Like many people I’ve been slightly perplexed by the way the British government has handled the ongoing pandemic. It’s not that I fundamentally disagree with anything the government is doing. I would like to disagree, but while I lack any remote understanding of what they are doing, I’m not sure I can disagree.
Because to my, possibly untrained, eye, it’s not so much that they are employing ‘the wrong strategy’ as much as they seem to be employing absolutely no strategy at all.
From the outside looking in, it appears that Boris and co have been winging this from day one and that every action seems to be in direct contradiction to something else they have said previously. They don’t always even seem to agree with each other.
But one of the more troubling aspects has always been the fact that they keep telling us that they are guided by ‘the science’. And while that seems relatively easy to refute, given that all along this journey a large number of eminent scientists have spoken out against government strategy, it seems even more in doubt since a number of scientists on the government’s own advisory team have also contradicted some of the more recent hyperbole.
And to me ‘guided by the science’ is quite a troubling phrase, because surely, given the limited scope of human knowledge and the diversity of views within the scientific community, you could, at best, only ever claim to be guided by ‘some science’.
But, after much digging, I have been able to establish the truth behind this seemingly chimerical claim.
Because when Johnson, Raab et al. refer to being guided by ‘The Science’ they are actually referring to former semi-professional wrestler Tommy ‘The Science’ McVitie.
I was able to catch up with Mr McVitie, or as he prefers to be known ‘The Science’ earlier this week, via one of those video conferencing apps that everyone seems to enjoy using at the moment. I’m pleased to be able to share some of that interview with you now:
Me: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me, Mr McVitie.
The Science: Please, call me ‘The Science’.
Me: Erm…ok. Well let’s start there then. Why exactly do you call yourself ‘The Science’?
The Science: I don’t. Other people do. Boris does. Govey does. Both of the Dominics do.
Me: Matt Hancock?
The Science: Who?
Me: The Health Secretary?
The Science: Never heard of him.
Me: Ok… erm…so why do people call you ‘The Science’.
The Science: It’s my wrestling name. It was a sort of ironic nickname, because I didn’t actually manage to get any GCSEs.
Me: What, none at all?
The Science: Not a single one mate.
Me: Why focus on science then? I mean if you failed everything…
The Science: Dunno. Just seemed funny at the time.
Me: It’s not funny though is it?
The Science: With the benefit of hindsight, no it isn’t. But the name stuck so what you gonna do?
Me: I can’t help you there. Anyway, it does seem quite a leap to go from being a, fairly unsuccessful semi-professional wrestler, by which I mean no offense obviously…
The Science: None taken, I was rubbish.
Me: Right, yeah, so it seems quite a stretch to go from there to being what seems like quite an influential advisory figure within the British government.
The Science: Well you know Dominic Cummings yeah?
Me: I’m aware of him.
The Science: Yeah well you might be aware that earlier in the year he was trying to recruit weirdos and misfits to work in number ten.
Me: I had come across that notion, yes.
The Science: Yeah, well I’m one of them.
Me: Ok, it’s starting to make a bit of sense now, but I still don’t get how you have become such an influential figure.
The Science: Neither do I. But it’s a bit of a laugh isn’t it?
Me: Not really. I mean we are now one of the countries that has been the worst hit by this pandemic and that seems to be largely down to your advice.
The Science: Hardly seems plausible does it?
Me: And yet it weirdly makes more sense that any other explanation.
The Science: Even I’m not always comfortable with it to be honest. But they keep asking me what they should do, and I’m not even remotely qualified, so I just ask Dominic and he tells me what to say. He’s nice like that .
Me: Cummings or Raab?
The Science: One of them yeah. The one that’s in charge.
Me: Raab then? The man that stood in for Boris when he was sick.
The Science: No, it’s definitely the other one.
Me: Ok, but Mr Cummings is just a special advisor surely? He’s not in charge of the whole country?
The Science: If that’s what helps you sleep at night mate.
Me: Right, well speaking of Mr Cummings, what did you make of the recent controversy surrounding his behaviour in lockdown?
The Science: No problem with it. He behaved completely within the rules.
Me: I think that’s a generous interpretation of events. At the very best you could argue he manipulated a rule surrounding childcare to suit his own ends.
The Science: No, I’m not talking about that rule. I did find it strange when he kept banging on about childcare. No the rule I’m talking about is the rule that says you can do whatever you want if you’re an overprivileged t*** who thinks he’s better than everyone else.
Me: I wasn’t aware of that rule.
The Science: Well you wouldn’t be would you. It wasn’t written for you.
Me: What about the trip to Barnard Castle?
The Science: Yeah he was definitely taking the p*** there.
Me: So what are your views on face masks?
The Science: Not for me mate. Some wrestlers like them but I prefer the punters to see my ugly mug.
Me: No I didn’t mean…never mind. I think we’ll leave it there. Thanks for your time Mr McVitie.
The Science: Call me ‘The Science’.
Me: I’m not sure I feel comfortable doing that.
The Science: Call me ‘The Science’ or I’ll show you just how bad a wrestler I really was…
Me: I’m not being funny, but I’ve seen the footage. Even in your day you were average at best, and frankly you look like you’ve seen better days, so I don’t think threatening me is as intimidating as you think it is.
The Science: Fair enough mate. Always works on Govey though.
Me: I can imagine…