Saturday, 4 July 2020

New Deal

Brian and Sue on VE Day, the milky way, Monument Valley - everything changes, incrementally
Weaning off Zoom
So today, pubs and restaurants can begin re-opening and hairdressers can return to work. Some cinema chains are making tentative arrangements for opening but theatres and concert venues remain closed for performances. The Covid-19 Lockdown is “easing” further in the direction of a “New Normal.” The New Normal is likely to be with us for a few years. We’ve booked our first restaurant. We’ve booked our first social event with geographically distant friends (Sue and Brian above, making merry on VE Day.) How have we all coped? Have we learned anything about ourselves individually, as communities, as a country, as a continent, as a planet? Or will we strive to return everything to being the same as it was before? I don’t think that’s possible. Time (and circumstances) change things – notice the images below (the two adverts are absolutely genuine – from 1890 and 1964.) Some things will never be the same: any references to driving to Barnard Castle to test your eyesight, for example.
VE Day Afternoon Tea, the glorious Sophia Loren telling truths, genuine advertisements that wouldn't be printed in 2020
What’s past is prologue
The current UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to his family) has declared a New Deal and has given the impression he will now be able to deliver on his election manifesto promises (see No Excuses Now for a reminder.) I hope he succeeds in doing everything he promised, though I suspect the Coronavirus pandemic will be used time and again in the next decade to excuse failures. The first political New Deal belonged to President Roosevelt in America in 1933-34. To avoid further economic catastrophe, liberals pushed through the Second New Deal in 1935-36. History doesn’t show how many further New Deals might have been needed because The Second World War demanded everyone’s attention and other economic opportunities arose in the fight against Fascism. Hopefully, a World War is not around the corner in the 2020s. Still, we might as well talk about a New Deal – it sounds more energetic and optimistic than a New Normal. But I hope we can learn and build a better world. Shakespeare’s line from The Tempest (What’s past is prologue) is inscribed on the National Archives Building in Washington DC and can now be applied to any situation where past events should be used to determine exactly what happens next. We should learn from the past. Shouldn’t we? Happy Independence Day!
Summary of the forthcoming (expensive) Enquiry into the Coronavirus Pandemic

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Yearly trick of looking new

Spring turns to Summer
As night follows day and age follows youth, so the seasons move along whether or not we humans are loving, reproducing, fighting infection or dying. Walls fall, buildings fall, whole cities and empires fall. But, for now at least, the flowers and plants and trees continue to grow, Earth turns, and after the dark comes the dawn. Further lockdown measures have been “eased” and the crowds (mostly socially distancing, but not always) are returning to beauty spots. After Summer, the Autumn will come, and Winter will be here anon. In the meantime, Phllip Larkin’s poem The Trees has been on my mind on recent walks.
Yearly trick of looking new

The Trees
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.