The Rule of Six: blame, bluster and betrayal

The Mighty Creatives’ CEO, Nick Owen, discusses how young people are being blamed for the rise in coronavirus cases.

England is experiencing the largest rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases since May; there are fears of a second wave across the four nations; Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is pleading for older people to “be even more vigilant” (not vigilante as some people would like to have understood) and the UK is now even more split over how we view non-face mask wearers than it was over Brexit.

In recent days, government scrutiny has focused in laser-like fashion on the cause of all this current mayhem on… guess who? Yep, people under 30 i.e. Young People.

The new legislation – known in common parlance as the Rule of Six – forbids social groupings of more than six people.  I once wrote a youth theatre play called The Rules of The Game, the central premise of which was that football had been outlawed to such an extent that no more than 10 people were allowed to gather to watch it.  My professional writer friend suggested at the time that the script asked readers to believe too many things before breakfast so it needed a re-write.  I thought he was probably right at the time, but this new legislation has prompted me to blow the dust off the script, tout it around various youth theatres and see how well the play has stood up to the test of time.  Prescient?  Moi?  Who would have predicted that.

The Rule of Six and the subsequent blame games it has generated conveniently ignore the fact that the hospitality sector has been encouraged to throw open its doors and feed all of us who’ve been missing out on our weekly trips to the local pizzeria; that organised sports are still permitted (note the key word in that phrase ‘organised’) and that it’s still possible to meet your gran as long as she leaves her house and meets up with you completely by surprise in the pub and as long as grandad isn’t tow and you don’t have a sniffling younger sibling in the background and there’s a G in the day of the week.

This new, non-fictional legislation is intended to prevent Gangs of Six from gathering in an un-organised manner in which heaven forbid young people decide for themselves on how to get to grips with the challenges that Covid-19 has thrust upon them: in itself, yet another symptom of the educational and economic betrayals that have been visited on young people over the last ten years, never mind the last six months. As another writer colleague, Mike Harris remarked:

I can’t think I would have been doing too much shielding aged 18 if I knew I was threatened at worst by a dose of flu and if the post-war generations had eaten up all the metaphorical pies and left me with metaphorical tofu…

Do you remember the Gang of Four?  I don’t mean that anarcho-punk band from Leeds, but the political faction composed of four Chinese Communist Party officials who achieved infamy during the Cultural Revolution.  It didn’t end well for them (or the Leeds band either for that matter) and it doesn’t look like that these attempts to batten down the viral hatches by insisting that Gangs of Six are going to be our salvation are going to fare any better.

To start singling out a particular age group as being singularly responsible for the sharp uptick of Coronavirus cases is nonsensical and the sooner we can get to grips with that fact, the better it will be for all of us: under 30s, over 30s and those over ahem ahem years old.



Nick Owen

11 September 2020