In days past, councils were the servants and the public, the masters. That has shifted 180 degrees as, from parish to district, egos have run amok.

A similar mindset is now permeating in shops, outlets and, well, any space that is open to the public, as inefficiencies are hidden behind the excuse of “because of Covid”, as once enjoyable pursuits are now rendered not much fun at all as staff sit around and wonder why their popularity declines.

I visited a pub the other day in Wales. Now, my argument is that if businesses and staff are that paranoid about Covid-19 then they should remain shut, yet, instead, they attempt to outdo each other by making events and premises as clinical and unpleasant as is humanely possible. There was a large grass area outside said pub, and the sun was, if not shining, evident. And it was t-shirt weather. Upon ordering a pint of the finest San Miguel, I was asked which table I was sitting on? I replied I did not have a table as they were all taken before I was abruptly refused service as “no vertical drinking is allowed”.

Watford Observer:

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Not for turning, I turned my attention to a restaurant. Now in receipt of the obscure Welsh vertical ‘law’, I managed to frequent a table outside, which I was made to temporarily vacate as it had not been sanitised. This consisted of a barman rubbing the wooden table with what looked like, and smelt like, the toilet cleaning cloth. Eventually, I was served a drink as he picked up empties with one hand but refused to place the drinks, in a freshly cleaned pint glass which he had just handled to pour the drink, off the tray. After ordering a mixed grill, I then stood in a huge queue for the salad bar.

Quietly pleased as to how the Welsh were embracing the obesity crisis by going mad for their greens, I was dumbfounded at the head of the queue to find that a waitress, not wearing a face mask, was holding a bowl and filling it up as if feeding a child. She had a lisp and was not wearing a mask as she said, “cucumber? lettuce?” All the way up to thousand island dressing and bacon bits, as her spittle covered my starter.

Arriving at a hotel earlier on, I had left my face mask in the car and I just wanted to ask a question about parking. As soon as I set foot on the threshold, the teenage worker, obviously sitting in the back room waiting to pounce on any of us foreign types infracting on the rules, came bowling through the door, without a mask on and ordered me to halt. I stood in the foyer alone and said: “Sorry, the mask is in the car, I just have a question.” Cue panic: “Sorry, you can’t ask anything without a mask in here.” I stepped through the door and asked my question as I shouted across the foyer as customers came in and out past me, which he seemed pleased with as I questioned the sanity of such interventions.

Thankfully the madness only applies to certain settings and we are somehow immune in schools, pubs and restaurants, but not in hairdressers or Sainsburys, as we continue to live in fear and are made to feel so uncomfortable by businesses that we choose to stay at home and not frequent them anymore, as they continue to blame Covid, which detracts from their actions being the true agent of their demise.

Brett Ellis is a teacher who lives in London Colney