Have you been taken in by the “plandemic”? This pun encapsulates the suspicious notion that Covid-19 was not a natural accident but was deliberately loosed by shadowy forces as a means of population control.
Our word “plan” comes from the Latin planum, flat ground, via the medieval French plan, a top-down drawing to direct building work (as it is still used in English). So a plan is a guide to future action. As with all conspiracy theories, the idea that the pandemic was planned is actually comforting: it’s nicer to think that our leaders are intelligent and competent, even if they’re evil, than to accept we inhabit a world of rubbishy chaos that is under no one’s control.
Given all the crony coronavirus contracts awarded to the government’s chums, we may be confident that they are at least following what Wordsworth called “the good old rule [...] the simple Plan” – which is “That they should take who have the power, / And they should keep who can”. In Wordsworth’s poem, “Rob Roy’s Grave”, these words are spoken by the eponymous hero of Scottish independence, which might at length prove a further effect of the government’s cunning conspirings.
• Steven Poole’s A Word for Every Day of the Year is published by Quercus.