A long shop window in the high street of a prosperous town; more than just a hairdresser but a ‘salon’ with shelves shining with new unguents for the discerning lady; and all closed and dark. The window shows across its whole width a rainbow and a line of praise to the NHS as to a divinity.
The rent must still be paid, and the rates, but there is no income from which to pay them as the salon is closed in the name of health, which brooks no logic, no moderation, and demands that Hygieia receive unquestioning devotion. Though driven to possible bankruptcy by this cult, the desperate shop-owner expends lavishly on a huge plastic banner proclaiming her own devotion.
It is reminiscent of finding a ruined Roman house with a clay tablet cast in a final precatio, an address in devotional, loving terms to the gods the householder believed were destroying him.
Someone is making a fortune with these slick, professional banners. (Good luck to them – at least someone is still making money.)
Nigel Lawson wisely observed that the NHS is ‘the closest thing the English people have to a religion’, and the truth of that has been amply demonstrated over this long epidemic. In past years the NHS had been seen to replace the church (an unreformed church desperately needing a Cranmer). The messages of the rainbows suggests it has gone further, in an apotheosis by which the National Health Service has been deified, such that to it are addressed the praises and supplications of its supplicants.
The NHS and all its works are now praised even more for their miraculous achievement of the vaccines; but these were not developed by the NHS – the NHS would be incapable of doing such a thing, but will passively accrue the credit for this feat.
As the lockdown is lifted, some shops will stagger to their feet. Others will simply shut and walk away, leaving a hole in the high street and employees at the dole office (being paid from your pocket and mine). In the wreckage there may be some sensible shaking down of opinions, but that is unlikely. If the failures of this last year are examined by cool heads, any attempt at a Reformation will be met by the fury of the devotees of the deified NHS.
- Are we at last to be free?
- Competitive panicking
- Don’t make us resent this
- Does anyone understand the rules?
- Iphigenia’s sisters
- Blaming China
- The Borisaurus: The Dictionary of Boris Johnson by Simon Walters
- A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe
- Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World by Laura Spinney
- Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay (1841)
- 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, by Jordan B Peterson
- Woke: A Guide to Social Justice by Titania McGrath