17 April 20
Posted at 11:33
Broadway Cinema Letchworth
It’s Friday although days are much the same as each other in this pandemic. Thursday’s have changed though. We still put the bins out on Thursday nights but we now value the bin men. Bin men were last valued in the seventies when we were hit with the three day week. Since then they are at best invisible at worst despised for causing minor traffic hold ups or once in a blue moon missing a bin. However we now thank them, leave them notes saying how wonderful they are and include them in our weekly round of applause that happens on Thursday evenings at 8pm.
It started four weeks ago when the country at 8pm came outdoors, hung out of windows and stood on balconies and everyone clapped in appreciation of our NHS workers, nurses and doctors. It was dark that first Thursday and amazing to hear clapping, whooping and saucepans being banged from people all around most of whom we could hear but not see. This has continued every Thursday and is now a thank you to all key workers. On one side of my house is a drive that leads to a care home. It was originally a gothic farmhouse so it lays half a kilometre from the road it has been extended and today is a much larger building. Last night just before 8pm many of the care workers from the home walked past my house to the road, still dressed in their personal protective equipment. They were mainly carers and a couple of nurses, they were all young and mostly female. When 8 o clock came they clapped and cheered their hearts out. They were applauding the many people who were outside their homes applauding the care workers! Saucepans were being banged, people were cheering. Standing the other side of my garden fence to the care workers I felt quite emotional. It is spring now so it was still light the applauders were all in view, the clapping lasts for 5 minutes or so, folk go back into their locked down houses and the care workers returned to care for their guests. I had a tear in my eye, six weeks ago an event like this would have been unimaginable.
Politicians and journalists have been using the word ‘unprecedented’ a lot recently and I guess it does apply to so many of our current experiences. Just about every part of life has changed over recent weeks. We’ve been told lockdown will continue for at least three more weeks. Many are questioning if and when things will return to normal. A friend of mine put his thoughts on returning to normal into words. I thoroughly agree with his sentiment and with his permission I’ve reproduced his words here (courtesy Andrew Ward).
I’ve heard the phrase “when things return to normal” a lot lately.
I suppose it is a notion that many of us are clinging to, but it has got me wondering, what is it that people actually mean by ‘normal’?
Do they mean a return to being slaves of economic growth? A return to the endless, relentless, chasing after the wind? When things get back to normal will the insatiable appetite to build over beautiful countryside return and exploitation of the environment resume? Will vital services be undervalued and starved of resources again? Will communities return to having an attitude of indifference (or worse) to those around and within them?
When things return to ‘normal,’ will there then be no further need to show respect and gratitude for our NHS? Will we still appreciate it’s staff, other emergency and essential service providers, shop staff, refuse collectors and other key workers? Will it mean we’ll no longer be generally more considerate and sensitive of others around us? Or will we return to lighting bonfires just as next door hang their washing out or create gridlock on the high street because it was ‘our right of way’ after all? Will returning to ‘normal’ mean that nobody need bother helping their neighbour(s) anymore - whether elderly, vulnerable or otherwise?
Will it mean we no longer have the time or the inclination to reflect on the brevity of life and the things that really matter both here and now and beyond? Will we no longer cherish our family and friends and generally be content just to ‘be’? Will we give up exercising together for an hour each day and treasuring the natural world just beyond our own doorstep? Will we abandon local shops and suppliers and give up being socially aware, engaged and responsible?
I'm really hoping not, as I don't want that things to return to that 'normal'