The only appropriate reaction at this point is to stand and applaud, quite possibly even on our doorsteps, once a week. #ClapforCummings. I’ll be doing it and you should too.
Except the applause is not really for Dominic Cummings, but for ourselves. Just a short moment of thanks for our extraordinary good fortune to have been alive on earth at the same time as this, the single greatest genius in human history. Dominic Cummings: the cleverest man ever to have lived.
Sure, there have been other geniuses, people like, say, Einstein. But all he ever did was look upon the world around him and distil the chaos down to the rules that only he could see.
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Cummings is different. Unique, even. When Cummings acts, the sheer power of his intellect changes the rules around him, even the ones that he made himself.
Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives. Drive 260 miles up the A1 with a car full of coronavirus. Which of these even were the government guidelines, written across those lecterns for all those weeks? Can any of us really be sure?
Michael Gove, Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock, Dominic Raab - they've all already forgotten everything they've spent the last three months saying, but we'll come on to that shortly.
You, I, everybody else, we do as we are told. We stay home, we protect the NHS, we save lives. We don’t see our friends, our family. We lose our livelihoods and we just carry on. We follow the rules. And if we get caught breaking them, like Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, or the government’s scientific advisor Professor Neil Ferguson, we resign.
But we are not Dominic Cummings. Through the power of Cummings’ genius, reality shifts. Things that seemed so clear, so unarguable, so written down, so said out loud thousands of times by government ministers, turn out to have been bent into new shapes as they stood in the path of the hoodie-wearing brain hurricane.
Of course, it is possible, correct even, to sympathise with someone when their wife comes down with Covid-19, and you do too, and you’re not sure how you’ll care for your little boy.
But the whole point of the coronavirus crisis is that it’s streaked with unimaginable trails of human suffering, of impossible decisions. Elderly people have died with no friends or family around them, and then been buried at unattended funerals. People have done as they are told, against what’s in their own personal interest, even, believe it or not, when it is against what common sense dictates.
None of these people have been able to count on the actual government, bending reality to accommodate them.
These are the government guidelines for those showing coronavirus symptoms.
“Do not leave your home for any reason.”
That’s quite clear, isn’t it? It’s also still in place now. Are these guidelines voluntary? No they’re not.
Enter Hancock, on 3 April, to clarify the following. ”This advice is not a request. It is an instruction. Stay at home, protect lives and you will be doing your part.”
And it’s not merely that Cummings’s genius bends the past It also bends the future.
“If you have symptoms of coronavirus you should self-isolate and get yourself tested. Don’t risk spreading the virus.”
That’s what Johnson posted on Facebook, on Saturday morning, as his most senior ministers were all on social media explaining how Cummings had so very obviously broken them but had also done nothing wrong.
Hancock called for police action against Neil Ferguson, who, by the way, had someone visit his house after his coronavirus symptoms had passed and thus was almost certainly immune to both catching or spreading the virus. But when Cummings drives the disease across the country, it’s “entirely right.”
For Sunak, what Cummings did is “justifiable and reasonable”. So justifiable and reasonable that The Guardian and The Mirror, who broke the story, have been relentlessly asking Downing Street about it for six weeks, and every time they have declined to comment, for absolutely no reason beyond the hope that doing so might cause the story not to be published. Now it has been confirmed by police, the thing that they connived to prevent anybody from knowing, is suddenly “justifiable and reasonable.”
For Gove, “caring for your wife and child is not a crime.” This intervention almost merits its own minute’s applause. No, this is not the forgotten strapline to Breaking Bad, nor the last words of Michael Corleone. It’s the actual real life words of the actual former justice secretary, by way of excusing the clear, and flagrant breaking of the rules by the government’s most senior advisor.
One imagines those who have fallen on the wrong side of the criminal justice system might wish to get said words tattooed across one’s forehead before the day in court. Lost your job? Short on cash? Just pop down to the local petrol station with a sawn off shotgun. After all, caring for your wife and child is not a crime.
Except that it is, for absolutely everybody apart from those who can so brazenly shift reality to meet their needs, like a sort of bald, middle aged Matilda except with the basic human compassion stripped out and replaced with stupefying arrogance.
Because that, really, is the crucial aspect. Dominic Cummings is no doubt one of tens of thousands of people whom coronavirus has forced into impossible choices. But the lies, the denials, the blame, the absurd words from “sources close to” about it all being “fake news” are all a matter of absolutely free choice.
Still, politicians will always politicise. It will be interesting to see what the actual scientists make of Cummings’s behaviour. One imagines his future might just hinge on it.
Remember, this is a government that has, at all times, been “led by the science.” It is unfortunate that the science has led us to a vast death toll, far higher than comparable countries whose own science evidently led them somewhere rather different.
Perhaps the problem is that wherever the science was leading us, other people decided to be led up the A1 for 265 miles, leaving the science trailing behind them, along with a cloud of deadly virus for the little people to breath in.