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I am the walrus

If you could be any creature in the world right now; if after a bit of vigorous lamp-rubbing a genie popped out and offered you the chance to be absolutely anyone or anything, you’d be a fool not to grab him by the lapels and shout “I want to be Wally the walrus! Make me Wally!”

Because however unpromising the long-term prospects of that arctic marine mammal –recently resident in Tenby, but last seen sweltering off the coast of Bilbao– at least Wally knows how to live. No matter how little time this dislocated cetacean has left, he seems determined to enjoy it.

How different from most of the population of Wales. Despite 80% of the UK population now showing an immune response to Covid-19, either through vaccination or prior exposure, this doesn’t seem to have dented the Welsh enthusiasm for lockdowns.

Behold the smug satisfaction as Coronazis see numbers of infections rise. We told you so! If you let people do things like meeting each other, making and spending money or having fun the Covid will come back! In our Coronazi country, the whole purpose in life for swathes of the population is tutting at any exposed human face, and demanding that the state do something –at whatever cost to liberty or livelihoods– to stop Covid-19 spreading.

Covidiots like Wally, they moan, are wrecking all the Government’s good work over the last year. As Wales prepares to head back indoors only weeks after having tentatively peered outside, Wally the walrus is indulging himself in the sort of travels that would make Lord Byron mildly envious.

Tenby is nice, but after several weeks of being shooed off the lifeboat slipway (and relentlessly papped) Wally got the wanderlust. Contemptuous of Covid regulations; oblivious to the Irish Sea border and the sausage war, he crossed the Celtic Sea and took in the ring of Kerry, the ladies and the craic. 

Next, he paddled back and popped down to Padstow, but found the place stuffed full of grockles having their pockets emptied by pig-miserable, hostile locals and realised he’d had it with staycations. 

So Wally headed to Europe for the sun, just as most of us long to do this summer.

A cruise past Brittany and down the Atlantic coast of France took him to Les Sables-d’Olonne, to patronise the excellent fish restaurants around the port. Onward and south to La Rochelle, where regrettably he skipped a visit to the huge aquarium, whose informed and enthusiastic staff could have given him a few tips on Where Walruses Are Supposed To Be.

Undeterred, Wally set out across the wild waters of the Bay of Biscay to the Basque country, where he was last clocked basking in Bilbao harbour.

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Where next for Wally? However anomalously for his species, Wally –like a pelagic, tusky version of Olaf the snowman– has decided that what he really wants is endless summer. After the absurdities of the last year, a lot of us can identify with that.  

Will he keep heading south? It would be no effort for Wally to pop across the straits of Gibraltar and spend a louche weekend with some guileful young seals in Tangier or Casablanca. Or to go large for a few banging days on Ibiza, hanging around the smartest yachts and catching any pills they drop overboard.

Whatever he’s up to, it’s quite apparent that Wally hasn’t paid a blind bit of notice to advice from Wales’ Chief Medical Officer, Dr Frank Atherton, to put off all international travel this year. Atherton grumbled on Wednesday that lifting Covid restrictions on June 21 would be premature, and warned that “we are going to have to be cautious for the rest of the summer.”

Why anyone should be even slightly cautious about catching a disease they have been vaccinated against –and which only kills a quarter of one percent of people who haven’t been vaccinated– is a bit of a poser. Likewise, if it’s so dangerous for our own health to go abroad, why it is that the French and Germans currently think they need to shut us out to protect them?

Of course, not everyone in Wales approves of holidays. Among the public sector furlough class who dominate Welsh public life there is a widespread belief that we should be keeping Wales’ borders tight shut. A certain breed of Welsh Nat (usually found in the middle of 400 acres of prime cow farm) thinks anyone common enough to leave all this Cambrian loveliness to go on ‘holibobs’ deserves whatever they get.

Wally the walrus had better not come back to Tenby. With no practicable way of quarantining himself indoors, a £10,000 fine awaits him if he is caught hanging round South Beach endangering the public. Mark Drakeford will make an example of him. And having a magnificent moustache compromises the effectiveness of face coverings, so Dr Frank Atherton will probably order Wally publicly shaved, and shamed.

It is a sorry state of affairs when the only thing showing any human spirit at the moment is a walrus. Anyone who thinks we need to be cautious this summer won’t have changed that opinion by autumn. Covid isn’t going away, but we’ve done all we reasonably can to protect ourselves. Lockdowns do far more harm than good. It’s time to start living again.

Whatever the Coronazis would have us do, this summer let’s all be Wallies.