During the week there was endless speculation in the media about the extent of the PM’s illness, whether or not his powers had been delegated to deputy Dominic Raab, and whether the public was being kept adequately informed of his state and capacity to lead the country. There was relief, then, after some days at the news that the PM was out of danger and recovering well, tempered by the ghastly statistics – corona virus deaths reaching over 9,000 in the UK by Friday 10 April.
Numerous media presenters are posing this question to their interviewees: ‘what will we become and what kind of society will exist after this?’ Some argue that society will change beyond recognition, whereas others reckon the waters will effectively close over our heads and life will go on as before. There have been articles in the Times and Guardian on this topic and it’s worth tuning into Radio 4 (8 pm on Wednesdays) to hear Mary Ann Sieghart present Fallout, in which she poses this very question to a number of interviewees. The first focused on the role and image of the state and politics post pandemic, guests including writer and broadcaster Paul Mason, former Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt and journalist Danny Finkelstein. If you missed it you can catch up on BBC Sounds.
I’ve long found one of the most important things in life is structure and the capacity to create this for ourselves. Structuring our day and implementing a healthy routine are needed even more at times like this but it can take time to organise and some will find it more challenging than others. Important elements include work, exercise, shopping and keeping in touch with family and friends via email, WhatsApp , Skype or Zoom, even handwritten letters – remember them?!
When all this is over, I wonder if some of us will be as busy as we were before, flying around from one commitment to another. Will we get used to dressing smartly again rather than donning the same tracksuit bottoms, gym gear or even pyjamas? And will our homes ever be as clean and sorted as some are now, due to the unaccustomed attention they could be getting? As part of clearing and sorting a room, I’ve unearthed my badminton skirt dating from the 1980s and yes, it still fits! What other treasures or complete rubbish could be lurking in our wardrobes, lofts and sheds, forgotten about over the years?
Despite the terrible death toll, it nevertheless seems important to recognise some good coming out of this situation: traffic reduction has led to a significant drop in pollution and we can actually hear birds singing; people may actually be taking more exercise as this is one of the permitted exceptions to lockdown; there are many examples of kindness and consideration, as evidenced by the huge number of volunteers helping in their communities and the NHS; and people are communicating in different ways and checking in with friends and acquaintances they may long have been out of contact with. Perhaps it could lead to a society more focused on the collective good rather than the individual and maybe one more given to reflection, more Being rather than solely Doing.