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Whereas Boris Johnson partied, I helped a baby placed on PPE to see his dying dad | Rachel Clarke


Nine within the room, in case you embrace the photographer. Eight glasses held excessive, a desk strewn with bottles. Not a masks to be seen, not a touch of social distancing. They’re standing mere breaths aside. And there, holding courtroom, centre stage – all grins and clownish mop of hair and crumpled, simple swagger – is Boris, good outdated Boris. Knees up, guard down, clearly elevating a toast in a room filled with alcohol. All of it seems to be so very jolly.

Solely at a second look do you discover the purple field that sits askew upon a chair, slung there like an afterthought. Then, within the foreground, an extra revelation. As if designed to mock, tucked away between the bottles is that icon of the Covid age – a plastic pump dispenser of hand sanitiser. And the way absurd it seems to be, how foolish, this token nod in direction of curbing an infection amid the booze and grins and genial dissolution of one other evening of No 10 flicking the finger to the nation.

They had been partying, to be clear, on the day Britain’s Covid demise toll topped 52,800. One other 438 deaths added to the tally simply hours earlier than the revelry began. With the nation but once more in lockdown, Covid felt outdated, so grim, and a lot tougher this time spherical. Nonetheless, you gritted your enamel and did what you could. As a result of, truthfully, who of their proper thoughts would wish to threat infecting and killing others? The swaggerer-in-chief, that’s who, Downing Avenue’s serial carouser. His smugness, the nod and the wink of all of it. Come on chaps, there’s guidelines and there’s “guidelines”.

Boris Johnson and his hangers-on are determined to persuade you the foundations by no means mattered – and that anyway, you’re down there within the cesspit with him. For wasn’t all of it, by this stage, simply so tiresome? And weren’t all of us at it, this clandestine cavorting? Properly. From a frontline perspective, in late 2020, when this image was taken, the second wave was crashing down and the dying was simply getting began. As Boris raised his glass and chortled, greater than 60,000 of us nonetheless lived, nonetheless breathed, who, three months later, could be lifeless.

To NHS workers, it was all the time abundantly clear that the way in which you survive a pandemic is collectively. Collective compliance – this fragile, miraculous internet of forbearance from an more and more battered nation of stoics – was actually all our sufferers had. Again and again, I might thank my stars for fundamental, selfless, public decency. As a result of by January 2021, the ventilators, ambulances and beds had been working out once more. Individuals had been dying who ought to have lived – of their beds at dwelling earlier than a paramedic may attain them, on hospital forecourts, on tarmac, in corridors, on atypical wards as a result of the ICU was full.

What we needed to implement presently may really feel barbaric. As soon as, at Christmas, I begged the powers that be to allow – please – a teenage boy to accompany his mom into the room the place his father lay dying of Covid. The principles had been so inflexible – one deathbed customer solely – however lastly, below duress, they relented. And so I sat, masked and gowned, in a tiny room with pastel wall artwork and compulsory NHS tissues, attempting to arrange a boy the identical age as my son for a way very completely different his dad would look now to the person who’d been whisked away from his dwelling by ambulance.

If you’ve helped youngsters into PPE, pretending you’ll be able to’t see as their lips begin to quiver, you’re feeling a boundless gratitude to the rule-respecting public. You understand too properly that what prevents a vertiginous demise toll from rising ever greater is their thousands and thousands of acts of particular person sacrifice, from the mundane to the completely harrowing. Guidelines, briefly, have been the mandatory curse of this pandemic. Hated but obeyed, as a result of we care about one another. We knew it on the time, we all know it’s true at the moment. And that cup of wine within the prime minister’s hand? It’s been thrown into the faces of us all.



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Supply & Picture rights : https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/could/24/boris-johnson-party-nhs-doctors-covid-rules

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