CORONAVIRUS: A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR?

Social distancing? Self-isolation? I’m a writer, so what has changed? Though to be honest, when I worked as a consultant after taking early retirement from an office job, I often worked from home and did business by phone and email. ‘Pete, this renewal strategy, can you get it done in two weeks? OK? Email it to me with your invoice.’ Sometimes I never even met the client.
The only change now really is getting supplies in and walking/climbing outside to keep fit mentally & physically (all the climbing walls are closed and it looks like even local bouldering might be banned). I’m in the vulnerable group by age and pre-existing condition so strict handwashing and keeping 2 meters from people is required – I’m a grumpy old git anyway so that isn’t hard. Not going to the pub/out for a bite to eat or not going for a quiet weekend at our cottage is difficult but we can manage.
I’m making notes for my next novel – so how will this malarkey affect things?
– Many of the social/business interactions in my books take place in pubs and restaurants – maybe now they’ll have to be in the open air (which my characters do anyway if they think they are under surveillance)
– Some of my characters are old and have serious health conditions. Some are prone to believing conspiracy theories. Seen quack remedies like taking bleach pills, and predictable stuff about CIA/Chinese germ warfare
– Kids are off school – they’re going to get bored out of their little heads
– Obsession with masks, wipes, gloves, hand-washing. Where does cleanliness stop and anal repression start? What effect would toilet roll shortage have?
– Panic-buying in supermarkets. Trolley rage. Obsession with hoarding toilet rolls, pasta and rice. The first priority for Daniel Defoe when the plague struck was buying in huge quantities of malt and barrels to ensure supplies of beer. I sympathise.
– Money laundering. Businesses with lots of cash transactions – eg bars, restaurants – have closed down. Not so good if you work for an OCG (Organised Crime Group) and need to launder large quantities of cash. Maybe moving into hijacking lorryloads of toilet rolls and hand sanitizer? So what do you do with the cash you make from selling the robbed stuff? Can money laundering go contactless?
– Air travel ceased. Travel outside the local area discouraged. Move into online fraud? Crime goes paperless?
Just some initial thoughts. Maybe this is an opportunity rather than a threat. I’m halfway through Daniel Defoe’s Journal of a Plague Year and just discovered my wife’s copy of Albert Camus’ The Plague (must find The Rebel and The Outsider – loved them. When I first went to university I was somewhat ignorant about literature and had the bookshop staff rolling in the aisles when I asked for ‘The Outsider by Albert Kaymuss’ – you have to say that in a Middlesbrough accent to get the full effect). From her school days, looks like. Will keep you posted.

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