Apparently Tunbridge Wells is a bit disgusted at being put into the same covid tier as much less classy places like Medway and Thanet.
We (Thanet) have got virus coming out of our ears and they (Tunbridge Wells) haven’t, they say. They want their freedom to go to their local hostelry and have their friends to catered dinner parties or whatever posh folks do.
And they are posh – as I know from bizarre personal experience. In the 1980s I lived in a tiny space in a block of Victorian flats in Westminster. Upstairs lived the MP for Tunbridge Wells in a huge flat with his wife and three children. I was teaching at the college round the corner; he was working in Parliament, also round the corner. He was in Mrs Thatcher’s cabinet and had a police guard.
Their kids were all away at boarding school and of course they had other properties, mansions, elsewhere.
We used to meet on the stairs and exchange pleasantries.
His wife was a lovely friendly neighbour and we often had long chats and met round the shops.
But one day it came home to me with a bang how different we were. Class and privilege raised its ugly head.
We both had family problems and one night when hubby was in “the House” Jean invited me for tomato soup in her kitchen so we could share our worries. She was worried about her eleven year old unhappy at his fantastically expensive public school. I was fretting about my old granny who was ill and getting confused, and we didn’t know why.
She was sympathetic. She had an aunt who had had a confused episode, too. She’d gone into the street “in her peignoire” (her nightie I think she meant), but, thank heavens, she said “the servants had found her and taken her back – to the castle.”
Honest! She was a countess or something. The class system hit me in the face.
I finished my soup and crept back to my cubby hole downstairs feeling I’d located my place in the world. I might be an educated teacher – middle class – but definitely not one of the ruling class.
We were in the same block of flats but we lived in different worlds.
Meanwhile, here in Kent it’s a similar story. We, in infected Thanet, have nearly ten times the amount of positive covid cases than the wealthier bits of west Kent. Unfortunately for them we share the same political boundaries – Kent County Council is in charge of all of us.
So why have we had it much worse in Thanet than in Tunbridge Wells? I think it’s pretty obvious.
Poverty and deprivation are factors in getting the virus, just as it always has been for most pandemics. Poor nutrition, overcrowding, inability to self isolate and poor education (so the increasingly complex guidelines are not understood), all help to spread the infection.
We in Thanet have an elderly population, a lot of care homes, schools for children with disabilities and special needs – these are all “underlying conditions” that affect immune systems.
We also, I’ve noticed – and heard anecdotally – have a significant number of people who don’t really “believe” in the virus. Like Nigel Farage, they think lockdown was unnecessary and many think mask wearing damages your health. They think the vulnerable should be protected by being kept away from the rest of the population and let “herd immunity” grow.
So put it altogether and it’s not really surprising that the disgusted of Tunbridge Wells are disgusted at being subjected to the same covid restrictions as the disgusting people of Thanet.
It’s not fair, they say.
What I say is that it’s not fair Thanet is poorer, worse housed, worse educated, worse employed than Tunbridge Wells.
We live in the same county but we live in different worlds. Instead of trying to build a wall around themselves the posh bits of Kent need to start working to make things better for EVERYBODY in Kent — including the downtrodden people of Thanet.