The (socially distant) WWII Victory in Europe (V.E) day celebration on 8th May gave neighbours in my street a chance to ‘meet’, 6 feet apart (or thereabouts…it was very easy to forget).. in front gardens, have tea and cakes, and exchange stories of what’s going on for them…everyone’s experience of this time is the same…but different…nobody is starving, but we all have trouble getting hold of flour and eggs it seems. Many in our street are working from home…and teaching youngsters at the same time; some work for themselves but because they pay themselves in company dividends, they are only eligible for minimal benefits; some expect to be losing their jobs when furloughing (the government’s job preservation programme) ends – even for lawyers whose jobs seemed secure. The cost of recent house extensions now looms large over uncertain family finances. (Thank God they didn’t send the kids to private schools/why did they send their kids to private schools?)
All is calm here, in our household. We are currently semi-retired. The full impact on our income has not yet hit…but we know for certain that we will not be left untouched by the effects of this virus. The trajectory of everything, the new normal, seems to have a less international flavour about it. Less international travel, less international imports and possibly exports. Why don’t we produce our own PPE? Our own food? Our own energy?…and…suppose everybody decides this? Will we be turning the clock back? Suddenly the essential and important jobs seem to be nurses, doctors, care home workers, farmers and crop pickers, refuse collectors, delivery drivers, supermarket staff, transport workers and the emergency services. The rarely-lauded and often poorly paid turn out to be the people we absolutely rely on. There’s a lesson for ya. Many workers from the EU departed a while back and if we are to stop our crops being ploughed back into the ground, the slack will have to be taken up by locals…we will have to get our hands dirty and pick our own crops…(is that such a bad thing I wonder?). I guess we will be a long time coming out of this. As the government takes tentative steps to ease us out of lockdown, how do we teach school children to play, 6 feet apart? Not going to happen.
The news is almost more poisonous than the pandemic…because it infects everyone. The national news today reported the grief of a person who had lost a relative and was even more grief-stricken because the hospital had lost his toiletry bag….anything, anything, anything to focus on and prolong the grief and negative feelings..and of course the news story itself. I will not listen to more than 10 minutes of news in any one day…and I really notice how much better I feel when I don’t listen to any at all…I don’t need to..I know there’s a pandemic.
Although we have sped through these last 7 weeks, I feel as though as I’ve been waiting. Waiting. Waiting. It has not been a bad waiting, for me. Except for occasional visits to check on my mum, it feels like a kind of hibernation. I come downstairs every morning and see the light coming in through our kitchen doors into a lovely, warm and very comfortable room. We have space to luxuriate in. I have not been doing much Zooming or such like….just phone calls and messaging to family and some friends. I’m hoping I will quite like the world this may turn into…we may all be poorer, but what if we find we can live with less stuff, emit less carbon, are healthier because we walk and cycle more, get to know our own country better, become self-sufficient in green energy (we’re the windiest country in Europe, apparently) and in local food production, increase our manufacturing capability, and rely less on multi-nationals etc., would that be a good thing? But what would this mean for the world, if there is less international travel and trade?….if everyone decides to plough their own furrow?…the wheels of the world’s economies turn on trade.
If we have to get comfortable with future uncertainty, does that mean we are more likely to focus on the relative safety and certainty of…this…present…instant? Of right now? of this exact moment? Maybe….