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Five things I have learned from COVID-19:
1. People Overreact.
In the absence of knowing what to do, people need to do something.
The masses feel better when they are preparing to defend themselves against an invisible threat, even if this makes no sense whatsoever. Like pregnant mums writing a birthing plan, only for it to go out the window the minute you realize pushing something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a doughnut is going to sting a bit.
When the threat of coronavirus came, ordinarily sane people were caught doing the strangest things: freezing onions, fighting over toilet paper, putting beans in their loft space.
It is comforting to know that the most fearful in our society will never need to buy toilet paper again.
2. We Have Some Dodgy Friends.
The massive overreaction to coronavirus has been horrible to watch. What’s worse is seeing it happen in people you regarded as good friends, or at least solid people to turn to for advice. Those whose counsel you may have sought on matters ranging from marriage to kids are now driving their car with a mask on, dictating what you aren’t allowed to do on WhatsApp, and spraying their Amazon parcels with anti-bac.
It has been disturbing to learn that people you thought you could trust are as mad as the rest of the herd.
3. You Can Understand How Hitler Happened.
Too many people enjoy imposing rules on others. Corona has unleashed the militant side of busybodies who used to be harmless, grumpy old men and women and are now something akin to the neighborhood Gestapo. They enjoy telling you how to ride your bike, how far away you have to stand for their safety, and how many times you can walk your dog.
I took my children surfing at a local beach and residents were demanding to know ‘where we came from’ – like Germans checking papers in the war. My 15-year-old replied, ‘Wuhan,’ and that seemed to end the conversation quite effectively.
Stanley Milgram’s electric shock studies from the 1960s, in which volunteers were prepared to inflict pain on others when ordered to do so, now make perfect sense. I never really understood how Hitler brainwashed so many people for so long, until coronavirus came along.
4. Politicians Will Cover their Backs at all Costs.
And I mean all costs. The UK should never have been in lockdown.
All decisions made after 24 March 2020 have been about maintaining the myth that lockdown was necessary, solely to cover the backs of those who created it. The evidence is right there in our faces: enormous emergency hospitals opened to great applause, then quietly mothballed because they were never needed. You may try and argue that empty hospitals are a good thing, but if there was so much extra capacity, why did the British NHS send elderly patients with COVID-19 back to care homes and cancel all cancer and cardiac treatments?
As we "speak" here, yet another Zombie Hospital is being built for patients that don’t exist for a threat that never was. A team of 100 builders are working full-time to create 120 beds in a hospital that will not have its own staff, in a part of the country with the fewest cases of coronavirus. I went to visit the build-site to see for myself.
Watch Katie's video: 'Another Zombie Hospital for Invisible Patients':
5. I Quite Like My Family.
It’s not that I disliked them before, you understand. But being on the road three weeks out of four fighting for the Conservative cause means I didn’t get to see a whole lot of them. Plus, they have their own busy lives regardless of what I am up to: school, friends, trips, work. In "normal times" our home was a buzzing hive of activity, and the little Hopkins tribe were like bees, sometimes angry, sometimes sleepy, passing each other on our way in or out.
Coronavirus has stopped all that. Like many other families, most of our time is now spent with each other.
I am not saying there haven’t been times I have locked myself in a bathroom and screamed silently into a bath towel. I absolutely lost it the other day when I felt my family was not taking our family quiz seriously enough, but, generally, it turns out my family is actually rather nice. And I know I am lucky.
We are wonky in all the wrong places, not so great at math challenges and pretty hopeless at looking cool. I suspect we are more Addams Family than Whole Foods Family, but my mother and I have spent proper time together having picnics in the sunshine, my father has built me the sweetest postbox in the world, and my children and I have cycled endlessly, like a little flotilla of ducks on the water. I know other families are not so lucky, and I wish I could take their children to the countryside and put them under my wing too.
I have hated coronavirus: the malevolence of China and its virus, the British Government’s reaction to it, the destruction of jobs, the vile behavior of my neighbors, the willingness of some to comply with idiocy.
But I have loved allowing myself to be a daughter and a mum, and letting those things matter more.