22 March 2020

Jennifer Cooke: “I spent four years researching a PhD on plague—as a disease and as a metaphor for all sorts of things, including other infectious diseases, real and fictional. … I know an awful lot about contagious times and how people behave in them. … What can I tell you about contagious epidemics? What will happen to us? … There will be social unrest. There will be cult weirdos and strange beliefs, doomsters baying about the end of times. There will be exploiters, quacks, and fraudsters. But there will also be simple kindnesses, more phone calls between family members, between friends. We will all work less, if at all. There will be absurdity. And there will be incredible community support, for the people by the people. There will be ingenious new forms of entertainment and the revival of older forms that we have forgotten or stashed at the back of the cupboard. … Facebook groups have started for postcodes or streets or villages. Lists are circulating for you to sign up to help those in your area by shopping for them, collecting medicines, or simply to chat on the phone to assuage some of the loneliness for those unable to go out. People are doing this themselves. People, it turns out, know how to organise themselves. … At this moment, as we lockdown, we need creative, generous, supportive thinking about how we want to restructure the future. Everything is thinkable. Everything is on the table.”