Although my job was community work, and although I have close friends, I’m as comfortable alone as with people; so, apart from my occasional restaurant jaunts, the present imposed lockdown doesn’t bother me; I mostly feel remote from it all. Wednesday night, I had the most horrific dream – that I have the virus and am fighting for my life; I don’t normally remember dreams, but I’m left with how scared I was. Today, Thursday, and coronavirus is no longer ‘remote’: my unconscious has spoken.
My willow tree is already leafing-out, my scrap of lawn has had its first cut – those of us with gardens, are particularly lucky just now; everywhere I look something new is sprouting. This week, from timber in a skip, I made a display rack for flowerpots. With four bolts and an angle bracket I devised a fixing solution I would have been proud to discuss with Leonardo da Vinci; on the tools – in the zone – can be close to mystical. ‘O sole mio’.
I have the sense, that when this pandemic is over, it will have initiated a new ‘social contract’ – more emphasis on collective wellbeing – less on corporate profits. The free market ideology has already failed our society – with disgraceful levels of poverty and inequality; but we’ve all been too timid to imagine beyond it. The pandemic has shown, that sometimes the political and economic rules don’t have time to evolve gradually – that sudden radical change is necessary. For many reasons, 2020 is shaping into a historic year.
The fact that our govt. has virtually ‘socialised the economy’ in a matter of weeks, has not gone unnoticed by leading UK scientists, who spoke to journalists at a virtual meeting last week, (organised by Plan B and Extinction Rebellion). Prof Michael Marmot (Uni. College London) said that “the overriding objective of govts. for the last decade has been austerity, and life expectancy of the poor has declined; it turns out austerity was a choice. Govt. responses to climate breakdown and the challenges of poverty must change permanently after this pandemic; we now know what administrations are capable of when motivated”.
The public persona Boris Johnson rehearsed and honed for years – a double-dealing, comically entertaining, shameless rogue – is totally unsuited to the leadership figure that UK now requires; this is painfully obvious in his public appearances. Article in the New York Times explores the consequences of his indecision.
Alex Salmond’s alleged behaviour as First Minister, and his claims of a conspiracy, are rendered trivial by the current crisis. The most balanced column I read was Kevin McKenna’s in Saturday’s Herald: ‘This is not the time for vengeance Mr Salmond, but for contrition’.
We mentioned last week, what is referred to as the Oxford Study – suggesting that half the UK population could already have been infected by the virus – with resultant immunity. Other scientists have been quick to challenge this, and I found this article in Bloomberg helpful – clarifying what the various predictive studies can and cannot tell us. Impressions of the Italian experience three weeks on.
Although Thomas Piketty is a very important warrior against global inequality, both his books are too scholarly (and long) for me – so I was delighted for the glimpses of his (very progressive) thinking in this recent interview. I love his ‘inheritance for all’ proposal – 120 thousand euros for all at age 25!
Sales of The Plague by Albert Camus (1947) have rocketed – but it’s not about a virus – it’s an allegory for the German occupation of France – against Fascism or any doctrine which authorises the suffering of others. The late Tony Judt wrote this great intro to the 2001 translation (longish). This is the book’s ending:
“The plague bacillus never dies or vanishes entirely,…it can remain dormant for dozens of years in furniture or clothing,…it waits patiently in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, handkerchiefs and old papers, and…perhaps the day will come when for the instruction or misfortune of mankind, the plague will rouse its rats and send them to die in some well-contented city”.
Over the last fortnight, we have all been trying to adapt to the current situation as best we can. Scottish Govt has come out with a series of Funding initiatives – as well as Creative Scotland – and, we believe, others are in the pipeline. Senscot and Social Firms Scotland have jointly created a bespoke Resources Page to try and capture the most relevant funds/webinars and other information for SENs and SEN members. The Resource Page also has a direct links to various other COVID 19 Support pages including SCVO; Just Enterprise; and The Lottery. Senscot, itself has been engaged in a series of online discussions with both local and thematic SEN Co-ordinators. Our feedback suggests that SENs are being inundated with concerns and queries from members on a raft of issues – both to do with the new Resilience Fund – other funds in the offing – as well as practical matters surrounding other Scottish Govt initiatives or wider Westminster initiatives. The over-riding message is that peer-to-peer support has never been more important than it is today. On the back of this we will be organising a series of virtual peer support meetings over the coming weeks. Details will follow early next week. If you would be interested in participating, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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