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Next world by Nigel Roth

Dernière mise à jour : 2 mars 2021

The night before the lockdown was announced in the UK - March 23, 2020 - the twenty or so pubs in and around my small Lincolnshire town were packed to the rafters. Reports had people drinking, hugging, kissing, dancing on tables, and generally indulging in as many of the activities they could that the government had ordered a lockdown to prevent.

The day of world war victory in Time Square - August 14, 1945 - is remembered for a sense of relief at having beaten the dark enemy of that era, and for very similar celebrations that took place to express a return to a more typical life, captured in Eisenstaedt’s intimate image. Life didn’t return entirely to normal on August 15, but very soon humans picked up where they had left off, living the way they had before the outbreak, and notwithstanding the mourning of the tremendous loss of life from the previous wartime years.

While transitions from one human existent phase to another don’t happen overnight - Neolithic Jane didn't wake up on the morning of Middle-moon, 2501 BCE and decide she was now Bronze Age Jane - we are astonishingly adaptable, adjustable, readjustable, and ‘retrojustable’.

So, when we are finally able to loosen Covid-19’s grip on our bodies and minds, will our world look any different?

The answer may lie in the length of time it takes to reach a point of sufficient recovery, and how devastating the loss of human life is during that period; longevity and repetition can create habitual behavior that can be hard to break. However, there may be some areas of our lives we can visualize, on any given day, post-pandemic.

Monday, August 15, 2022.

Post-pandemic Jane arises and readies herself for her journey to work.

While her pre-pandemic employer insisted she was ever-present in the office, and only work from home when she could prove beyond doubt to be sick, he was happy for her to work from home during the pandemic because that way she was at least still working. Now, he realizes he has no-one to bully and so needs her back in the creativity-killing office full-time.

The office she’s driving too has changed, of course; it has now been divided up into individual booths, and has air purifiers in each. No longer is the open plan ideal allowed so, much to the chagrin of managers who like to make sure every employee is working and not thinking, they have returned to the 80’s, and Robert Prost's ‘cubicle farms’.