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In a handcart, hurtling towards hell

He was left alone! He grew up human!
He’s not Evil Incarnate or Good Incarnate, he’s just…a human incarnate-

By and large, I’m quite a positive person. Prone to the odd middle-aged grumpy moment, of course, but, generally, more Pollyanna than Private Fraser. More of a glass half-full kind of person than a half-empty.

However, the last 18 months have been enough to dampen even the brightest of spirits, and the last few days even more so.

Lockdown One was hard because we had no concept of what we were really dealing with. That was back in days of people panicking about pasta and loo roll shortages, sanitising all their shopping and leaving online deliveries in the garage for three days to get rid of all the Covid. Yes, really. There were people who did this. There wasn’t sufficient PPE to go round the NHS or care homes, let alone for the rest of us and we had no idea when the end might come.

Lockdown Two was hard because it happened in the Autumn and led in the Winter of Discontent, after the Summer made glorious by the Son of York’s splashing of the cash, and despite all the social distancing, isolationing and sanitising sacrifices of the first lockdown.

Lockdown Three was hard because we were all getting thoroughly fed-up of it, school and university students didn’t know whether they were coming or going, and again, despite all the sacrifices made, the virus kept doing what viruses do and mutating.

Just as we get to the stage where we could finally start to think that we are beyond the worst, when 90% of the adult population has had a first vaccination and 70% has had a second, when even the redoubtable Professor Whitty is sounding a tad chippier, politics and the hand of man take centre stage again.

I’ve written before how we seemed to allow the very real dangers of climate change to take a back seat during the pandemic. Well. Judging by the images of the fires in Greece, the temperature readings in North Africa and the October-ness of the UK’s August, it’s back. With a vengeance.

Then we have what’s happening in Afghanistan, which seems to have taken all the positive steps made over the past two decades, all the sacrifices of the Afghan people and Western forces and ground them into the floor. The town of Wootton Basset got its Royal title in recognition of the way that its people stood in tribute to the many, many, many coffins of armed forces killed in Iraq and Afghanistan that passed through its streets. Was all that in vain? Will we now start seeing more girls like Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head for being outspoken about the rights of girls to get an education. An education that in former times was denied them purely on account of their sex.

It’s hard to feel positive when you see all this happening and you feel pretty powerless to do anything about it. So, allow me to turn your minds from all this doom and gloom to something that is more cheerful.

The voting for our BMJ Industry Awards is now open. Get over to the website, have a peruse of the nominations and make your choice. Then click on the Book tab and get your placed reserved for the gala lunch on November 26th. This is when we will celebrate and reward the endeavours of everyone over the past 18 months and try and forget the direction that the handcart we’re in feels like it’s going.

Incidentally, I’m a firm believer in the adage that it doesn’t much matter whether the glass is half empty or half full: there is clearly room in it for more wine. See, a positive person.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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