Yesterday marked the first day of the gradual release from lockdown here in the UK, with the reopening of certain types of stores, and more to come in a fortnight. There were also some relaxations in the rules on meeting friends and family outdoors – but not in your home, yet. These are obviously welcome signs of a possible return to ‘normal’ – if you missed it, I wrote about ‘normal’ last Friday, here. But they are also the hallmarks of a government driven by the need to rebuild the economy. For months now, our Prime Moron and his lackeys have been chuntering on about being ‘guided by the advice of the scientists’ – no doubt if the Prime Manipulator had got them all to use a handy three word slogan like ‘led by science’ he wouldn’t have needed that break in Durham. He likes his three word slogans, does Dom, but sadly for us ‘sorry, I resign’ hasn’t yet reached his vocabulary. I may be accused of being cynical about this, but I can’t help but wonder if this is just their way of moving towards their plan for herd immunity, that they used as their excuse for doing nothing for two months when the virus first hit us. It seems a little bit too coincidental that Johnson barred his scientific advisors from commenting on the Cummings issue, and that most of them have been nowhere near the daily briefings since then, either at his wish or theirs. They have, however, subsequently made their views clear that it is too early to end lockdown just yet, and there are warnings of a second coronavirus wave if we try to move too quickly. Time will tell, I guess, and that leads me neatly(ish) into this week’s theme: time.
As a concept, time fascinates me. You can’t see it, or touch it, but it underpins everything we do. I’ve written a few times about it, several years ago. Try this one, if you’re interested, which is the closest I’ve ever got to being philosophical. In today’s context my interest is in some things which have been said often in the past few months: how do we spend all this additional time we have on our hands, or how do we measure the passing of time in lockdown, when the days seem to merge into each other? In terms of philosophy, I am hard-pressed to come up with a better way of thinking about it than this week’s first tune:
Sandy Denny wrote that when she was 20. It is, I think, a remarkably mature song from someone who would only live to the age of 31. It has been covered many times – notably by Kate Rusby and Judy Collins – but, for me, none of the covers even comes close to touching the poetic beauty of the original. But then none of the others has Sandy’s voice, do they? I featured this song in a post some years ago, which I reworked six months ago, and in which I commented
‘The constancy of nature and its regenerating seasons is used as a metaphor for human life and love. “I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving, I do not count the time” is a perfect statement of the best way to live life: for the now. We cannot change our past and we cannot predict our future.’
Couldn’t have put it better if I’d tried! Whilst looking back can be both fun and instructive, we are living now and can only move forwards.
This week’s second tune is also from the 60s, which gave me the excuse for the image at the top of the page:
The song was originally released as a track on the Zombies’ Odyssey And Oracle album, but later became a hit single in the US and elsewhere, though never here in the UK. I think that may have been something to do with CBS having virtually given it away on the first of their sampler albums, The Rock Machine Turns You On, which I bought, along with the two follow up albums – incredible value and a good way to encourage full price album sales! I think this video for the song is amazing, and really captures the spirit of the age and the hedonism young people were enjoying. But there were also dark times, too – civil riots in the US and other countries in 1968, for example. We seem to be coming full circle, and I can only hope that a bellicose president can be dissuaded from using armed force to control the demonstrations. Some of us are old enough to remember the tragic events at Kent State University in 1970: ‘four dead in Ohio,’ as Neil Young put it.
This piece has taken on a more serious note than I intended at the outset, but I make no apology for that. We are living in serious and dangerous times but, as always, I know that I can rely on music for solace and to help me escape from reality (NOT a Bohemian Rhapsody reference!). I just hope that my pessimism about world events is proved wrong, fingers crossed.
As always, I wish you a good week, and trust that you will stay safe and well.