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  Opinion   Columnists  17 Jan 2021  Kishwar Desai | Long lockdown defeats Britons; Spurs’ shot in the arm for soccer fans

Kishwar Desai | Long lockdown defeats Britons; Spurs’ shot in the arm for soccer fans

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : Jan 18, 2021, 12:50 am IST
Updated : Jan 18, 2021, 12:50 am IST

We have vaccinations slowly covering the population but as of now it will be Easter before the over 50s will be covered

Pedestrians walk on a near-deserted Westminster Bridge in central London on January 16, 2021, during the third nationwide novel coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown. (JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)
 Pedestrians walk on a near-deserted Westminster Bridge in central London on January 16, 2021, during the third nationwide novel coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown. (JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

So not only is it very cold but the forecast is also bleak. And the worst is that another lockdown has been announced! As of 2 am on Monday, all travel corridors to the UK will be shut. As they used to say ‘Fog in the Channel. Continent isolated. Lockdown in UK. The World isolated!’

Those were the days!

 

But now the tables have turned. It is the UK that has become even more of an island!

Theatres were pleased last November they could open but now they are shut again as are pubs and restaurants. We have vaccinations slowly covering the population but as of now it will be Easter before the over 50s will be covered. That leaves the younger half of the 70 million to come.

However, what is astonishing is that the latest photos show that the stoic Briton is completely fed up and would rather party than live in isolation. So where will this lead — except for more infections and more deaths? One despairs! This was once a disciplined and well-regulated country. But now as Covid continues to rampage through lives — I am worried about the consequences. With at least 1,000 deaths everyday, in a small nation like this... what terrible impact will Covid have on households, on the economy?

 

The British may have been great at finding a vaccine that work — coming second, though not first — with AstraZeneca. But technology does not seem to be a strong point. Despite the tough stance of home secretary Priti Patel about fighting crime and immigrants, it turns out the Home Office has managed to wipe out 150,000 (or could be 400,000 no one knows for sure) people’s arrest records and with it much sensitive information — their fingerprints, DNA and arrest history. At least that makes those 150,000 happy. No so long ago, a National Health computer lost thousands of names of people who had been infected. We need an abacus urgently.

 

Meanwhile... Brexit is still causing problems. Now the Atlantic storm Filomena has ruined the Spanish lettuce crop and we have a serious lettuce shortage.

A cheerful event did happen the other day. It was rather like a battle between the elephant and the mouse. The mouse did not win but it did get to ride on the elephant’s back for a bit. The FA Cup is a contest where all the football teams — the best ones from Premier League down to local village teams playing in a small league — can contest with each other. Rather like the Mumbai Indians of the IPL playing with a team from a village in Bihar. This year Marine, a village team established back in 1884, and playing in the Northern Premiere League Division One, North West, was drawn against the mighty Premiere League North London side, Tottenham Hotspurs, in the Third Round. This was on the Marine’s home grounds rather than in London on Spurs’ home turf. Anyway no spectators are allowed due to Covid. Anyone would expect the mighty Spurs to send their third reserve side to play the minnows 160 places below them in national ranking. But Jose Mourinho, the Spurs Spanish manager, selected their regular top side with a few stars and promising youngsters hoping to show he took the fixture seriously.

 

The result, alas, was not the unexpected victory of the mouse. The elephant won. But Marines were able to sell 30,000 tickets for watching on Zoom at £10 each. Their ground facility only accommodates 3,185 in all with 389 seats and rest standing. But thanks to Covid and the Big team bringing all the stars, the Marines cleaned up. Their game was shown on BBC. They lost 5-0 but who is counting the goals. Their good luck continued. After a match, players often exchange their shirts as a gesture of friendship. In Covid Times, this is forbidden. But the Spurs promised to send the Marine team a freshly washed set of shirts which then the entire team wore on the day.  It is the gesture that made the day.

 

Good news at last about Noor Inayat Khan. This famous daughter of a Sufi music master fought in the Second World War with the spy code name Madeleine on the British side. She was sent to France where she worked as a radio operator. She was captured but refused to say anything about her associates because, being a Sufi, she would not tell a lie. She was sent to the Dachau concentration camp where she died. Now there will at last be a TV series with Freida Pinto. This is good news for me as well. Long ago, my husband and I had spotted this as excellent story to make a film, and bought the rights for a book on it and even lobbied for it for a long time. But we found the process of filmmaking very daunting, and so am thrilled that 15 years later — something is happening on the OTT platform.

 

Tags: uk lockdown, uk covid 19, covid vaccination, uk became island