From Wembley to Whitehall it’s been a week of strange decisions from the man in charge of a football match and the men allegedly in charge of the country.
The most immediately obvious howler was the awarding of a penalty to England in the Euros semi-final by Dutch referee Danny Makkelie after Raheem Sterling blatantly took a dive — though the whistler’s ruling was backed by the VAR-cical checking system.
But the other potentially more dangerous decision came with the relaxing of the Covid restrictions in England by the British prime minister who’s been sleepwalking his way through the Covid crisis.
I tend to agree with Sinn Fein and the Labour Party who’ve lambasted Downing Street’s announcement of the scrapping of mask-wearing and social distancing as reckless, especially at a time when infection numbers are soaring.
Now it seems politicians over here look as if they’re about to fall in line with the British ruling, though maybe a week or two later.
Personally, Boris’s decision couldn’t have come at a worse time for me.
Last week I’d just set aside my fears about the virus and booked flights for a wedding in England later this month.
I was wary of going across the water during lockdown but with the new policies coming in just a couple of days before I’m due to arrive, I’m even more reluctant to travel now even with a double jab.
Yes I’ve heard all the almost joyous arguments about the rising infection rates not necessarily leading to serious illnesses, hospitalisations or worse.
But no one is saying that if people do fall ill, even with mild symptoms, they won’t get long Covid — and that’s not something that can be easily dismissed as I wrote about a couple of weeks back.
Even though I say it myself, my concerns about the pandemic have proved unerringly correct.
And if an idiot like me in Belfast can see the inherent perils why can that other idiot in Downing Street not see them too, especially as so many medical experts and scientists don’t appear to be as keen as Boris to unlock the lockdown. It seems utter folly for the PM to warn that cases will probably rise to 50,000 a day later this month while “we must reconcile ourselves sadly to more deaths from Covid” and then push on with the “freedom”.
For the life of me I can’t see why there’s such an undue haste to unmask the nation and bring us closer together.
Wearing face coverings and staying two metres apart has become so much part of our daily routines, so engrained in our psyches that it would hardly be a hardship to keep the measures in place at least until there’s an end to Covid which hopefully will come one day.
Listening to the vox pops immediately after Johnson’s announcement, there didn’t appear to be a huge appetite for dropping the Covid guard.
But just a few days later there was no doubt that the defences had indeed been lowered presumably because of Johnson’s decisions. You only had to look at the celebrations after England’s win over the not-so-great Danes to appreciate that many people had resolved that they didn’t need any extra time.
‘Covid. What Covid?’ screamed one newspaper alongside a picture of thousands of supporters packed sardine-like as they partied after the game. And there was hardly a face mask in sight.
Yet I listened incredulously to one TV journalist reporting from a pub somewhere in England saying that fans HAD been socially distanced on the premises.
Viewers’ eyes could see a very different story as drinkers leapt all over the place and all over each other after England’s goals went in.
Tonight, sadly, I don’t expect the Italians to do a job on England but I hope commentators will catch themselves on no matter what happens.
ITV’s Sam Matterface in particular was a thumping disgrace towards the end of the Danish pasting and not just because the bias was hanging out of him but also because he appeared to have lost the plot as he told viewers that if England won, “you can do what you want tonight.”
“You’ve had a terrible 16 months; kids you can stay up, don’t you dare go to bed. The rest of you, call your boss, you ain’t coming in in the morning.
“You deserve this. England deserve this. Feel it, ride it. All that outpouring of emotion is just 50 seconds away.”
That garbage should guarantee that the more reliable yet no less patriotic Clive Tyldesley is behind the mic tonight while Matterface should have a PCR test just to be on the safe side.