Old before their time

Boris Johnson says that any further COVID lockdown will be a disaster for Britain, and that he will go “to any lengths” to prevent it. So far that seems to entail greater degrees of restriction working up to the planned disaster gradually. But I have a useful suggestion for him: Boris, if you will go to any lengths to prevent a disastrous lockdown, then why not go to the length of not imposing a lockdown? Problem solved at a non-stroke, and in accordance with the science that increasingly shows lockdowns have done no good whatsoever, and a whole heap of harm.

But today I want to talk about our children, or in my case, grandchildren. Here’s what childhood means for them, now they have returned to school.

They are taught that they might very well be a girl, rather than a boy, or vice versa. Or something else. And that they need to decide from the 112 varieties of gender available but avoid acting stereotypically according to their biological sex.

If they’re lucky they may get a drag queen to read stories to them about unusual, though not especially interesting, families.

They are told that they are unluckily born into the most evil country in the world, which invented slavery and polluted the whole world with oil and plastic straws, for which they can never atone. Funnily enough, the same applies whatever English-speaking country they inhabit.

They are further told that, if they’re white, they carry the burden of systemic racism and implicit bias. If they’re black, they carry the burden of others systemic racism and implicit bias and are likely to fail in life. If they are Asian, they suffer from both, and be oppressors and fail at the same time. In all cases, their skin colour is their defining characteristic. Unless it’s their gender.

However confused and troubled they are by all that, it’s not going to last because they have been urged to panic about climate change, and to expect only ten years before the world melts and drowns, and they themselves (and indeed the whole of nature) go extinct. So don’t catch newts or go crabbing in the meantime, kids, or you’ll make things even worse. And don’t you realise those bacon butties are actually made of little piggies with their throats cut?

Even in Britain, they will pick up that the strongest nation in the world, America, is run by a mad racist warmonger called Donald Trump, whom they must learn to despise and fear as much as their teacher and the woman on the TV do. They won’t learn about Stalin or Pol Pot, after all.


All that was happening last year. But this year children have, until now, escaped the worst of it by being cooped up at home with, at best, stir-crazy and, at worst, abusive parents or minders. Or with nobody, if their parents were “key workers” rather than the inessential kind.

Now they are back at school they are in masks, year bubbles and other instruments of torture, being encouraged to see their school-fellows as potential executioners of themselves or their granny, and maybe picking up from the news that the Home Secretary thinks they should denounce Mum and Dad (to teacher, maybe?) as terrorists if they break the rule of six (so much simpler than the rule of three we learned in maths). They are certainly being discouraged from any real social interaction (aka “play”) by a strangely Orwellian Newspeak thing called “social distancing.”

Or if one in their year-group gets a snuffle they may be back at home again for a fortnight, or driving a couple of hundred miles to get a swab stuck up the family nose.

If they are somewhat older, they will know that the fun party they had after lockdown ended, and that stolen kiss from their girlfriend, has caused the plague to break out all over again, and forced the Prime Minister to create a disaster against his will. AND granny will die again, or perhaps the other granny who survived last time. But it was all worth it because of the reward for all the hard work they put into GCSEs and A-levels… ah, they didn’t get those results either, nor their place at university, nor their end-of-school prom – not even a shelf-stacking job, because there are 700,000 redundant adults clamouring after those already, with preference given to women, racial minorities, and the drag queen who used to tell those weird stories..

Meanwhile, all the earlier twentieth-century social improvements persist: parents who change partners regularly, fear that unless accompanied by certified adults perverts will get them, natural religion trained out of kids in favour of empty materialism in their first decade, Huxleyan experience of casual sex (but with drug resistance to the diseases it causes that was unknown in Brave New World) and so on.

And to think that none of these advantages was available to me in my deprived 1950s childhood, before The Children’s Act and Safeguarding came along and the world was cruel. It makes you weep for the older generation, doesn’t it?

Jon Garvey

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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