So here we are. All in lockdown. All experiencing our first pandemic – unless you are like a 105 and alive during the Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918…
Some of you may have been furloughed and mastering your Banana Bread skills. Others may be ‘working from home’ (or ‘WFH’ if you are businessy type) and enduring all the failed attempts of your housemates quest for Banana Bread nirvana.
You may have isolated on your own, with your family, in a basement flat or in the countryside. You might be loving this new temporary life where you are your own taskmaster or you may be finding all this horrendous and anxiety inducing. There are no right or wrong answers to all this, no correct way of dealing with all these lockdown shenanigans but what this does offer is an opportunity to reflect.
Whether that be on your own personal situation or the wider world, what this lockdown has allowed us all to do is potentially take a moment to reflect. To try and make some sense of where the post-pandemic world will take us as individuals and as a society as whole.
Hence, this is the space where this blog post finds itself being written – in a desperate attempt to try and make sense of what next? Are we heading back to normal? Back to a ‘new normal’ (which really feels like it isn’t the ol’comfy normal we used to love and trust)? Or something totally different?
It’s all about ME, alright?
I guess the first noticeable change for me is the fact that I am writing a blog post about what the future holds in a wider societal sense and that no suggestion, however silly, is off the table.
You want Haribo to become a currency? We will think about it. Universities should offer tuition fee refunds? Hold that thought and put a pin in it…
That’s sort of exciting isn’t it? I mean will any change occur? And what kind of change will that be? I for one don’t have a clue but heck it might happen and until they definitely rule out that I might be able to buy a festival ticket with 7 packs of Haribo Starmix, then nothing is off the table.
For me personally, I haven’t really drawn any ground breaking conclusions about myself since lockdown began. Some of you may have found this process truly illuminating but I’ve just spent 5 months travelling with Tess (my girlfriend) to try and draw some blood out of that ol’stone and the stone was having none of it.
I think my main, over-arching conclusions were I should spend more time outside and that I really want a campervan. And a dog. I can’t forget about the prospective Pooch. 5 months in NZ, Oz and SE Asia and my ground breaking conclusions, to the disappointment of my Mum, is that I want to go camping in Cornwall with a Cocker spaniel called Ted. Maybe not Ted but definitely dog in tow.
Hardly a eureka moment heralding a new career path and a sense of knowing what I want to do with my life but I am cool with that. I mean I can say for sure now that I really do want a campervan and a dog.
Potential Dog/Van combo - other dogs and in fact other vans are available.
[Image Kim Elliot]
What About Society?
During the last month or so though, since returning from Vietnam and spending far too much time reading the news, any realisations that I have had is that I do have some opinions on how I would like us as a society and as a world bounce back from this pandemic. Like Take That, sometimes the next incarnation can be better than the first, the more successful and better looking version of its younger self. So below are three points, ideas, and vague sweeping notions of where I feel like we can make improvements, changes and adjustments to help create a better situation for all.
Idea 1 – Changing Our Idea of Who Is Important
Can the ‘unskilled’ or the underpaid please step forward; you are the saviours of the Western world…
Society, when in crisis, seemingly reveals itself. Long gone are the difficult decisions of what pub to go or where to eat this evening. These decisions hark back to the carefree whimsy of 2019! This is more about how society reveals who is important and who isn’t important. Obviously, we are all important as individuals living our best lives, but here I mean how coronavirus has made explicitly clear the careers, the vocations, the jobs and the individuals who work in those roles and those sectors, specifically in the UK.
Firstly, and this one really is a no-brainer. The important people that keep this society going are the best people. The NHS doctors and nurses, teachers, all care providers, the cleaners, supermarket workers, delivery drivers, check out assistants, the postman, and people working in distribution warehouses. In short, it tends to be people who are criminally underpaid and/or normally underappreciated.
Most of these sectors may have a larger percentage of immigrant labour (the NHS and care providers come to mind immediately) than say multinational corporation executive boards. For the most part as well, these roles are deemed to be unskilled labour that under new immigration proposals will stop immigrants from coming to the UK to work in said roles that are now indispensable. The cleaner at Guys Hospital in London from the Philippines, see ya later sunshine, that job doesn’t pay £30,000 a year and thus you aren’t worthy of a place on the good ship Britannia. Or you whilst we think about it Mr Delivery Driver from Bucharest delivering PPE around the country, driving isn’t a skill you fool now go.
In short, the most important people in this country right now are paid shit, treated like shit, generally taken for granted and are potentially not British. If there is any change, and this one is UK specific, we need to reimagine who is important in our society. Bankers – nope. Big Oil companies – hell no. Tax dodging millionaires – see ya later alligator!
The Richard Branson’s of the world, the guy who runs the investment arm at Deutschbank in the UK or the CEO of BP society until now has valued this people as important, as trailblazers or jobs that should be aspirational but ultimately they have all been made redundant in the current crisis.
Branson in particular is a prime example of an unmitigated anus who has managed to master the cap-in-hand tax exile who whilst asking for millions of pounds to bankroll his airline as also previously sued the NHS over a private health contract tendering process. I mean the man is a genuine knoob and I think it is time we wave him goodbye, close the door and getting cracking on making the lives of the real heroes comfortable.
Let’s offer citizenship to the foreign nationals who have kept this country going over the last 2 months and are only on temporary visas. Let’s increase the pay of all public sector workers who have risked their lives on the frontline or have continued trying to teach our children to read over Zoom. Let’s increase worker protections, ban zero hour contracts and raise the minimum wage for all the delivery drivers, supermarket workers and warehouse operatives.
Let’s not let these individuals become potential footnotes of a ‘troublesome time’ if we return to the status quo. Let’s celebrate and protect them as the great human beings that they are.
Idea 2 – The Green New Deal
The sexy sounding updated version of the political idea that made America actually kind of a big deal in the 1930s…
In at number 2 – The Green New Deal. Now I won’t claim to be all encompassing fountain of knowledge about The Green New Deal in the UK or the US version championed by everyone’s favourite progressive Democrat in the US and potential torch bearer for all things Bernie Sanders, AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez).
For the UK, The Green New Deal was to be the cornerstone of Labour’s economic policy at the last election if they had won. It represents a complete re-imagining of the UK economy that puts environmental policy at a heart of wave of huge investment across all areas of government and infrastructural planning. It doesn’t sound super sexy when it’s broken down in lame technical chitter chatter but I always think the ‘Green New Deal’ as a headline name kinda sounds a bit sexy for a political idea.
Rampion Wind Farm, off the coast of our old stomping ground down, Brighton.
[Image Dave Mason]
Essentially, phase out our fossil fuel reliance by putting renewable energy at the forefront of Britain’s economic recovery. You re-shape UK policy around being as green as possible in every facet of its decision making process. See you later coal, say hello sunshine and wind! Not only will such a policy help the UK meet its climate change targets, from an export point of view, you could make the UK a leading renewable energy country – the go-to shop for other countries when seeking out their own renewable technology. A bit like B&Q or Argos if you want paving slabs or a cutlery set. Britain could export high-spec renewable technology around the world and actually be a global leader in something other than selling arms to Saudi Arabia. If we are going to persist with this whole Brexit malarkey, let’s have something positive to show for it when we will inevitably need to mend our broken economy.
The Green New Deal would bring huge investment in technology and infrastructure across the UK. Through targeting developmental opportunities in socially deprived areas left long abandoned in the post-industrial, post-Maggie Thatcher age, the whole of the UK could reap the benefits of this collective idea. Wind turbine factories in Wales or solar panel firms in Stoke would allow investment areas left behind in the last two decades of London centric spending.
All new homes with solar panels, protections for ancient woodlands, ambitious policies of re-wilding, a change in policy of flood defences, the environment being central to the curriculum for all ages, improving the quality of cycle lanes, the championing electric vehicles and relevant charging points. In short, the UK could be the go-to mecca of socially responsible climate action, leaving no person behind. Let’s not wait for someone to blink first in the climate crisis, let’s jump in two footed and actually create a country that we could be proud of, rather than some post-Brexit, inward looking shit show that we are on-course to becoming. It could be beautiful.
For more information on the Green New Deal, please see: https://www.greennewdealuk.org/
Idea 3 – Nature’s Ability to Bounce Back
If you leave it, it will grow…
What this lockdown has also surely emphasised to everyone who isn’t Jair Bolsenario, the President of Brazil and his American counterpart Donald Trump (these two and their respective support bases, are truly lost causes), is that without such a big human presence, nature and the environment can bounce back.
Whether it’s the significant drop in air pollution in New Delhi, marine life in Venice or off the coast of Marseilles re-entering waters for the first time in decades to goats taking over Welsh villages. When given the space and respect, nature and the environment as a whole is an unstoppable force of joy and wonder.
However much I think humans are kinda alright, we seemingly have cocked things up hugely and now is the time we reset and we learn from our past mistakes. Kick traditional ideas of capitalism and consumerism into touch. The idea that any given country should constantly grow is mental as well. Let’s put the environment centre stage, like a Shakespearian monologue or the latest Dua Lipa album, and just let nature do its thing and be damn fab at doing it.
Mountain Goats take over the centre of Llandudno, Wales
[Image Christopher Furlong | Getty Images]
The coronavirus pandemic is a warning. As we erode more habitats, destroy more of the world’s biodiversity and continue to abuse the earth for its resources, the next coronavirus thing is going to be even worse. Let’s not let happen.
And thus, we sort of come back to why Sam and I started Goose Studios. We’ve always focussed on the idea of sustainability and offering our simplistic insights into ideas of consumerism and how they need to change. However, the last 5 or 6 weeks have made it abundantly clear that we should, as a brand, feel comfortable becoming more vocal in our wider political beliefs. The focus on sustainability as always been about combating a huge issue in fashion but why can’t we as a brand become a vehicle for social good in a wider sense and we want you guys to be a part of this.
The End and Where You Fit In?
So we ask you this…
Have a little think about whether you’ve realised something about yourself or about society during these lockdown times. It can be one thing or seven things that you think could be better or could be done differently!
There is no right or wrong answer; we would just genuinely love to hear from you, the Goose Studios Community, as lockdown continues in the UK, to see what you are all thinking during this time.
If you’ve got this far, a sincere thank you for sticking with me. I’d appreciate you being gentle if you are going to rip this post apart! And if you would like to get in contact with us in any way shape or form, then below is all the necessary details!
Much love and until next time,