If I may say so I think your "comment" in S.N.J. of April 1 is a bit out of touch with reality. It may be the case that only one or two have been coughing on others but the empty shelves in our supermarkets have been caused by a lot of people whose lives seem to be driven by what they see on "social media". Also of course, a complete lack of concern as to how their behaviour might impact on their neighbours. I have heard the conversations of the staff at my local Morrison's store, how the queues stretched across the car park long before opening times and "Christmas will be a doddle after this". You go on to praise the setting up of volunteer groups and donations to the N.H.S. What of course you don't mention is the fact that if this Government had maintained pay and staffing levels in the N.H.S. and properly funded Social care the country would have been far better prepared to deal with the current crisis and not needing to rely on volunteers. One must assume that this dire situation is what people have just voted for.

I have just been reading the book "The Stroud Valleys in the Great War" in which a cartoon from the "Stroud Journal" of the time is reproduced and shows a wealthy woman with a cupboard stacked high with "essentials" being reprimanded by John Bull. He is saying, "by your selfish conduct you have made the situation much worse for your neighbours. You are an enemy to your country madam". Acknowledging that situation during the second world war the government introduced rationing. There are a number of other fascinating parallels with the current crisis in that book, but it does beg the question as to whether or not the human race can be trusted to behave in a way that doesn't have a negative impact on their neighbour. This means at individual level as well as national level. It seems at least that either the lessons of the last 100 years haven't been learnt or more likely just conveniently forgotten.

Before too long, hopefully, we will be seeing a reduction in infections around the country and people will be wanting to "get back to normal" which probably means a lot of them thinking about carrying on as before. At this time it's impossible to know how long it will be, so perhaps we will have forgotten how things were before, but do we really want to carry on as before? Are we going to throw people back onto the streets or are we going to provide the support they need? Are we going to put the necessary money into mental health services or just keep stepping over the people begging on our streets? Are we going to continue to applaud the volunteers staffing the food banks or are we going to deal with the underlying problems that gave rise to their existence in the first place? Surely if this is the way such a rich country deals with it's citizens it would be better to be much poorer.

Only time will tell what the country will look like at the end of this pandemic and some of the changes will probably be beyond our control but if we can choose, are we to advocate a society where once again our Doctors and Nurses are undervalued and underpaid and the N.H.S. has tens of thousands of staff vacancies. Let us remember all the people in the supply chain for our food many of whom are on very low rates of pay. The water that comes from our taps isn't by magic and all the pointless packaging we throw away isn't collected by the fairies. None of these people, and there are lots more besides, can award themselves big bonuses each year and none of them get Knighthoods for just doing their jobs, but we can see now beyond doubt that it is they who are important when it comes to a crisis. "Lest we forget" is what we see in reference to the two world wars but perhaps it's more relevant now than ever before. If there is to be a positive response by the majority lets hope their memories aren't defective at the next election.

Howard Price