Yesterday – just another in lockdown, albeit with a variation supplied by the inclement weather – gave me the opportunity for a touch of rumination on the future and life after the coronavirus crisis, if and when there is some.
Over these past few weeks not a few I have spoken to have commented upon how one day tends to blend into another to the extent that one finds oneself consulting a diary or newspaper just to remind oneself which day of the week it is.
The push-back on this, of course, is that with a lockdown of this nature, it doesn’t actually matter because we’re all just surviving.
Existence breaks down into routine and – as my kids remind me (cue reference to “if you want something done, give it to a busy person) – if you begin a day with a mere three things to achieve, be they momentous or trivial and trite, somehow the process expands to fill up the whole of it.
The Thompson household’s regime is built around – or punctuated by – our three meals per day, the Number 10 press conference watched lived at 5.00pm and then whatever we can find to talk about and/or watch on television which is gradually becoming just a wall of moving wallpaper as the endless repeats, daytime dross and “we’re all in this together” family magazine-type ’sharing’ chatter pile up.
Unless, of course, you’ve got a subscription to Netflix … which we haven’t.
Unplanned deviations from the schedule can irritate. One of the mutual highlights of our day is the mid-afternoon 75 minutes when Him Indoors undertakes his exercise walk, a project from which we both benefit – I gain some “me time” and use it to catch up on chores and/or contacts with friends undisturbed.
Yesterday it misfired. As its time approached the skies darkened and Himself took longer than usual to dress appropriately, adding layer upon layer of outer clothing and fretting as to whether they were waterproof or not. At last he departed and I was able to breathe my daily sigh of relief.
Goodbye, cruel world … or should that be “the best laid plans”!
Fifteen minutes later he was back with the story that he’d first gone across the road to gossip with the owner of the newspaper shop about beer and their respective nagging ‘other halves’ and then set off down the road.
One hundred and fifty yards later, by the bus stop, he had turned around and trudged back home to present himself at Chez Nous as a now bedraggled figure drenched to the bone by a monsoon of Biblical proportions, having proved to general satisfaction that none of his garments repelled water.
That’s another 60-75 minutes of respite, relaxation and calm in my life that I shall never get back.
Turning to The Future, yesterday the effects of the coronavirus upon business came home with bells on as British Airways, which had already furloughed as many staff as it could, announced that it was putting a quarter of its entire staff (including 1,000 pilots) on notice of being let go.
Being our “national carrier” – albeit now part of a group of four or more European airlines – on the one hand it was a bit of a shock, but on the other perhaps no more than a reminder that, when we’re out of all this, things may never be quite the same again.
Or will they?
From where I’m sitting at the moment – no politics in this stance – with the skies now bluer than in decades, air pollution down, ‘fossil fuel’ becoming dirty words, means of online meetings growing exponentially and the Climate Change Brigade still to come out of hibernation to bang its drum, it ‘feels’ as if the world of aviation is (or should be) about to have a major reality check.
If BA closes down its Gatwick operation, as it is threatening, and airlines generally around the world tighten their belts as the global population shuns package holidays and ‘unnecessary journeys’ (perhaps moot points, of course), it does bring to mind the issue whether the whole “third runway at Heathrow” project can survive.
Arguably, when capitalism – indeed much of what makes the world go around – depends upon basic certainties and the never-ending pursuit of exponential growth/profit … and, for circumstances beyond anyone’s control, in the future there may not just be any (or should I say ‘enough’?) … surely something has got to give?
I might place the controversial HS2 railway scheme in the same basket.
When the world of commerce is imploding, and the population is questioning more and more (as it well might after this crisis) whether any of our previous norms – including unrestricted travel and the way we work or do business – are really necessary, how can it still be justified?
Based upon yesterday’s Number 10 press conference, it looks as though the UK is heading inexorably past a total of 60,000 deaths from our ‘war’ with coronavirus.
Technically, of course, it isn’t really a war at all.
I’ve just googled the figures and it seems that – as a comparison – approximately 70,000 UK civilians were killed in WW2, some 40,000 (half of them in London) during the Blitz period between September 1940 and May 1941.
Right now, locked down as we are, all sorts of brave words are being bandied at home and on the airwaves regarding about how, after this wake-up call, we’re all going to approach things very differently.
I’m not so sure.
With the academics busily crunching numbers as to how herds of human beings do or will react under tough ‘imposed from above’ conditions – and how long it is before they begin flaunting or ignoring them … a factor that Boris and his merrie men (and women) must take into account in considering when and if to come out of lockdown and how to do it … a large part of me senses that quite possibly, as soon as we’re all let out, the majority of us will (or will try to) go straight back to ‘normal as it was’.
There’s nowt so queer as folk …