Little did he know it but, when George Orwell wrote his dystopian masterpiece 1984, he might easily have unwittingly had 2020–21 in mind.
To give them credit where it is due, members of the current government have worked exceptionally hard to master the principles of Newspeak and that is proving to be one of its few indisputable achievements over the last year or so.
“Shortly” now means “never, if we can get away with it”, “irreversible” means “reversible”, “Freedom Day” was a fantasy, while its successor, the sinisterly christened “Terminus Day”, might conceivably be heading the same way.
Numbers generally appear to be generated at random but are then pushed out in the media as gospel.
As for terms such as the Minister for Culture, they have been discredited and appear to be used as a means of ridiculing the dispossessed and disappointed.
Mind you, the incumbent in that job fares well compared to his colleague at Health, who has been described by the ungrateful man with whom he made his Faustian pact, our latter-day Boristofeles, as "totally [EXPLETIVE DELETED] hopeless".
Even our own dear Queen this week echoed that sentiment, perhaps unwisely given her desire for political neutrality, characterising the beleaguered minister as "poor".
The theatre industry has been particularly hard hit by the disguised insouciance. It comes as no surprise to learn that the Cultural Recovery Fund set up under the auspices of the aforementioned Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, a man with no apparent interest in any of his designated special subjects with the exception of football, has lost its way.
It is scandalous that, towards the end of June 2021, £300 million or close to 20% of the fund has still not been allocated, let alone distributed.
As a reminder, this was hailed as an emergency fund to stop cultural organisations from going bust following the closures of their businesses overnight last March.
If nothing else, while it would be hypocritical, many theatres and other events organisers might now welcome the allocation of the remaining balance to an insurance policy specifically designed to compensate those who lose out when events are cancelled or audiences limited due to COVID-19.
Instead, it has largely been used as an ego trip and PR exercise by the government and its associated bodies.
Oliver Dowden should also be reminded that the £1.57 billion which was allocated for the cultural industries as a whole was supposed to cover the year to 31 March 2021. We are now three months past that date, many theatres still remain closed and although a paltry extra £300 million has been added further funds are desperately needed to tide venues over during the current full or part closures.
As often as not, obfuscation has replaced language as a means of avoiding embarrassing realities and avoiding action.
Lord Lloyd Webber has been particularly vocal of late and doesn’t mince his words. He is allegedly threatening to take legal action against the government in an effort to force the reopening of theatres with capacity crowds of fans (to use language that ministers will understand).
In particular, he has been railing against the failure of the government to publish any data outlining the results of the numerous highly publicised test events that took place up and down the country in venues indoors and out over the last three months.
In this regard, Boris Johnson’s anonymous official spokesman said, “these pilots provide real life data so we can fully understand any benefits, problems or challenges with mass events.”
When asked why the findings had not been published, he said, “we’re assessing the evidence as we speak,” and that they were likely to appear “shortly”.
His Lordship is absolutely right. What is the point of “real life data” if it is suppressed? Having said that, one could justifiably argue that the commencement of an investigation into the causes and responses to the pandemic itself might be even more valuable for the population at large and maybe even the entertainment industry in both the short-term and the long run.