c.2626/104 (the number of cases is thought to be ten times this)
Each day when I wake I have that three seconds of blissful innocence where anything is possible. If only we could live in those moments. All too soon reality comes crashing down and the world that we thought we knew takes a different shape. Each day I think that it wash over and normality will return. Am I alone in sometimes loathing that normality and that routine? Am I alone in secretly wishing that something would happen to shake it all up? I don’t think I am.
The virus has spread from its epicentre in Wuhan to the ends of our road in Worcestershire, England. It has spread to the Australian outback and the Salinas Valley; my friend in Zambia; deepest Africa, tells me that schools are closing there because it’s somehow reached them. It is incredible. It is awesome. It has spread so quickly and just as quickly has the novelty and the excitement worn off. Lives are having to change; choices altered and plans put on hold.
Schools shut from Friday. All exams cancelled.
In my little world this is where it hits; this is where day to day life will have to change and it is (we assume) nobody’s fault. If the fees at my school don’t get paid people will lose their jobs.
Is it real, though? Can it be real? We reel in shock at the way that world has changed so swiftly. From not even talking about it a couple of weeks ago to talking about nothing else today. It seems too unreal and maybe this is a danger. Maybe getting our heads around it quickly and changing the mindset is what needs to happen.
We stagger when we hear that this summer there will be no exams; when we hear that the end of term celebrations that have happened for centuries at the old school will be cancelled; that other pillars that prop up the passing of the year and chart our way through life simply won’t be. It is traditions like this, however much we might sometimes loath the routine and predictability of it all, that provide the framework which keeps us upright and points us in the right direction.
We watch the value of shares crumble and we see small businesses fold. We see huge airlines fall and empty shelves in the supermarket – and this, only the start.
My thought today is about how tight we run it all. How rigid and unbending the rules by which we live, the budgets by which we survive, the contingency planning on which we complacently rely actually are. It is a human failing, not success that we are always striving for bigger and better and always looking to change the now. All that this brings is the inability to learn from mistakes because learning is the point – gaining and growing is the point.
I hope that this current crisis makes us take a look at the way that we do things. When I look at it, and I’m doing that more and more these days, I find it absolutely flabbergasting. What kind of planning goes into the future of us as a species? What are the goals that we aim for? Who is in charge?
How can it ever be right that we can land on the moon but not put an end to famine? How can it be right that we can invent technologies that allow us to video call to the other side of the world on a device that we carry in our pocket, but we can’t find a cure for cancer or aids? How can it be that we can develop planes that break the sound barrier and weapons that can wipe out entire nations, but we can’t stop economies collapsing when a tiny virus gets into our frail human systems?
I’m not a great campaigner for social justice or environmental change or gay rights or veganism or anything like that. I actually think that those things fade to insignificance in the light of what I’m concerned about – and that is simple common sense in the literal sense of the term: a combined and unified effort on the part of every one of us to see sense and make an effort to point us in the right direction.
I’m a simple bloke and maybe that’s what it takes to see. On my wrist is tattooed a symbol a little bit like a pyramid that to me signifies the perpetual rise and fall of mankind; the endless cycle of failure.
This crisis will be devastating for many and life-changing for most but there’s the tiniest hope that something might come of it that we can learn from. Maybe we will see that September doesn’t have to mean the start of term and that exams are not the only way that we can prove we’ve been doing our job.