By Tom Penn
As we are slingshot at warp speed towards the black hole of our future, the events of the past develop an accelerated capacity to recede from memory much faster than I’m sure they once used to. Distracted by the colourful, interactive controls of the starship ‘Enterprise’, and ever on the cusp of blacking-out from pulling ill-advised G’s against our will, the gravity of recent history fades; distorted in time, space, and incessant diversion – rapidly and unwisely forgotten.
It’s perilous to gloss over the recent past too briskly; focusing only on the thrust of forward-thinking. There have been sundry disturbing milestones on this preposterous pilgrimage to infirmity – upon whose broken glass we have been whipped into endlessly prostrating; toot sweet – that I sense are akin to poltergeists. Just because it’s daytime, and it seems like they’ve vanished, it doesn’t mean that at night they won’t wreak havoc again.
Two such prospective revenants I personally am unable to brainwash myself clean of: the false idol Captain Sir Tom Moore, and the volte-face 1% NHS pay-rise. Here I will address the former.
Lay aside Captain Tom’s credentials as faithful servant of Empire, and we could be forgiven for asking just what the blazes a British citizen was doing raising money for his own nation’s tax-funded, national health service, and why in Sam Hill we made the extra payments?
On 6 April 2020, as tens of millions of people around the country were doing laps of their minds – many spiralling down and down through its fecund lawn, and into depression – Capt. Sir Tom was circumambulating his garden for the ‘charity’ that would perhaps ultimately end up paying for their therapies; eventually raising almost £40m for the NHS. I must’ve blacked-out again that day, because I don’t recall the Prime Minister’s address informing me that within 24 hours my status had changed from that of productive citizen to aid-dependent refugee.
Pounced upon immediately by MSM, Sir Tom became the adorable, temporary face of national resilience – the living agitprop of our own hornswoggling – a deity thrust into our midst toward whom to offer puja; whilst the very fabric of the organisation he sought to help patch-up, continued to be unstitched behind the smokescreen of a crisis.
Four days before he completed his stoic shuffle around the green and tranquil environment of both home and familial warmth, the Department for Health and Social Care was busy officially advising that friends and family of care home residents not visit their own loved ones; especially not whilst such facilities were being stuffed with hospital transfers, for whom no negative Coronavirus test was required. “No, you cannot visit Mum” they said, as a Paramedic-Postman in service of Project Pogrom dropped off his next package, “I mean, you wouldn’t go into work if someone had posted a letter full of anthrax through the door now would you?”, their guidelines seemed to suggest.
The elevation of Tom’s charity Fun-hobble to near-Gandhian significance was a slap in the face for all the elderly who at the time, had already unknowingly set sail for the Guantanamo Bay of their remaining time on earth.
I dare say a 99-year-old Tom was likely spent from his efforts; spent but satisfied, with his 100 turns on the oxygen-rich roundabout of the outside world. And power to his elbow – sincerely. But whilst we threw pennies at him as if he were a wishing fountain, the more vulnerable prospective beneficiaries of our confused goodwill, were staring through double-glazing at the outside world as if it were an abstract painting. And there they died in place – or remain to the present. “Tomorrow will be a good day”? It’s been a despairing wait of 490+ days and counting for many.
Sir Tom set himself a challenge, identified a viable target, roused himself for the off, and then went at it with a plucky gusto, which is more than can be said for some people a third the age he was. And if we hanker to inhabit a free society, then regardless of whether one agrees with the ethos behind his walk, the spirit in which it was undertaken should be applauded.
But it all gets a bit whiffy once we recall how the energy of this benign old gentleman was seized by a dishonourable media, cobbled into combat boots, and then stamped all over our psyches in an underhanded attempt to sell us the war on terror covid; with a cheap pyramid scheme of patriotism.
Remove mainstream media from the equation and I bet Captain Tom would’ve raised little more than his original aim of £1,000; perhaps also having appeared in the local gazette and parish newsletter – commendably so nonetheless. But hurriedly scrawl a few articles on the old fella, peppered with gushing praise from a handful of C-list celebrities and Z-list social-media influencers, and suddenly you have yourself not only a free, heart-string-tugging protagonist, but a cool £40m in the coffers.
Imagine then if the full might of MSM was mobilised for our collective betterment, and like a phalanx of facts marched straight onto the battleground to square-up to society’s ills. I suspect the bulk of the enemy’s most fearsome combatants would fairly swiftly crumble in the face of such disarming strength.
But our Generals don’t want to do that. It’s not visionary enough, apparently. They’d rather we mosh with the devil than waltz with Mahatmaji.
In John Pilger’s pre-covid documentary ‘The Dirty War on the NHS’, among other things he explores why despite Britain’s economic might, the NHS has one of the lowest bed capacities in Europe, and why Matt Hancock so enthusiastically endorses technology such as Babylon Health’s ‘GP at-hand’ app. Houdini Hancock: now you see him, now you don’t – mission accomplished; groundwork complete. Piff-paff-poof.
Captain Tom was unwittingly delivered unto us, to convey a message on behalf of Government that the vital infrastructure of our health services is not really being disassembled: ‘It’s still 1945 everyone, and tomorrow will be a good day, you’ll see – just one last heave and we can all relive 1948 again, as a kingdom united.’ But his deification in life was the subtle harbinger of a far more sinister agenda – that an insidious form of National Service is creeping back in.
Gone are the days when Robson and Jerome would sit in your local Job Centre, testosterone emanating from their fatigues and berets like a potent musk to the unemployed and wayward. Now, recruitment officers are everywhere. For the time being at least, we shouldn’t be expecting a letter through the door demanding we present ourselves at the local barracks. Instead, and far worse, our minds themselves have become the barracks, and we’re being cajoled into doing our time using whatever vehicles necessary: our jobs, modifications to our physical behaviour and tweaks to our cognitive autonomy; our consumerist habits, media predilections, and manufactured penchant for technology – our silence. There must be foreboding business of utmost gravity on the geopolitical horizon to warrant such measures.
Captain Sir Tom Moore was a believer – a man of faith – not a conscript. And in recognition of this, one of the greatest honours of this rotten, transitional age was conferred upon him after his passing: he became one of the very elite few reported via the BBC bugle to have died ‘with’ covid and not ‘from’ it, such was the magnitude of his patriotism, and therefore his contribution to the cause.
Not even the South African or Indian variants combined – both once territories of the formidable enemy Gandhi – could entirely defeat old Tom. The three were instead buried side by side in a truce; whilst the canon-fodder memorised the Encyclopedia Britannica online at home, keyworkers staffed the factories, and we all tossed a few pence into the collective whip-round of our own undoing – a sponsored, psychological slaughter. The rebirth of compulsory National Duty.
Covid – act like you’ve got it. Conscription – act like you’re doing it.
Which war will you die in? And with, or from what?