, I can’t pretend I’m not gutted. Back in March, when Invisible Women was Waterstones Book of the Month and there were adverts for Invisible Women in trains stations all across the country, the UK locked down. They were even stocking it in airports, which is genuinely something I never thought would happen to a book I wrote. And it sucked – it really, truly sucked; those sales and the sales that would have come off the back of those sales, are never coming back. That amazing opportunity was gone forever, and honestly I was devastated.
But it also felt like we we were in it together, we were all hurting, and that the government really had no choice. We had to buy time.
Nearly eight months later, Invisible Women is a Waterstones Paperback of the Year. I am lucky enough to get a second bite at the apple. Maybe being part of window displays and piles of books by the door, by the till, can make up for what was lost in March.
Except, no it won’t, because here we are, locking down again.
I know, I know, there are so many so much worse off and in the grand scheme of things this must seem trivial to many of you. But the sense of absolutely gutting unfairness that it’s now happened twice in one year, well it just sucks. It really and truly sucks.
And it particularly sucks because this doesn’t feel like the first time when we didn’t have any choice. This time we can look around at countries around the world who didn’t squander the time they bought by locking down, and have now managed to return more or less to normal. Many of them, are, like us, island nations.
Meanwhile what have we spent the past eight months doing?
- Seeding the second wave via the spectacularly misguided Eat Out To Help Out, for which any fool could have predicted the inevitable outcome. (I’m not saying the hospitality industry didn’t need help, I’m saying the money should have been distributed to them without funding our way into another lockdown at the same time)
- Failing to test and indeed trace.
Blaming the public for government failure to create enough capacity in the testing system
- Failing to screen travellers at airports – and then failing to do anything to make sure the quarantine we chose instead was actually happening, with the accounts in this article very much mirroring what my mum reported when she returned from visiting our family in Portugal back in August.
- Failing to self-isolate, which again, any fool could have predicted in the absence of proper compensation. I had to self-isolate when Mum was ill (she’s a lot better this week) and it sucked, but it would have sucked a lot more if doing it meant I couldn’t afford to pay my bills.
- Oh and as was reported yesterday, failing to develop a test and trace app that actually works
All of which to say, I don’t feel like this was an unavoidable force of nature
, as the PM suggested in his three-hour-delayed press conference on Saturday night, but rather the result of almighty mismanagement on a catastrophic scale. So, yeah, I’m angry, and upset, and utterly gutted. So if you haven’t yet bought a copy of Invisible Women
, or if anyone you know hasn’t yet bought a copy of Invisible Women
, well, now would be a lovely time to do so.
Look, I’ve even made it easy for you with some links:
Yes, other booksellers are available, but it’s the brick and mortar ones who are going to be hit by this second lockdown, so if you can buy from them instead of amazon, please, please do. We would really miss IRL bookshops if they went.