(def: unable to speak, especially as the temporary result of shock or strong emotion)

How to articulate the way we feel when we read yet another story of selfishness, greed, inequality or unfairness in the midst of this Covid-19 "blitz spirit"?

There are words, and yet there are not words. We feel that we are all in it together, working to beat this virus and surging to our windows to applaud the NHS workers. Then we see stories that reveal that many are in it for themselves. While some people are risking their lives to save others or supply them with food, others are profiteering, making money, or bolting to their second homes to escape the virus while possibly spreading it.

Even as NHS workers remain untested for the disease, we learned of go-between distributors snapping up supplies of diagnostic kits to sell on. One news story reported that a doctor at a private clinic in London procured screening kits that he later sold for three times what they cost, taking in around £2.6 million in orders.

Who gets a test and who doesn’t is another thing that reminded us that we’re not all in this together. Frontline NHS staff were still not being tested, yet, we learned Prince Charles, self-isolating in his Highland third home, had been, as was Boris Johnson.

A Which? report told us that profiteering was rife on eBay and Amazon Marketplace, with a wide range of products, in high demand and short supply because of the coronavirus, on sale at “extortionate” prices – a thermometer, normally on sale at £40, priced a £300 on eBay, a £3 bottle of disinfectant for £29.99.

We feel speechless, too, at the behaviour of some of our high-profile bosses and companies. In those vague pre-lockdown days, when people were advised to avoid pubs, Wetherspoon’s boss Tim Martin, insisted he would keep his chain open and declared Covid-19 a “health scare”. Less than a week later, his pubs now forced, under the new rules, to close, he was telling staff they would not be paid after the end of the week and suggesting they get jobs at Tesco.

Then there’s Mike Ashley who told workers at Sports Direct they should still turn up despite the lockdown rules, and that his company supplied “essential services” – for this he later apologised. Or Britannia hotels, who sent out letters to staff at the Coylumbridge Hotel, saying that their employment was terminated and asking them to vacate the hotel accommodations. There was speechlessness too for Travelodge, when the company gave homeless families just two hours to leave, through notes slipped under the door, as it shut about 360 of its UK hotels to comply with coronavirus measures.

In the United States, we learned Jeff Bezos, one of the richest individuals in the world, had set up a fund asking the public for donations to provide basic support to his 800,000 employees who are suffering in poverty in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s been said that coronavirus is the great equaliser. But what makes us more speechless than anything is the way this crisis has shone a light on the inequality in our country and others. It has exposed the greed of some, and the lack of compassion in our money-driven system. That was already there. We knew it was. We also already knew the NHS was underfunded and our benefits system woefully inadequate.

When we see that all exposed at this time of crisis, it renders us more than speechless – more like incandescent with rage.


(def: lazy and having low standards)

It started with good intentions – timetables, plans for zoom lessons with friends, ideas for scientific experiments conducted while I wrote articles on the kitchen table. But after only a few days the rot to set in.

Screentime allowance upped from two to four hours. Yes. Pyjamas at 11am. Yes. Fortnite redefined as “healthy social time”. Yes.

A favourite tweet came from Lucy Porter: “Everyone’s saying teachers should get a pay rise and I agree. After my experience of home schooling I also think they should be allowed to drink during school hours, send the kids off to play Minecraft for a few hours, and hide in the toilet when it all gets a bit much.” Sounds like my household on a good day.

At this rate, our routine will soon be reduced down to getting up in time for the 8pm NHS appreciation applause – while still in our onesies.