525,600 minutes

Some baked cakes and some prayed, in vain, for their daily bread. Some danced around in hospitals and some died there, without one familiar face, terrified if conscious or comatose and hooked on strange drugs and stranger machines. Some never put a nervous foot over the door and some braved the dangerous moonlight, breaking curfew and bringing cheer. Some had nice gardens to garden and some had skyscraper weans to feed, and left them, regularly, with the shitting dog, while they ran, masked and frantic, round the supermarket – because it was safer to shop alone. Some learned a new language and some learned to despair. Some found they could depend on the kindness of strangers and some, deserted by family and fairweather friends, found they had to. Some soaked in baths and some in porn, some bought everything online, including salvation, and some stared out the window at the cold and constant rain and then jumped. Some tried to help, cutting debts and hedges, giving advice for free, some reassured and reassured and reassured everyone they could reassure but failed to reassure themselves. Some did gym and got slim and most did the opposite and ended up not caring. Some had hair to worry about and for some it had already turned grey. Some tried online romance and told themselves it was just like the real thing. Some built ivory towers of books and retreated up them. Some tried to sell their soul but even the devil was in lockdown.

The past year, midday 23rd March 2020 to midday 23rd March 2021, in Scotland, has been like no other. Maybe some of us will live long enough, and maintain enough fertility, to tell our grandchildren about the year when the whole world stopped. Maybe not. If we do, I hope they won’t believe us. I hope they smile at the exaggeration of the old folks. Then, with dear-bought wisdom, remembering what we all went through and knowing it was all, every lucrative pre-planned bit of it, in vain, I hope we cherish the little time we have left.

Never before in my half-century of life, son of parents who between them survived evacuation, forced march, prison camp and blitz, have I ever encountered such widespread wilful stupidity. Schools taught it, universities studied it, politicians stirred it and the media mixed it. Public opinion fanned it and it stuck, fast, smearing everything and everyone. The churches sanctioned it and the state sanctioned everything else. This is the year when thought became a crime. This is the year when unregulated multinational companies set up weapons of mass destruction in streetlights and no one did anything to oppose them. This is the year when we abandoned our old folks to die, drugged and despairing in their loneliness, when we all lined up to be experimented on, when we abandoned any form of civil liberty and stopped holding the police and armed forces to account for anything. Or anyone else only following orders. And all für ihre Sicherheit.  

525,600 minutes says the song. How do you measure a year? Scotland’s population by now is about 6 million. Start by multiplying it by that.

The lockdown has already lost us 6 million years of moments so dear in just one small country.

It’s time for this season of fear to end.

hourglass silhouette

Thanks to Piotr Siedlecki for releasing his image Hourglass Silhouette into the public domain.


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