On the 20th March 2020 my mother finally passed away after days of agonising struggle due to terminal cancer. The pandemic shrank to a dot in my periphery as the woman who raised me passed slowly away before my eyes. As she let out her final breath I knew my world was immutably changed. And whilst this is not a unique experience, the world of isolation I then awoke to days later was: mourning in isolation was agonising, but I, but my sisters, but my dad, but many other people did it. And as we awoke daily to a world of death and sickness, mourning our loved ones, Prime Minister Boris Johnson threw unashamed parties at the seat of British democracy. So the question now is: consequences or a shirking of the rule of law… do we live with democracy or mockery?
I remember the first day of lockdown, sitting in my flat watching the news, petrified to even open my front door. I lived in a high rise at the time, my neighbours door directly next to mine, neighbours further down the hall left and right. Our hallway became a danger zone: what if they had it? What if I went for a walk, for my mail, for some milk- and caught coronavirus? Fortunately for me, I was too absorbed by trying to make sense of a world where I couldn’t text my mum and ask her questions: how are you? How was the day?
That was ripped away by cancer, and all too many people face this horrific reality. But others are lucky: they have family, friends, a support system.
Not only did I have to face a world bereft of that voice of comfort I’d had since birth but I couldn’t even be around another person.
At first it wasn’t a struggle: I just wanted to be alone to absorb it all. But as it began to dawn on me that I was that much more alone the weight began to pile onto my shoulders. I kept picking up my phone to text her and realising I couldn’t. I kept finding things I’d ask her: what can I read, what’s good on TV, what was she eating? Gone. But then the memories: seeing her getting weaker, smaller, paler, sicker. I just wanted to talk to someone about it and as I sat there alone with those awful thoughts repeating I coined a phrase for it: I just wanted to get the venom out. I wanted to talk to someone to remove the poison from those memories, to seek comfort.
I was alone for the entirety of the first lockdown bar running into my ex and close friend down by the river in Leeds. We stood feet apart petrified of infecting each other. I knew coronavirus would probably make me very sick judging on what’s happened to me before when I’ve had other viruses. So we said our hellos, I said some brief fluff about coping and then went back to my flat alone where I found a wine glass mum gave me and cried.
I don’t want or need sympathy for it: losing your mother is an unfortunate inevitability for vast swaths of people. Losing your mother to aggressive cancer is also too common. But facing the enormity alone was bizarre.
Eventually I started going for daily walks and ironically, instead of following the towpaths down by the river or any of the usual nature rambles I headed into the city: because every normal walk was packed with other people. I walked desolate streets, turned around when I saw others making sure I avoided people at any cost. All the while, my brain liked to replay the horror over and over again.
My mother’s passing was the opposite of what you’d want for your loved one. It was not peaceful, there was no dignity. Only a slow agonising crawl to the end. And I relived that over and over, day and night. Alone.
Fast forwarding over a year of grief and much isolation, we approach the time of the partygate leaks.
My instant reaction was to laugh: I was so numb to tory corruption, ineptitude and disingenuousness that at first I thought it was funny that these people couldn’t even apply the laws they created to themselves. Then the laughter stopped. I thought about how I wasn’t allowed to carry my mother’s coffin because of risk of confection. I thought about how I had to speak to four people, all socially distanced at Carleton Crematorium. I thought about how I couldn’t hug my dad as he openly wept as I read out my mother’s eulogy. And I remembered my mother’s co workers gathered feet apart near the doors of the chapel as we left, unable to come in. And a sense of injustice so profound I could barely contain it welled up in me, so strong I could barely contain it. I wept openly to my friends that night (on voice note because omicron was spreading at the time)- isolated again and facing this news.
The balance of this piece is not ever to say that the laws were unjust: anything that contained the horrors of coronavirus and protected people was necessary. It is a rallying cry to action for those who lost family, friends and more, or for those who just did the decent damn thing. We sacrificed months of our lives gladly to keep people safe, to “stop the spread”, we “hands face space”d, we “got boosted now”. Meanwhile the foetid government’s corrupt members, from lowest administrator to the very highest man himself, eschewed responsibility to themselves, to each other -to us, their electorate, for the sake of quaffing wine and beer, for Christmas parties, leaving do’s and more. Photographers caught jolly moments we couldn’t fulfil ourselves. We did what we had to do whilst our highest elected officials, those we used to be able to expect the most from betrayed us, our trust and our country as a whole.
I’ve had my upset around being alone to mourn written off as “gutter journalism”, “political fluff”, “nonsense” and more by conservatives more bothered about keeping their own jobs (and second jobs no doubt, for they have dropped any proceedings into the fallout from the Paterson scandal) than decency, justice, political surety.
Ineptitudinal attitudes around brexit will eventually scar over into functional trade as, down the line, adults step in to undo the damage of a Johnson tenure. Economies will recover, world esteem will rise. But our loved ones will not undie.
Tainted forever is the trust of a party that calls itself the party of law and order, a party who cannot even undertake the rules which it implements. Let no tory ever again call themselves the party of law and order as they defend convicted sex offenders or as they brazenly write off the suffering of the families of the covid dead or others.
The conservatives cannot be trusted, must NOT be trusted to continue to drag this great nation to it’s knees, to prostrate our justice before the altar of hedonism that is right wing populism and Boris Johnson in particular must be cast from his starring role as charlatan in chief, with his puppet Rishi Sunak in support as bank robber. Nadine Dorries and her clueless gesticulations over a media she is undoubtedly not in control of yet oversees, Dominic Raab’s “ships passing in the night” acquaintance with justice… the list goes on 539 times.
Britain deserves better than this. We, you, I- deserve better than this. When people say Boris Johnson tried his best it matters not whether it is true. If it is not true and he did not try his best, he was not fit to be prime minister. If he did try, and this is his best: he is not fit to be prime minister.
Daviemoo is a 34 year old independent writer, radicalised into blogging about the political state of the world by Brexit and the election of serial failures like Trump and Johnson. Please check out the rest of the blog, check out Politically Enraged, the podcast available on all streaming platforms and share with your like minded friends! Also check him out on ko-fi where you can keep him caffeinated whilst he writes.