Mary Kelly: To paraphrase Gerry Adams, Covid hasn't gone away, you know

Boris Johnson's much-vaunted 'Freedom Day' descended into farce with the prime minister reduced to a two-dimensional figure ghosting across television screens as he self-isolated after being 'pinged' for being near the health secretary, who tested positive for Covid. Picture by Alberto Pezzali/PA Wire

SOMETIMES, in spite of everything, you just have to laugh. And it still cracks me up that Boris Johnson spent 'Freedom Day' in enforced isolation after coming into contact with Sajid Javid, who had tested positive for Covid.

It was also funny to see how quickly he and Rishi Sunak had to U-turn after their cunning plan to use some hitherto unknown 'trial' to avoid isolating, came undone after a public revolt.

When we learned from Dominic Cummings's latest hand grenade interview that he had to dissuade Johnson from visiting Buckingham Palace and potentially infecting the 95-year-old queen, things just descended into pure farce.

But then it's clear from some of the PM's WhatsApp messages that he doesn't think it matters much that the over 80s could get the virus and die.

I wonder if that message will go down well with the elderly party faithful in the Tory shires?

It's a lot less funny that the new health secretary had also been visiting vulnerable elderly people in care homes and could well have infected some of them. This is despite him having had his two vaccine jabs.

All those of us double-jabbers felt the invincibility cloak slip from our shoulders at the realisation that you can still get Covid, though it will probably affect you less than pre-vaccination.

To paraphrase the bearded one, it hasn't gone away, you know. So any reckless moves like in GB where the government is trying to pretend life can return to normal, should be avoided here at all costs.

I don't like wearing a mask, particularly in this hot weather, but I'd prefer it to wearing a ventilator.

I also count myself lucky that I can take the mask off when I leave a shop, a café or a bus – unlike the poor staff who have to wear one all day.

It's a small inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.


ONE of the few positive things about our period in lockdown has been the resurgence of interest in making our gardens and back alleys pretty with flowers and greenery.

I say alleys, because no-one seems to call them entries any more. Some have been gated to prevent anti-social activity and that's suddenly turned the area behind terraced houses into little oases of nature with potted plants and flowers popping up in the most unlikely spaces.

It's led to a greater sense of neighbourliness too, as people chat while they're out watering their plants instead of just leaving the front door and getting into their cars with barely a nod.

Our own alley has started the same process after one neighbour took the plunge with a stunning array of herbs, plants and blooming flowers of every hue.

Others are gradually following suit. I'm trying to join in too as I feel a personal responsibility.

Anyone called Mary really should have a garden that grows. I'm told I already do the contrary bit.


AND speaking of neighbourliness. I've become a bit addicted to the 'Nextdoor' website in my own area of Belfast.

It provides a forum for missing cats, pleas for handymen (or women), useful tips and the occasional falling out among residents over such matters as cycle paths, access to once-available thoroughfares that are now gated and a lockdown plan to close part of the Ormeau Road to traffic for a few hours to let local cafes spread onto the streets.

Nextdoor is US social media firm with operations in 10 other countries. It provides a platform very similar to Facebook, but instead of connecting friends, it connects neighbours, who may not know each other at all and share only a neighbourhood.

Although the company doesn't release user numbers, the Nextdoor neighbourhoods so far created apparently cover 90 per cent of the UK. In a few places more than 60 per cent of the local households are said to be subscribers.

And because people are named, there isn't the same mindless abuse found on other social networks.

Politics is actively discouraged so discussions about flags or Brexit are usually stopped fairly swiftly.

When I accidentally cut the wire from my hedge trimmers this week, I got offers of help within hours as well as advice on how to fix it myself and a plea not to cut the hedge for a few more weeks in case birds were nesting in it.

I did check. But my predatory cat has probably reduced its appeal as a des res for feathered friends.

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