When talking about days families used to listen to the radio for entertainment, one confused kid asked his Mum, “What did your sofa face in the olden days?” It's a good point. These days three, four and five piece suites besiege the TV, and families encircle it like bailbond agents around a runaway. Will we do the same and look back on days we could prepare to go down the pub merely by putting on a hoodie and sticking a debit card in our pocket? It is predicted that, from 12 April, a visit to our favourite hostelry will have to be accompanied by:
1 The contact details of every customer aged 16, either via the NHS Covid-19 app or in person
2 A vaccine passport, or proof of negative test, to permit entry to the pub
3 A highly complicated test and trace app connection
4 The answers to three simple questions, involving the rules of cricket, number of peers in the House of Lords and Prince Edward's middle name (Deborah)
Publicans are up in the Queen's Arms saying, "Pubs will already be trading at a loss when they reopen with all the existing restrictions and COVID-secure measures in place."
That's right, with lager at an average of £4.57 a pint, a Coke costing £1.60 when served from a tank full of water with 0.1 pence worth of syrup and a packet of peanuts costing £1.12, what opportunity is there for pubs to make any profit, particularly given the fact that we are all so desperate to sit in the freezing cold and drink indifferent wine that we are even prepared to negotiate the impenetrable challenge of drinking outside and paying for what we drank within?
A publican in Bromsgrove said: "Adding further disproportionate and discriminatory measures threatens the very survival of thousands of businesses."
Really? Does it? After a year of lockdown restrictions, social distancing, home schooling and thousands on ventilators does asking someone to get a jab and prove it by carrying a piece of cardboard threaten the very fabric of society? Or have we all just learnt to moan industrially?
The above has to be understood in the context of the world class vaccination drive, which Sir Simon Stevens, chief of the NHS, says will inspire fundamental changes to the way that the NHS cares for people. Health workers will seek out the most vulnerable to help them to stay healthy rather than waiting for them to become ill. All this while Chris Whitty, (England's chief medical officer) wearing not so much a suit as a dark shroud, said that, when this one ends, lockdowns will become a thing of the past, suggesting Britain will treat Corona ... blah, blah, blah like the 'flu in the future. He said:
“We need to work out some balance which actually keeps it at a low level, minimises deaths as best we can, but in a way that the population tolerates, through medical countermeasures like vaccines and in due course drugs, which mean you can minimise mortality while not maximising the economic and social impacts on our fellow citizens.”
All of this whilst the chief of Deliveroo, William Shu, was dealing with the value of his company dropping from an inconceivable £9 billion to a still incredible £7 billion, with him and his advisors trying to make sense of how the City of London's biggest Initial Public Offering in years ever thought a seven-year old company, which almost went into Liquidation in 2020, could even vaguely be worth that much.
Easter is a crazy time of fondant eggs, large bunny suits and hopes of spring, but an initial share price of 390p for Deliveroo? Madness.