Is it me?
Has the world gone completely mad during the pandemic?
It’s one of the two. In the UK, we have panic buying of fuel because of a shortage in some areas of delivery drivers and the consequent closure of a small number of petrol stations. According to a leading motoring organisation, we have over 5 times the usual number of people putting the wrong kind of fuel into their cars (diesel instead of petrol or vice versa.) There have even been some fights. The would-be German chancellor, Olaf Scholz (not yet, Olaf!) blames Brexit, which is a rather curious thing to do when Europe too, as well as the US, is likewise suffering from a shortage of delivery drivers. Perhaps it’s Covid, with some foreign drivers having returned home at the start of the pandemic, never to return. Perhaps it’s the poor working conditions for drivers in the UK or the fact that some companies have driven down their wages, making the job less attractive.
We have civil servants, who, despite their title, are neither civil nor cognisant of their duty to serve the public. Rather, it is, apparently, the public’s duty to comply with all of their demands. I’ve been dealing today, for example, with the DVLA, the agency that handles driving licences in the UK. They want my son, who lives in Australia, to renew his UK licence. He has explained to them by email why he won’t be doing so, only to be instructed to send his explanation in writing. You might think an email is in writing, but you’d be wrong. An email simply won’t do. It must be a letter in the post. Explanations are unacceptable in any other form.
Is it me?
Many civil servants are still working from home following the lockdowns and are reluctant to return to the office. A number of services are unavailable as a result, including queries about tax and pensions, as well as applying for various government permits. Perhaps I’m being unrealistic or unreasonable, but are these people, all of whom have been on full pay throughout the pandemic, working or are they not? Is ‘working from home’ now a euphemism for ‘avoiding dealing with the public we’re meant to serve’?
I don’t know. Maybe it is me.
I’ve been collecting together some of posts from this here blog into book form, as I’ve done several times in the past, using Amazon’s Kindle Direct. (What a splendid Christmas present it will make when it eventually goes on sale – I’ll be sure to let you all know when it does.) Amazon, however, emailed me a couple of hours after I submitted it yesterday, asking me to confirm whether the author of the book (me) is alive or dead. Apart from the pointlessness of this request, I do wonder how, if I were dead, I would confirm the fact.
Doctors (GPs) are now diagnosing people by phone, with many resisting the efforts to get them to resume face-to-face appointments. It took me three weeks to secure an in-person appointment with a doctor recently. I almost put ‘my’ doctor there, but as I’d never seen this particular doc before and am unlikely ever to see him again, I’m not sure ‘my’ really applies. Meanwhile, the Labour Party, the only serious opposition to the UK government, is currently embroiled in an argument about whether only a woman is in possession of a cervix. Many members of the party are reluctant to say and those who have, have been subject to verbal abuse. It is, obviously, the burning issue of the day.
It must be me. Perhaps I’m just getting old and grumpy. Maybe I’ve been locked up (let’s call it what it is) too many times during the last 18 months and, like my fellow Brits, am now facing the possibility of being locked up again this winter because successive UK governments have failed to get to grips with an ailing health service.
If it’s not me, then quite possibly the world really has gone mad.