Stop the Merry-Go-Round - Debbie Bennett Looks into the Future

2020. Perfect vision and all that. What a joke. 2020 was the year it all started; the year of the pandemic; the year of lockdown. The year the economy nose-dived into oblivion and life as we’d known it changed forever. 

If we’d known how it would end, would we have done things any differently? I don’t know. I suspect society would have collapsed sooner rather than later. I don’t think we’d have spent a year and more sleep-walking into a political and cultural nightmare – with shops and businesses closing daily, neighbour tattling on neighbour and the surge in sales of black shower curtains, furtive comings-and-goings at all hours, and the police too busy arresting people who mostly didn’t have a clue whether today was rule-of-six or two-household (not including children) meeting outdoors in a private place that wasn’t a park and didn’t sell alcohol except as part of a substantial meal, which had to be eaten in two hours. Although you could go to the gym with whoever you liked. And eat a scotch egg. Whatever. 

By this time, our government had signed away any rights we had left in emergency legislation. And the problem with emergency legislation is that it’s often badly-thought-out – rushed through before too many people can see the cracks showing through the wallpaper. And the walls move beneath, the bricks crumble, but still the legislation remains and is built on, brick by cracked-brick over dodgy foundations and nothing will last long. And by 2021, we were so used to this trickle-trickle, drip-drip of do this, don’t do this, that we didn’t even notice our freedoms were gone, vanished, melted away into this vat of muddy scientically-proven political soup. Voted in, voted out, shaken all about  but we’re all doing it anyway. There were always tiers before bedtime

And it’s illegal to come within 2m of anybody who isn’t a part of your household. No hugging or touching of anybody in public – too hard to explain to the newly-appointed covid-policeman who doesn’t look a day over fourteen that uncle Fred won’t remember you at all next week and aunt Brenda is so hyped up on tranquilisers that she’ll rattle herself to death before she catches anything off you, and anyway one hug – one day actually living – is worth a thousand days of non-contact existence. And aunt Brenda, despite the drugs, is perfectly capable of risk-assessing her own life thank you very much. But uncle Fred’s in a care home now anyway, locked in for his own safety and the fact that he can’t remember who you are doesn’t detract from the pain of no physical contact that doesn’t involve a mask, gloves and all manner of other barriers to humanity. 

2022. Make do and mend takes on a whole new meaning, when nothing is replaceable anymore. Want a new outfit? Last year’s trip down the shops will get you nowhere now that all the shops are gone. You could buy something handcrafted from the new cottage-industries if you had the job to earn the money, but there are no more cheap Asian sweatshops and the circle grows ever-tighter. Jobs-money-jobs. And don’t blame Brexit for this one – the EU’s doing no better – but at least we’re getting better at knitting and growing potatoes. Every cloud! 

2023. We have a PPE mountain. The ecological impact of all that plastic waste which everybody is too scared to touch, because the virus can last for years you know, given the right conditions. In fact the entire mountain is probably radioactive with virus by now, but no matter because masks are so last year anyway. These days, you automatically cross the street to avoid coming within a few metres of another person. Who needs a mask? And nobody smiles, because we forgot how to how can you smile with a mask on? But it doesn't matter because we have Facebook and Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. Guaranteed virus-free and we can be whoever we want online. And there's YouTube and Tik-Tok where we document our lives for the future edification and entertainment of the children born to mothers who screamed alone in birth, attended only by space-suited nurses who gave their all that was sometimes just not enough.

Stop the merry-go-round. I want to get off.

Inspired by reading this article: Love or hate the Mail, it’s food for thought, don’t you think?


Peter Leyland said…
Dystopian stuff Debbie but I’m glad to see you’re getting it off your chest! Thanks for sharing.
Griselda Heppel said…
Aargh now I know why I don't like dystopias and futuristic stuff. Too horribly believable.

I shall make a start on knitting my own potatoes. 😊
Eden Baylee said…
Hi Debbie,

Like Griselda says, this is too horribly believable. :(

Sometimes, I don't think we deserve to survive as a species.

Oh, Debbie, 2023 is already here! We currently have a PPE mountain of rubbish at the bottom of my road, masks mostly. Clearly everyone loves wearing them so much, the first thing they do when they exit town is chuck theirs away in the gutter... I got one tangled around my ankles last time I paddled along the beach, too, and that was back in September (a bigger threat to sea life than oil spills by 2023 perhaps?)

So, er, what happens in 2024 in your vision of the future? Are we all still here?

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