On Reflections: Explanation fell apart during castle excuse

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Column by Helen Bach

I watched Dominic Cummings’ press conference, having stumbled across it by accident when tuning in for the daily coronavirus update (side note, has anyone else noticed that we no longer see the slide comparing how the UK is doing with the rest of the world?)

When he was talking about his sister and her two grown-up daughters saying they would look after his four-year-old son, if necessary, I thought he sounded reasonable.

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As a parent, I would also be extremely concerned if my husband and I were taken seriously ill and we had no reliable childcare help living close-by.

However, then he talked about taking a 30-mile drive on Easter Sunday to test his eyesight, and he lost me.

Surely you could test your eyes by trying to read a book, or, as my friend suggested, a car number plate from the required distance?

Surely, nobody in their right mind would jump in their car and drive a considerable distance with their wife and child just to see if they were indeed OK to


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So no, Dominic, I was not convinced by your explanation. If you’d stopped at the childcare bit, people would perhaps have given you the benefit of the doubt.

The Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle was on Easter Sunday.

My mother wanted me to put flowers on my father’s grave that day, but I told her that I couldn’t, because I would be breaking lockdown rules as that wouldn’t be considered an essential journey.

She felt let down, and I felt awful because I had to refuse.

Now I’m asking myself should I have done as she asked?

Would I have been cautioned or fined by the police had I been stopped?

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I appreciate that other people have had far more heartbreaking decisions to make during this lockdown period.

Most of us have been desperately trying to do the right thing, to protect the NHS and save lives.

Rule makers shouldn’t be breaking the rules they’ve created.

Otherwise it really does feel like it’s one rule for us, and one rule for them.