We've chucked so much cash at Covid we've ignored social care

ON Friday I had an extremely frightening experience.

Boarding an almost empty bus heading to London’s Chelsea, I went upstairs and sat in one of the front seats. The other was occupied by a woman reading a book.

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There was a man seated two rows behind me but, despite thinking the rest of the deck was empty, I now know there was someone crouched in the back seat who, as the bus pulled away, started shouting aggressively in to the ether.

I rapidly realised there was an “I hate women” narrative going on in his head that bore no relation to reality. I also realised that the exit was behind us.

“Come on, let’s get out of here,” I said to the other woman, who followed me downstairs. Unfortunately, so did he, pounding the stairs directly behind us, fully ranting and raving.

Now we were trapped with him on the lower deck, like being in a cage with a tiger you could only pray wouldn’t harm you.

He was maskless, wild-eyed and spitting abuse with terrifying aggression.

“Stop the bus and open the doors,” I yelled at the driver, but he was already pulling in to a stop.

As the doors opened, I leapt on to the pavement, but he followed me, still shouting. I had no idea whether he was armed, but fright paralysed me and I stood frozen to the spot as he screamed: “You dirty f***ing WHORE” at me.

Once I realised I hadn’t been injured, my senses returned and I jumped back on the bus before it pulled away, leaving him shouting on the pavement.

The driver did nothing. The man sitting upstairs did nothing. But you know what? I don’t blame them.

This young man (probably in his early 20s) was clearly unhinged and no one knew if he was carrying a weapon, so only a brave soul with no regard for their own safety would have got involved.

And I don’t blame him either. In fact, I feel sorry for him because he clearly isn’t in control of his own actions.

It’s purely guesswork of course, but what’s the betting that any mental health services he had access to pre-pandemic have either been cut back or stopped completely?

Perhaps he’s stopped taking his medication and there’s no one monitoring him to even notice a marked decline in his mental health?

Maybe shouting aggressively at strangers is as bad as he gets (bad enough) or maybe he’ll progress to actually physically harm someone. I don’t know.

But more worryingly, neither does whichever authority his care comes under.

Could an innocent person, and their wider family, end up suffering the dire consequences of his mental instability?

An innocent like the six-year-old boy who, while enjoying a day out at London’s Tate Modern with his parents in August 2019, was thrown over the side of a ten-storey balcony by Jonty Bravery?

TICKING TIMEBOMBS

Psychiatric patient Jonty, then 17, was out alone despite a history of violence which involved attacking and biting another child, hitting a support worker with a brick, dragging a care worker by her hair, assaulting police three times, confessing he had thoughts about killing himself and others, punching a member of staff in a restaurant and racially abusing his care worker.

In 2018 he told his care workers he planned to push someone off a building.

A serious case review into the incident concluded that no one was to blame for letting him out unsupervised that day, but the “system” was criticised for the “lack of residential treatment options for young people with high-risk behaviours”.

The worst consequences were suffered by the family of the poor boy who, by some miracle, survived the fall but spent months in hospital and is slowly learning to walk and speak again.

In last week’s Queen’s Speech debate, the Prime Minister condemned the opposition for neglecting social care for 13 years but himself failed to set out the “clear plan” he spoke of when he was elected to the top job.

So much money has been thrown at the pandemic that one suspects the prospect of fixing the glaring holes in this country’s care of the vulnerable is some way off.

In the meantime, the rest of us are living alongside ticking timebombs who, through no fault of their own, aren’t getting the expert help they so clearly need.

Marcus will find it's been a rash decision

WHAT a shame that the strain of lockdown has ended the eight-year relationship of Man Utd star Marcus Rashford and school sweetheart Lucia Loi, both 23.

Lucia is a PR executive and shares Marcus’s enthusiasm for highlighting the plight of those less fortunate than they are.

She knew him before he became famous, doesn’t buy into the wag lifestyle, and friends say the couple still have “strong mutual love and respect for each other”.

Hmmm. Something tells me that once Marcus has played the field a little and found it heavily populated by empty-headed wag wannabes whose primary concern is getting the latest designer handbag, he will realise what he’s lost and do everything in his power to try to win her back.

B-day bliss

IT was my birthday on Monday and, very kindly, the Government opened up all the bars and restaurants in a gesture of celebration.

So, along with countless others across the country, I ate dinner, inside, at a proper restaurant.

I didn’t cook it, I didn’t serve it and, best of all, I didn’t have to do the washing up afterwards.

What bliss.

Tripe off my menu

SIR Paul McCartney says he still loves to eat a Yorkshire pudding as dessert.

“Hot Yorkshire pudding with syrup, there is a little bit of working class,” says the 78-year-old former Beatle.

To this day, I still love a slab of cheese with a slice of fruit cake, something my Lancastrian mother and Yorkshire godmother brought me up to enjoy.

And thanks to them, my idea of absolute heaven is still a packet of butterscotch Angel Delight all to myself.

Though my mother’s fondness for tripe and also dripping on toast are two culinary, ahem, delights I have been happy to abandon.

Making a meal of it

MAGGOTS should replace meat at mealtimes to help solve world hunger, say experts.

Equally, in the Western world, where so many people are squeamish about anything faintly exotic, perhaps the same logic could be used to solve world obesity.

Look ahead Harry

“THEY f*** you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had, and add some extra, just for you.”

So wrote poet Philip Larkin but, in Prince Harry’s case, he appears to have laid blame for his “issues” solely at the mahogany double doors of his father Charles.

Diana, as we know, died relatively young and has clearly taken on angelic status in her son’s eyes, perhaps understandably considering he was only 12 at the time.

But now he’s an adult, it’s time for him to ditch the wing mirrors of hindsight, stop publicly blaming and naming others and look ahead to try to enjoy the new life he has chosen for himself, rather than constantly harping on about the old one.

Bloke name shame

“SAUSAGE” is the most hated pet name in Britain, according to a study.

Others included pudding, treacle, cutie pie, boo boo, princess, sexy and pumpkin.

The Bloke has several “pet names” for me, the majority unprintable in a family newspaper.

But my particular favourites (not) are “platypus face”, “mongoose breath” and “mollusc”, all of which he happily uses in public.

It’s a wonder we’re still together.

C’mon Clapton

MEMO to Eric Clapton re: his “alarming side-effects” after having the Covid jab.

Not, perhaps, as alarming as the side-effects might have been had he caught Covid without being vaccinated.

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