Books Magazine

The Space Between

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
It's been another quiet week in the jewel of the north, splendidly sunny for sure, but eerily deserted for the most part. This is social distancing in practice, in a concerted attempt to slow the advancing ripple of Coronavirus contagion through the land.
With the gym out of bounds for the last fortnight, I've been walking from my house each morning along Blackpool promenade for about 90 minutes, sometimes turning left (south to Starr Gate), sometimes right (north to Gynn Square). I haven't encountered many people; the occasional solitary walker or jogger (sometimes with dog in tow), a few cyclists. We all keep well apart, per the 2 meter rule, conscientious in maintaining the space between us. Sometimes we wave.
On these brisk walks, I take my i-Pod, wear headphones and frequently sing along to whatever I'm listening to if I think there's no one else within earshot (which is usually the case); except for earlier today when a cyclist sped past me and turned to shout back "you should really go on the X-Factor". I think not, but I do sometimes yearn to sing and play in a band again. Well that's not going to happen for the foreseeable future, is it? This new restrictive regime is likely to be in place for months.
So far the pandemic doesn't appear to have made significant inroads to Blackpool. As I write, there are still only 9 officially confirmed cases in a town of 150,000 people, that's 5 more than there were two weeks ago. If we really are about a fortnight behind London on the curve then the introduction of social distancing ought to have a marked impact up here in slowing down the advance of the virus.

The Space Between

Hopperesque Social Distancing

I know for many people these unexpected changes have come as a huge jolt, people with partners, children, jobs. I've mentioned in a previous blog that my daughters live and work in London. They're both working from home now, one is likely to go on furlough and the other has had her salary halved for the foreseeable future, plus her boyfriend has just been made redundant. There are hard times ahead. I count myself fortunate in these circumstances that I'm retired, live for the most part on my own, and am quite comfortable with just my own company for reasonable periods. Whether I'll feel the same way in three or six months' time I'm not sure.
There could be significant and permanent changes in the way we live our lives as a result of what we're going through at the moment. Viewed from a positive perspective, there's a huge opportunity to re-evaluate what truly matters to us as a society and all manner of interesting innovations may result from necessity (being the mother of invention). If this wartime spirit and sense of urgency can bring together academics, the government, research labs, industrialists to create new technology in weeks as social  concerns take priority over capital, think how many more of the world's pressing issues (climate emergency, endemic diseases, malnutrition) could be sorted with the same co-operative spirit - maybe a once in a century chance to press the re-set button to good effect.
Our national Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, has already written a rather good response to the Covid-19 crisis which I urge you to seek out. I shall not be following suit in writing about Coronavirus. I find I generally need more time - more social distance even - from events to let ideas and impacts form themselves into a response that I feel satisfied with.
Instead, I offer you this, inspired by my reading of Lucretius ('On The Nature Of Things') and Fritjof Capra ('The Tao Of Physics') and the collapse of a relationship. It has lain semi-written for several years but I figured would fit theme on this occasion if I could finish it off - so I did (until I decide to change it).
Coming Apart?
The paradox of every solid thing
is that it's far more void than substance:
table, chair, bed, bodies, skin, hair,
all comprised of atoms,
molecules in small degree,
chaining, gravitating, oscillating
in the space between, a lot of air.
Our settled state, far more precarious
than we'd ever like to think,
could fly apart in the blink of an eye
if random factors so dictate.
This 'us' is not inviolate
despite our fondest wish. We try
to hold each other dear, to no avail
when distance intervenes
for change is constant, the forces
manifold and complicating.
Despite our best professions about
fulfilling love's sweet dream,
I've no doubt you are dematerialising,
our future, coming apart it seems.
Thanks for reading. Be cheerful, remain connected, stay safe, S ;-) Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook


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