Dont compare VE Day to the current pandemic The Tonic

I’m sick of the pandemic being compared to WWII

VE Day this year marks the 75 year anniversary of Victory in Europe, the official day the Allies accepted surrender from Nazi Germany. We asked Tonic readers whether they felt there were comparisons to be drawn with the current community response.

Did they feel people were pulling together and supporting each other in the same way? The overwhelming answer was a no, with many citing panic buying and selfishness as examples of poor behaviour.

Others though were keen to identify that communities were pulling together to support each other and that there had been really heart-warming experiences. And also pointed out that this has been a sudden experience for what is essentially an affluent country. People in the UK have been used to material goods on tap. For many it’s been a real culture shock.

We interviewed two readers with separate experiences.

Sue’s story

I’m in North Nottinghamshire, in a large village with local shops. In my community there doesn’t appear to have been any anti-social behaviour. Everyone seems to have pulled together. Lots of offers of help and sharing. Gifts of home baking and flowers left at gate of people like me in the vulnerable group.

I’ve tried to help too. I’ve ‘played’ games with neighbours’ children over the garden wall so parents get five minutes, as there’s not much else I can do to help.


Walking the dog, social distancing has been adhered to, even by teens and children


Walking the dog, social distancing has been adhered to, even by teens and children. Always with a smile and quick word. In my location they couldn’t behave better. It’s been lovely having so much support and semi strangers have become friends.

I’m a retired teacher, but do tuition with ‘out of school’ students. The agency were well ahead of lockdown, and we were ready for online tutoring before lockdown as many tutors like myself come into the ‘at risk’ category.

I work daily on line with my Year 11s. It’s working well and we’re hopeful for good GCSE grades. For my students it’s a bonus not having to sit exams. Personally I’ve not seen anything bad.

The worst for me is not being able to visit my 95 year old aunt. Her care home staff have been amazing though at keeping family in some sort of contact, despite already being very overworked. It’s hard though – we’ve had relatives not being at the side of the dying and not being able to attend funerals.

On the down side, I’ve seen some vandalism of and stealing essential workers’ property. And my son having to collect the children of NHS staff in a mini bus, and work with them with no protective clothing. There’s always silly people flouting advice too.


I believe that going through my husband’s illness and death has prepared me for this


And the best things? Having time to get to know three sets of new neighbours! Time to do the things I’ve intended to do over the years, and time to communicate with friends around the country and abroad.

I believe that going through my husband’s illness and death five years ago and long period of grief has prepared me for this. My widowed friends’ community around the world agrees.

Very little could be as bad as that, and it taught me that sometimes there’s absolutely nothing you can do about a situation except accept it and try and do the best you can through it.


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Coronavirus community response around the world The Tonic

Nik’s story

I’m originally from the East Midlands but I’ve been in the north east of England a decade. I’m working through this interesting period in the history of civilisation as a key worker with the NHS.

The knee jerk reaction of much of the population of the UK to panic-buy and to cause a stampede of relative chaos was somewhat disappointing to observe. A lack of compassion and dignity spilled out onto the streets.


It was never like this in wartime, there was a totally different mentality


Irresponsible behaviour and thoughtlessness for others ensued, with the infirm and elderly having to be left without. It was never like this in wartime, there was a totally different mentality. If we had power cuts, loss of gas and electric and running water, this population would not have endured. Unlike our wartime relations we still have access to power and we have TV and the Internet.

Can you imagine the additional chaos without those modern day distractions? It was said (by me actually, on FB) that it’s a pity CoVid19 didn’t take out stupid. But in reflection maybe that was a little harsh.

Why did this generation in this age of having everything available at their fingertips – amidst this incredible technological age of the internet and the ability to access most things at the flick of switch. Why did people allow themselves to go mad for toilet rolls and paracetamols, tinned tomatoes and pasta?

This will be the domain of psychologists and sociologists over the next few years to come and the experience of the population will be scrutinised, and rightly so. I was infuriated that bin men were taking shots of the refuge piled at the bins of out of date produce, unused fruit and veg that had decomposed due to not being used.


But it’s not all bad. I’ve seen glimpses of love, true beautiful human spirit


There are the other sides of the epidemic with stories of communal good and with people being caring and supportive of each other. The Thursday clapping for carers, the efforts of the Captain Tom Moore and his fundraising for the NHS. Perhaps drawing attention to the plight of the NHS under the aggressive cut-backs of successive politicians and various governments…

Some of the worst things I’ve seen in communities include relationship breakdowns and subsequent alienation. I don’t like not being able to help people see sense and to keep things in perspective.

The loneliness, which I guess offers a further glimpse of what’s to come. How the aged may suffer with both the decline of their health and with the passing of time.

But it’s not all bad. I’ve seen glimpses of love, true beautiful human spirit and of hope. The carers doing what they can, and more. The efforts made by people to support love, and there’s hope for humanity and man’kind’.

God help humanity and the population of the UK if we had had to survive an epidemic under war time conditions now. The people would not survive. They wouldn’t know how to do it. They lack the resilience and courage, the self determination of our forebears. All this and it’s VE Day celebrations this week, so help us god.

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Sam Harrington-Lowe

As editor at the Tonic, Sam works with an extraordinary array of...

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