In the middle of clearing out some books, I came across an old and very worn copy of Staying On by Paul Scott, which I studied for English A-level back in the day. So far back in the day, in fact, that it was the same summer England were beaten by West Germany in the World Cup semi-final.

I also studied TS Eliot’s The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, famously containing the line ‘I have measured out my life in coffee spoons’. A modern version of that poem would find Prufrock measuring out his life in penalty shoot-outs. Ah well. Maybe next time. Again.

But back to Staying On, which tells the story of Tusker and Lucy Smalley, a retired British Colonel and his wife, who decide to stay on in India after Independence.

The couple own an irascible dog, Bloxsaw, one of those literary pets whose every action is laden with metaphorical meaning.

‘The creature hated the walks with the same sulky passion it whined to be taken on them,’ Scott wrote. ‘Hysterical when locked anywhere, it lost all initiative when free.’

Which brings me neatly on (ok not that neatly), to what I believe is now called Sort Of Freedom Day, when the government runs out of roadmap next Monday.

Older readers may remember some of my earlier lockdown columns where I suggested the best rule of thumb of how things will pan out is to listen to what Boris Johnson has to say, and then assume the opposite.

Watching the press conference on Monday was no exception.

Whereas once the route out of lockdown was hailed as cautious but irreversible, now Boris couldn’t say cautious enough, but the irreversibility bit had disappeared down the back of the Downing Street sofa.

A bit like Bloxsaw the dog, we’re all itching for lockdown to end, but quite what we’re to make of our new-found freedoms, nobody is really sure.

Telling people they don’t have to wear a mask anymore but that they’re expected to do so is mixed messaging at its worst.

Like me, I’m sure you’ve come across situations in shops or on transport when current rules are already slipping. Expectations and actuality are different things.

If not now, when? Sajid Javid asked in the House of Commons on Monday. To which the short answer might be, how about in a month or so, when the younger age groups have been fully vaccinated?

In the Netherlands, rising cases have seen restrictions reimposed on bars and nightclubs a fortnight after they reopened.

‘We had poor judgment, which we regret and for which we apologise,’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte said this week.

Fingers crossed the same doesn’t happen here.

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