Well this is blimmin’ weird isn’t it?
Living out the screenplay of some dystopian sci fi vision thing, observing a countrywide Lockdown – words I bet you never thought you’d be saying. Me neither.
All things considered, I feel we’ve taken to it astonishingly well. Of course there have been outraged cries that other people aren’t observing the rules, expressed by other people who are themselves not following the rules but want to have the place to themselves.
There have been some interesting discussions emerging around what, if anything might be the enduring legacy of this massive ruction in our cultures and economies. Economically, of course it’s a calamity. But some people have dared to voice optimistic perspectives. Maybe, they speculate, when all this is over, we will emerge as less materialistic folks, less stressed and less committed to the treadmill that has been making us miserable for as long as we can remember.
I’d like to think so. I’ve been struck by the rediscovery of simple pleasures. Smiling at people and nodding a greeting, even as you cross the road to avoid them in case they infect you with the deadly virus. There have been some heroic acts of kindness. Not the grand gestures, like the people raising gazillions of pounds for the NHS, but the small favours like helping out a neighbour with a delivery or going shopping for an older person. I’ve seen a lot of that.
More than anything, I’ve been struck by people – myself included – rediscovering nature. When there’s not much leisure activity on offer, walking in the countryside is about as good as it gets. And it’s really very good. I’m lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of South East England and I have hugely enjoyed exploring on foot, by bike or occasionally in the car.
Home cooking. Talking to people. Playing games. Recognising that health workers are more important than financiers or politicos. Things we sort of knew but didn’t have time for, because there was a meeting to prepare for first thing tomorrow morning.
Simple pleasures – it’s a powerful theme. It reminded me of something I was told by the famous advertising creative Tony Brignull. He recalled some research into the meaning of luxury, which uncovered the way simple things can be massively desirable.
“The ultimate luxury would be to use a new blade every time I shave.”
In her book ‘My shit therapist’ the comedienne Michelle Thomas says:
“If I was a billionaire diva babe, I’d never wear the same pair of socks twice”.
Simple things eh? Not too clever. Not so sophisticated. Birdsong, woodlands, fresh air. Nice fluffy socks. Insert your own simple pleasure of choice here.
Whatever the new normal looks like, if and when it does finally arrive, I hope we’ll remember some of the simple human pleasures we rediscovered. It would be a terrible shame if we learn nothing from this and just go back to the way things were.