Yesterday I was in la la land – and very nice it was too. Thanks to a concoction of codeine/paracetamol/ibuprofen and diazepam. Prescribed by my doctor for an acute attack of sciatica. I now understand why there is such an epidemic of people hooked on pain killers. Because anything and I really mean anything that stops pain is what you want.
Pain is all consuming. You can think of nothing else but how to get it to stop. And Sciatica and tooth ache are the two worst ones that I have experienced. Luckily, I still had Tod’s morphine hidden away for emergencies. At 3 am on Friday morning I wondered was this one of those emergencies?
And of course labour pains. I still remember the euphoria when an epidural stopped the pain. Made me wonder why on earth anybody would want to go through labour without one. So much so that when attending ante natal for my third child I had stamped all over my notes EPIDURAL. Toby however had other plans. He arrived after one humongous contraction which broke my waters and he shot out, caught by my girlfriend just 20 minutes after arriving in the hospital. I felt cheated. “I want my epidural,” I demanded to my nurse. “But you have had the baby,” she replied. “I don’t care where is my epidural.” Never was one to to listen to reason.
So, Leicester is in Lockdown. Probably the safest place to be today once the rest of the country opens up. Yesterday was my wedding anniversary and Leicester is my hometown and where I got married. Like the Queen with her two birthdays one official and one private we too had 2 weddings. One, the Jewish wedding that my parents had long dreamt about, but thought would never happen — I was 34 when I got married — and the second a rather debauched affair in the garden of my girlfriend in Cambridge.
I decided that my present to my parents would be our wedding. “Whatever you would like mum” I said. “Just let us know what time you would like us to be there.” Rabbi Sunshine at the Beth Din – which is a Jewish rabbinical court had other ideas. Rabbi Thunder, would have been a more suitable name., He needed convincing that Tod was Jewish. Taking his trousers down was not sufficient evidence. Nor where his parents’ marriage certificate and birth certificates. Or the fact that Tod’s great grandfather was a New York Rabbi. They needed the physical evidence. They wanted grandparents birth certificates which we couldn’t locate.
Only when I stormed out of his office proclaiming that we would have a Reform Wedding — an anathema to orthodox Jews — that Sunshine relented and gave his permission to marry.
Amidst bright sunshine in Leicester we stood under a Chuppah and did the deed. So, it is not surprising that I keep abreast of what is happening in the town that I spent 15 years living in. And I am shocked by the reports of slave labour, COVID and criminal negligence in garment factories there. Rumours of these activities have abounded for quite a while but not investigated. So Alok Sharma why have you not acted earlier? Just another convenient political fuck up.
Too little too late again! Factories are finally under investigation for both furlough fraud and using what can only be termed as slave labour. Some of these factories operated at 100% capacity while on furlough, with poorly ventilated cramped buildings, paying migrant workers very low wages. When one worker applied for statutory sick pay, his boss told him that he would not receive it and ordered him to keep working through the illness. Some workers said they were told to continue working despite testing positive for coronavirus and were warned not to tell anyone. And these migrant workers mainly aged 20 – 40 (hence the rise in younger COVID infections in Leicester) are living in cramped housing – some times 40 men in one terraced house.
So, it is no wonder that Leicester has a coronavirus spike. But it is not just the bosses that we should blame. So too are those outlets that are aware of the conditions yet continue to buy their clothes from these factories. Why? Because they are cheap.
And what do we consumers do about this. Well it is like the mask controversy. Supermarkets leave it up to individual choice to decide on whether both staff and shoppers want to wear masks. Consumers are told that our power lies in our personal choices about where we spend our money and we can boycott those clothes chains that use low paid migrant workers. It’s a cop out. Government should mandate and ensure that all factories treat their employees fairly and that masks must be worn at all times when indoors in public places. Why is it so difficult to act responsibly?
“Let’s be careful out there”