I will not be going to the pub tomorrow.
Partly because Boris Johnson has said we must; partly because he’s told us to have no more than one and be home in bed by 9pm.
But, mainly, it’s because it won’t be very pubby: no social contact, no larks, and several pints of stress about who’s coughing, who’s got too close, and who touched this glass already.
Millions of others feel the same. Which just goes to show – we all make better choices than Prince Andrew.
Most of us, when confronted by the option of telling a convicted child abuser we did not want to see him again a) over the phone, or b) on a 4-day bender at the abuser’s house, would feel that socially-distancing oneself from the paedophile is the most sensible course of action.
But then, these fiends target only princes, don’t they? They groom honourable, sudoriferousally-challenged aristocrats with offers of friendship. They lay man-traps lined with nubile young ladies to catch unsuspecting noblemen, for whom genitalia soap and armies of nubile young ladies are merely eccentric interior decorating choices.
If you are wondering – and who hasn’t? – what was going through Prince Andrew’s mind at pivotal moments when he unequivocally cocked things right up, you need to go back to 1966 and a trip his mother made to the Aston Martin factory in Newport Pagnell.
There, she was presented with a child-size version of James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5. It had hand-stitched leather seats, revolving number plates, toy machine guns, a bullet proof shield, water jets, 2-way radio, working smokescreen, ground radar, and two 12v electric batteries which gave it a top speed of 10mph. It took 30 technicians 3 months to make it as a gift for the young prince, who was 6 at the time.
The car is now part of the Royal Collection, and on public display in the stables at Sandringham. It may not have been used as much as the average child’s pedal car, because it is spotless. But it explains everything about the queen’s second son: his well-documented rudeness, his inability to see what the rest of us do, his sense of entitlement.
Why wouldn’t he think the pretty young blonde wanted to sleep with him? Why would he ever apologise? Why shouldn’t he exploit his friend for a 5-figure trip to New York, before dumping him?
When you’ve been given a working model of 007’s Aston while still in short trousers, you learn there’s literally nothing you can’t have, won’t be given, or should have to apologise for. Hardly a surprise, either, that he went on to purchase a £18m ski chalet on a navy pension of £30,000. There is always someone to make much of his little.
Most of us might ask why they’re helping us, and what they’re getting out of it. Why this beautiful socialite is still hanging out with the convicted paedophile, and whether we ought to be talking to her. Why people are giving us cars, or millions, or how this is going to look when it becomes public. But we didn’t have his pedal car, did we?
Then there’s Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, a boy raised in a family of high achievers, with a father who was a serial adulterer, and who has such a blase attitude to principles that he rode the EU gravy train for 6 years, voted to Remain, insisted we Leave, and then announced he will apply for French citizenship after Brexit. When the government told us not to drink in pubs, he said he would. Now we’re told we must go to the pub, and he’s gone to Greece.
In doing so, and despite being a guest there, he boasted of breaking Greek border controls to travel to his holiday home, insisting it was “essential travel” because he was preparing to make lots of lovely money by renting it out.
Why wouldn’t Boris be an unprincipled laundry hamper of a human being, with a role model like that? Granted, Stanley’s other children seem much better behaved. Boris seems to have inherited the full dose of his dad’s twattery.
Privilege is an over-used word, these days, but the concept of some people being given a special advantage, and immunity from the consequences of abusing it, is the fundamental reason why we have the scandals dominating the news today. From black lives mattering, to white gun-wavers, long-term jobless Ghislaine Maxwell’s £20m in cash, and the Duke of York’s sudden rediscovery of his sweat glands, it all comes down to the gifts people are given as children.
But perhaps we should stop thinking of privilege as a blessing. All the evidence shows, many of those who have it are stone-cold lunatics with all the personal attractiveness of a manky ham sandwich.
Andrew’s accident of birth has got him court cases on 3 continents and eternal public disgrace. Ghislaine’s warped upbringing has caused 4 years of hiding and perhaps 10 times as long in jail. And the way that Stanley showed Boris Johnson how to behave has given us 65,000 dead, and general disgust at a man who won a popularity contest just 6 months ago.
When you look at it like that, being under-privileged seems like a bonus. It teaches resilience, moral consequences, persuasion, the benefits of hard work, how to overcome obstacles, inventiveness and a host of other skills that the uber-privileged have been cruelly deprived of. Not least, the ability to decide for ourselves whether we want to go to the pub and run whatever the local risk is of catching coronavirus.
They just didn’t have the right upbringing. It’s almost abusive. If Andrew had toys like the rest of us, he might have realised when his mate was sentenced to 18 months for soliciting a minor for prostitution that he was a bit of a wrong’un; without a childhood paid for with pension fraud Ghislaine might have dumped the paedo; and restaurant-smasher Boris wouldn’t waste his time telling us how to behave in the pub.
We want the pub; we need the pub, if only for the debunking of isolation-crazed theories about whether privilege is actually a curse. But, for now, they’re something that shows up our lack of normality – a place we’re ordered to attend, be good, and do what’s right in the view of people who wouldn’t know what that was if you chopped their left leg off. That’s the opposite of what a pub should be.
Besides, they’ll be full of wankers anyway.
Which is why, as Sham 69 would be singing if people were as punk as they ought to be, I’m not going down the pub.