I remember the morning of Tuesday 17th of March so clearly. An average March morning, mild with clear blue skies. I was talking about a girl who had come into the store the day before, to our delivery driver as we unloaded the van. She had been made redundant and so had her boyfriend who was in global sports entertainment. He then dumped her and she was self soothing by buying a new outfit.
Something got us on the subject of the 2008 Global recession and the bailout of the banks. I mentioned how I was considering selling a painting for some surplus cash and he responded that I should probably remove my jewellery as the climate was turning.
Within 3 days the planet had imploded. On Friday 20th March, the store I managed closed, Topshop laid off hundreds of staff across their 300 UK stores and almost no one is left on the streets of London. Much like the film 28 Days later, when Cillian Murphy walked through the desolate landscape of London’s concrete jungle, confused, alone and at the mercy of circumstance.
Back in 2008 I remember the cull. Frightened workers would refund items and explain that it was because they had lost their jobs. Some would ask us to hold onto their purchases, for fear of looking insensitive to colleges who were in their final days or weeks of work back at the office. Maximalism was out and discretion was the new mantra. Life shifted and the greedy got got! Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang has suddenly lost it’s funk….
In less than a month most of the Italy and Paris are under martial law and from today the UK is on lock down. No weddings, No gatherings, No trips to the cinema, theatre, no shopping for a new outfit, no McDonald’s, nothing!
London has ground to a halt. Our freedom has been eradicated for the good of humanity and suddenly and almost overnight, it would be impertinent to be grandiose in light of this totalitarianism. For the first time in history we have realised how fragile our lives are if we don’t work as one to keep each other alive.
It felt freeing to take off my jewellery and make way for a new approach to life. Simpler needs with simpler ideologies. No one will be immune to this lessening of stuff. Many people will suffer, many have already died but I hope that when this pandemic is done reshaping our World (and we know the full extent of this horror); that we can hold the hands of those who need help, stop valuing people for what they have and start to appreciate human gestures again.
If the Corona virus 2019 has taught us anything it has been to live in the moment, live for today, live with our loved ones and take time to appreciate those who keep us going, for now, next week and for the foreseeable future.