I’m fascinated by people’s priorities now that lockdown has eased a little. Besides the long-awaited chance to see family and friends more easily and in larger numbers, haircuts, pints in pubs, meals out and sport have featured very heavily both in the press and in conversations. I have been pleased to go to London a couple of times (much as I have loved spending time at home with my family) for a change of scene and a chance to catch up with people who aren’t related to me.
There is a lot of talk about confidence at the moment. Confidence in governments, confidence in scientists, in the hope of a vaccine, in the economy, in the medical profession. We talk to one person and they are bullish about everything getting back to normal with minimal long-term damage. It makes us think we could plan a party. We talk to the next person and we hear an end-of-days perspective which makes us wonder whether anything will ever be normal again.
I saw a video on LinkedIn recently in which two women were crouching behind their shop counter doing a little victory dance after selling one of their products. It highlighted the enormous difference just a few sales can make to a small business and I could certainly relate to it, both as a customer and as a business owner.
I have been thinking about Anthony Powell's series of novels A Dance to the Music of Time. For those who have not read them, or watched the excellent 1997 adaptation by Channel 4, the 12-part sequence tracks the characters in the ups and downs of their friendships, marriages, careers and lives.
COVID-19 has taught us a lot about what the word ‘essential’ really means. Flour, eggs, pasta, alcohol, loo paper… we are all too well aware of the shopping essentials. We also learned about our essential relationships, our essential work needs, even about our essential selves. Life has been stripped back and, although we are starting to get some of it back, we are now much clearer about what really is essential in life. The question is, are we up it?