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#BEESTON2020VISION: LOCKDOWN & THE NEW NORMAL

 

Self-isolation encourages reflection. Only minds can wander. Just where will Lockdown lead us?

 

The sameness of days at home can be tedious and sometime trivial. It starts with hand-washing. Little jobs that need doing in the house and garden become important.  We cut each others’ hair. Phoning friends and the next meal become highlights, like a visit from a neighbouring cat, or helping an injured bird. Online shopping and home deliveries can define a day.

 

Lockdown should make going out to shop a real adventure. Instead when we do go out the reality of social distancing kicks in. We queue. We self-consciously avoid each other in store and slowly line-up to pay by card.  It is mechanical, detached, soul-less, largely silent. 

 

Lockdown can be complicated and confusing too.  For many there are the frustrations of parent-tutoring.  There is real uncertainty about the future as our economy self-destructs at a surreal rate. ‘Following the science’, ‘herd immunity’? What do the rules mean for us on the ground? 

 

But these strange times are not all negative.  Working from home can be empowering for some lucky enough still to be employed, if this means flexible hours and an ability to take initiatives, even to set your own agenda. Avoiding commuting makes the useful day longer, healthier and our world more sustainable in the long run; and there is plenty more.

 

By exercising on foot we are getting to know our neighbourhoods and neighbours more intimately. Clutches of strangers stay chatting at a safe distance on a Thursday evening after clapping the NHS.  There are opportunities to save as there is nothing really to spend money on. Some families and communities are doing useful positive things together.  These are big pluses.

 

For all the positives, the bustle and spontaneity of normal social activities are absent.  We are living in an unnaturally quiet world with no chance encounters, informal meetings and evening meals with friends sparking off each other. 

 

So I have come to appreciate that Beeston is foremost a place of gathering that meets (no pun intended) a real need. People are naturally gregarious. We like company. We enjoy mixing. Social media and the telephone are no substitute for face to face contact.  Rubbing shoulders, handshakes, all things that we are not supposed to do in a pandemic, really are the stuff of life.

 

What will our new normal look like?  There may be short term challenges, but my guess is that in the long term, certainly over the next ten years, the tendency will be to return to our old ways. 

 

 

Peter Robinson

 

6 June 2020     

 

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