I I used to have a joke with my mother where I called her the rubber ball, because she always seemed to recover from whatever illness she had. My mother was named Beryl Harris and she was 86 when she died of Covid-19. He died in the hospital on December 18 of last year, the same day as the non-socially distanced Christmas party at number 10.
We had already had some terrible years. My stepfather Brian had developed an aggressive form of vascular dementia which meant that he deteriorated very quickly; He was diagnosed when he was 74 and died when he was 78. That really took its toll on my mother and me, not least emotionally. My mother had just come out of that very bleak period and was feeling so much more positive about things – she was getting her zest for life back again, and it was really lovely to watch.
At the end of last year, he began to feel bad: he had anemia, so he needed a blood transfusion. She wasn’t particularly worried, because all of this had happened before, so she went to the hospital, had the transfusion, everything was going well, and she was about to be discharged. Then I got a call from one of the nurses to tell me that Mom had been in contact with someone with Covid and that they were going to test her. Two hours later I received another call to tell him that he had tested positive. I spoke to her right away and she was a mess. She was so scared. She kept saying, “I don’t want to die.”
He kept saying to her, “You will be fine, Mom, you are a rubber ball, you will recover from this too,” and she laughed a little. But it deteriorated very quickly. When I called to speak to her the next day, she was unconscious and senseless, and obviously unable to speak. On the third day, I spoke to her and she sounded like she was recovering, she sounded quite cheerful, she was sitting up in bed and we laughed at how bad the hospital food was. I thought, “She’s going to get by.” That was December 17th. In the early morning of the 18, at 1.20 am, I received a call from the hospital to tell me that Mom had passed away.
My mother lived in Wellesbourne in Warwickshire, and since I’m in South London and we were both playing by the rules, I hadn’t been able to visit her. Mom was very interested in me abiding by the rules, she was very concerned about hiring Covid, she was steadfast in her determination to protect. Many people had to protect, not only the elderly, but also the vulnerable. And even for those who weren’t technically protecting, there was so much loneliness during the confinements and such an impact on all of our mental health, especially at Christmas.
In this context, the news of the match has just been astonishing. The initial reports were bad enough, but then the leaked images of the press conference rehearsal have made it a lot worse. I had to watch it several times, because the first time it surprised me so much that I did not understand. Allegra Stratton and everyone else in that room had a blast laughing over their “cheese and wine” party that had taken place. few hours after my mother’s death.
The government’s constant denials in recent weeks have made it 10 times worse. If the prime minister had raised his hands when the story broke, admitted it and apologized, it would never be enough for all the people who have lost loved ones, but it would be something. But the fact that not only Boris Johnson, but also his ministers seem to lie to our faces about this, is abhorrent.
The government is supposed to have a duty to take care of this country, and just when you think it can’t get any worse, something like this comes to light. To say that I am angry is an understatement, but I am also sad. I personally did not vote for this government, but some people did and trusted it. The weight of that responsibility is not taken seriously. The government should hold itself to much higher standards than it demands of everyone else, but it is not even playing by its own rules.
I joined the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign in February, because I thought it was important to bring all these different voices together. A lot of people have their own very tragic stories, and one thing we can really do is come together, ask for a proper independent investigation, and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. These are the lives of the people we’re talking about, and we’re already fed up with Johnson’s platitudes.
The first anniversary of my mother’s death is approaching. This government really needs to be held accountable. Questions must be answered, and answered honestly, about what happened last Christmas.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism