Saturday, 13 June 2020

Fashion, flying and fixing the garden ... all in the time of Coronavirus.

This year’s final year students on the fashion course at Central Saint Martins are the latest of the odd victims of Covid-19 I have heard about. No, there hasn’t been a sudden outbreak of the disease among these students. The foreign students on the course all packed their bags and went home in the early stages of the pandemic and before you could say “that’s an interesting outfit” all the rest were sent home to be on lockdown wherever they came from.

Of course, all final year students at universities all over the country have had the same experience. Several young friends of ours have been doing finals exams online. There will have been no last minute stay up all night revising for the very last exam and then crashing out to sleep on the grass in the university gardens for them. No end of year balls. No last ever getting drunk as a skunk in the students’ union bar. One young friend celebrated the end of exams with his family in the garden, his mother having ordered in a fancy tea with champagne for everyone - he is the oldest of four brothers and so they managed a fair party with just themselves, and cleverly did so just before the weather took a turn for the worse and the rain set in.

But the Central Saint Martins students rely on their graduation fashion show, more than just as a social event, to give at least some of them, hopefully the best of them, a leg-up into their professional future. From the end of course fashion show come invitations to internships in Paris and Milan with the big fashion houses. But all is not lost. This cohort have grown up digitally aware, more so probably than other cohorts, and are almost certainly already organising a fashion show online or via Instagram and putting it out there on social media.

Fashion is a funny business. If you want a swimsuit in August because you have just organised a holiday at the last minute, instead of sorting everything last November, you can’t find one in the shops for love nor money. They are full of the autumn and winter lines. The same applies for winter coats in mid-February, when stores are suddenly full of summer clothes! It is widely predicted that all of this will change. Besides, it is highly likely that we will simply buy fewer clothes. After all, shopping will be such a different experience that the fun of browsing the fashion shops and impulse-buying an outfit that you might wear three times, if you are lucky, that many people will just not bother. Besides, masses of people have grown accustomed to working from home, slobbing around in their pyjamas, or in informal leisure wear on a good day!

Travel’s another thing which will need to adapt. Airlines are thinking a lot about how to organise things for the best. However, they disagree about what is for the best. British Airways, I think it was, are advising passengers to put everything in their hold baggage and to avoid carrying any hand luggage at all. This will speed embarking and disembarking, thus reducing the risk of contagion. On the other hand, Mr Ryanair advises everyone to travel hand luggage only as much as possible and avoid checking luggage in to go in hold, also to avoid contagion. He makes a good case, despite this meaning he will need to find a new way to increase charges: your hand luggage will be touched by you alone, while checked-in baggage can be touched by a multitude of baggage handlers, whose standards of Covid-19 avoidance measures you have no control over. However, all of that remains largely academic as most of us are going nowhere in the near future.

No doubt Spain wants to get those flights going again. So the Spanish government announced that the compulsory 14-day quarantine for overseas arrivals would end by July 1. The Tourism Ministry then proposed that safe travel corridors be opened up between regions in the European Union with a similar level of control over the outbreak. And so close on 11,000 German tourists look likely to descend on the Balearic Islands on June 15th, in a sort of pilot tourism scheme. But the option will not be available to British tourists. Other regions of Spain will probably follow suit. However, we Brits seem to be a bit of a risky proposition at the moment.

And so, for the time being we shall muddle along, proposing schemes such as catch-up summer schools, without consulting the teachers and local authorities, and probably cherry-picking who h bits of scientific advice to pay attention to.

So it goes.

Despite predictions of thunderstorms for today, we have the sunshine back again now. Yesterday I cycled to my granddaughters in the drizzly rain and spent most of the afternoon, in spells of reasonably dry weather between the showers, helping her make some sense of the jungle in her garden. We pulled up mountains of weeds, trying not to destroy the strawberry plants who h have proliferated there. Buttercups can grow to amazing heights and blackberry brambles yards long have an amazing ability to get themselves tangled in everything.

Consequently today I have spent some time removing very small but very nasty, quite viciously painful thorns from the ends of my fingers. I need better, stronger gardening gloves!

If the sun keeps shining, I might consider tidying up my own garden today, now that the season of aquilegia and poppies is over. Which is a shame as it made my garden rather fine to look at for a while there.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone.

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