Updated: Jul 2
Do you think we’re reaching a fork in the road? Decision time, recalibration. Perhaps not a Lord of the Rings-sized scene shift, more, little tweaks, tugging at the way life used to be.
There’s been lots of talk about lockdown life bringing out the best (and, sadly, on occasion, the worst) in human behaviour, with several examples of heroic gestures and life-changing thoughtfulness.
But stepping back from the headlines, I think there could be a subliminal mood-swing gripping the nation, not making front pages perhaps but significantly impacting our approach to future life.
Perhaps it is a case of ‘necessity being the mother of all invention’ but I think there might be a more subtle trend taking shape. The flexible approach. Innovation that builds on concrete foundations but now demands an extension to tradition - the ‘perhaps this might work’ tactic.
‘Give us some examples,’ you cry.
OK. Case in point, Bridge of Earn’s busy flora and fauna committee have started planting veg in the village’s decorative plant pots. What a brilliant idea. Rows of trembling rocket and iceberg brightening, and feeding, inhabitants and, I’ll wager, a lot more cost-effective to install. Thumbs up ‘Brig in Bloom’.
Further evidence of Perthshire innovation is Pitlochry’s Hettie’s Tearooms. No longer allowed to fill vintage china with world-wide blends, the quick-thinking owner has turned her teahouse into a comforting takeaway. The same sticky buns and criminally tasty sausage rolls but, Jim, not as you know it. Now they’re ‘on the go’; food for the road, or just a trip up the high street if you’re walking off the calories.
Flexibility’s popping up all over the place. I met an Edinburgh-based PR whose pre-March client base was the travel and sports industry. Disaster. Business has fallen off a cliff but, ironically, left her a legacy of copious tennis and squash equipment.
And what preoccupied social media for the first month of lockdown? Loo rolls. Inspired by the must-have item and, combining it with available resources, she’s turned her hand to reconfiguring racquets into stand-a-lone toilet roll holders. Clever eh and, guess what, they’re rolling out of the stock room faster than the Andrex puppy.
Summer’s in full flow. While the weather doesn’t always reflect the calendar, Mother Nature does and our gutters are full of tightly-rooted sedum, beamed down from space to set up home in the drainpipe.
What to do? Hijacking a - as it turned out - friendly roofer, I inquired as to whether he’d consider a spot of gutter clearing.
“Hmm.” He did that deep sigh/chin-rubbing combo so beloved of tradesmen, “I don’t normally ‘do’ that sort of thing, but, well, go on then.” Pushing my luck, I wondered if the repainting of high-level soffit boards might also be tackled: “Well, I’ll be up there anyway, I suppose so.”
Issuing thanks, I scarpered before a change of mind could be offered.
Innovation is all over the place. Perthshire friends are having their window sills painted by a furloughed bar manager. Café workers are deftly entering the business arena, creating industrial quantities of colourful face masks. Serendipitously, companies like long-established fruit and veg wholesales, Les Turriff, did a nimble early lockdown U turn into the domestic market, quickly delivering crunchy greens and plump berries etc to grateful subscribers.
But let’s not forget the greatest, largely unacknowledged, ‘upskilling’ adopted by a whole army of Brits. Without discussion or preamble, overnight, parents, guardians and carers, throughout the land, morphed from business gurus - confident in their daily tasks and place on the career ladder - to stumbling home-schoolers, adrift in bewildering new terminology and technology.
Struggling with the ‘second language’ of TEAMS, Zoom and the intricacies of the Civil Rights Movement and ice flow ingression, with which, in most cases, their offspring were more familiar, they had little choice but to embrace the change.
Flexibility is a commendable skill and it’s been much in evidence during the last few months. I’d like to think I’ve embraced the revolution but am sad to report that my new-found skill-set definitely does not stretch to haircuts.
Without doubt, this is a task for professionals only – don’t ask!
23 June 2020