If you want to look at this new Hunkerin’ Doon Kit you will see it is very different from the original, posted back in March. These items have provided the core requirements for continued adherence to the rules for a very measured re-emergence into the world. A few have been in service for several weeks but I have only just learned how to insert a photograph. 21st post and I have unlocked the key to the mystery. If I had known, when the first Hunkerin’ Doon Kit was assembled, that we would still be in the grip of this pandemic six months on, I couldn’t have imagined what it would be like, even if I had wanted to.
If you want to review all that has happened locally, nationally and internationally this month, it can be overwhelming. As I recall the major events since Imagine, at the end of July, there is a long list of awful things, some in parts of the world where the greatest tragedy has been that those in charge have brought it on the people who have had no power to prevent what has befallen. But amidst the deaths, destruction and despair there is evidence that the movement stirring human nature and its resolve to demand change, is gathering momentum. Unfortunately, we have witnessed efforts and sacrifice to topple oppressive and corrupt regimes, or stop injustice, be quashed, and bad soon followed by worse.
Closer to home we have been confronted by issues for which I think we should all feel some responsibility. It is easy to blame the big boy who did it then ran away. Maybe we just have to face up to the big boy and not only discuss with him the error of his ways but suggest ways to begin to sort things out. Not long into lockdown I posted Change because there was a lot of talk back then about how we might see our new normal as opportunity for change for the better. Surely that incentive, brought about by our stark reminder of what is really important, is still remembered. It can be if we want.
Thankfully, there has been good happening too if you want to look for it, but don’t look to the weather for that. When have we seen rain or lightening like it, or the damaging floods and landslides? No, I suggest a think back over all the opportunities we have had this month to join in and enjoy the new world of virtual performance in the re-imagined Edinburgh Festivals. Okay, it’s nae the same, but what an effort has been made by those who usually entertain us with live shows, to provide the best they can in the circumstances.
Apart from years of family viewing of The Proms and The Tattoo, when before have we been able to watch theatre, or a concert or Fringe events, without planning very far ahead, sitting in the Returns queue because the show we heard about got a Fringe First, or standing in the rain when the previous performance is running late? Of course I would be the first to admit to missing the buzz of meeting my usual commitments to the proceedings, juggling diary dates and times, welcoming my visitors and making plans. Conspicuous by their absence from the re-cycling bin this weekend are the weighty programmes which usually provide hours of entertainment during the weeks before; the anticipation felt when opening the yellow International Festival Programme, scrutinising the child’s design on the Festival Fringe cover and pouring over International Book Festival listings, marking pages with little sticky post-it tags, all add to the fun. These publications have been a noticeable miss from what is usually lying about here at this time of year.
I have enjoyed theatre performances and concerts, and attended several events at the Book Festival, last minute decisions to join in and even clicked the Buy the Book button. The dexterity of my finger on the Donate buttons will be measurable when the card bill lands on the mat. That will be next month and anyway, I can justify it knowing I will have saved an incalculable amount on tickets, absence from the Trav Bar, the Speigletent, and all the other places I would have frequented, often with friends and often not. There is nothing quite like being invited to share an overpriced pizza, in the midnight freezing cold, discussing the Summerhall show just enjoyed, with a charming stranger who is definitely a kindred spirit. The trickiest bit can be mustering the nonchalance to imply it would be breaking a good Festival tradition to refuse and trying to elegantly straddle the bench to sit down.
This year there has been a lot on offer to see from the sofa, while they are happening or after, and a double chocolate Magnum is not a bad substitute when needs must. Many of these events are still available to watch if you want. Some folk will be glad the city has been spared the usual August frenzy but not me. I want to be looking forward to next year, when the person to person in the queue conversation can be “Which events did you watch last year?”
Here am I going on about entertainment when for some folk the trials of daily living continue to dominate their concerns. Frequent increases in unemployment figures, scary announcements of outbreaks in clusters, some caused by lack of consideration by those who should know better, and some because the people have been trying to continue to work to keep us going. There is news of second waves in places previously held up as examples of good management, and obvious to all, blatant mismanagement of several issues for political ends. At least we can take some solace in the knowledge that our postal votes will be delivered and valid when the time comes.
In the meantime, the reality of now must be negotiated. I tell myself “You could go to town, if you want. You could go to the book shop, if you want. You could visit a gallery, if you want.”, and so the list lengthens, but – there is usually a but. It’s trying to get the balance right between wanting to and not wanting to get into a situation where months of effort to remain virus free could be undone by a moment of carelessness on my part or someone else’s. Like many people, I have embraced, mostly by gesture enacting a hug, family members and friends, maintained the designated distance where possible, and been to a very well organised restaurant, but I still see the bus and wider world as a bit of a challenge. I expect that when my desire or need outweigh the perceived risk, I will want to.
My Granny used to say, when pestered by repetition of a no hope of getting it childhood request, “If the moon wis made o’ green cheese, wid ye want it?”. If a more obtainable request took the form of a statement, she would say “I wants dinna get.” The request was granted if prefaced by “Please can I have.” A generational thing, I guess, and I don’t want to make any judgments on observed change.
The schools have re-opened and we may have heard the last of unfair grading of exam results as they get sorted out by those who have to sort them. It must have been a mixed blessing to some parents who recognise the need for formal education after months of coping with home schooling, muddled in with concern about virus transmission, as their young set off for their first day in the classroom. Restrictions have been lifted in areas which some view as low priority, others are impatient and fail to see the logic in the decision which continues to restrict their interest and there are those who don’t give a second thought to taking off on a packed holiday flight. There are so many imponderables, so many what ifs, and or buts, that I find it difficult to decide who, which or what should be my topmost concern. It is definitely not the recent incessant news-dominating argument for maintaining Land of Hope and Glory! I want to say that maybe by next time, on the last Monday in September, there will be a clearer idea of progress and a brighter vision of what’s to come.
Meanwhile, by way of a bit of light relief, at no cost, with no printed programme to recycle and no face coverings in sight, I introduce you to a wonderful way of forgetting about social distancing. This link has become my default mind declutterer in the morning and I am happy to share the pleasure.
If you want!