IT’S Happy Hour in the Riddle household.

That’s 7pm, when I plonk down on the sofa with a glass of wine and cuddle the dog in a news-free, screen-free, hopefully virus-free environment. Seizing this brief opportunity for harmless enjoyment is, I think, what psychologists call a ‘coping strategy’.

When all communication revolves around gloom and probable doom, and you’ve got to be in isolation, you might as well make it the splendid variety. Besides, if I hear one more person on TV utter the phrase ‘ramped up’ I think I’ll run out into the street naked and screaming. Do they think it sounds serious and important? Does it stem from the need to make a drama out of a crisis?

As for ‘flatten the curve’, I think everyone who spouts this as if they really understand it (statisticians excepted) should be flattened themselves.

The language we use in times of national upheaval (well, at any time, actually) is always interesting. The current governing party is prone to latching on to a resounding, simplistic catchphrase, such as “All in it together”, “Strong and stable”, or “Get Brexit done” and battering us over the head with it repeatedly until we surrender.

This communications strategy seems to be based on the philosophy that however dim-witted you think the voters are, they’re actually dimmer than that. The worrying thing is that it seems to have worked, so far.


Since it seems unlikely that we’ll be doing much al fresco entertaining we’re letting the lawn grow a little bit, leaving a shorter pathway round the edges, to see if any interesting wild plants pop up. If restrictions are lifted and we feel the need to party, we can always mow round them! And with the visitors to our garden feeders providing so much entertainment, I’ve joined Chris Packham’s Self-Isolating Bird Club on Facebook. But the efforts of well-meaning nature-lovers amount to precious little when set against the wholesale destruction of ancient woodlands being rammed through for HS2.

Right in the middle of the nesting season, which would be illegal if anyone else did it. And despite outraged protests from the RSPB and Woodland Trust, as well as the indefatigable Mr Packham.

I wondered whether the massive increase in government spending required to support our population at present might give politicians the perfect, face-saving excuse to back down from this costly vanity project. Indeed, whether there would be any money left for it.

So I asked our MP. Here’s his reply: “We are the middle of a once in a century pandemic. I am completely focused on trying to support businesses, public services, families and individuals get through this crisis. Decisions about public finances will be made at the next fiscal event.”

I do acknowledge how busy John Glen must be. But this wildlife wipeout is happening now. And if you and I don’t say and do something, it’ll be all over before we’re allowed to resume normal life. All it takes for bad things to happen is for good people to be looking elsewhere.