Holed up at No.10 with the coronavirus, Boris Johnson embodies a human comedy
In the U.K., Queen Elizabeth II will be making a rare and stately message to rally the nation, in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. It's a brave move for the nation fighting rising COVID-19 cases, doubly so in light of London's historic legacy of plagues.
But back at No.10, things are a bit more redolent of something different from the classics -- a human comedy.
Poor Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been hit hard by the coronavirus. Assuming he's going to get through this, what he's doing now is certain to endear him to the British public, who will all recognize not just Boris being Boris, but things relatable in their great British selves.
According to the Daily Mail:
His eyes had the tired and shot look of a man struggling with illness, his unshaven face was pallid and he seemed to have lost weight.
But he remained stoically upright as he joined in the mass applause for the NHS and if the usual ebullience was missing there was at least a flicker of determination.
This was the first sighting of the Prime Minister on his feet for seven days after succumbing to the coronavirus and his appearance was in stark contrast to that of Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has made a far swifter recovery from the symptoms.
Now he can't come out of No. 10. According to the Daily Mail, they've got him barricaded in so he can't get out, and they're feeding him prisoner-style, with trays of food left at a doorway. He's tired and sick, but he's still conducting government meetings, same way the rest of us are making-do doing, via Zoom. He's separated from his significant other, who's sort of the equivalent of his wife, so he's all alone in there and getting into mischief.
The queen rallies the nation in a Shakespearian tradition, but back at No. 10, it's more like Monty Python.
They can't figure out a better way to handle him? Some medic ought to go over there, insist he get his rest and order him to get well before he does another thing. His food should be brought into him hot and proper by someone in a hazmat suit, he should be given the toys he needs to stay out of trouble. He should otherwise be out of commission, understandably so, because he obviously needs to get well. He might even be more vulnerable than the other British official who fell ill and rebounded quickly, given his history of drinking and wenching. Johnson can hand the government operations over to an able lieutenant his job.
All the same, and assuming he's not hurting himself too much, it's likely to endear the British public to him. It's Boris being Boris again, same as he was when he was stuck on the zipline in 2012 when he was mayor of London, jumping onto something that's more fun than smart to do, and then sure enough, finding himself stuck, dangling helplessly from above, two flags in hand, waiting to be rescued. That incident made him popular with the British public as the mainstream press harrumphed.
Now this string of hapless adventures with bat soup flu, coupled as it is with something serious, which intensifies the chemistry of comedy, ought to do the same for him.
Get well soon, Boris.
Image credit: Photo illustration by Monica Showalter with use of detail from an image by International Atomic Energy Agency Director General // CC BY-SA 2.0