Best wishes to foreign readers who have a soft spot for this realm, on this feast day of one of our greatest Saints, S Edward, King and Confessor. He is one of a tiny handful of our Saints whose relics still rest where they were before the Reformation. The Breviary Office makes a particular point of talking about his virginity. Oret pro nobis.
And we certainly need his prayers. The fragility of our social fabric can rarely have made us so manifestly vulnerable. Our government is in the hands of a man who sought power because he had an agenda: he wished to be the Churchillian figure whom History would remember as the man who, by 'getting Brexit done', restored the independance of England ... or do I mean Britain?
But Clio put paid to this unhumble ambition by whacking us with the plague. Johnson immediately adopted the policy of "following the Science". Fraudulent, of course, because there is no more a univocal 'Science' than there is a single Philology or just one Theology. But it served until this week, when the government had a final dust-up with its scientific advisers, resulting in the Chief Medical Officer ... a dry individual whose Mother I knew ... putting the boot in, and how publicly.
And there are the young people. They are currently turning up at their universities. We all know how idealistic youth are; numbers of them have recently been saving the planet by striking ... not going to school ... on Fridays ('Extinction Rebellion'). But the idealism and principled altruism of the young is rarely much better than skin-deep; beneath it is the fallen human nature common to us all, fuelled in their case by over-impetuous and very dirigiste hormones. Something called 'Freshers' Week' (which did not exist in our time) means that they begin their university career with a week of alcohol, drugs, and sexual promiscuity. Here in Oxford, it was reported that when the 'junior deans' and a College Servant in a particular college tried to break up a disorder, they were ignored, and one undergraduate deliberately coughed over ...
Yes ... where was the Dean? Where was the Head of House? In a sense, we are reaping the harvest of the late 1960s, when the colleges abandoned any attempt to discipline the young, and made their profession a 10.00-5.00 job with much of the teaching farmed out to penniless doctoral students.
So now the Covid numbers are soaring in places where there are universities.
And the Government, cut loose from any pretence of objective policy-making, is floundering helplessly. The Welsh are threatening to put Offa's Dyke back into commission to keep out the infectious English!
Yes ... we really do need S Edward's prayers. And yours.