Charlotte Niemiec

The Heresy of Heresies

by Charlotte Niemiec During the Great Plague of London in the 1600s, an increasingly panicked and ignorant Government battled to contain a disease that ripped indiscriminately through the populace and ordered the slaughter of all the city’s cats. With no understanding of the disease’s origins or how it spread, these unfortunate feline scapegoats were believed to be the vectors of disease. But while the cull – in context – can be forgiven, the consequences were catastrophic; it obliterated, in one fell swoop, the creatures whose instinct it was to keep the city’s rat numbers at bay. The rodent population boomed, along with the fleas that fed on them, giving the bacterium that caused the plauge –Yersinia pestis – a freer run than it had ever had. The tale may be anecdotal but, almost four centuries later, it serves as a fitting analogy to onlookers of the current U.K. Government as it flails around in an attempt to get a handle on a disease not far off one hundred times less deadly. Have we lost our heads? The Government has metaphorically (for now – the idea has in fact been mooted) culled the cats, abandoning logic and taking the most counterintuitive course of action available to it at almost every turn. To begin with, it shelved its ready-made pandemic plan in...

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December 2022
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