It’s in Roger Ratcliffe’s nature to scour for news

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Meanwhile, in other news… Prince Harry has found it hard to adjust to life in LA. I’m guessing this is because he and the Duchess of Sussex have to share their celebrity status with a bajillion other famous faces.

And that’s about it. Almost four weeks into lockdown this was the top alternative news story I could come up with, although for a moment I thought there might also be some juicy celeb gossip about Eamonn Holmes. Sadly, no. It simply turns out – and I hope I’ve got this right – that watching Holmes on ITV’s This Morning can give you coronavirus. There seems to be no escape from infection-related news.

Everything is now on hold – most jobs (for those that still have them), lives, politics, clothes buying, car buying, book launches and all movie releases except one: this sci-fi blockbuster in which we have been cast.

As I swiped down the Guardian’s webpage on my mobile I counted 33 coronavirus or lockdown stories before I found one that was unrelated, something about Burger King telling a whopper about its new “plant-based” patty being suitable for vegans. I tried a similar scroll through the Daily Mail and Telegraph headlines but eventually gave up. There was nothing else.

The right-wing press seems particularly lockdown-fixated. A piece in the Mail advised readers how to make use of empty cupboards by turning them into stylish food pantries for all those stockpiled items, complete with photographs of shelves neatly lined with full jars of pasta and stacked with Tupperware boxes of grains and cereals.

Contrast this with a story in the Guardian about the hunger crisis that is rapidly developing among British people in lockdown. A YouGov poll for the Food Foundation thinktank found that 1.5 million people had reported not eating for a whole day because they had no money or access to food. As many people again had to skip either breakfast, lunch or dinner.

At the same time, charities running food banks are unable to satisfy demand since over a million people have lost their income because of the pandemic, creating a 300 per cent increase in requests for emergency parcels. To all of these people, the Mail’s pictures of well-stocked pantries are cruel and obscene. So please, with that in mind give as much from your shopping trolley to a local food bank as you can possibly afford.

Stuck at home and talking to friends by phone, it seems to me that everyone is holding their breath waiting for a modern equivalent of those all-clear air raid sirens that were familiar to parents and grandparents. But the realist in me says this won’t safely happen for ages. I mean, how can it work without a Covid-19 cure or vaccine? Still, I have a feeling it will be bankers and not doctors who decide when to sound the all clear. The money men are already demanding a lockdown “exit strategy” because of the £3 trillion costs so far.

In my determination to report something uplifting, I can at least say that goldfinches are busy collecting nesting material in the garden. Bluebells are covering the floor of a local wood. Jackdaws are very determinedly saying bollocks to social distancing in a nearby quarry. Thankfully nature is not in lockdown.

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