It’s a Funny Old World.

It is a funny, strange world we live in right now. I was thinking how rare it is that, right now, wherever we are in the world we are all basically facing the same situation. All of us, at the same time, collectively seeing our worlds turned upside down by this invisible virus that no one has immunity to, that can kill but leaves most essentially unscathed. It threatens but we don’t know if and when we will get it and what the outcome will be. So we park that thought and carry on making the best of things, hopefully looking out for each other and finding fun and laughter somehow amongst the chaos, sadness and uncertainty. A unique shared experience.

Of course, in reality the observable facts of the virus may be the same but our experiences are not shared . My experience of the virus as someone semi-retired, a home owner with grown up kids living in the country is not going to be the same as a migrant worker living in poverty in India. Whilst I can potter around finishing some gardening, popping to the shops, doing my bit to help and enjoying the chance to catch up with friends online and write my blog, others are wondering where their next meal is coming from, what to do with stressed out, bored kids or actually living with the virus unsure if they are going to survive or spend days connected to a ventilator not knowing if they are going to live or die. So maybe we need to talk about shared external circumstances rather than a shared experience?

Then I look at a society similar to us in the UK. America, the great US of A. Wealthy, privileged USA. A stable democracy like ours enjoying an incredibly high standard of living. Two of the lucky ones in global terms and yet what a difference at the moment. And the key difference is in how those countries are being led. Over here in the UK, yes we have a right wing, flawed leader in Boris who inexplicably pushed to take us out of the best trading block on the planet, and yet he still knows how to act and behave when it really matters. He and the government haven’t got everything right but most people here acknowledge that that are fairly intelligent people sincerely doing their best for the country. When Boris’s stand in (he himself has the virus) spoke two days ago, I thought, I don’t like this man (Dominic Raab ) or his politics but I could admire the way he was dealing with things and how he addressed the nation. He offered his condolences to those families that had lost loved ones. He praised the medical and other staff making so many sacrifices. He spoke with compassion and he gave accurate information. This is what you want from the leaders in times of crisis.

Then I watched clips of Donald Trump. My heart sank. Attacking reporters who rightfully questioned his lackadaisical stance at the beginning of the crisis in the US, open mouthed as he suggested that masks and other equipment were being stolen and sold off by medical staff, appalled at the brazen way he offered his corporate buddies a chance to sell themselves and their companies as thousands die in his country because of his refusal to take the crisis seriously earlier on when he had the opportunity to take real action. I could go on. His admission that he only speaks to governors he likes, acting like some narcissistic teenager and chillingly saying to a press conference that he wished 80% of them were not there, in other words his critics. The Americans I have met are warm, open, loud, vibrant and creative. The bloggers from America that I read are all incredibly compassionate and I can only imagine how they feel when their president gives a press conference as he did last week where spoke about the number of deaths and offered no words of condolence or compassion to those that died or their families. A disgrace to his own country.

My heart goes out to the millions of Americans who have to live with this man in charge of so many aspects of their lives. I feel that despite having a government here that I didn’t vote for, those in charge do have a sense of compassion, public service and intelligence that gives me some confidence that they know what they are doing.

So shared circumstances, shared common threat, shared experiences of living through completely changed social arrangements but very different experiences framed by the leaders of our different countries. I’ve focused on the UK and the USA here but I’m aware that this crisis Is highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of leadership across the globe. A hope would be that populations hold their leaders to account when all this is over and that the ignorant and the inept get the comeuppance they deserve. In the meantime it’s local communities that are being energised and taking control, helping each other and finding ways to connect and find solutions to the common problems we face. Let’s hope that’s a common experience that survives this crisis.

Stay connected, stay safe. Jim X

42 thoughts on “It’s a Funny Old World.

  1. howikilledbetty

    Great post Jim. I really enjoyed reading it. I’m a Brit living in Manhattan on a 3 year posting. It’s been quite an eye opener to say the least. We have an apartment which overlooks the Hudson River (on the west side) and two days ago watched the medical ship coming in. On our ‘daily exercise’ we walked over to it. Lots of police and security and people curiously standing next to each other looking through the railings trying to see the comings and goings around the ship. They had put up screening on some parts of the railing, but not all, so frankly it was rather pointless as it made people just convene together closely to peer through. Despite all the security, and people taking photos, nobody was asked to move along and stop lingering together, except one person, a gentleman who had what looked like a professional type of camera. They didn’t like that at all and got quite agitated. What was it that they were worried he was going to report?
    The Americans like their rules and generally do as they’re told. And there are a lot of rules here. Katie

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Katie
      Really interesting comment and as a Brit living in the U.S. you have a unique perspective on what’s going on. It must be quite alarming to be in Manhattan at the moment but hopefully everyone is getting the message about social distancing , despite the incident with the medical ship. Do you think Trump’s mishandling of this crisis is going to be reflected in his attempt to get re-elected? Jim x

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      1. howikilledbetty

        Well here’s the thing … his popularity seems to be as strong if not more so than ever … it’s absurd. I think people just have a very basic need for someone to be in charge; it makes them feel safe. Governor Cuomo is at the centre of all the commotion here and his ratings are soaring (up 27% from last month). Historically, both Bush and Obama’s job approval ratings went up with their respective crises and it looks like the same has happened to Trump. Interesting times! X

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      2. Jim Simmonds Post author

        That does put you in a very interesting position. Just watched an ITV special about America and Trump’s handling of the crisis. When you watch the edit, the lies, the ignorance , the arrogance it simply beggars belief. It must stretch the diplomats’ skills of diplomacy to their furthest extent to treat this man with any respect?

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      3. howikilledbetty

        I’d be interested to watch the programme … I’ll see if I can get onto it. As I type this, there’s just been another great wave of cheering and clapping from everyone in the neighbourhood … And that’s quite a lot of people as I’m sure you can imagine! It’s quite wonderful the support they are giving!

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  2. clairei47

    Really good read Jim. Interesting times in terms of leadership. I was feeling positive about Boris and our leaders until the last couple of days. I feel the testing situation has been cocked up and I’m witnessing first hand the lack of available PPE and complete confusion within and between trusts as to who is given this and who isn’t. You are right though, just simple compassion and consideration of others are basic qualities one expects in a leader. Unfortunately Trump has neither.
    Claire xx

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Claire
      It’s amazing how fast this whole situation is changing. I don’t think I’d have been so sympathetic towards the Govt today as I was yesterday. You’re absolutely right about the testing and seeing images of long queues with pitifully few NHS staff actually getting the test was depressing and frustrating. Even before the lockdown it was clear from places like South Korea that mass testing is the key to successfully dealing with this virus and we simply failed to act on time.

      We are doing the clapping for NHS again tonight which is well deserved and as well as thanks let’s hope you and your colleagues get the practical support and equipment you deserve and need. X

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      1. clairei47

        My sympathy was short lived. I’m furious with them now. Standing there waxing lyrical about the fabulous NHS but not providing them with all they need. The new hospitals that have been built with new equipment are going to be much needed but why have we all been struggling to find beds for patients for years? So many cancelled operations because there aren’t enough beds. How will they staff these huge field hospitals if all the frontline staff are self isolating because they can’t get tested? I’m ranting I know but I’m seeing big holes in their management of this situation and it’s alarming me. Still, at least we don’t have Trump!!
        Claire x

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  3. gr8ful_collette

    Two words to describe our leader, Jim: arrogant buffoon. It’s just become more glaring obvious during this crisis (if that’s possible). 👍🏻♥️

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Yes it’s quite scary watching him and the way he never accepts he has ever got it wrong and how he turns so viciously on any opponents or people questioning his judgement. You must be praying you don’t get a further 4 years of him! X

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  4. jacquelyn3534

    I agree with the above comments on what a good read this is! If I had a son, President Trump is everything I would teach him NOT to be like. I think that sums up I’m am not a fan. Lol Thank you for your kind words about us Americans you have gotten to know! 😊😊😊

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hopefully his disgraceful performance during all this and the consequences of his statements and inaction on people’s lives will help make sure he doesn’t get re-elected. Him being President has consequences for the whole world. X

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  5. Lovie Price

    Jim, that man in our white house is the biggest embarrassment of our country in decades . I am so ashamed of what people in other countries have to see and think about us as people from the example he sets.. Unfortunately i figure he will be re- elected anyway..so i am bracing myself for another 4 years of this maniac.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      People here know that many if not most people in the U.S. feel as appalled by Trump as us outsiders. What Trump does has consequences for all of us so he’s a collective embarrassment. It’s not just in the U.S., the leaders in countries like Brazil, Hungary, Russia are dangerous, egotistical narcissists who have learned how to manipulate sections of their populations using fear and misinformation. A guy called Hitler learned how to do that nearly 90 years ago and we all know what happened there! X

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      1. Lovie Price

        i suppose..it’s just dealing with it every single day…no matter what i do , am forced to se his face, hear his name way more than with any other “president”.But i am glad at least those not living here understand that not all of us of approve this moron!

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  6. drgettingsober

    Totally agree with you about Trump Jim – appalling example of extreme narcissist in action. I don’t think our lot have handled this well though – maybe better at the outward appearances but the lack of testing, lack of PPE and the herd immunity stunt mean they wasted time and dithered which will mean more people die. I feel quite sorry for BJ – I don’t think this is what he had in mind when he dreamed of being PM! Xx

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    1. clairei47

      I have to agree. I think there were some efforts to support those in need financially which was great but the cynic in me suspects they are covering up fundamental flaws in the lack of testing and no access to adequate PPE. We have been seeing their ‘political’ face but as usual a complete lack of transparency.

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      1. Jim Simmonds Post author

        I now feel I was being too kind to Boris. But when you compare public school incompetence to Fascistic narcissism it suddenly looks almost benign! X

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    2. Jim Simmonds Post author

      No I agree- since yesterday it’s apparent they have handled testing and PPE very badly. The govt seemed quite dismissive of testing in the early days which I couldn’t understand given how effective that had been in South Korea’s response.
      Oh yes and Boris was not expecting this and now of course who is going to pick all our much needed fruit and veg now that we’ve left the EU (Worse peacetime decision ever made by any country) and made our hardworking friends from the EU feel so undervalued and unwelcomed. Maybe they are just a bunch of bastards but at least the old Etonians know how to come across well. X

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  7. Addy

    Whatever you feel about Boris and Co, I feel they have acted extremely well in the circumstances. Boris doing his Churchillian act is doing a far better job than I fear Corbyn would do in his wishy-washy way. I love that people are all coming together and the clapping nights have been very emotional, particularly for our household. The virus is affecting different countries in different ways, as you say. How such a tiny organism has brought the world to its knees is the stuff of fiction, except it now isn’t.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      I know what you are saying and I’d rather be going through this than most countries , Germany excepted which has put aside more emergency bed provision than any other European country. The testing situation has been badly handled I think but thank goodness for the army and their work on the new hospitals. Simply amazing. And it could all be a lot worse – we could have had Trump!
      People coming together has indeed been brilliant!👍

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  8. nomorebeer2019

    yep, Trump is a complete f****g idiot, the dangerous kind, who would run a dictatorship if we left them, and sell their own children to make an extra buck or two. But thankfully here in the U.S. there’s a sense that the governors (though they are not getting nearly as much help from the federal government as they need- especially in NYC) are the ones who can stand up to his insanity right now and take action (stay at home orders etc.)/maintain it in case the maniac at the white house really does want to open up the country again in a month…. sigh….. anyway STAY AT HOOOOOME 🙂 xxx Anne

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  9. Jim Simmonds Post author

    I will! And he is exactly what you said he is and getting worse- wear face masks but I’m not going to- what kind of leadership is that? A total, dangerous waste of space’!
    Jim x

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  10. msnewleaf

    Trump is a nauseating monster. I can’t even watch him. It is so distressing. Luckily, in my part of the country, most people detest him, and we do our own thing as much as possible.

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  11. Dana Pescrillo

    Blown away with your insight, perspective and well thought out observation of US dynamics here; I do not listen to the news much, but what I have caught when Trump speaks makes me ill! May I pass your thoughts along to some people I’d like to read this? I know we humans all think differently, on different matters, but this hit home for me. I agree 1000% with what you wrote. Excellent. -Dana

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Dana
      Thanks for your comment on what was more of an angry rant than well thought out piece . Somehow that man makes me angrier every day with his stupid ill informed narcissistic comments (dodgy drugs offer for Boris – what next!)
      Yes please pass this on to whoever is interested.
      Change is a comin Dana I can feel it! Jim x

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