Friday, 24 April 2020

Covid19 has been terrible, but was this a good year for it to strike?

"Things could be worse, at least the weather is beautiful". This was the response to a "Everything Ok" greeting to an elderly Jewish chap we regularly see on our daily dog walk across the Darlands nature reserve. I guess we've seen him most days for the last couple of years, since we got our new dog. He's a pleasant, cheerful type, after the first couple of times we saw him and his friends on their daily walk, we'd not and exchange a greeting. Now he's either walking alone or with his wife. We now stop and have a pleasant, socially distanced chat. This has been facilitated by the beautiful weather. Yesterday, he made a shrewd observation, saying "This would have been awful if it had happened when we had the beast from the East a couple of years ago". The sunshine has given many of us, especially those with gardens, a degree of respite. I do wonder whether the experience will spell the end of the mega developments of rabbit hutch size flats, with no gardens. I suspect that there will be a lot of these sitting empty for a very long time. But that is a discussion for another day, today I am going to explore the What If's the Lockdown had happened in another year. just suppose that the world had been locked down from March to whenever in another year?

I did some reading up on the Beast from the East and it had actually passed by the middle of April. The main spell was between 22nd February and 5th March, with a further cold snap on 17-18 March. If you transpose that onto this years Covid timeline, it may actually have been better, as we'd have all been inside, keeping out of the cold, rather than enjoying the sun. It is entirely feasible that there may have been less transmissions had we had such a cold snap. The travel disruption that the snow and ice caused, may well have meant thousands would have been at home rather than catching covid on the tube. The sunshine has certainly got more of us out and about than would have been the case if the weather had been cold and wet. Of course our mental health may well have suffered from being cooped up.

A thought that also occurred to me was that there were other years when it might have made a huge difference. Just imagine this had happened in 1982? The junta in Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands on the 2nd April. Had the world been locked down in March, then we may well not have had a Falklands war. The war cemented the reputation of Margaret Thatcher as the Iron lady. Previous to the victorious campaign, she was lagging in the polls. Following the Vietnam war, America had turned away from the concept of starting foreign wars, but Ronald Regan noted the huge poll boost Thatcher received and promptly invaded Grenada, booting out a left wing administration. His ratings soared and the pattern of American presidents starting wars abroad began. The world would have been a very different place if we'd all been locked down and the Argentine Navy had stayed at home.

What about 1977? The year two sevens clashed? The year of the punk explosion. Although it had been simmering in 1976, and the Damned had released the first UK punk album in January, the music hadn't really exploded into the public consciousness. It was between January and June that it really took off, with the Sex Pistols topping the charts with God Save The Queen during the Queens silver Jubilee in the first week of June. Had we been in lockdown, most of the seminal punk albums may not have been released. The bands that were just forming would never have got together. Of course some of the music would have been released, but the whole nation would have been looking in a different direction. The Clash's debut album was released in April, Exodus by Bob Marley and Puremania by The Vibrators in June, and My aim is true by Elvis Costello and the Attractions in July. These would all have been pushed back or postponed completely. It is unlikely that Virgin would have signed the Sex Pistols in May, if the company was in lockdown. Punk inspired so many musicians, also leading to the establishment of reggae as a major music genre in the UK. It also inspired the independent music movement, with homegrown labels and magazines launching many amazing talents. In lockdown, it is likely that none of this could have flourished.

Or what about if this had happened in 1979? Margaret Thatcher was elected as Prime Minister on 3rd May 1979. Labour had been running a minority administration. The winter of 78 had been appalling, but its poll ratings were improving. The election would have been postponed. Thatcher would have been obliged to support the efforts of the government to fight the virus. Who knows how Jim Callaghan would have managed the crisis.  One thing would be clear though, it would have taken peoples minds off the Winter of Discontent. Callaghan may have won and Thatcher would have just been a small footnote in history.

Blonde on Blonde - 1966
Perhaps the most worrying of all the scenarios would be the Lockdown occurring in 1966. There would have been no World Cup, No Geoff Hurst hattrick, no "Two world wars and a World Cup" chants. Perhaps England would have been a different place. The Beatles were writing revolver during the lockdown months. Otis Redding released The Soul Album. In June, Aretha Franklyn released soul sister and Dylan released Blonde on Blonde. If they'd been shelved, or not recorded, the world would be a much worse place indeed.

All in all, we will never know what 2020 would have been like had the Lockdown not happened. But if we look at these years, we can see that it really could have made a massie change. Maybe England would have won the Euro's and a new Bob Marley emerged? We will never know.

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