Terry Sarten

Singer Songwriter

I Spy with My Little Eye

When I read about the Police website set up to record breaches of the lockdown crashing due to the number of reports being received, I was not sure what to think.
This was done to divert calls to the emergency 111 number after getting more than 2,000 calls. In the first week the website collapsed under an avalanche of 9600 reports of people doing things that might breach the Alert level 4 lockdown restrictions.
Part of me was pleased that for many people it was important to be responsible and ensure everyone does their bit to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the community.
Another part of me felt a twinge of dismay. It is said that a crisis brings out the best and worst in people. There have been many examples of wonderful generous gestures in our communities but there was something wrong with this sudden surge of citizen policing. Was it the I Spy with My Little Eye aspect that worried me or the burst of self-righteousness finger pointing? Maybe it was simply boredom that created a gap through which people could peep and mutter about the behaviour of others.
The situation presents a conundrum. If some people were seen to be out and about flouting the lockdown rules then where were those who reported them? If the complaint was about a group of people seen out in a park would the person noting this also be in the park? Did they all look around at everyone else, including those who were tut-tutting and think ‘what are all these people doing here. Don’t they know two’s company and three is a crowd?
The other part of my disquiet at this enthusiasm for dobing in your neighbours and fellow citizens is that if we are so good at this why does it not happen when it is about family violence or the abuse of children? Clearly a large number of people felt they should report a breach of the lockdown protocols to the Police website as around 10,000 did so. But where is the same passion for reporting neglect, violence and sexual abuse of children and young people in our neighbourhoods and communities?
If we can so easily marshal the enthusiasm for reporting someone going to the beach in breach of the lockdown why do we struggle to bring the same commitment to protecting our most vulnerable small citizens?
On a lighter note it has been fun watching the Physical Distancing Dance in its various forms. The other day I saw a group of people, clearly having an informal discussion in a large foyer space, all standing in a big circle to maintain a 2metre distance between them - as they should. All that seemed to be missing was a band in the corner and someone calling them to Circle Left, Circle Right, Do-Si-do then swing your partner round and round.
There is another version that happens when two people meet on the footpath, in a corridor or stairwell. As they approach each other they do a step to the left, then a step to the right, with an additional swerve back to the left as they pass, often with knowing smiles exchanged as we all do the Distancing Dance. Singing is optional but is always welcome especially in the key of G – known as the People’s Key because most people can manage that with ease. All together now; “Take care / stay home / and don’t forget to wash your hands”.

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