General Incompetence: Series 2

General Incompetence: Series 2

‘Modelling’, now there’s a word to conjure with. Call me old-fashioned, but didn’t it used to mean beautiful people sashaying up and down a catwalk, or small toddlers mashing plasticine into what is supposed to be a cat or a frog? But those days are long gone. ‘Modelling’ now means basically spending a lot of time and money and Big Brains predicting the bleedin’ obvious. (Pace, scientists everywhere.)

A huge problem

For instance, I should have thought even a primary school child, given the right information, could conclude that Virus + people = problem… Or bigger problem, or absolutely huge problem. Those incomprehensible graphs that we saw on the BBC on Saturday – that were cut off at the margins, so they could have been depicting Marcus Rashford’s goal-scoring average last season for all I know – compared a variety of different models (not of the Gigi Hadid variety obviously) and all… Pay attention, because this is most uncommon… came to THE SAME CONCLUSION. Which, at the risk of being boring, amounts to: Virus + people = Huge problem. The aforementioned bleedin’ obvious.

 Covid Modelling


Ed Ball’s salsa

I’m not a Luddite. I love my computer and my phone – mostly. My life as a writer has been greatly enhanced by whatever algorithm it is that facilitates how I write/edit/rewrite my books – not being a pen and ink or carbon paper/typewriter-ribbon sort of girl. And my phone has gone from being sneered at to an annoyingly essential in my life. But algorithms are not people – thank goodness. So, how much scientists can mimic human behaviour with an algorithm obviously hangs on a good few variables: the quality of the data, the interpretation, the design of the model, the size of the Big Brain etc. One false move and the result is as scary as Ed Balls’s salsa. ‘We’re all going to die,’ Or, conversely, ‘Calm down, dear, it’s only a commercial.’

Ed Balls

Endangered species

On Saturday, the model scientists came down definitively on the side of the ‘We’re all going to die’ scenario. But I, for one, will do everything in my power to resist this conclusion. I hope you will too. It would be so sad to see a world reduced to algorithms and models (not Gigi, as previously stated), the human race relegated to a graph on a dodgy government slide show. So, cheers to the human race, virus-ridden but preferably not extinct.

More from Hilary’s weekly ramblings

Me and Mr Covid

Me and Mr Covid

This Covid fellow is such an evil creep. His attention-seeking is phenomenal, it takes my breath away – literally. I’ve never seen someone so obsessed with finding the spotlight. But he’s certainly got what he wants now. Nobody talks about anything else these days. What I can’t get my head round is his astounding promiscuity. He’s hitting on everyone from royalty to heads of state… and potentially, me. Even my husband isn’t safe, because clearly Covid’s an equal opportunity kinda guy.


Now, I’ve never been a vain person, and I reckoned, since I’m not exactly in my first flush, that my pulling power was vastly diminished. But Mr Covid doesn’t seem to care. He’s not after the young, it seems, not even after the cougar pack. He’s going fo the seriously long-in-the-tooth – and I gave up my mini-skirt in the sixties. My mother would roll in her grave if she knew I was being hit on by such low life.

mini skirts 

In Disguise

I’m doing everything in my power to avoid him. I’ve shut myself up in the house,
only going out for quick walks and constantly looking over my shoulder to see if he’s lurking. I make a raid on the supermarket once a week. But whereas I used to love a good potter around the shelves, taking my time, now I’m like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep. I charge round, grabbing random stuff from the shelves, all the while looking down every aisle in case Mr Covid has spotted me. I even go in disguise, my face covered by a scarf, glasses, hat pulled down. But he’s the master of shape-shifting. I never know where he is, when he might get me. I don’t yet have a clear picture of him – I’m being hit on by a ghost.

Love Hearts…

I’ve got one brilliant weapon, though. I realized early on that Mace or a personal alarm, even a gun, would be totally useless in keeping Mr C at bay. But this hand sanitiser I bought – the last one in the shop – is something else. It’s perfumed with, wait for it, Love Hearts! I used to enjoy munching on the odd tube of Love Hearts, as a kid. But the smell, let me tell you, is truly vile in sanitiser form. So I smother myself with this disgusting perfume before even minor excursions. I’m really praying it will see him off. I can’t even stand the smell of myself. But let me tell you, Mr Covid, your days are numbered. No one is seduced by you. And soon we’ll all become immune to your charms. Then your power will fade, and you’ll have to slink away, back under the stone from whence you came. That day can’t come soon enough.