Monday, 23 March 2020


I constantly hear people saying “when things get back to normal…” but normal is history now, there is going to be a new-normal not an old one.

Coronavirus is forcing us to re-appraise our relationships, our behaviour and our attitudes. And as we do this there’s one thing that deeply worries me. Most people are not going to die prematurely, especially if they’re young and healthy. The sun is shining and we’re on holiday…an enforced one for sure but think about it as a holiday.

My concern is the mix of terror, depression and hopelessness not least when experts say this could last months or even years.

Let’s see what could follow in the aftermath in our brave, new world.

Working from home. Tell me the commuters from Britain are going to accept back-to-normal commuting. Big office blocks will be redundant. Crowded city centres are going to  be less appealing. As London – the world’s number one city – is destroyed as we knew it – are all those shops going to re-open fast or ever? Levelling up the UK economy will be done in a way that few people had expected. Everyone who can will work at home.

The economy. A new economic economy. Fewer flights. Smaller airports  (doesn’t a third Heathrow runway sound ridiculous today?) Anyone for a cruise? Don’t be silly. A sabbatical year travelling. Nope. A year working in a hospital instead. An economy of less and better. Am economy designed to crush poverty by awarding everyone a basic living wage. Will people stop working if given this – of course not. They’ll work because they want to. Work won’t just be for money.

Ageing. For years we’ve applauded the increasing length of people’s lives. Deaths from coronavirus are relatively small and are unlikely to exceed 20,000 in the UK which is horrible but still only 3.6% of the normal annual mortality rate. I loved the view of an old person I met who said smoking and drinking  heavily was the way forward for the aged.

Shopping. There’s been too much buying of “stuff”. We all know that. Hearing about a man being violently mugged in Haywards Heath for the kitchen rolls he was carrying is comic (unless you were the bruised and bleeding victim). Supermarkets and especially those out-of-town hypermarkets seem like dinosaurs. Markets and corner shops, your time is now if you can rise to the challenge.

Going out. Cineworld, that cinema-multiscreen complex has of course closed but was closing for business anyway in normal times. Small comfortable cinemas yes, big ones no. Big is going to become an old-world word. Big companies; big targets; big shops; big salaries; big offices; big houses. John Lewis closed all their stores last week. How many will ever reopen? Going out is more likely to be into the country or to the seaside not to towns.

Education. Will we see any more GCSEs or SATS being held? Will we (maybe) start to educate children rather than constantly test them? Will using Skype or Zoom become the most important teaching aid? We can now think more about how we can revive arts teaching and discover how to, as that genius educational expert Sir Ken Robinson begged for, liberate rather the crush creativity in the young.

Health. It’s been a really tough time for germs. 60,000,000 people in the UK are washing their hands constantly. The nation’s health (coronavirus apart) has never looked more promising. Ditto air quality. (Go back to school, Greta, when it opens. Your work is done)

Home. Everyone I know is tidying up and throwing away all those things  they’ve squirrelled away for ages. They’re also redecorating and investing in new things they’d meant to replace ages ago. Good news for anything to do with cooking, relaxing sleeping. We can anticipate a run on beds soon. We’re all going to get to know our homes rather well and feel how important they are and not just a staging post. People won’t want to sell and the value of houses will plummet.

Holidays. No. Not for a while. Except at home.

Entertainment. Netflix, Amazon and the best of BBC,  ITV, Channel 4 and others. Take-home food will be increasingly appealing. Get merry at home. Pity the poor taxi drivers though.

Our town/village/street. Local community will trump everything. We now have Sussex Peasant, the Sussex farm produce on sale around Sussex from renovated horseboxes. 

Milk and More allows the home delivery of milk to revive. Local pubs will be the ones that open that look nice and  have great local beer (there are 70 odd local breweries in Sussex – who needs the Anheuser-Busch InBev, SABMiller, Heineken International, and Carlsberg Group? Blimey – doesn’t that name tell you everything that’s wrong with this stupid global fiasco of a world we’ve created?)

Think small. Think local. Buy from those closest – but they must be good enough – there are no excuses any more for local and bad.

The pieces are here but we are not yet recovering from this chaos.

We should surely now that there has never been a better and more important time for “Start Ups” – read the Sunday Times Business Section for their view. Enterprise, resourcefulness and resilience are part of the recipe. Do not try to restore the Global Economy as it was. It’s over.

We can do better.

Above all restore our good spirits . We can’t build a Camelot on gloom.

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