Dr Liz Gordon: A letter to old blighty


My sister Christine came out to New Zealand from London for the summer, as she usually does.  She arrived on Christmas Day for an eight-week stay. Now it is mid-April, and she is still here. Thank goodness.

Chris flew over on China Southern, which travels via Guangzhou. The early cancellation of her flight home, scheduled for 17 February, was made by the airline on commercial rather than health grounds.  There were few cases in that region; it is just that no-one much wanted to travel to China.

She did book an alternative flight in early March via Los Angeles but then made the decision to see out the virus here, with the idea of returning home in May, after seeing the spread of cases in the UK and USA, and facing lockdown alone in London.

Everything we now know confirms what a good decision that was. I feel very sorry for all the UK residents who are stranded in New Zealand and other countries, with no support and fast running out of money.  It must be incredibly stressful.

But for my sister, New Zealand means a comfy home, no money worries, a large garden to sit in and breathe fresh air, companionship, a fat ginger cat that adores her and – me!

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We have been in lockdown now for over three weeks.  We watch the international and local news every day and peer obsessively at the statistics. Can I say that things have not been looking good in the UK?

First was the spectacle of the ‘invincible’ Boris shaking hands with everyone and getting sick.  What an idiot!  This is New Zealand’s official new term for those who act stupidly during the lockdown. We have several idiots here (including our Minister of Health), but none like Boris. We are hoping that his time trying to survive in intensive care, with Jenny from Invercargill to help, might have changed him a lot. We are expecting great things from him.

Then we have seen your numbers rising and rising.  It took a while for your lockdown to take effect and maybe the peak is still to come.  You flirted with herd immunity and ‘lock up the olds’ until you realised what that would actually mean in terms of thousands of old people dying alone.

Your fatality rate, now at 13% and rising, is shockingly high. How is it so high (and some say a lot higher)? Your National Health Service is supposed to be the model of public health for the world. But your fatality rate is now equal to Italy’s as the highest in the world. You are killing off health workers in huge numbers.  How could the possibly happen?

Some of Chris’s older friends are afraid to go out to the supermarket yet are having immense problems organising home deliveries of food.  They are depressed and upset and feel neglected.

The streets of central London, where Chris lives, are empty. The shops are shut and there is nowhere to go for a meal or entertainment.  Lovely London is, currently, not a good place to be, even though spring is there. The sun shines onto empty streets, largely. Big cities can be lonely places.

New Zealand grows most of its own food, and it is autumn, where vegetables abound. There are worries about food security in the UK and whether shortages will occur. While some romanticise the blitz spirit of the second world war, the reality of rationing of basic foods would hit quite hard, I think.

Chris has a six-month visa, but New Zealand immigration has already written to her and extended it until September.  She hopes to get home before that, but this is up to you, not her.  She is pleased to hear that you are sending planes to rescue those from the UK in this country who are not in such comfortable circumstances, but don’t expect her to be at the front of the queue.

New Zealand is fortunate in its geographical isolation, its small population, plenty of space and bounteous resources. We have a political leader who is clear and compassionate, and the government’s advice is accepted by most (but see ‘idiots’, above).  We have a chance in the short term to eliminate the virus from these shores.  What this means for the longer term, I do not know.

So thanks to the UK for the gift of a sister in these difficult times.  It has been great to have her here.  Best of luck in your endeavours to overcome the virus and get back to normal life.


Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society.  She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.


  1. I’m glad for you that your sister’s safe @ Dr LG.
    Money..? What, about money causes such a psychosis in most people?
    Because that’s what [it’s] all about, right? It’s all about money.
    Money hoarders, money nuts, money idiots, money stealers, money spenders, money fetishists, prancing money flouters, mincing money nancies.
    Never mind foods, friends, clean water, clear skies, dancing, kissing, playing and/or listening to music, never mind art, never mind none of that.
    Every now and then a money-freak pops up here wailing about how they might lose their money or about how a small amount of it might be sequestered by our tax systems or of how their money might just lose its value, so to speak, and then the money they have will be worth less than the paper ( Now a nasty, plastic, alien toilet paper material.) it’s stamped onto.
    Money is useful in that it’s more convenient than carrying a cow and two pigs around to perhaps swap for a loaf of bread, an ox cart wheel and a spear and bow and arrows.
    But to hoard it? Isn’t that the very definition of paranoia?
    And so, if that’s correct, it’s in the best interests ( pun intended.) of bankers to lend out money they don’t actually have in vaults to those who must need to feel less neurotic, anxious and paranoid and all for a price. i.e. Interest %.
    So, by that thinking, it’s in the best interests ( Again, pun intended.) of profits, the banksters must peddle neurosis, anxiety and paranoia and what better way to do that than by controlling that most vital pastime of all. Farming.
    Banksters? I know you’re reading this. Yes, I do. You’ll be wanting to get to know your enemy.
    Well, your reading the words of one of the many you fuckers.
    I know what you are. I know where you are. You’re greedy, manipulative scum ( No disrespect to actual scum. ) And you’re on the corner of every main street in every town and city in AO/NZ.
    You peddle greed above respect for our biosphere. You, are the enemy in our midst. Cloaked in twinkle sparkle, sowing evil seeds of doubt and anxiety in us in times of great danger. A danger you spread like a disease.
    AO/NZ? You want to focus your rage and your hate and fear?
    The Banks. They, are your enemy. Your master. Your enslaver. Your mind-fucking monsters wearing pretty advertising designed specifically to exploit your exhausted mind.
    AO/NZ is twenty five thousand square kilometres larger in land area than the UK.
    AO/NZ Can produce unimaginably large quantities of foods year round.
    AO/NZ Is a First World culture with some of the worlds best minds living here helping to build a globally enviable social infrastructure while well aware that the safety and security of those whom might find themselves at most risk BECAUSE the safety and security of those most at risk are the true measure of a civilised society.
    But because of the madness induced by bankster greed for money the new and intellectually dis-eased environment the bankster has warped our thinking and our actions and has created downward spiralling societal destruction.
    BTW? It isn’t glorious adern who’s saving our bacon. It’s blind good luck. We’re an agrarian culture and as a consequence we’re a first world economy ( Or at least should be .) and there are only 5 million of us thousands of kilometres away from other poor desperate bastards.
    It goes without saying that since there’s no vaccine yet so close our borders and keep them closed, keep away from each other and cremate our dead and be prepared intellectually ( I.e. Use common sense for Christ’s sake. ) for a deadlier Wuhan Virus mutation to emerge because this is a bit chilling.
    The Guardian.
    “WHO warns that few have developed antibodies to Covid-19”
    Keep an eye on the poor old USA. I think they’re in the deepest shit imaginable.

  2. Always enjoy Liz Gordon’s posts. But I wouldn’t put David Clark’s bike ride and family trip to a secluded beach (IMO minor transgressions in the early uncertain times of lock-down) in the same category as Boris’ Johnson’s aristocratic, born to rule Etonion nurtured, arrogant, apathetic and dangerous, (run out of adjectives) clowning behaviour.
    Johnson makes coulrophobia acceptable. Clark is a bit of a self confessed idiot whereas Johnson is a 2020 covidiot

  3. About the UK NHS. Your comment appears hopeful or ironic.
    Your fatality rate, now at 13% and rising, is shockingly high. How is it so high (and some say a lot higher)?
    Your National Health Service is supposed to be the model of public health for the world. But your fatality rate is now equal to Italy’s as the highest in the world. You are killing off health workers in huge numbers. How could the possibly happen?

    I have recently found these three reports on the NHS fragility and inadequate care from cheese-paring resulting in hardship and worse health.
    Feb 2020 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/one-ailment-gp-appointment-literally-killing-us/

    July 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/11/nhs-patients-struggle-to-see-gp-or-contact-surgery-by-phone

    May 2018 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/10/patients-same-gp-nhs\
    I recently did a surgery in my south London general practice. There were 18 patients at 10-minute intervals, followed by paperwork, results, prescriptions and a home visit. Nothing unusual in that.
    This is concerning the ability to see the same GP and be known and understood and obtain continuity of care.

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