Thursday, 19 March 2020

Thinking about some possible consequences of the crisis.

My son sent me this text message yesterday:

“In the bath a small child uses an upside-down funnel to fire bubbles in the air and make it snow. Around her the world is crumbling and she has only the vaguest notion.”

Better perhaps that she should have only the vaguest notion. She’s only six after all. Some children are reported to be suffering real anxiety attacks about the modern world. I doubt that she can remain unaware for long as schools close tomorrow until some indefinite time in the future. Already she has her daddy working from home, which no doubt pleases her as she likes having him around but it’s not the norm in their household. As a rule Daddy goes off on the train into London in the morning and comes back for bedtime. Now he’s working from home, as is my daughter’s partner. This has only been going on for a few days but my daughter and my daughter-in-law agreed that it seems like longer.

I wonder if anyone has thought if studying the relationship consequences of working from home. Some couples might not stand the strain of spending all day together and not all have big enough houses for both halves of a couple to work in different rooms. I can remember from when I was working in adult education one lady in particular getting very stressed as her husband’s retirement loomed near. What was she going to do with him under her feet all day? Already he “interfered” with her routines for getting the housework done. And worst of all, he was proposing joining her jn the Spanish language class I taught!!

Of course, this increase in working from home may alter the whole work scene. Some places may decide to make it the norm, with reduced office space and employees hot-desking. There will be reduced gossip at the watercooler. And the younger generation who are reported to have difficulty meeting potential life-partners in the work situation will see their social interaction reduced even further.

One odd consequence of the epidemic/pandemic is a change in who is regarded as an essential worker. I keep coming across posts redefining that list:

Care workers
Shelf stackers
Check out staff
Delivery drivers
Refuse collectors
Street sweepers
Transport workers

Not the highest earners by any means!

Meanwhile I am receiving emails from my bank, from the Cooperative Society, even from Waterstone’s bookshop, among others, telling that they are doing their best to keep things running properly during the crisis and will try to serve their customers well. Of these emails perhaps the most important is the Coop reassuring me that they will try to keep their shelves stacked, especially considering that even our little Coop in Delph has significant gaps on the shelves. This is despite reminders that there is, and that there will continue to be, plenty for everyone provided we are all sensible in what we buy, people are being greedy. There you go! An appeal to our better nature.

I spoke to our post lady (essential worker) this morning, maintaining a sensible safe distance of course, about the state of the world. She wondered if the reduced road traffic and especially the reduced air traffic might give the world a bit of a chance to recover from all the mistreatment we have given it. I don’t know whether a few months reduction in emissions will make a radical difference but maybe it will be a start.

I came across this on the same vein:-

 “a number of researchers today think that it is actually humanity’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases such as Covid-19, the viral disease that emerged in China in December 2019, to arise – with profound health and economic impacts in rich and poor countries alike. In fact, a new discipline, planetary health, is emerging that focuses on the increasingly visible connections between the wellbeing of humans, other living things and entire ecosystems.”

Basically it’s our own fault. Now, if and when this crisis is all over, will we rethink the way we do things or just go back to what we did before? We shall see!

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