How was the UK Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic? Ridiculous enough to be made into a satire? Yup!
Being Alert! by Charlie Laidlaw
Being Alert! begins in January 2020 as the British prime minister, Winston Spragg, first learns about a new illness that seems to be centred in a city in China that nobody has heard of.
Following in a long tradition of British satire, the book populates Downing Street and Whitehall with an inept prime minister presiding over a dysfunctional government as it deals with an existential threat that rapidly becomes a national crisis.
Like satires before it, the book uses humour to paint an uncomfortable picture of a government seemingly as concerned about justifying itself as working to protect the country.
Being Alert! is a fun yet thought-provoking book. It really gets us thinking about how the government handled the outbreak of COVID-19 and the proceeding months. Badly. Really, if you were reading this book without any concept of what was happening in the real-world, you would take it for pure fiction. OK, while the conversations between officials are fictionalized, these were the actual decisions they made in real-life.
At the beginning of every major turn in the book, the author puts in actual facts regarding how COVID-19 was playing out at the time. It really exemplifies just how dire the situation was, and the perception people had of the government being inapt. What makes it even sadder is we can immediately pinpoint whom each character is supposed to be portraying without much information at all. For that, that exemplifies how much of a joke certain members of the UK Government became during this time.
Overall, Being Alert! is a bit of a laugh during these bleak times – and by that I mean a laugh at government officials. In no way does the author make a mockery of the pandemic and the people who died as a result. In fact, this book shows just how series everything was – and still is.
If Being Alert! sounds interesting to you, it is available to buy now.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.