to the actual government written guidelines on the subject where nowhere to be found was any time limit on exercise. When finally the ‘one hour rule’ posters were beginning to accept that there was no such rule their common reaction was something like “well there should be”… other words that they began to accept that there was no such actual rule or guideline but in their view or ‘feeling’ that there should be. What we began to realize then was that there was a significant proportion of the population that wanted more rules, more regulation and a greater amount of social control.

If you want to extend the idea of ‘more rules good’ then you don’t need to look very far -just look at the micro control of people in supermarkets or, in a much worse example, the rules created by nurses and their managers about restricting or stopping completely the visiting of the sick and elderly in hospital especially at the end of those people’s lives. We here were both affected by that as we both had elderly parents at the end of life where ‘rules’ stopped us seeing them and crucially them not getting any comfort from their families : It is my belief that there was an unforgivable cruelty and lack of care in that and that nursing particularly and hospital management secondly should be held to account for actual psychological cruelty…..that and that the whole situation of non care seems to have been an excuse for laziness and lack of care.

I could go on but for the sake of brevity and to get on with the central theme of this post so……

Introducing the Covid Coda.

Why and how this post, maybe a series of posts, came about, is because of our Norfolk trip where I had far more time to focus and think for longer periods while not being anything like as prone to distraction as when i’m boat problem solving or when i’m anywhere near the biscuit tin……on our drive each way for example we did it in stretches of 2 hours driving each so apart from a bit of navigational assistance I tried to do a lot of the thinking for these posts : time at camp without the distraction of Youtube and Social (antisocial) media really helped too.

My central idea for the Covid Coda is to assume that we are under threat, direct attack even and not just from the one thing that is invisibly present – the Covid 19 virus – but also everything else that seemed to be associated with it for example the rules, the division, the arrogance, hatred and superiority and then all of the side effects and fallout which is perhaps only just beginning to manifest. If that all sounds a bit weird or extreme then brace yourself a bit because I want to take it a step further and it’s a step along a very different path or train of thought – one that might use the term evil as a starting point : it’s a very strange step for me to say that this might be what a Biblical character (St Paul) was talking about when he said, and I quote “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

I did say that this might get a bit strange but my point is that many people actually experienced physical and/or psychological/spiritual attacks during the various stages of the Pandemic and many felt that these were not isolated and random threats but somehow joined as though being smaller parts of a larger attack on different points. Putting this another way I originally tried to describe the pandemic reaction and response by just using a single word to encapsulate what was happening – just to say that at first I was messing around using the ‘D’ words – thus disease, deceit, deception, domination and so forth but found it not that useful because I instantly had to add coercion, control and of course conspiracy ; though I try hard to swerve around the world of conspiracy theory I find that the conspiracy theorists do have plenty of material to work with that seems valid.

Lets make this one degree more strange and take the whole idea of a multifaceted attack in a slightly different direction – once again I recognize this as both dangerous and a potential rabbit hole so……

Lets talk about religion and…..Pride….

Most of the sophisticated elite in the western world seem happy with Freddy the Thinker’s (Nietzche) dictum that ‘god is dead’ and that what’s more we killed him- well, what many commentators then ignore is what our man Nietzche went on to say which is that the world of men would then turn to far worse ideologies or to nihilism and despair thus predicting the rise of far right and far left ideology , 2 world wars and I would a meaningless (Nihilistic) but pleasure and sensation seeking modern world. Thinkers and writers such as Peterson then argue that modern ideologies like ‘woke’ and ‘social justice’ then act like crippled or incomplete religious systems with their own takes on sin (privilege) heretical thought (political correctness) excommunication (being cancelled) and so on and so forth.

To me…..therefore ‘in my opinion’ both ‘woke’ and ‘pride’ seem to be acting like quasi religions which take on ideas like sin but offer no forgiveness or redemption….for example that being as I am a straight white man , that is seen as an original sin for which there is and never will be forgiveness or redemption. Just to add as a side note it occurs to me that it was ‘pride’ that Roman Catholic teaching points to as being the cause of the fall of an angel (Satan/Lucifer) and, as a side note to the side note I was looking at the proliferation of ‘pride’ flags in our own capital last weeks and noting how similar that felt to the mass flag displays of ideological dominance that we see in historical photographs of Nazi Germany or Communist Russia That idea takes me at least into very strange mental territory , not least that the idea of evil is a real one as is ideological domination and that very idea is either insane or horrifically true.

To go the way that I have iv’e chosen to look at material that I would normally reject or ignore because of having left it behind decades ago and where my reason for doing that is that I joined the ranks of the scientific rationalists and modern atheists – in my example I seemed to find a clearer understanding of the world through genuine scientists from Prof Dawkins at one end to Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox at the other. My return to a different and more story based way of thinking came about as a result of following the work and life of someone equally based in science but who threw his net wider – psychologist Dr Jordan Peterson ; just one of the things he mentions in his enormous body of work is that there are times when words or concepts like god and evil suddenly become relevant again. Following on from my deep dive into Peterson’s work I also had a look at what is being said by religious thinker/writers – the Roman Catholic’s in particular because they don’t seem to get all squashy and apologetic when talking or writing about these things.

The Covid Coda.

As I stated earlier many writer/thinkers have expressed much of this far better than I can and one recent conversation on video comes to mind – between evolutionary biologist Brett Weinstein and presenter Neil Oliver ; Oliver’s point being that is that he experienced the ‘alarm bells ringing’ very early on in the responses to the Pandemic. In return Brett Weinstein responded that those alarm bells are simply a physiological threat response – in my own terms as a former nurse a threat response that will result in a ‘fight or flight’ reaction and then a stress response ; my central point of the Covid Coda is to say lets recognize any and all such reactions as threats and thus as attacks – be they physical, psychological, emotional or spiritual.

I can see that an easy rebuttal to everything that iv’e said so far would be that it’s just another conspiracy theory and therefore to be ignored, passed over and/or regarded as bible thumping ‘nutter’ material so let me also drag this , kicking and screaming, into the modern world and say that it’s also risk management where the risk might be, for example, the risk to physical health from the Covid virus on top of other health problems or perhaps the risk of losing one’s job because of maintaining bodily autonomy or being an outspoken dissenter. For my fellow nurses who have been the ones that have had to deal with this , day after day, another way of looking at it could be via an older nursing model such as Neumann who proposed nursing actions as responses to stressors (threats).

It is also specifically not a conspiracy theory because I totally accept that Covid 19 is a real virus and that a ventilated patient with ARDS (adult respiratory distress syndrome) is in real trouble – I just don’t particularly care where the virus came from ; an animal to animal jump was proposed and that’s most likely what happened with the 1918 influenza pandemic but an equally plausible hypothesis is that of a lab leak – it doesn’t matter – it’s here and we have to learnt to adapt to it.

One way I have looking at the greater worldwide political and business response is anti-conspiratorial in , in my opinion, that none of them are smart enough to actively work together towards a nefarious end but that each one are just being themselves and acting out their own interests – the big pharmaceutical companies just want to make huge profits while not being exposed to legal risk while most governments, especially the immature socialist ones just want to maintain and increase their control of society. However, if there has been any conspiracy it would likely be in the tech giants and social media platforms of California where they really do seem to be working together to squash discussion and dissent.

Blogging and writing is often a strange pursuit – when I sat down to write this piece after several weeks just thinking about it I intended just to talk about the practical coda that i came up with during the first year of the pandemic to help me get through the second one. Briefly put it was my attempt to sift through all of the online noise and select what was useful and actually beneficial to us and to go with that – I found for example that the evidence was good for not mixing with lots of people in close contact for long periods but that the evidence for mask use was actually very poor : thus one main part of my own coda was to live my life mainly away from people and engage my time by building my boat at home and continuing to put out blog material that would engage and entertain a few others.

I feel that everything has changed with the significant alteration of the virus itself – the earlier variants certainly were dangerous to the elderly and to those with significant other health problems but outside of that the likelihood of survival was always high – there was, I found, also lots that we could all do that was simple and low cost to increase our chance of remaining healthy.

Everything changed with the later variants though – it’s almost a black joke that both me and my partner sailed through the pandemic fit and healthy and then both caught the virus on the same day and in the same event……sadly my funeral of my partner’s father. Today, I actually feel that I should have waited out the dangerous variants and not had the vaccine – that might seem shocking for a former intensive care nurse and specialist nurse but I wonder today if we have all done ourselves potential long term harm by accepting a vaccine with so little long term knowledge.

Anyway, today Iv’e run out post…..too many words down the line already and Iv’e barely begun to talk about my central theme so at the end of this post I just want to leave it with a little segue into one of the features of the side effects from the pandemic and one that has felt at times like an attack on our psychological well being and in brief our ‘happiness’. I just want to finish with a question so ……do you feel more or less happy now at the end of 2 years of pandemic and still with ongoing restrictions ?. I suspect that the answer is mainly no but I wonder mostly how many people have thought about why they are so unhappy – that , in a way, is the introduction to my second post in this series.

Best wishes y’awl.

1 Comment

  1. Perspective and common sense — you’re a rare man Steve. The arbitrary and ill-thought out rules and restrictions made me very angry and I suppose that I still am. A video that explores some of the ideas you discuss can be seen here:

    Anyway, I loved the photos of good old Wells-next-the-sea. Just back from a week’s camping in Suffolk near the the Deben (thank someone for my Veteran’s railcard and split-ticketing as train travel ain’t exactly cheap). I still can’t afford a boat, even one of Andy Seedhouse’s “specials” but it way good to see them on the river.


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