Peter Rhodes on a new best friend, carnage after Christmas and how grandparents could reduce the death toll

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Madness rules at yule
Madness rules at yule

And off to the park with Ruben our little lockdown grandson who is now nine months old. It's the age when you can sort of stand up but tend to fall over, prefer being carried, dance spontaneously and enjoy shouting at strangers in the park. His mother describes life with a nine-month old as like getting a new best friend who's always drunk.

In a perfect world my brother and his family in Scotland would be joining us at Chateau Rhodes over Christmas to spend some time with BabyRoo and have our usual cool yule. But it won't be happening this year because each of the adults involved possesses a great gift. It is called a brain. And our brains tell us that just because something is legal it doesn't make it sensible. It doesn't even make it sane.

God knows why but the future health and welfare of our nation has been handed over to the breweries, the supermarket chains, the department stores, the sports industry and any number of politicians spouting off about “the common sense of the people.” If past experience of the people's alleged common sense proves anything, it is that leaving the decision-making up to Joe Public is like giving a naughty little boy a box of matches and letting him loose in a fireworks factory. I grieve to report it but, when it comes to the pandemic, half the population appear to have nothing between their ears.

I despaired to hear a Welsh politician claiming that if the UK governments had not agreed to the Xmas relaxation of lockdown, “there would have been a free-for-all.” But this five-day, fill-your-house scheme is worse than a free-for-all. This is the Cheltenham Gold Cup festival multiplied many times and wrapped in tinsel. And, just like Cheltenham, it's being planned within Government guidelines. And those guidelines are misguided.

The truly tragic part is that we all know exactly what will happen, and exactly when. Most Covid-19 patients with a fatal dose take from two to three weeks to die. This means we can confidently expect a sudden spike in Xmas-related deaths from Friday, January 8. It might be 500 a day, it might be 1,000. These are real people dying a terrible, real death because our leaders have decided that the British population will not tolerate a low-key, sensible Christmas. My guess is that most of us would be prepared for a subdued festive period, if only anyone bothered to ask us.

Can nothing stop the approaching carnage, perhaps by postponing Christmas revelries to Easter? Maybe there is some hope. All it would take is for the nation's grandparents, the ones most at risk, to create a united front and declare in the finest tradition of Ebenezer Scrooge: “No, I won't be visiting you lot for Christmas and I certainly don't want you lot visiting me.” Better a humbug than a body bag.

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