Expat Chronicles: An Election Across the Pond, Another Lockdown Here

On the eve of the U.S. presidential election, when there are worrying signs that Rev. Richie Rich will urge his congregation to kick up a mighty ruckus if the results hurt his feelings, it’s nice to know that over here in England we just have the normal problems associated with the year 2020:

We are returning to lockdown.

It’s supposed to kick in on midnight Thursday, Nov. 5, and last for a month. Bars and restaurants will once again close for in-person dining and drinking. Non-essential retail will also close, including but not limited to clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops. Workers who can work from home will be ordered to do so, so many offices will shut down. Schools will remain in session.

I’ve stopped trying to suss out the logic behind all this. I have no problem with a lockdown, social distancing, etc. If that’s how the experts say you can slow the spread of a deadly virus, then fine, let’s do it.

I just wonder why they’re doing it now, or why they ended it earlier, or what they expected when they decided to open things up again back in August.

From the first time the pandemic hit in February, everyone warned that there would be a second wave in the fall. This is apparently how certain viruses work. They come on strong in winter, back off when the weather turns warm, then return with a vengeance in the fall.

And return with a vengeance COVID-19 has. Cases have accelerated of late in the UK, Europe and the USA. They have receded somewhat from their summer peak in Southeast Asia and Africa, according to the latest World Health Organization data. But the virus is still alive and thriving in nearly every section of the world.

Should the UK and other countries have imposed a second lockdown earlier, knowing that a second wave would hit? I don’t know. Should you set the alarm clock earlier if you’re afraid of waking up too late to catch the 7:53 train to that important meeting? I don’t know.

Businesses are taking it on the chin. The ones that barely held on through the previous lockdown might not survive this one. A few favorite pubs, stores and eateries have closed up shop for good.

If you want to know how freaked out businesses are, consider this: I just saw a UK Burger King ad on Facebook encouraging consumers to go support their local restaurants with takeout and delivery orders – including McDonald’s. Yes, Burger King is telling consumers to order from McDonald’s (or some other competitor) if there’s no BK in the neighborhood.

On the bright side, I can go see one more jazz show on Wednesday night before the next lockdown kicks in. It will be my third show in four weeks, after none in six months or so. I bought my ticket and secured my seat. I will wear my mask and sit in a club where maybe 30 lucky guests can attend, in a space that used to be jammed with five times that many. I will hear a couple of musicians lift me to a better place. You take your sunshine where you can find it, kids.

I might be a little groggy at the Wednesday night show if I decide to stay up late on Tuesday to watch the election returns from the U.S. I used to do that when we lived back in the States. The last time there was a presidential election, in 2016, we had no idea that four years later we’d be living in London, far away from the sound and the fury of American politics.

Boy, it’s been a real spectacle this year, hasn’t it? All kinds of sturm und drang back in the colonies. And it’s not about to stop anytime soon.

Apparently the current president is already lawyering up in case he loses. He’s making all kinds of noise about challenging the results in the courts if those results are not to his liking. He’s also encouraging every goofball with a gun and a plate in his or her head to hit the polls and “keep watch,” whatever the hell that means.

I’m pretty sure this is unprecedented. I’ve never, ever, ever known of a president to do this – threatening to challenge the legality of votes before they’ve even been counted. This is despot shit, something you’d expect from a mobster country or banana republic.

And yet… lots of Americans are buying into it! Seriously, they really are! They really expect the election to be rife with cheating and corruption, despite all evidence to the contrary – unless, of course, their guy wins. Then it’s like, “Hey! Democracy in action! The system works! God Bless America!” Because it’s only legit if their guy wins.

Maybe I won’t watch the election returns. Maybe I’ll watch a movie instead, or some of the French Open qualifying matches I recorded a few weeks ago and have been saving for a rainy day.

Maybe I’ll watch an old video of Jimmy Carter conceding defeat in 1980 and congratulating Ronald Reagan on his victory.

Or Walter Mondale conceding defeat in 1984 and congratulating Ronald Reagan on his victory.

Or Michael Dukakis conceding defeat in 1988 and congratulating George H.W. Bush on his victory.

Or George H.W. Bush conceding defeat in 1992 and congratulating Bill Clinton on his victory.

Or Bob Dole doing the same in 1996.

Or Al Gore (eventually) doing the same in 2000.

Or John Kerry doing it in 2004.

Or John McCain in 2008.

Or Mitt Romney in 2012.

Or Hillary Clinton four years ago telling her supporters to give her opponent “an open mind and a chance to lead.”

Maybe I’ll just go to bed and read a book. Thankfully, I have a full slate of books to read.

There’s another lockdown coming. You got to pass the time somehow.

2 Comments

  1. I still hold a faint hope that this virus will completely disappear, and we will live without fear once more…but I’m increasingly accepting that it may always be around, and all the measures, and seasonal lockdowns, may just become normal forever…

    May your next lockdown bring much joy and peace, despite the madness in your part of the world (and back home).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Yacoob, and I wish the same for you and your family. I, too, wonder if we’ve entered a new normal of lockdowns and safety protocols. But there have been major pandemics before, and eventually the world settled back into the old routines. It might take a while, though. I guess it depends on when a vaccine can be administered worldwide. All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

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