Neil Smillie works in Education and specifically on child protection and risk related matters in Aberdeenshire and is a member of Unison. This is his workers’ story.
I make plans for bosses to manage risks and disasters.
The usual disasters. Terrorist attacks. Bombs going off. Cuts and wounds where pressure can be applied. Blood flow stopped. A chance to save that casualty. Pandemics, old style, zombie attacks, easy targets to find. Easy enemies to hate.
They told us that if we got the Rus we would hardly notice. Bit like a mild cold. Then you’re better. A kind of phoney war, while we watched Italy fall to bits, but that’s Italy. Wouldn’t happen here.
Adverts on the box. FACTS. Don’t forget what that means. New rules, new behaviours that most of us go with it and cling to. We accept them. We clap for the NHS while we ask for more. Those that know and those that don’t feel betrayed by science and digital this and that. Surely, they knew and did nothing. A Chinese plot and plan. They don’t understand what a virus is or does. Getting together, it’s only a wedding, only my mates, only a funeral.
People die on spreadsheets. No Don McCullin or Paul Nash. No Roger Fenton, No Dulce et Decorum est. No Rupert Brooke, If I should die/ think only this of me/ the staff nurse cried / and wore the right PPE/ Scars across her face/ where tapes pulled the mask tight/crying on the ward/out of patients’ sight.
People still try to get across the Channel. Some must have a holiday. Some must get into our pandemic country. Life is still better here than what they have, had. Pictures of five people dead, from Iran, in a toy boat. Mum and dad same age as my son. The children, same age as my grandson. Smiles and cuddles, eyes and tossed hair shinning out from the cracked picture the police found to show us the family. People still trying to come, people still need to come. To new rules, foodbanks, shops closed. Lockdown.
Children, age 65, complain and fight to defend their right to breach the walls of the care homes. Visit to relleys too poorly or too damaged to know who these people are. They need to be there with their loved ones, breathing and close, sharing the Rus because their need is greater than the risk to staff and old dears. Pandemic means nothing, they have rights. Meanwhile, the care staff, do not have the scars and do their best.
Dr Who didn’t come. No one beamed in with a catchy tune and a sonic screwdriver to cleanse the blood and the air. He/She left it to us.
Vaccines produced in record times. Those that know and those that don’t take it for granted and do not marvel at the heroics that produced this wonder. They do not gasp at jags that need to be kept at minus 70 degrees, just get on with it. “What, I need to come twice for my jag, that canna be right. One’ll be fine.”
Is anything else happening. Baby Yoda went into space. A labour party leader was thrown out the party and is still denied the Whip. A great democracy elects a new president, but tantrums and the courts threaten to steal it from the people.
People die on spreadsheets, those that know and those that don’t are baffled by graphs and R.
We grew tired of clapping and painting stones. Too impatient to fight a not so phoney war.