We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Right, you heathens, us Christians are going to make you observe Lent.

True to its promise to leave no strategy untried that might help alleviate the coronavirus epidemic, Her Majesty’s Government, in accordance with the advice of the Lords Spiritual, has decreed that in penance for the sins that brought this plague upon us, all persons will now strictly observe the Lenten fast. Effective immediately, all confectionery, sweetmeats, and similar indulgent and luxurious foods will therefore be removed from sale in shops upon penalty of law. In particular the pagan custom of consumption of so-called “Easter eggs”, being a false admixture to the strictures of true religion, is henceforth prohibited.

It will be good for your souls.

OK, in case you were worried, what I just said was not true. Neither I nor the Bishops seek to use the law to deny the British public their choccy eggs. That’s the job of your local council.

Convenience stores are wrongly being told to limit the items they sell to just “essentials”, a trade body has warned.

Local newsagents, which are allowed to remain open under the Government’s guidelines, are facing interference from officials that are trying to restrict the range of goods they sell under lockdown measures.

Some shops have been told by police and local councils that Easter eggs are considered non-essential goods and must therefore be removed from shelves.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) blamed “overzealous enforcement and a misreading of the rules”.

Ridiculous as it was, with the drone-assisted “lockdown shaming” of walkers in Derbyshire, I could at least see what the police thought they were trying to achieve. But I really can see no motive other than reflex puritanism for trying to prohibit the sale of “nonessential goods”, particularly as they were on the shelves anyway. What good would it do anyone to make the shopkeepers lose a packet by being forbidden to sell stock they had purchased in happier times? This isn’t World War II. Britain’s food is not coming in by convoys subject to torpedo attack. In fact, if you can afford luxury foods, should you not buy them in preference to plainer things in order to leave more staple foods available for those who cannot afford anything else?

16 comments to Right, you heathens, us Christians are going to make you observe Lent.

  • Stonyground

    When this is all over, can we identify the people responsible for this kind of stuff and have some public executions?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Natalie, have I not before had to rap your knuckles for dragging logic into your observations?


  • Mr Ecks

    Take no fucking notice of the council.

    Once the extent of our economic problems gets linked in the public mind with what a two bit nothing coro is–the same jobsworths will be running for cover.

    What keeps ord folk in line is having something to lose–a job, house, business, a desired situation–that trouble with Plod or Beaks might cause you to lose.

    Once the political hacks have already ruined you –then you have much less to lose and there will be a lot of trouble that jumped up would-be Commissars will not enjoy.

  • APL

    “Convenience stores are wrongly being told to limit the items they sell to just “essentials”, a trade body has warned.”

    So it’s either an overzealous council worker. Or the local government know what’s coming as a result of the ‘shut-down’ [ of industry. ]

    Mr Ecks: “jobsworths will be running for cover.”

    I’d like to think you are correct, but you should never underestimate the sheer vindictive bloody-mindedness of a frustrated bureaucrat.

  • Stonyground

    I would expect that Easter eggs need to be manufactured some time before Easter. So in the tough economic times that we are sure to be soon facing, what we really need is a ban on buying something that has has already been made so that it has to be thrown away.

  • NickM

    Mr Ecks,
    Whether this is just bad ‘flu or the new Black Death isn’t really the point. The point is the joyless jobsworths getting priapic over exploiting it.

  • Nullius in Verba

    I don’t know, but I’d hazard a guess it’s something to do with ideas of ‘fairness’. A whole bunch of people have had their businesses shut down for being non-essential – it must be seriously annoying to watch somebody else cheerfully continuing their equally non-essential business as if nothing had happened.

    It’s about equality and the politics of envy – people don’t mind being poor so long as they’re all *equally* poor. They don’t mind stopping at home so long as *everyone else* has to stop at home. But freedom for some and not for others is a recipe for resentment and disunity, and then resistance.

  • Nullius in Verba (April 3, 2020 at 6:24 pm), misery loves company but company does not reciprocate – nor should it, as that way lies socialism (and the idea that if some are on ventilators, everyone should be on ventilators).

    But I’m sure that the bureaucrats Natalie describes will accept the argument – right up to the moment you explain to them that in proportion as private sector employees suffer, government bureaucrats should suffer too.

    Meanwhile, I’m all for strictly observing Lent – especially if that means we can roll the barriers away and rise from our places of confinement when Easter comes.

  • Snorri Godhi

    No doubt this is going to do a lot of unnecessary damage to a lot of people.
    The prize for silliness, however, must go to California:
    Paddleboarder arrested in Malibu after ignoring lifeguards’ orders to get out of the ocean.

    (H/T Instapundit.)

  • Phil B

    This is similar to Gun Control. It has nothing to do with guns but everything to do with control.

    I agree with the point Niall Kilmartin makes. if the local government is only using essential workers in the town halls etc. and the non essential “workers” are sitting on their backsides at home on full pay, then demonstrably they are unnecessary and so they should be sacked and only the essential workers retained.

    Yeah, like that is going to happen …

  • Roué le Jour

    As Lucifer’s lawyer I would say that if shops can’t sell non essentials then the public won’t be tempted to make an unnecessary journey to buy them.

    It’s a wonderful opportunity to wheel out WWII nostalgia. “Is your journey really necessary?”, “Careless kisses cost lives”, “Support our heroes of the health service”. Can ration books and travel permits be far off? Perhaps we can make feature of it for tourists. Come to London for the thrilling blitz experience!

  • bobby b

    I would imagine the local (now-closed) chocolatier would be quite dismayed to see the local (still-open) convenience store selling the very items the chocolatier has been forbidden to sell. Were I one the those chocolatiers, I’d re-open and immediately start selling newspapers to bring myself within the exemptions.

    It gets very complicated when you try to make idiotic rules into FAIR idiotic rules. It’s exceptions all the way down.

  • Nessimmersion

    In the spirit of “We’re all in it together” all govt, local govt and non frontline NHS staff are to take a 20% cut to pay and pension entitlement, so that private sector staff who have to pay for the above in their taxes know we’re all in it together.

  • Edward Spalton

    Yes, this was the continuance of the bureaucratic “Blitz spirit” which kept rationing going in Britain until it petered out in 1954 after three years under a Conservative Government, – some five years after West Germany had got rid of it at a stroke in 1949 – as soon as it achieved a measure of self government.

  • Sam Duncan

    One bright side of all this is that I’ve been spared our minister droning on about Lent. One of my most vivid childhood memories of the Easter season is the Sunday School teacher telling us about “other churches” celebrating something called “Lent”. It all seemed very strange to me. But the backsliding in the Kirk these days would make John Knox birl in his grave.

    “Support our heroes of the health service”

    Stupid question around these parts, but is anyone else thoroughly creeped out by the (apparently now weekly) 8pm Thurdsay Worship for the National Elf? They were all out in my street, whooping and cheering. And then they wonder how dictators happen.

    The incidents Natalie writes about can be put down to overzealous twits who can’t – or won’t – read the rules properly. Hell, we Brits invented the word “jobsworth”. We know about them, and we laugh at them. But this cheering-the-heroes-of-the-state-hospitals stuff is getting a bit People’s Republic.

    “It gets very complicated when you try to make idiotic rules into FAIR idiotic rules. It’s exceptions all the way down.”

    Something like that should be carved in stone on every legislature on the planet.

  • Paul Marks

    If a shop is open and people are in there, then a shop is open and people are in there.

    To say “you can sell this, but you can not sell this other thing” in the same shop, is demented.