Spring can’t be held back and there are familiar sounds on Alston Moor, with peewit and curlew calling, snipe drumming and ewes with lambs in the fields, but not much else can carry on as normal in present circumstances. We are most fortunate up here to have the space to get out in, and there’s a good community spirit. Moorlands Candles stopped production at the back end of March, and most of us are laid off with the help of the Chancellors scheme paying 80% of retained employees wages during the shut down. We are still able to take orders and process them so long as we have sufficient stock, but it could take longer.
With the spread of covin-19 virus around the world, the Government could have chosen to let the pandemic run its course, keep the economy going and count on ‘herd’ immunity. This would have sacrificed hundreds of thousands of elderly and vulnerable people. Instead, it elected to slow the spread through social isolation, enabling our stretched NHS to cope. We did have warning from across the world, but were not prepared for the scale of the epidemic and the need for testing, proper protective equipment for key workers in health and social care, and ventilators for victims. It was warming to hear the street applause for the NHS on Thursday, and an awareness that it is still valued after 10 years of cuts and privatisation, and that we need to pay more tax to keep our NHS and Social Care free for everyone.
Financier and Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman told the world on CNBC TV that ‘Hell is coming’ and made $2.6 billion betting on the stock market plummeting! It’s not surprising that in this situation some greedy people will seek to profit. Flying around the world was so normal for the privileged, but do we want to bale out Richard Branson and go on and build more runways and capacity when this is over? Do we need to fly in so much rather than grow our own crops? Roads are quiet and air pollution down in cities around the world. Are we thinking whether we need to travel so much? Do we need so much stuff? Can we have more international co-operation, stop invading countries and get rid of the wasteful expense of nuclear weapons at last? Can we look at a society where everyones work is valued and rewarded equally, the cleaner, the manager or the Company Director.
It is a week into this enforced distancing, and already some will be feeling the strain. Couples who are used to being in separate work environments, with no pub to escape to. Old people who already feel isolated and whose only phone calls are from scammers. Not to be able to touch nor embrace, when physical contact is essential to being human. There is time enough for some to to write, paint or play an instrument, and the young who live on line can survive this. Some will find time for DIY, reading, playing games and plotting new futures, but for others it’s the same old drudgery. We have to get out if we can, to exercise, sow seeds and experience nature as spring and summer blooms. For many there is a big void with most sport events and festivals cancelled. We must live life differently to get through this. Do look out for the neighbours. All in this together! Solidarity! Keep well. Ted Thompson
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