Opinion

Kent in Tier 4? We’ve been Grinched!

Virus means that many of the things we hold dear have been taken away from us

Okay, I admit it. I screwed up. I said there was no way that Christmas celebrations would be cancelled. I put up the heading on this site: Christmas in lockdown? Not on your Nellie. As we all know now … I couldn’t have been more wrong. What a crock!

If I chose to be picky and pedantic and mount some kind of defence, I suppose I could put forward the argument that we are not literally in lockdown. Some people can make Christmas Day-only visits. But Tier 4 sounds a lot like lockdown to me. Just the wording has been changed.

At the time I put up that “not on your Nellie” line I felt I was on completely solid ground. Not sticking my neck out at all. I thought that those in authority would not want to commit political suicide by cancelling Christmas. Indeed, for many days BoJo and co clung to the idea of going ahead with the five-day break over the Christmas period. But, in the end they felt they had to bow to the information they were receiving from the medical experts. When asked on TV if he would now take a train journey to Kent, the UK’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said: “Only if it was absolutely necessary.” Nice to be singled out in that way.

I’m a Londoner by birth and I feel especially sorry for those living where I grew up. They moved up two tiers in as many days. At least those living in Kent had already been subject to Tier 3 restrictions for a few weeks so were, sort of, getting used to it.

Sadly (for me) the “Nellie” post wasn’t the only thing I got wrong. When the tiers were launched I had a bit of a rant on our Facebook page about the “by county” nature of the announcement. I said, in effect, that I felt it wrong that the entire county of Kent was lumped together with three or four “black spots”. Why couldn’t the Government make calls based on boroughs rather than whole counties, I said, thinking that such an approach would still allow pubs and restaurants in some parts of Kent to stay open.

At the time, I didn’t feel this was an unreasonable suggestion. And I don’t feel a whole lot different now. But the word “clarity” was being bandied around a lot at the time. It was clearer to everyone to put whole counties into different tiers. I said this was just lazy and I stick by it.

What amazes me now is that all of the county of Surrey can be in Tier 4 with the exception of Waverley which has remained in Tier 2.

How is it that the “entire county” clarity can be dropped for Waverley, but not elsewhere? What’s so special about the place? Does some bigwig live there?

So it seems that all that we hold dear and love about Christmas has gone down the swanny. I went to the station last Friday to check that the trains would be running as I expected for my trip to see my sons in Kent. They were. But, some sixth sense told me not to buy the tickets then and there.

Christmas has been put on hold and the prospect of celebrating it at Easter just doesn’t sound right. Marking Christ’s birth, death and resurrection on the same day? Naah, too much to take in!

If you know any friends or family members who will now be alone on Christmas Day be sure to give them a ring and let them know they are not forgotten. It’s only a phone call, but it might mean a lot.

Have as good a Christmas as you can everyone.

Amid all this gloom maybe this will bring a smile to a few faces. It’s a famous Christmas sketch from the Morecambe and Wise show featuring the famous conductor Andre Previn (or Mr Preview as M&W called him)

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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