This lockdown has had very odd effects for me. Since I was in a crash on the motorway just before lockdown I don’t have a car. Where I live public transport is rubbish so working from home is good. It has also meant that I walk everywhere. My world has telescoped to a radius of six or seven miles. It is also a quiet word. I walked along what in normally a busy A-road the other night and I could have done so safely right down the middle of the road.
It is like stepping back in time, or indeed forward into the setting of my books. A depopulated world with few vehicles. A slower world. In some ways the reduced road noise, no planes in the sky to remind us of humanity, even in the depth of the countryside, is wonderful. It is a taste of how people used to live.
It is also a fantasy in the modern world in a physically small country like the UK. Like all hallucinations it proceeds from a bad thing, but, maybe, like the artistic output of many people who have experimented with mind altering substances, it will have positive long term benefits.
I ask myself why do I commute? The answer is that the work is in a place that I cannot get a home and in truth would not want to. Why? It is an ugly, awful, urban sprawl. Yet we concrete over ever more of our country to allow people to live a long way from work and buy cars, burn fuel, and waste our days to get there. Remote working is one answer. Making our work areas much more pleasant is another. Maybe we can create a non-apocalyptic way of living. A slower, more pleasant, more human, more community based life where we can belong in a more sustainable way. If that comes out of the present chaos then it will not all have been in vain.