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  • Writer's pictureCrone

Age of Contraction

Doors closed, roads quiet. Silence in the restaurants and bars, the museums and theatres (I must admit to bursting into tears when the Old Vic management sent out their emotional announcement that they had closed the doors of their 'beloved theatre'), the cinemas and gyms.

We contract into our homes. And the queues to buy bread, milk and whatever other essentials are on the shelves when the doors of the stores open.

After the continents split apart, the separated landmasses developed distinctive and unique plants and animals. Divergence was the theme.

Then we got in boats and carts, trains and planes and shifted everything around. An Age of Expansion.

Wallabies and llamas in the South of England; kiwi fruit in Spain.

The distinctive diets of India and Italy and Kenya came to include originally South American produce - chilies and potatoes and corn. Arabian coffee in the USA. Tea in England.

The biota became universal. And, in addition, a single disease environment came to cover the planet.

In the 14th Century, in the worst affected regions, a third of the population was wiped out by the plague. And in the 16th, again, in the worst affected areas, 90% of the indigenous people of the Americas were killed by smallpox.

And yet, in both those eras, despite unpropitious circumstances, there was considerable progress in science and technology; in theorising and exploring; in discovery and invention.

The history of our race is a history of challenge and response.

On BBC Radio 4's 'The Moral Maze' they discussed whether we will be changed by this. Less globalisation, maybe? Less freedom? More collectivisation? More equality and spending on welfare? The pundits predict a change according to their ideological perspective - an improvement on what they believe is now wrong with society. Or what was wrong with the society we may be losing. To me, for all its faults, it was better than what is now starting to be the case. I miss the chance to go to the bustle of the big city. I miss work and my colleagues. Even the narky ones. I miss not having to think about going to the shop.

I am sorry.

Today is not my best day.

Yet, the sun shines and the dog dozes after a long walk. The cats purr. One rubs his head against me, unafraid of contamination; the other drops his mousey at my feet for me to throw.

I bought strawberries and those spicy salad leaves, can't even remember the name. I tried to paint. I spoke to a friend. I will be talking with family later.

It shall all pass. I have gone through personal traumas, familial chaos, relationship crises, bereavements, redundancies and pretty dire financial problems before. We all have, haven't we? We have all survived so very much in our lives. Not on this scale - in that so many are affected (a whole world of us!); nor, perhaps, so long-lasting. But, even the most fortunate among us have suffered at times, have faced our mortality and the seeming limits of our personal strength in dark nights of the soul. So, we have proven our resilience. We must feel like tested steel. Now is not the time for the glitter of malleable gold. It's the time for iron.

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