Mark Andrews on Saturday: How many tiers can you try?

Read the latest column from Mark Andrews.

Poverty ain't what it used to be
Poverty ain't what it used to be

Yippee! Ministers are reportedly planning a fresh 'Tier 4' crackdown after Christmas, with even more stringent restrictions than we have already. Which I am sure will no doubt be music to the ears of those of the hi-viz persuasion, who seem to be enjoying this pandemic far more than is good for society. And, of course, if that doesn't work, we can expect Tiers 5, 6 and 7 to follow shortly after, particularly if Boris gets involved in a bidding war with Jimmy Krankie north of the border.

The question is, though, that given the existing tiers are already labelled as 'medium', 'high' and 'very high', what will these higher tiers be called? I guess Tier 4 will be called 'extreme' or something like that, but once that has been exhausted, what next? Catastrophic? End of the world? Plague to end all plagues?

As any journalist will tell you, overdo the hyperbole in the early stages, and you very soon find yourself out of options when the wotsit really does hit the proverbial.

Isn't it also rather telling that at the start of the month, when the Midlands and the North were placed into Tier 3, the question all the national commentators were asking was 'is this going to be enough to halt the spread?' Now that London is in Tier 3, it is the Greatest Disaster Known to Mankind (see above).

Almost as telling as the newsreader who, when referring to one of the few areas to actually be placed in Tier 1, momentarily mistook Herefordshire for Hertfordshire.

Talking of hyperbole, this column has long observed the excessive use of emotive terms like 'poverty' to describe people with a standard of living which, even just a generation ago, would have been described as fairly comfortable. The highly charged term is casually bandied about by campaigners with an axe to grind when describing households with a 32in television, mobile phone and a secondhand Ford Fiesta on finance.

Well this week, I have seen somebody on social media talking about 'digital poverty'. Which, I suppose, could refer to somebody still using a Casio LED watch from the 1970s, but I suspect really means people who do not have a home computer at home with internet access. Which does make you wonder what is coming next. iPhone poverty? XBox deprivation? Netflix destitution?

The thing is, until three years ago I didn't have home internet myself, but I never realised I was living in poverty. Then again, I never realised I was the victim of 'glottophobia' – discrimination against unfashionable accents – until a few weeks ago, when some politicians in France decided it should be a 'hate crime'.

What is interesting is that this time last year my internet provider decided to cut my bill by about 60 per cent when I said I was considering going back into 'digital poverty' due to the extortionate price.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

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