A Brave New World - The END of Lockdown

Yours truly has come out of hibernation, and has been thrust - completely unprepared - into a population that has been separated into two distinct sections - cannon fodder, and the comfortables.

The comfortables are those with secure, regular white collar jobs who have been largely untouched by the current situation. There's no trips to the match, pub, or expensive restaurant obviously, but that's been compensated for by huge household savings, and therefore a huge increase in expenditure on food and alcohol at home. Comfortables could feasibly be converted into cannon-fodder in due course, when the bosses and shareholders have to start reaching into their own pockets to pay salaries, and decide it's time to pull up the drawbridge and make people redundant. The comfortables are pretty much insulated from the effects of the Sars-Cov-2 virus, both in economic and infection terms for the time being.

The cannon-fodder makes up the remainder of the population. Largely forced to work, and having no choice, they make up the structural and logistical fabric of society which serves the comfortables - the medical professionals, emergency services, utility workers, cleaners, food industry personnel, care workers, school staff, and essential retail workers etc. They are all out in the community doing their jobs as usual in order to survive, relying on good fortune, adequate employer protection, and the consideration of others to maintain a certain standard of hygiene when interacting in order to avoid potential infection.

Tina and I seem to have now joined the ranks of the cannon-fodder.

Estate Agents were the first section of the non-essential, wider business community to be allowed to re-engage with the post-lockdown world. There was an immediate, urgent backlog of properties just waiting to be sold, as people still want to move. It's a basic human requirement. Consequently, I had to make a choice between donning a cheap Chinese face mask, nitrile gloves, shoe coverings, and getting back to work - or potentially being chucked on the scrap heap at the almost-unemployable age of 55. 

No contest - Got to keep going to survive. Driving from place to place is like moving through an apocalyptic movie - not that many people anywhere, almost no cars, and curtains twitching whenever I pull up & get equipment out of the car. I knock on the door, stand back, say hello to a new set of complete strangers, and don a fresh set of blue mask, gloves, and shoe coverings before going in - for the protection of the occupants rather than myself. I've speeded up the process of shooting an average house to about 30 minutes, which is handy, but I try to restrict jobs to one per day - meaning that I earn enough to maintain the business, but can't pay myself a lot. It's just working for working's sake while increasing the possibility of coming into contact with infection with every passing day. Despite the largely symbolic physical distancing, and face covering, plus my rigorous hand washing routine, it just feels weird to be visiting families who are bunkered down in their own homes. On the plus side, I've got some holiday let jobs backed up as well. These don't involve any unknowns, and can be done by myself once the property is styled beforehand. 

Tina will be starting back at school next week, although only for 2-3 days initially - as per the expert comfortable government instructions, meaning she's now cannon-fodder too. Her rota for the last few weeks has forced her into close contact with some of the most vulnerable children (or "Heedtheballs" as we used to call them at Walker School). One of these kids told her that he didn't care if our children died from Covid-19 while laughing in her face at her attempt to maintain physical distancing. His mother had taken a part time job at a supermarket just to get rid of the responsibility of having to get the sod to do any work at home.

So there it is - let's see what unfolds over the next few weeks. Be good, and will see you next weekend.

Brian Young shoots all aspects of the built environment for a range of clients throughout Northern England and the Borders.


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