Normal 2.0

We’re still carrying on here with the aid of cycling and cake but, in the spirit of adaptation to new circumstances, are bringing gin cocktails in to the equation to welcome the weekend and set sail to our beloved Scottish islands – if just in our imagination.

There has been a two week ‘Easter holiday’ respite from the outpouring of Google Classroom, so one source of anxiety has been in abeyance at least, although trying to manage a child whilst conducting back to back Teams meetings probably wasn’t particularly well received by any of the parties getting half my attention. Always late to a party, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for audiobooks and particularly the varied works of David Walliams; his daily readings have provided light relief and distraction for at least one member of our household, although it has unfortunately increased the discussion of bottoms, toilets and associated fluids.

Obviously I’ve got nothing but the C19 version of first world problems; this beautiful and reflective blog by a GP in Hackney details the inequalities that the current situation is compounding better than anything else I’ve read. The daily tweets from Nursing Notes rip at my heart as I carry on avoiding the storm that is taking the lives of so many that already have a life of public service behind them.

The interweb is full of posts about adjustment to ‘the new normal’, a phrase that I’m completely over, despite it being just a few weeks old (see also furlough, social distancing and flattening the curve) as it seems an understated sanitisation of activity that incorporates working from home alongside the ever-present spectre of death. I’m glad to see the proponents of using the ‘great pause’ for self development have been shouted down by people suggesting that getting dressed and not drunk by 10am is a win.

Just four weeks in, and no real end in sight, and the commentary about what we don’t want to get back to has already started. There are no silver linings in a crisis that is costing so many so much, but it’s clear that we don’t want to go back to what was our normal. I’ve seen calls for ‘build back better’, but we need to ensure its not just improving the seating arrangements on the Titanic we were on. A just recovery will require a complete revolution in how we use our resources, for the benefit of all and not the few, in alignment with planetary capacity.

It’s probably no secret that my contribution to almost all issues, local to global, is that cycling is probably the answer. However, I’m well aware that asking our local authorities to do anything other than cope with providing essential services to the most vulnerable could be seen as insensitive. But looking at our streets it’s never been more clear that space allocation is set to prioritise the movement and storage of metal boxes, and not people on foot, bicycle, scooter or wheelchair.

If we don’t act now we risk coming out of lockdown straight into carmageddon and back to its negative impact on our long-term health.

My Twitterverse is an avalanche of the emergency responses other countries are making to provide more space for safe walking and cycling, and the long-term opportunities to create better cities that enable activity and access for all. I know those conversation are happening in Scotland, but we all need to play our part in supporting our politicians and officials to make choices now that will create the path to the future we want.

Pedal on Parliament are calling for #SpaceforDistancing, as enabling people to choose walking and cycling as lockdown ends will be vital in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of communities across Scotland. Out on our daily exercise yesterday it didn’t take long for my mini-campaigner to suggest pavements and footpaths around our town that aren’t adequate for safe distancing. Rest assured we’ll be practising our handwriting skills on this topic shortly.

It seems like there’s no time to waste, and reaching out to our decision makers is vital, but we also need to remember that there is a person behind every public sector and political social media account and email address, a human that is also worried about the future. They could be fearing for their key worker partner or scared that their parents won’t see the other side of this crisis. They could be covering for unwell colleagues, or simply overworked in our strained public services. In our passion for progress, let’s remember to be kind too and try to be the people remembered for compassion in a crisis – not just critics.

One thought on “Normal 2.0

  1. All too easy for us public sector people to forget to be kind to each other when we are working in crisis management mode. We will appreciate kindness from campaigners all the more in these straitened times. And after.

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