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Stage set for 2022

IT’S all about liberating ourselves from a mindset. Otherwise, as far as our lives are concerned, this will be about as good as it gets if we’re not careful.

Despite a complete lack of evidence supporting the possibility that the Omicron variant is a serious threat to human life, Britain is still in paranoia and panic mode about Covid.

You see it ever

ywhere. At one end of the spectrum, masked pedestrians with hunted and haunted doe eyes step off the pavement at your approach, running a far greater risk of being mashed by a passing boy racer than of absorbing any potentially lethal breath particles.

And at the other end of the scale, a whole army of officious jobsworths - who have clearly spent their entire lifetimes just waiting for the chance to boss other people around - lurk in public buildings, gimlet eyes searching for the slightest infringement of the latest diktat from the Boris Bunker.

Excuse me, but you’re not wearing a mask. No, that’s right, it’s a scarf, and that’s a face covering – the law does not say it HAS to be a mask. Er, all right. But your nose isn’t completely covered. Please cover your nose… bla bla bla bla.

The question we have to ask ourselves is this. Bearing in mind Covid and its possibly endless variants is here for good, well not ‘good’ exactly, but you know what I mean, is this how we are going to behave… for always?

What hasn’t sunk in with some people is the fact that this virus is going to be around for a very long time. So we’d better get used to it.

Just over a year ago, there was no vaccine. But as 2021 draws to a close, a majority of people have had the jab, and hospital admissions are a shadow of what they once were.

But most of all, the human race’s inherent inventiveness and powers of endurance have combined to limit the damage of the virus, a reality that should give us all hope.

This March will mark the second anniversary of the beginning of the Covid crisis. As we know, over the last 21 months, some theatres and other entertainment venues have been brought to their knees, a few closing their doors permanently.

While a whole host of opportunist politicians and their sheep-like shouty group think supporters gleefully weaponise Covid, actors and theatre support staff up and down the land have been losing their livelihoods in droves. The armchair ranters plainly couldn’t care less.

As happened with Brexit, the nation has fallen into two distinct camps. The uncompromising, hard line lockdowners are on one side, and at the other extreme, we have the anti-vaxxers, who want none of it.

Somewhere in the middle are those of us who want to see reasonable precautions taken against the virus, but also believe that a balance has to be struck which takes into account the potential damage to the economy and people’s mental health.

This is where the world of entertainment comes in. Despite financial aid from the Government, it was far too late in arriving for some venues. And even when it did, one was left with the distinct impression that Whitehall pen pushers almost certainly regard theatres and other nightlife as merely ‘add-ons’ to life, and not really all that vital to the continuation of a vaguely pleasant existence.

Britain is today ruled by an out-of-touch elite mainly, but not exclusively, based in London, our politicians actually deciding very little. Nearly everything that governs our lives is passed down by career civil servants for our rulers to rubber stamp and then impose on the ruled.

The most obvious manifestations of this are the regular television appearances by scientists and other ‘experts’. This is the public ‘face’, but behind the scenes, it’s the civil servants who decide what will actually happen.

Once instructed, all the politicians then have to do is then inquire as to the height they are required to jump.

And the scientists, of course, are solely interested in the science. Damage to the economy, children's welfare, and public morale is never, ever part of the equation.

Somehow, many theatres and other venues are holding on by the skin of their teeth, hoping for the best, but no doubt preparing for whatever the worst might be in 2022.

Here in the West Midlands, the world of entertainment has managed to keep its collective head above water, and this is particularly so in the case of the traditional seasonal pantomime.

Just three examples - Malvern Theatres, Worcester Theatres, and the Everyman in Cheltenham - have all put on fabulous pantos this year that remind us of the importance of social contact and the joy of interaction.

That’s right. Humans are social animals and are never happier than when mingling with other members of the species. Not only that, but the general economic benefits brought about by the world of entertainment are very great, yet are routinely discarded or ignored by those in power.

Car parks, pubs, cafes, guest houses, hotels and retail outlets all benefit when people go to the shows. You would think the penny might drop with some decision makers, yet along with so much else, it has to be spelled out to them.

So. A new year beckons. We have no idea what 2022 will bring, but I think it would be a good idea if everyone stood back, thought for a moment, and resolved to take a calmer, more balanced approach to a virus that although may well affect our lives, nevertheless does not have to rule them.

And that, to my way of thinking, would be the best New Year’s resolution of them all.

Pictured: Oi you, yes you two – you’re not wearing masks!



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