Last night they told us that they were closing the borders. They didn’t want anybody coming in or going out. As with all the new rules, most people just accepted them and got on with what was left of their lives. The truth of it all was that most people were too tired to question and too afraid to raise their heads for fear that they would be noticed. The trend with the national flags has continued. Well over half of the houses in the street are now flying one; half-mast in respect for the dead. The authorities have been around, knocking on doors and asking blunt questions as to political opinions and beliefs. This has happened more and more since the National Effort was announced and the opposition was legally disbanded. “Better to fight with one strong team,” he had announced on television with his now familiar fist-pumping and resolutely draped Union Jack to the right of him. One strong team meant his team, the others just disappeared. This was some time ago, sometime during the great pandemic, the one that closed the world down, the one that divided nations.
It all came as a late show. We thought that we had made our way through the worst of it. Spring was bad but summer was better. People were on beaches, in restaurants and in parks. Everybody wasted the gift of freedom after the first of the lockdowns, we all collectively thanked whatever deity we chose to thank and then forgot our good fortune in order that we could return to the same old ways that had brought us to that point. I must admit that I was somewhat sad to see those original days go. Death was around somewhere, but not somewhere that was not close enough that it could be recognised. The air and rivers had been cleaned by a sudden lapse in man’s activities. Somewhere a polar bear was thanking the virus for its timely interjection. For the first time in many years, the other world had stopped suffering whilst mankind paid its dues. If only it could have stayed that way.
In lockdown, the everyday machinations of man’s world changed. People were confined to their homes and only let out for essentials such as work or exercise. The ones in charge had put forward the general consensus that the nation’s mental wellbeing was at risk if its individual did not get the chance to work. We were after all a social animal that needed interaction with ‘like-minded’ others. At work we were encouraged to keep an productive distance, not the two-metres that had first been advised, just a common-sense gap that would not allow the virus from jumping from one to another. Face masks were ‘obligatory’ but not enforced. The People’s Freedom Party fought many little wars in private and public places with their overt flaunting of the rules. On top of this were the regular protests against the false virus, a le that had been created to suit the pockets of power that were already bulging from the bounty of the disease. The government watched these groups and allowed them to prosper as an indication of their own liberal beliefs. Man may have been born free, but now was the time for chains. Women had never been free.