reflections on the past week
We had a wee get-together and I’m pleased to report all are fine. As a significant portion of the group had, over many years, exhibited symptoms of a tendency towards natural self-isolation, we seem well prepared for the current circumstances. Also, we’re all members of that sometimes odious group, the privileged educated elite, who should really have less to worry about.
Our coronversation was a break from what for me has been a troubling week. My personal circumstances could hardly be better – loads of space, ready access to the outdoors and plenty to do. We are starting to have the beguiling sound of the snipe surrounding us at night. Plus, no problem whatsoever in limiting myself to fortnightly trips to replenish supplies whilst the vulnerable one stays safe at home. For all this, I feel extremely fortunate.
A catalyst for my concerns was an exchange of messages via a forum of which I am a member. Basically a collection of people saying how they were and what they were doing. Nothing wrong with that of course – unless you are me! All I could see were yet more signed-up members of the privileged educated elite talking about such things as cleaning out cupboards or reaping the benefits of local fishermen unable to send their produce to market. In fairness, among the communications were some real concerns such as uncertainty over family members’ jobs and one correspondent enduring a torrid time associated with the care of aged relations. Helping to add fuel to my fire were the sad deaths of both the wife and the daughter-in-law of a very good friend last week. You can’t imagine the difficulties he and his son have had, which included being dealt the sucker-punch of precautionary quarantine arrangements. Meanwhile I’ve also been extremely concerned that my vulnerable brother’s household is not taking self isolation requirements seriously enough.
Then I started thinking about home schooling. Concern became tinged with anger. Never has there been a better time to have the right parents might be one way of looking at it. Never has there been a time when everything possible should be done to help ensure that all children are getting the help they need is another. This probably means much more by way of targeted assistance and technology, although I don’t feel qualified to prescribe what particular approach might work. I’ve tried to get a local organisation interested in coordinating a project to refurbish Windows laptops. I’m sure that there are many lying gathering dust throughout the country – that is, since the installation and subsequent poor performance of Windows 10 turned them into an excuse for purchasing a new machine. By installing Linux (Ubuntu)** and the Libre Office Suite a useful computer can often be reborn. For several months I have had such a machine in daily use for browsing, video calling etc. My suggestion is that a network of homeworker volunteers such as myself could carry out an agreed upgrade and the appropriate organisation, return or redistribute the items to where best used – either for educational purposes or to help combat social isolation.
Amid the gloom, like most, I’m grateful and humbled by the actions of NHS staff. The NHS less so (this article gives some indication as to why). Spirits have also been lifted by the reaction of engineers and organisations including the CPAP machine and Mercedes Benz and the fantastically uplifting snorkel mask story.
Most of all I’d like to recognise the vast army of carers, particularly those working in the private sector (which is now most of them). Many are working part-time in jobs with poor contract arrangements and the likelihood of no pay if they can’t work. In many areas there may be no alternative employment available to them. A few years ago I had the privilege of getting to know a few such carers and the circumstances surrounding their employment. They gained my enduring admiration. We should support them where we can. Without extending this piece further, I’ll simply state what everyone knows – there is a link between educational opportunity and the life circumstances that you later inhabit.
Since posting, I came across a couple of articles I thought worth adding. carers as the cannon fodder of coronavirus and how legal action may be taken against Councils in respect of denying educational opportunity.
** Having upgraded a few machines and considered what might be best for a new user my recommendation would now be https://www.linuxmint.com/