Day Sixteen – Butterfly Effect- What If?

Every day in this pandemic, we are being faced with more plot twists than a M Night Shaymalan film. To the extent where nothing seems to be a shock anymore. Yesterday, Boris Johnson was admitted to an ICU, as his symptoms from Covid 19 worsen. Not much has been told to us -the public, apart from he is doing well, which comes as no surprise. It will be typical government strategy to not let slip out anything that will cause panic to an already fragile population. In any other time or scenario, the PM being in a possible life threatening condition, would shock the country to its core. But, in this current day, it scarily seems ok, like another hard battle in this god forsaken war we have found ourselves in.

I feel sorry for Boris, I’ve never been a fan of many Tory policies, or the bumbling buffoon, but I kind of liked the guy for his absurd nonsense from time to time. That jolly old posh fool, who finds it hard to string two sentences together without offending someone or something, that everyone somehow seems to let him off for. But I don’t wish the guy any harm. In fact a sense of sadness came over me, hearing the news, that the leader of our country, regardless of what many may think of him, is in the state that he is.

Sitting here in lockdown, it got me thinking of how it even came to this stage, how he got to where he is now and even if he should be there? It seems almost by chance everything happened the way it did.

The Butterfly Effect is a term used to describe how the slightest of changes can go on to have a huge consequence or result. It is believed that something as minute as a flap of the wings from a butterfly, can go on to cause a Tornado. It seems fitting I should be thinking about this, since it is something even smaller than a flap of a butterfly’s wing (in this case microbes), that is currently causing this global mayhem.

What has this got to do with Boris? It maybe hard to imagine, but 2020, should have been the year, we were meant to have our next official General Election, as in line with election law.  But things have drastically changed since May 2015, when the Tories surprised even themselves and won a majority with David Cameron continuing his reign as PM.  If everything had taken its suggestive normal course, he would have still been our PM and we should have got ready to vote again sometimes this May.  But since, we have had an EU Referendum, two general elections and two different PMs, representing one of the most extreme, right wing, elitist and nationalist Conservative Party we have seen in over a century. And on the flip side we have had an almost near socialist revolution with Jeremy Corbyn.

For anyone who doesn’t follow politics, I can tell you this much, the things which have happened in the last five years, almost makes it seem like we have woken up in a parallel universe. Somewhere, somehow, a butterfly must have flapped his wings wrong.  So where can we trace this back to?

Could it be all the way back to the 2008 Financial Crisis? Could it be the transfer of power from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown as PM of the country back in 2007? Gordon Brown with all his great knowledge and excellent financial skills, never quite had the charisma to convince the public who were bearing the brunt of the financial crisis, to support a new five years of Labour government. At the same time, David Cameron, found himself in the same position. The result was one of the most unlikely partnership in the history of UK, a Con Lib coalition that ran the country for the next five years and declaring austerity.

As the right wing of the country gained more power and voices calling for an exit from the EU getting louder. Labour members through the support of the Unions somehow elected Ed Milliband as their leader and PM candidate instead of his highly tipped and more strategic brother David Milliband.

We all know Cameron only agreed, to the EU Referendum, after giving into the extreme right of his party and to win a majority in the next election. He assumed it would be a walk in the park for him, after all, the UK public will never vote to leave the EU, right?

Thanks to the referendum, we saw terms like Brexit appear on our vocabulary, which dominated our lives for over three years, we saw our country divide, another two general election, which eventually  got Boris elected as the PM.

But what if things were different? What if David Milliband did win the Labour leadership in 2010? He had polices, the support and the strategy of a true Blairite.  He could have challenged Cameron better than his brother Ed and maybe even gone onto win the GE in 2015. Therefore, leading this country into a whole new direction. I only say this, because since the 2009 GE, every game changing votes have been won on a margin and a little push could have changed everything.

What if Cameron decided to stay as PM after the Brexit vote? Would there new leadership challenge in the party? Would  Boris even had Covid 19, seeing as though it most likely he got infected doing prime ministerial duties, which he wouldn’t be doing and even if he did. Would it matter to us as it does now? Would we feel sorry for the guy? Would we even know names like Sajid Javid, Priti Patel and Rishi Sunak. Cameron would most likely not give into the right wing and keep his centre focus Cabinet Ministers. We probably would not have heard of Dominic Cummings either.

What would have happened if David Milliband was leader of the Labour Party? Would we have ever heard of Jeremy Corbyn?  Or be part of his small revolution, that went onto inspired a new generation. We probably would have been caught up in more global conflicts in the name of peace, as David Milliband followed a lot of neo –liberal agenda.

Covid 19 pandemic would most likely still taken place, as this is a  natural phenomenon. But how would we have dealt with it?  A part of me hopes, I can wake up from this parallel universe and find myself back in a more normal world, where the butterfly didn’t flap his wing. Where I am just getting ready to vote for in the GE in May 2020.

Day Fourteen- Fading Hope?

Two weeks have passed since we began official lockdown. Next Monday we will know how long they will extend it by. I guess, it’s no use in pretending the Government will announce they will ease restrictions, the chances are, we are in it for the next foreseeable month or maybe more.

The Sun came out this weekend, like no other time of this year, it almost felt like June. Clear skies and mild wind greeted us through our windows. Taunting us and reminding us of all the things we cannot do. Today should have been the beginning of Easter Holidays, a ray of hope and excitement for everyone. April has always been my favourite time of the year. Looking back, all my great memories had been forged around this time. The start of spring brings me a joy, like no other seasons, not even summer. It never fails to give me the sense of birth, a new beginning. With the clocks extending, the sun emerging and with each passing hour, the days get longer. It allows me to approach the year with excitement, joy and hope of what I can do for the next coming months. Unlike in July and August, where the scorching heat only reminds me that the days are reaching its peak and everything is slowly grinding down and the days will soon be coming to a halt.

This year it’s hard to think or feel anything, even with it being 21 degrees outside today. The uncertain future and the news around us, hasn’t allowed me to contemplate tomorrow. Instead a feeling of restlessness has clouded me.  The News makes me more confused than anything else, the reason why I have stopped reading or watching them. All my group chats in Whats App is in its peak volume from family to friends. Being in lockdown has us all documenting our thoughts, memes, videos and links we come across every day. There seems to be a trend in all of these new renewed connections. We have the religious ones, the funny ones, the paranoid one and the critical ones.

Running in the City this weekend, it was clear that many have flouted the social distancing rules, using the sun as an excuse to put on their running tights, only to hang out in hot tourist or gathering points. The warning from the Government, doesn’t seem to have an effect on some, as threats of tougher restrictions and taking away our right to exercise, looms over our heads.

As some good news comes out of Italy and Spain with their death counts and infection rates being lower and also here in the UK producing a lower number than yesterday. We are still far from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We don’t even know what plateau feels or looks like in this situation.  Boris Johnson being hospitalised with Covid 19, makes it seem like, this crazy Sci-Fi movie we have found ourselves in, has not even reached its climax. We are still half way through the plot. Whether you like or hate the guy, there is no denying having the leader of the country hospitalised by the same thing that is leading the world down a downwards slope, can have a toll on your faith that it’s going to get better.

I am trying to keep it normal. This week, I set up my Sheesha set in my garden, like I do every time, around this time of the year. I watered my dead mint plant, which within the next two weeks, like every year will no doubt sprout its first leaves. Making the small part of my garden where I smoke my Sheesha, bask with its fragrance. Having Sheehsa at the end of every spring or summer night allows me to think, it gives out a relaxing ambience and lets me unwind.

Today, in the first warm night of the year, when I take my hit at the pipe and watch the coal burn, I think of the picture of me in staring into the sunrise. The one attached to this blog. This was only six months ago when me and my cousins were in New York. This picture was one of my favourite moments of the whole trip. Me and my cousin got up at 6am that morning, in our Air BnB in Brooklyn and ran all the way to the famous Coney Island Beach. There, unbeknown to us and to our surprise, we were greeting by this sunrise and the calm waters rushing into the coastal sands. It was an amazing sight, a permanent sign of hope and a reminder, even in a congested concrete jungle like New York, there laid such peaceful and beautiful scenery. How the world has changed from six months ago. I think about NYC and my family there and the current situation they are going through and how Covid 19 has affected them. But just like the sunrise on that day, I know they will rise from this.

As I sit in my garden and take another hit on my Sheesha. I can clearly see the top of The Shard, the lights turned to blue for the foreseeable future, in honour of the NHS. I am reminded of the great unity this country and the people have for our heroes working there under these circumstances. The lights acting as a signal, a beacon of strength, admiration of resilience and gratitude. The moon shines above me, nature’s permanent light, guiding us and reminding me, man made light may come from human hope, but the universe will never fail in shining it own light of hope. A few stars trickle next to it, maybe one day we will get to see all the magnificent stars shine again across the skies of London, showing us the brilliance and power of the cosmos. The ancient kings and souls that had found themselves long lost in there. Crazier things have happened, crazier things are happening, almost nothing is impossible nowadays. We have used man-made structures to hide the lights that burn in space, we can find ways to undo them. Unless we look up and try to uncover the mysteries and mystical nature of the universe, we can’t find ourselves here in this earth.

So as the second week passes, I still keep hope, I know the sun will rise again, just like my picture.

As The Queen said in her speech

‘Better days will return, families will meet again, friends will meet again, we will meet  again.’

Day Twelve- Why Running Matters

First they came for the pubs, I didn’t say anything because I didn’t drink. Then they came for the Restaurants and I didn’t say anything because I didn’t go out to eat. Then they came for the gyms,  but there was no one left to speak out for me.

It was a good joke and got a few laugh when I cited it around a fortnight ago to friends and family, the day the government announced they are going to close down all the gyms to combat Covid 19. The truth was, for many gym and fitness addict such as myself, it was a bitter pill to swallow. To gym rats, going two straight days without a training session, makes us feel physically deflated.  It’s a mental unlocking, where you feel weak and end up hating looking in the mirror. The indefinite suspension of gyms without a clear date of when it will open, left us worried about our gains, our mental health and that summer body we all prepare to sculpt, like every year.

Very quickly, free weights, resistance bands, dumbbells and literally every other home workout equipment you could think off, started selling out online. Thanks to this new fitness craze that has hit people in the past five years. Many were ahead of the game and knew exactly what to do and order.

I had a few resistance bands at home but that’s a story for another blog. I guess my falling grace in all of this, was the fact that the government allowed us to go outside once a day for exercise. This meant, I could continue with my running, especially with the weather improving. I was a little sad because this year was meant to be the year when I ramp up a few 10K races and at least two half marathons (last year I managed to do one race) but fate had other plans with all large sporting events suspended until further notice.  Having just completed a half marathon in the beginning of March and combining heavy cardio with weights right up until the day of the lockdown, I was all up in rage with my training. I told myself, I couldn’t let this be a reason to slide down with my fitness, especially with my running. My goal remained to run as many long distances races as I can, if not this year, then definitely next.

Now, I know a lot of joggers are getting  bad press in the media, for not adhering to social distancing and for crowding inside parks. Me, personally I have not witnessed this and I am not sure if this is fake news or it’s just not happening at the places where  I go running.

Apart from essential shopping, the only other time I go out, is when I got out for my run every day.  There is nothing more I find liberating and nothing more suited either. As a matter of fact, the title of my website- Pacing Forward, was named in relation to my love for running.  We have been lucky to have had the spring sun shining, as running across the Thames and the City of London with the wind rushing and the sun blaring down on your face, as you pass through each of London’s famous bridges is nothing short of exhilarating. What makes it even enjoyable, is that there are few to no traffic and people to slow down your run, therefore improving your pace. London has always been a difficult place to run, thanks to its deep congestion. Whether it’s a red light, cyclists or just pedestrians getting in your way. The rare occasion when the traffic works in your favour with less people around, is what I call a good day. This is how it is now, every day.

I have never been that fond of running in parks, simply because, most of the time you find yourself in a loop and I much rather move in straight lines.  This is why it seems a blessing to go running every day and keep moving on the streets without any obstacles. Even though, there is a sense of eeriness from the silence of the roads, once packed by thousands of people.  What is also interesting is, the amount of runners I see, that I have not seen before. If this pandemic has done anything, is that it has been successful in getting more people out of their doors to take better care of their health by running, even if their reasons are to just get that one hour break from staying inside their homes.

But the best part of it all is and I cannot express this enough, that it is good for your mental wellbeing. There is a reason why the government has made exercise, one of the mandatory reasons for you to go out.  This is because, it’s vital for your physical and mental health. In this current pandemic with all the concerns, anxiety and worries we have for our loved and vulnerable ones and the future of this world. Being cooped up inside the four walls of our homes, is the last thing we need to add on to the list of worries. The mental effects of being in a lockdown can potentially cause more harm for us as a society as we move on from this globe changing scenario. Think along the lines of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, there is no doubt in the long run, people coming out of this pandemic will develop some type of anxiety as a result of all this. This is why it’s so important that we keep both our mind and body fit.

Running and social distancing go hand in hand. There is no activity more solitude than running. I should know, I have done it for a long time.  There is nothing more serene than running at your own pace, yes there are some who choose to run with their friends, partners and teams but really and truly, this is one activity where you don’t need anyone. All you need is a good playlist and a good route, and you get subdued into your own world, the only competition you have is yourself. You are in a world where no one will judge you, time you or even ask what you have on your playlist. You can put whatever gets you going, from your guilty pleasures to hardcore fast pacing tunes. I personally have everything from Linking Park, Jay Z to Celine Dion to get me through those slow parts of the runs.  It’s all personal, it’s all you and you don’t need anybody or anyone.

Importantly it helps me balance my thoughts, my worries, allows me to think, helps me escape, clear my mind and puts me in a better mood and makes me fitter all at the same time.  In this lockdown with no clear idea or timeline of what will happen next, we need this now more than ever.

It also allows me to kill two birds with one stone, as I almost always pop down the supermarket after my run to do my shopping. Thankfully, since all my runs are in the City of London, majority of the supermarkets have fewer customers and fully stocked up.

There are a lot of concerns that runners are causing a lot of issues in relation to social distancing, but from what I have witnessed, we are keeping safe. I keep more than my recommended distance, carry my own towel with me, along with wearing the right gear and washing myself thoroughly when I get home.

For that one hour a day I find myself now running, it’s the one hour, where I feel a bit normal, escape from a world that is getting grim every day.  So please let’s all of us keep pacing forward.

As always don’t jeopardise others with your action, be safe doing whatever you do and keep healthy.

Day Ten – Conspiracy Squad

Every global catastrophe is guaranteed to have two things. Number one, its critics and number two the conspiracy theorists. The latter, remind us every step of the way, that what are seeing, is in fact, not what we are getting.

Did you hear about the one where no Jews went to work at the World Trade Centre in 9/11? Or how about the famous, Man didn’t land on the Moon? Do you remember how The Simpsons predicted the future in multiple episodes? How about MMR vaccines causing Autism amongst children? And less we forget the Flat Earthers, a scary growing movement, who in fact believe, as their title will tell you, yes, the world is flat and the globe is just a big NASA conspiracy. For what reason, they are still yet to tell us. But not all conspiracy theories are something concocted out of mind of a toddler, with lizards controlling the Earth and enslaving humanity. There are those you can have a rational conversation about, which are more political rather than conspiracy theories. Such as the destabilising of middle-eastern countries by western forces in the name of liberation and freedom.

So was it really a surprise with the whole Covid 19 Pandemic, that every conspiracy theorist crawled out from their dark holes and invaded the internet with their take on how this is all linked to the Illuminati, Freemasons or the Rothschild Family. I’ll be the first to admit, I do not trust all formal information the government gives us, but that does not mean I will jump on the bandwagon of those who are offering me their wide and wacky alternative. Whilst I can entertain the ideas of experts and professionals who have worked in stock markets, health care systems, government offices and have inside knowledge of the subject they are talking about and giving their opinions of what this current global catastrophe means. What I can and will not tolerate is the average Joe without any actual expertise or knowledge about something, enforcing a theory which they found out about through a meme,  like it was the truth and nothing but the truth.

I’m sure all of us have received videos, voice notes, memes, texts and posts, from all different sources in the last few weeks, citing different theories about Covid 19. Some are quite interesting to think about and others just plain unbelievable. Like the one where millions of bodies are being cremated secretly by the government to hide the death toll. What government in this day and age can secretly cremate a million bodies and keep it silent? A million bodies are likely to have a minimum of 60 million relatives or people they know, what government can keep 60 million people to keep their mouths shut? But what is scary, is the amount of people who then forward these theories, legitimising the absurdness behind it.

Recently, there have been videos and posts about how the 5G network is emitting a new type of powerful radiation which is killing birds and trees. Apparently, 5G will give us brain cancer and is even responsible for Covid 19. I think our 5G contract with China, has something to do with these types of sentiments coming out. What is worrying about the whole thing is, we are seeing videos surfacing of ordinary Joe public approaching Engineers, who are going about their daily jobs, fixing these lines, being verbally attacked and threatened. Comments from people, threatening to burn these posts and places down, after it has been built, like they are some hero vigilantes doing humanitarian work for the greater good.

It comes as no surprise the ones who are instigating these, are the type of people, who are likely to state the University of Life as part of their education on their Facebook account, overcompensating for their self doubt and inadequacies, they feel they have in life. And maybe that’s where the fault lies. Spouting and entertaining conspiracy theories gives the illusion that you are somehow intelligent, because you are not swallowing the tripe being fed to you, because after all you must be smart if you are questioning the government, right? It maybe those dinner or party conversations you have with people, where you feel you come out looking woke and knowledgeable, when most of what you are saying are just filled with contradictions. That’s because majority of the people who normally forward or talk about far fetched conspiracy theories are just presenting verbatim of what they have been told by someone else.  But it also highlights a much wider social problem. The lack of trust people have of officials and also in many cases a huge of lack of education and critical thinking.

In the last few days I have heard and read theories about how people are dropping dead from newly administered Covid 19 vaccines here in the UK and how letters being sent by Boris are doused with mind control chemicals. You have to wonder, who is coming up with this stuff? Is someone writing them as a joke and people passing them on as real? Why cannot people decipher information before believing in it.  Are contradictions that difficult to process, especially in plain sight? When they attack 5G installations, citing it has radiation that causes cancer? Don’t they stop to think that they are walking around with smartphones in their pockets? Internet in their homes? Ipads for their children, microwaves and android devices being used as part of their everyday lives? Do all these products they currently have emit something other than radiation, maybe it gives out some kind of magic rays that 5G doesn’t?

Yes, there are many things that get hidden from us -the public, but if you know where to look or how things work, it doesn’t stay hidden for long. A government cover up or secret doesn’t mean it’s a conspiracy, and most of the time when they cover up something, its strategy or diplomatic secrets. It’s not devil antennas designed to execute and kill or mind control drugs. So please the next time you come across a piece of information at a volatile time like this. Think twice, because people are dying, the public is scared, we have never been in a situation like this before. Your race to prove you are smart and somehow have extra knowledge, only proves the opposite and ends up causing more distress to the public and insensitive to families and victims of this pandemic.

Be safe, Stay Home and if in doubt Don’t Share

 

 

Be Safe, Stay Home and if in doubt, DON’T Share.

Day Nine – Has God Abandoned Us?

Back in mid January, when the news of the new Coronavirus started filtering out of China, I remember one evening, waiting to pick up my order at the local fried chicken shop. It was a typical evening, with the kind of rush you expect inside a chicken shop in East London and with same type of customers. Sitting at the table behind me, while I waited for my food was a group consisting of five to six males, between their late 20s and 30s.  They fitted a stereotype, Asian, long beards, shorts hair with big winter coats and talking of religion.  My ears drifted in and out of their conversation, as they did. I heard one of them, talk a bit aloud but then silent, upon realising, his comments had got my attention. “China is being punished by Allah, for their treatment of Uyghurs Muslims“.

I guess it was no surprise that some were making that connection, I was kind of waiting for it.  Plagues, illnesses and natural disasters had always been attributed as an act of God to punish the people, depending on who the victims were and whose perception it was coming from. It seemed if a Muslim land or people had come across calamities, it was a test from God, anywhere else or anybody else, it was a punishment. I’m sure the same applies for all faith and beliefs, when they come to analyse the natural acts of this world.

As the situation started to become worse and the virus became a global pandemic, it didn’t take time to yield out the conspiracy theorist and the zealots. Earthquakes, Tsunamis, viruses and illnesses have long been a companion of religious scriptures, a weapon of choice of God to vent his anger and vengeance to the people of this world.  History and scriptures are filled with stories of locusts and plagues to warn mankind of their deviance. So, as Covid 19 rapidly took course over the globe. As expected, preachers, imams and self graduated scholars came out of the woodwork, almost salivating and drooling with glee as they preached about how this is God’s punishment and signs of the end of times. One could be forgiven to think they took pleasure of mixing and making no distinction between vengeance, wrath and the tormented traits of God and at same time asking for his mercy, as they joyfully warned us of the impeding Armageddon. You can hardly blame them, it does sometimes feel like we are living in Biblical times. How similar does the current situation stand against, stories of God sending plagues and locusts to defeat Pharoah at the time of Moses. Lands and people being destroyed as written in the Quran, even stories away from today’s mainstream religion such as Norse mythology, tells us of the destructive nature of an angry God ready on his heels to spite Man for their transgression and we have indeed transgressed.

Covid 19, had played right into the hands of all the preachers from all religion, who have for years, decades and centuries, warned us of our deviant lifestyle. The signs of end times are now coming to manifest in front of us. What made it eerie and more true, was when Mecca, the most quintessential global icon of a religious holy place, shut its doors for the first time, to its 1.2 billion followers. The Vatican followed and  soon after all the door of mosques, churches, temples and synagogues around the world followed suit. The call for prayers in certain Muslim countries, no longer called for people to come to mosques but rather stay at home. No signs can be so apparent and symbolic in its nature. The places a lot of people needed now more than ever, to find salvation through prayers, hope and faith, no longer available to us. It seemed scary, but all signs pointed that God had abandoned mankind.  Or did he?

As we stay in our homes, isolated, some grieving the loss of their place of worship and feeling a sense of abandonment. You need to ask yourselves, the true meaning of faith. I am not a theologian, I don’t have any interest in indulging in religious theology and beliefs, as they all seem distorted and mindless at the best of times.  Taking an interest and reading about the universe the way I do. For a long time,  it has been clear to me, the answers we search for in faith,  such as the creation, creator, life, fate, destiny and the meaning of our souls, lies out there in the cosmos then it does here on this earth. If anyone takes the time to study the stars, the planets, the galaxies, the sheer size of this universe and its meticulous design, you cannot doubt this is an intelligent design and the answers we are looking for in our existence, is in indeed out there.  Maybe it’s that complicated and meticulous design of the universe, which makes it hard for our minds to comprehend it magnificent nature and we find it easier to focus and hone in all our thoughts, existence and answers into this pale blue dot, we inhabit. We are not the centre of the universe, we are very insignificant, if only we could agree to this.

One cannot disagree that it is painful to see places of worships closed, for many, it is their life. I can understand the pain of those Muslims who planned to perform Umrah or Hajj this year, for not being able to go. We can feel for the devout religious people, for who their rituals and place of pilgrimage is now closed, how lost they must feel. But whether it is Allah, God, Jesus, Yahweh, Krishna, you worship, their divinity had always given a similar message and that is, everything happens for a reason.  Now is the time to think, rather than mourn.

If what is happening in this world now, is a wrath of the Divine, then the world has been under his wrath for as long as its existence.   Deaths, plagues, wars, famine, has been around since day one, yes its true, it has taken much sinister form throughout the centuries, but that has been due to human engineering.  In the last decade, Wars- a purely man made creation created to feed the banks and lust of man,  has killed more than Covid 19 ever will. TB another virus, kills approximately 1.6 million people a year. The statistics of Cancer, HIV and other diseases have affected or killed more or less in the same level as Covid 19. These stats are not to take away and dilute the real and imminent danger of Covid 19, but a reality check to people, to make them see that we as a globe are always dying from diseases and this is not something new or killing at a rate that we are not used to. This is not a weapon from the Benevolent to show his wrath and the doors of Apocalypse opening up, with the messiah floating down from the sky anytime soon.  If that was the case? Then as far as history and humanity has been around, we have always been at the end of his smite.

For many of you, it should be a time of deep contemplation. Time to shed the armours that you thought had built your faith. What are mosques and churches, but brick and mortars?  For years I have witnessed people going in through the doors of places of worship, exiting through the rear door and resuming their lives as normal, no evidence of the impact of their visits. Beautiful architecture and materials have been used globally to design building to play homage to their God/s, for the world to see their psychical beauty, representing their purity, yet the purity of the people who attend there had very little to show.  Many started operating as business overlooking the true purpose behind it, even the most holiest of sites such as Mecca had erected massive clock towers over their sacred buildings, to feed into the capitalist greed and ideas of people, of what it means to visit there. Grand constructions have led the average person, to folk out quarter to half of their income for a visit. Only to mark it with selfies and souvenirs rendering it a tourist place rather than the spiritual pilgrimage it is intended to be. Whilst many dream and wait for a chance to visit, but can’t afford to. Across all religion the relationship with God has become superficial.  Being seen to say the right things and attending the right places has taken away the real questions you should be asking yourselves about your existence here in this universe.  In this state of isolation, ask yourselves, what builds your faith, is it the clothes, the buildings, the tourist  pilgrimage, the forwarding of faith inspired memes and texts that even you don’t read or is that belief in your heart that the divine is everywhere inside you. There is no abandonment and there is not wrath or punishment, there is only he and there is only life. With the closes of places of worship, it times to build them inside you. You can get lost looking for God in a mosque or a church but find him in the back alley of a club.  Sometimes giving you a million pounds can be his curse but giving you an illness can be a blessing. If it means, you will learn your place in this universe.

After the death of Prophet Muhammed, his best friend Abu Bakar, got up to the grieving people and told them

“For those who worshiped Muhammed, let them know Muhammed is dead.  But for those of us who worship Allah, for he lives in us and can never die.”

 And that is truer words, if any.

 

 

 

 

Day Seven – Birthday Contemplation

For many, having a birthday in quarantine is not the way they wanted to mark their special day. No cakes, no presents, no fun fare or a nice meal or party with friends and family. To me, I finally had an excuse to spend my birthday the way I spent the last 37 of them. Not that I am against birthdays, far from it, but a lot of factors come into play.  The first factor being, me being from a generation of UK Bangladeshis, that grew up at a time when much emphasis wasn’t put on life events such as birthdays.  Not many of my Bangladeshi peers can say our parents remembered, let alone made a big deal about our birthdays. Like many, I grew up in confusion watching non Bengalis putting on their party hats and going all out with cakes and balloons. We relied on Hollywood and TV programmes to give us a projection into what a birthday party should look and feel like. Every now and then, we would get invited to that one cousin’s house, whose parents had decided to throw them a party. We will be excited with our best clothes on, whilst listening to parent of the cousin, explaining how their kid forced them to throw it.  Pilau and curry would be the main dish of the day and every cake seemed to have balloons printed on it.  Apart from the cultural upbringing which shaped my views on birthdays, personally, I’ve never seen a reason to measure myself against the time of the year when you were born, if anything, I feel it’s quite dangerous.  The last thing we need more in our lives, is an invisible date to aim all our goals towards and put benchmarks of what we should be achieving.  There are far too much societal expectations in relation to age,  all geared towards our birthdays. The age where one, should be getting married, have kids, have a career, buy a house, go travelling, and make money, the list is endless. I am a firm believer that growth comes through experience and there is never a right or wrong time to do anything, there is only one timeline you should follow and that is your own.  It’s quite simple to see when looking around, that none of us age the same way. If the day you were born had any real significant part to play in our time here in this earth, then everyone born on the same day, will age the same and die the same day as well. We are on different timelines with different goals and different growth.

Being two years shy of 40, many who reach my age start preparing their milestone birthday. However, turning 38 is reaching a significant milestone for me.  For a long time it has been a benchmark, not to reach a goal but something quite different. I’ll never know the exact age of my dad, people from his generation came to this country under their assumed date of births, rather than their actual ones. People living in villages in a country like Bangladesh at that time, very rarely kept birth records. But I calculated (quite accurately) it was when he was 38 that his life changed.

I still remember that summer of 1990. My older brother and I, were roughly the same age as my daughter and my son, with similar age gaps. It was the year he had his first heart attack and later his triple heart bypass. Flashbacks of him being rushed to hospital in an ambulance and laying there for months upon months was just the start of his journey to become weakened physical shell.

My Dad never had the best of dietary habits or the best of lifestyle, which was obvious in what part it played for what happened to him. But to me it served as a rude awakening, as the years went on and losing  uncles from coronary heart issues, it was quite clear that heart problems run through my DNA and  maybe I am destined for the same fate at an early age. This is one of the main reasons behind my constant dedication to fitness.  Even in my twenties, I envisioned where I would be in terms of my health when I reach this stage in my life. Thankfully, overall being in your late 30’s is different now than it was 20 years ago.  When I was a kid, reaching 30s, especially in an Asian household, meant men with bald patches and pot bellies already retiring themselves to old age, women were not much better.  It’s different now, people look and approach life differently across all cultures and lifestyles. In popular culture, it’s hard to distinguish age now then it was decades ago, Brad Pitt, in his 50’s still looks like his prime and getting casted in Blockbusters. Maddona in her 60s is still dancing in concerts.

I was only eight when my Dad had his heart attack. I remember snippets of my childhood, arguing in our council estate, with other children and boasting how my Dad could punch the building and make it crack, because that’s how strong he was. To every little boy, their dad was Superman.  After his illness, that was taken away from me.   I didn’t forge memories of playing football, cycling or wrestling with him, or something as simple as running in the park with him. We were taught to always be mindful of his physical health.

So, approaching this age, for a long time, the thought where I would be physically was always lingering. Today, I do not look or resemble anything like my dad did back when he was my age. As I play with my nearly 7 year old son and he compares my strength to Thor from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and genuinely entertains the idea of who would win a fight between me and Thor or if my muscles are bigger than Thor’s, my favourite character. I am reminded of the little boy I was, who thought his Dad could punch through the walls of concrete buildings.

Life and death is a delicate balance and tomorrow is never guaranteed for anyone. But that doesn’t mean you can’t live a quality life for however long you are meant to be in your place in this universe, by looking after you health. Today in this state of quarantine, more than anything, I feel blessed for my health. I take pride in looking after my fitness.  I am firm believer that good mental health goes hand in hand with good physical health.

 Have I achieved everything I want in life? Definitely not, there is more hunger and mileage inside me to go out and experience more of this world, than at any point in my life before, but that’s a drive that will always stay with me.   I have faith in the Universe that everyone is where they have to be and in time things you are meant to achieve and experience, will happen. As long as you love the one thing you have control over, your health and your mind.

As we live in times of unprecedented quarantine, now is the best time as any, to be reminded by the world around us. How having your health is the biggest asset and life’s biggest blessing.  I am reminded that a birthday doesn’t change anything immediately, I am the same man I was yesterday, today and tomorrow, turning a number won’t change any of that. Growth comes from experience.  As Muhammed Ali once said

“The man who sees life in his 40’s, the same way he does in his 20’s, has lost 20 years of his life.”

Be safe, stay healthy.

Day Five – End of Week One

For me like most, here in the UK, Friday was the end of the most surreal week of our history, week one of lockdown is officially over, with no clear answer of when it will all be lifted. Our freedom taken away from us, so suddenly, by an invisible enemy. It seems like a fantasy to even dream of a life post pandemic as we experience rose tinted nostalgia of how life was just a month ago. A world where human contact such as a handshake, hug or peck on the cheek was normal as breathing.  Where we didn’t have to  queue up for a mile, standing two metres away from one another outside the supermarkets.  A life, where getting a cappuccino didn’t require you trekking from one street to another, looking for an open place.  Ignoring a few hiccups along the way we have adapted to a situation, we could not have conjured in our minds a month ago, proving once again, what we as the human spirit, can achieve.  Even as we lay on the edge of the unknown, not knowing how long this will last, we can be sure of one thing, this country will not be the same again.

So what happened in week one? Apart from trying my best to relocate my work desk to the comfort of my cheap sofa, experiencing this new app called Zoom for the first time and engaging in a virtual work meeting to prove to everyone I am indeed, working. I found myself negotiating with my nine year old daughter on why she should use the IMac, because her school work was far too important, leaving me with our slacking laptop. Which, I had to refresh every five minute to show my status to my workplace. My six year old son had the right idea, he did his work on paper and then started watching Marvel movies, on Disney Plus, which is the saviour to our solitude at the moment. Something miraculous happened- The sun came out in the UK, shining in all its glory for the whole week- a rare thing in March indeed. A part of me wondered if this was nature’s way of thanking or merely taunting us?

Being at home, there are a lot of things I miss. Mostly, I miss going to the gym and keeping fit. Working out religiously since a young teenager, it is a big fall from grace for those who regularly exercise. Thankfully, having knowledge and experience of HIIT and being a runner, it easy to adapt to the one hour exercise period, (advised by the government) without the help of the long locked Joe Wickes.

Each day as usual, I found myself venturing out of Tower Hamlets and running towards the city of London with the sun blazing down. Through the eerie empty roads, resembling ghost cities, which you might see on an episode of Walking Dead with no signs of their usual vehicles or people.  It seemed like everyone had taken up jogging, as a runner, it is easy to pick out who the runners were and who just took it up just this week. Perhaps this lockdown is a good thing, for people to exercise. But what was quiet clear with the blue skies without a cloud or aeroplane in sight, was how beautiful London really is. As I ran pass the quintessential landmarks of Tower and London Bridge across the soothing waters of the Thames. St Pauls Cathedral, The Shard, Westminster and the Millennium Wheel all stood in the background, just standing there majestically.  It seemed the true beauty of London was manifesting in front of my eyes.  A feeling of serenity and calm overtook me each time – a rare feeling, if any, to come to anyone, right in the heart of UKs and arguably one of the world’s capitals.  Living in London, we never get to experience solitude the way people might experience elsewhere, so it was a welcome change.

As the water of Thames flowed against the background of my runs and the concrete jungles of empty offices passed my view. I saw shops like pharmacies which were open but had signs informing everyone when they were closed for lunch. It’s a feeling close to surreal, right here in the heart of London, a city that didn’t close for anyone or any time of the day, workers were shutting their steel shutters, to enjoy their basic rights of lunch.  Small gentrified pop up kiosks that stood next to City Hall selling £10 burgers and £4 small chips, had all gone, leaving the space for people to jog and walk, like it was meant to be. It seems London, the most metropolitan city in the world, had become a small village with quiet roads and open space. Local shops which have suffered so much over the years, thanks to big supermarkets opening up every corner, are now flourishing, as people choose to avoid the long queues of the big chains. People exercising more, even if it is an excuse to just get out of the house, the only thing missing is children’s laughter.

As week one ends, I take away the positive, being at home, gives us time to rest, re-evaluate our life goals and priorities. It has allowed me to write more, re-arrange my thoughts, but at the same time I am constantly reminded of the grimness of the situation. Elderly parents of two people I know, passed away, their families not being able to say goodbye to them or even retrieve their bodies. The precaution needed to guard the sick and the dead, bring out the horror of the world we are currently in.  Numbers are rising and people are dying, it makes you wonder how long you can keep optimism and hope and look at the bright side of this lockdown. What happens if these restrictions are not eased up within three weeks as it was promised? Will our social order breakdown? What happens if more than the expected people die? But hope and optimism still remains high, it will get worse, the numbers will increase for that there is no doubt. But what is inevitable. is exactly that, all we can do is stay home as much as possible to reduce the risk.

There is no doubt, we are going to come out better out of this, within a week, through the help of technology we are reaching out to the ones we love and forging those missed connections.  We have learned to appreciate what we have and let go of the things which brought us mundane feelings that we classed as important.  Even from the locked doors of our homes, we managed to come together as country and in unison, showing our appreciation for our NHS heroes on Thursday. It showed our resourcefulness, our willingness, our innovativeness and most of all our kindness. The traits we will need, as we move onto next week and the weeks hereafter to build the new world after this.

I am reminded all throughout, from line from The Dark Knight

‘The night is always darkest, before dawn.’

Day Three. Schools are closed, aren’t they?

close up of girl writing
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Even before it was clear that we were heading inside the eye of the storm, in this pandemic, the call to close down all schools, were being sung in unison from all across the public and the media. Like it were a solution to everything going on and a means to an end, to this predicament.  Children were identified as carriers, super spreaders as some called them and since, thankfully, they seemed to be less effected by Covid 19. Confining them to their homes to save the older and vulnerable generation was needed.

Working in the education sector and being a father of two children who are in primary school. I waited patiently, reading, watching and listening to the news every day, on the latest strategies and if there was a need, to close at all.  Like most working parents, it was a catch 22 situation. We all knew what the impact of a school closure would mean for us, at the same time, we needed to consider how safe were our kids and the wider society with the virus spreading as fast it was.  A big part of me wanted the government to push the whole closure until after the Easter Holidays, to give us time to prepare and minimise impact on the children’s learning. But as numbers started to rise around the country, staff/teachers starting to self isolate with worried parents keeping their children at home and more bad news came out of Italy and Spain. The ever loud vocals became even louder, leading the government to cave in and order schools and colleges across the UK to close indefinitely. You could almost hear the big sigh of relief from the public and the media. But what was even more damning, was all up and coming exams were cancelled too. Meaning no pupils will be taking their SATS, GCSEs or A- levels this year. Sounds like a dream for students, right?

When the news started sinking in the next morning, we were left to confront the magnitude of what was announced. Our children/s would have to be at home for a potential of five months and unlike other holidays, they would have no choice but to be entertained inside the four walls of our own homes. Going out to the parks, a trip abroad or even a domestic getaway was not an option.  Very quickly, it dawned on us, our lives were about to change drastically for the foreseeable future, that we as parents would also have to take on the responsibility of being teachers. Those of us who could, couldn’t even send them to their grandparents, aunts or even friends, in the risk of them passing on or picking up the virus, we had to be with them 24/7. It seemed like a perfect case of, be careful of what you wish for. All of a sudden the romantic notion of closing down schools, wasn’t that romantic after all.

Working in education for nearly my whole career, a very small part of me was a little happy. For years, I had to sit and endure, listening to a growing number of people unfairly criticise and pass their outdated views about our education system and schools. Blaming teachers, head teachers, TAs, pastoral staff and even the whiteboard for the under attainment of their children. Pretty much, passing on the blame to everything instead of accepting their part to play in the equation. I gritted my teeth, when people and families who made no effort in keeping themselves up to date with modern times or education, started smear campaigns against the system. Accusing the education system of absurd and ill formed rumours, such as how they were conspiring to teach five years old to be gay or lesbian, influencing them to change their genders and showing porn in classrooms. Trying to plead with parents to stop them from taking their child out of education in the middle of the term, only to have a cheap holiday abroad, refusing to accept or resùpect the system enough to know why that would be a bad idea. It seemed, schools and teachers had become punching bags and looked upon as system that was invading people’s free will, by some parents and the wider society. With no regards, sensitivity or appreciation, of how much schools actually do for the wellbeing and welfare of a child. The small part of me was hoping in this time of lockdown, parents will see the impact of teachers and learn to appreciate a sector we sometimes take for granted. They can finally understand, that the full potential of a child in their learning, behaviour and mental health is a collective responsibility and effort from both families and schools, and not just the schools alone.  Maybe this isolation would be a perfect time to reflect the deep impact of our teachers and schools.

But a major part of me found it difficult to process the whole thing. Last Friday, as both my kids got up in the morning getting ready for their final day at school, I was greeted with a look of confusion from their small faces. It wasn’t the cheerful face filled with excitement they usually have, the morning before a big holiday. Their faces were anything but jubilant.  All I saw were two faces of uncertainty and sadness, looking for answers, I could not provide. Getting ready to say goodbye to their teachers and friends, much sooner than they anticipated and for a reason they had not quite grasped. No idea, if they will be taught by their current teachers again.  Amongst the crowd as I walked to work, were year 6 pupils, faced with the prospect of saying goodbye to their primary schools without the proper send off we all know year 6 students are used to getting. Year 11 pupils, with their emotions quite clear, as they walked their last day to school.  Not having the opportunity to complete their GCSEs they worked and prepared so hard for.

As the day went on, I heard stories of children crying, distraught and upset in the hallways and toilets of their schools. Writing notes to their favourite staff members, telling them how much they will miss them and how much they meant. This was not how it was supposed to be, our children, your children, were not meant to say goodbye like this.

And the teachers, who dedicated their time and effort to teach these children with sheer stubbornness and will. Did they have smiles on their faces for being closed early for the year? No, every teacher from the ones in my children’s school, along with my two cousins (teachers), who I have been chatting to every day, were anxious, upset and broken with one question on their minds- what will happen to their pupils? We forget, how much school staff and teachers love, care and want nothing but the best for their pupils. They pride themselves when their pupils do good, it gives their work value and a sense of reward and their pupils pain is theirs to share too.  Maybe in this time of isolation we can spare a thought for all the teachers, staff and head teachers that cried, upon hearing the news of their school closing, who felt the heartbreak of the pupils who could not take the exams they have prepared so diligently for. The pupils they won’t see again, the pupils they taught, laughed, joked and believed in. The ones, that didn’t think twice to volunteer themselves and cancel their holidays, to help out at this time of great crisis.

Just for the record, schools are not closed. They are more open now, than ever. The children of key workers are not the only ones attending schools. The children that are considered, the most vulnerable in our society, those with special educational needs or under child protection, for whom being at school is considered a better place for them to be, than being at home, are also in schools being looked after and cared for by teachers and staff who had volunteered to stay. There are no Easter holidays, no half term and maybe not even summer holidays. Staff members have taken on this responsibility, for the nation and for their pupils. These are staff making calls at home to check on the wellbeing of children,  ensuring those children who are entitled to free school meals are getting their meals, making packs at school for parents to pick up, Those who are at home, are still working virtually to help the kids at home through their devices . Schools are far from closed, they are carrying on doing what they have always been doing, looking after the wellbeing of our children and giving them the education they deserve.

Having worked in education all my life, in recent years, I have seen a devastating trend of schools being blamed for every aspect of a child. They seem like an easy target for everyone to throw bottles at, when talking about society. They are expected to be social workers, behaviour therapists and parents, everything but their main roles of educators.  Teachers start their day at 7am and finish at 6pm, following ridiculous standards, set by the government. They are overworked and underpaid.  In this time of home schooling our children, we can understand the great responsibility they have and the amount of work they put in. They are key workers too, just like all part of our great public services, they play an important role in the fabric of our society and one of the pillars of our infrastructure.  We don’t want another crisis to happen to see them as heroes, just like it took us this crisis to see how important the NHS and their worker are. Let’s learn to appreciate and support them now, just like we are doing with everything else. Let’s take this chance to look within ourselves and realise, that educating a child is a collective effort.

Give every school staff who worked with your child, a gesture of recognition, it can be something simple as a thank you.  Listen and understand your children and accept their ability and let them grow in their own pace, it is not just one person’s responsibility, it’s equally all of ours.

Day Two- What’s Next?

On Monday, The UK government put in measures that set democracy back to the dark ages and pushed the UK into a police state, similar to dictatorial regimes, rather than the free democratic country we pride ourselves on. We got the tone and the reason. They are doing this to save lives and it is all a temporary measure. A means to an end, to an unprecedented, never been seen before situation.  How quickly we succumbed to their reasoning and the swift way these actions were put into place, with people’s acceptance and somewhat sweet embrace, is a debate to be had for many later years and dinner conversations.

Whichever way you choose to see it, the undeniable truth is, this week our social liberties was stripped away from us. Popping out for a pint of milk, or just some fresh air in the newly spring sun, which chose this week of all week to show its face, requires us to think about, what we have to tell the law enforcement on the streets. Maybe now, we can have the most real experience of what it is like for those around the globe who are living or have lived under dictatorial regimes and apartheid states.  In your state of self isolation you have to wonder what is next and how do we adapt? To not only to now, but the future and what we, as collective individuals need to do to move forward towards tomorrow.

This week, we have seen many defy the social distancing rules.  The reasons are many, for this. Some have had to go into work, some wanted to enjoy the spring sun, some are yet to take this pandemic seriously.  Our main defiance comes from not being conditioned, to live under such dire circumstances. The more people rebel, the more the more the government have promised to come down on us with their iron fist.

But what was the reason behind to what many critics have described, as a late lockdown? Was it because the government predicted the people’s attitude in not wanting it, or was it delayed because we simply didn’t have the tools to do so? Why was it so hard and what can be done to avoid a repeat of this current situation?

This war against Covid 19 is only the beginning. This is the first of a new threat that has emerged in our globe. This one doesn’t have a face, a country, a leader, or even an ideology – the enemy is microbes and the target is pretty much everyone. Albert Einstein famously quoted that he does not know what weapons will be used to fight WW3 but WW4 would be fought with stones and spears. Was this his metaphorical prediction? A stark reminder, the weapons we have built are futile in this war.

For decades, we have been presented with an endless list of threats, from Al Qaida, ISIS, Taliban, North Korea, Soviet Union, Gaddafi and Saddam. Nations, dictators and groups have been used as a bogey man to invade lands, build an arsenal of destructive weapons and train armies after armies to defend our social values and freedom of choice.  Since 9/11, we watched questionable measures put in to defend the liberty of the West. Reminded, that this common enemy wants to end our way of life and our will to live free. The past decade, Europe had seen atrocious terror attacks, France, UK, Norway, to name a few. Each forcing the government to take actions and prepare themselves, and us the public to be vigilant for the next oncoming attack. We saw investments in terror tactics for the police forces, comtroveesial laws being passed, citizenship being stripped away from people and getting involved in more pointless foreign wars.  Here in the UK we also saw the roll out of the Prevent programme in schools.  Did it any of this help? We will never know. Maybe the weapons, the nukes, the intelligence and the secret spying has made the world and the UK a safer place? The truth is, we will never know what they have prevented from happening. But what is quite clear, is none of these threats or attacks had an impact on our way of life, the way Covid 19 has. In the world of terrorism, it is the Granddaddy of them all. It has achieved, what they told us, every terrorist in this world wanted to achieve – a lockdown of our lives and our liberty. You won’t hear any leaders stand in their podium and give uplifting speeches about how to go on about our daily lives and not to let the virus win. If anything they are telling us the opposite.  We are all locked in our houses with nowhere to go. So, how do we adapt ourselves and how do we prepare for the next of its kind and shape the world after this?

The world changed after 9/11. From the ashes of the Twin Towers, a new world arose. Lessons were learnt and alliances were forged to move forward and this is what we have to do now.

There have been calls that the UK did not heed warning fast enough and a lockdown should have been enforced sooner.  But would an earlier lockdown been justified a month ago, when cases of Covid 19 here in the UK was low? There was also a bigger question. Where we able to manage to run a country from sitting in our homes? Closing schools and offices was just not feasible.  The truth is, UK, even as one of the top five developed nation,  is sadly lacking the technological advancements or attitud needed in the modern world. This should be our focus and the area that requires huge level of investment, thoughts, determination and tenacity.  In order to prepare for the next outbreak or something similar, whenever or where that is. Our plan of action should be how quickly we can adapt to the safety of our homes.  Do what we are doing now, more efficiently with little disruptions and keep the country going.

We have all seen pictures uploaded on social media, from colleagues, friends and family, eager to share their makeshift offices, be it in the kitchen, their balcony, their bedrooms, the small space in their passage or the luxurious ones who have an office already kitted in their living room. It took a pandemic for us to utilise the technology we had and make us realise how productive we can be at home and do our work from the comfort of our own homes. Many of us who have never worked from home, or assumed we never could, realised the flexible nature of our jobs.

The same goes for schools, the day it was announced schools would close. There were teachers scratching their heads and parents too, how to carry on the education of children in this unforeseen circumstance. With no idea of when schools will re-open. Advice and package differed from school to school, local authority to local authority. Some opted to give packs, whilst other set up virtual schools from their own schools bases and others directed families, with links to You Tube and governmental websites for families to follow.

It was quite clear where the gaps where. In  a world where we are being constantly reminded how technology is changing or ruining children, when it came down to when it was actually needed, there seemed to be very few coordination or a single point of access for children to go to, to follow a curriculum. Whilst many countries are way ahead and have well established virtual schools implemented, from when this virus was something dreamed up in sci-fiction movies.

We saw online retailers close temporarily or laying out special measures to deal with the huge surges of orders. But could this all be blamed on the large volume of us staying at home and ordering or is our technological understanding or infrastructure not advanced as we think it is. To give an example of how far we might behind in technology, I remember a distinctive call in 2004, yes 16 years ago with an AOL representative, ordering broadband for our home. UK had only started getting 10x the speed of normal dial up. The representative told me she was in Tokyo in 2003 and they already had 100x faster internet. Here we are in 2020 and the UK is just approaching this. So while there are supermarkets in LA where you don’t have cashiers, you just pick up your groceries and leave. There are still some supermarkets here in London that requires to you cue up without even a self serving check out.

Covid 19 has exposed our weakness and   how much further we need to go in order to set up infrastructure that allow us to go remote, swiftly and efficiently without disruption, should the next super virus  strike. History tells us after times of great crisis, we learn, heal and adapt to make changes. After WW2 we saw the creation of our great NHS, the birth of the UN and later the EU, with the goal of working closer together as a unit, to avoid another world war.

With this mindset we need to move forward, the changes we can do individually and collectively to shape the world, so we don’t find ourselves back in this same position. The UK along with the world will change after this, so we need to adapt.

We have a great amount of disposable technology, which we were not aware off, as we speak, many of us old and young have come across new video conferencing apps such as Zoom, this last few weeks and many other existing technological advances that has the potential to make our everyday life easier. Maybe it was our naivety around what is available to us, made it harder to build a world where going into isolation was so difficult and too late. If we invest in our technological infrastructure and science, we will create world swift, compact and ready to deal with future crisis.

Create alternative ways of schooling and education. This is the time to encourage and lobby our politicians to invest in our new defence system, not in millions but billions, not in weapons but our younger generation to study science, to tackle the new level of biological threats that lies ahead in the same breath as we have invested in wars and weapons. To find cures for new and current diseases such TB, Ebola, Measles and not just treatments. We need to lobby, shout and make the government see, the level of investment they have made in warfare, missiles and hardcore machinery needs to go and we need a U turn. Now is the time to invest in a new war against an enemy, that has taken away our liberty, like no other regimes or terrorist organisations. This is the real fight for democracy and our right for free will and freedom, a war that does not bleed of imperialism and globalisation. The memory of this pandemic will live on us for a very long time. Never before has our freedom been challenged the way it has now. We need to preserve this memory to make the right changes and save our earth.

We need technology and science to bring us together, invest money to study renewable energy, to stop relying on GM crops and animals. It needs to come from all areas, from school, education, society and government.

Things need to change, we can’t stay on the same path. A total overhaul of how we work, live and think is needed to fight this new global threat. We need investment in a war that no longer invades and kills but rather heals lands and people.

Day One. What it all means?

Three months ago, my biggest worry for this country’s future and climate was that Boris Johnson had won the UK election in a historical landslide. Decimating Jeremy Corbyn and in doing so, walloping the final nail in the coffin for the Labour Party for at least two generations. The UK was divided, Brexiteers in jubilation rubbing salt to the wounds of Remainers, who were reeling from the success of the Tories.  I don’t read or remember reading any tabloids, but I’m sure the headlines would have been singing along the tunes of ‘WE’VE GOT OUR COUNTRY BACK’ or ‘TIME TO TAKE BACK CONTROL’. With Christmas and the New Year being ushered in, Boris the Messiah with his mop hair replacing his thorn crown, strutted in front of every available camera, promising the North more investments, whilst trying to convince the hardest of cynics,  the our great NHS was not up for sale to Trump and his croonies.

I accepted defeat and took it on the chin, ready with a personal glimpse of hope to face the upcoming year.  Promise number one, was to stay away from arm chair critiquing UK politics. Boris and the Tories were here to stay and we were at their mercy. So, whilst I sat down with my own goals of finding a new job, sending my finished manuscript of my first novel to agents, getting a book deal and healing from my back injury, I got during Christmas, to run at least two half marathons and a couple of 10k races . A seed had already been planted in Wuhan, China of all places, that was about to change everything for all of us.

It might sound cliché, but you couldn’t write this stuff,  its seems like we have been sucked into a post apocalyptic dystopian movie. Watching the day count as the situation around the globe gets dire with each passing of the sunset. I now find myself begging, to return back to the status quo of the past three and a half years, where talks of Brexit, second referendums and No Deals took up the headlines and our arguments.

It may only be March, but it’s hard to fathom many would say 2020 was their year by the time December 31st rolls in.  We sit in confusion ushering in an era that will be cemented in history, in the same breath as the WW1 and WW2 and contrasted with the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London.  We can only keep our fingers crossed that the mass casualty will be not be anywhere near these past atrocities and  there won’t be a need to erect monuments or plaques to make future generations remember the magnitude of fatalities.

None of us are short of theories, observations or views around what the World Health Organisation has declared a Pandemic. I am lost in the irony and the poetic nature of it all. In January, when the news of the now famous Covid 19 came about, I did not see any reason to worry. China’s problem, China’s issue- was my humble opinion. I laughed at a few Chinese nationals who started donning the face mask here in London. It was never going to make its way all the way here.  With each news article, I lambasted them as the usual case of the media fear mongering (which for some of the issues, they are still doing). With the rest of the UK I carried on, using my time sending memes on social media about this new strand of Coranavirus and having interesting conversations around it with work colleagues, friends and family.

I managed to secure two job interviews but wasn’t successfully in any of them, received three rejections for my manuscripts from literary agents. It was all sad, but just the pass and parcel of daily life. Taking each failure as a means to move on and make changes for the year. My goal was still for something pivotal to happen before my 38th Birthday.

In the first day of March I ran the Vitality Big Half Marathon in London for the third consecutive year and got a PB by running it under two hours. I was in the process of a successful switch over to a vegan diet and things were certainly looking up in terms of health, if not for anything else.

It’s now 23rd March 2020, only six days to go before my birthday. The sun is out ushering in Spring, it should have been the most optimistic time of the year for all us. I should be running on the roads, complaining about traffic and the ever increasing of population of London getting in my way. I should have been ready to hit those weights and cardio at the gym a bit harder, to sculpt that summer body and browse endless travel sites for good flight deals of holidays, not to travel, but to feel good about the potential of my independence.  But the world is a lot different than what it was only a month or even a week ago. Something inside me wishes that I could break the fourth wall and address the audience in the cinema, so they can fast forward to the end of this alternate parallel reality we have entered.

Restaurant, theatres, pubs, schools, gyms and all major national and international sporting events closed indefinitely. The global stock market crashing with recession booming around the corner. The roads of London-empty, landmarks gaining dust, the Underground, a ghost of the millions it transported each day. Supermarkets and shops  filled with shoppers panic buying, as owners seize the opportunity to inflate prices to 20% – 50%  to feed the greed.  Mayhem of Biblical proportions, which makes it all too eerie with, Mosques, Churches, Temples and Synagogues, where many would have turned to find salvation and hope at a time like this,  all closed off to the public, almost like God has abandoned and shut his doors to all the people. A poignant message as any, that we have angered the universe.

I find myself behind locked doors inside my house with my two children and their virtual education kit, skimming through fake news and fake memes, heading into an uncertain future. Nothing is off the card, if aliens dropped from the skies tomorrow for a War of the World type warfare, would it be a surprise?  Within a space of a few weeks, everything we debated, argued and posted on social media about has become trivial. We are now scouring news websites and channels, as governments around the world, speak in one voice and with one message.  Right- Wing capitalist governments, pushing forward a left wing socialist Government’s wet dream.   As we get used to new terms such as social distancing and what it all means, all the while we watch people scrounge from one shop to another, looking for toilet tissues, flour and salt like that is going to solve all the problems.  I sit and wonder what the deeper meaning is in all of this.

I am hoping to write these blog to help me decipher my thoughts with you all. So join me as I explore how I move forward with each part of my daily life in this new status quo, from being a father, to managing my fitness and my work life along with domestic chores and my new place in this world.

Asking societal questions such as how NHS workers, who for years been under so much pressure. Have over night become the heroes that we all knew they were. As a staunch supporter of schools and the education system, will people finally get to the see the impact they have and the many different roles teachers and school staff play in our children’s lives.

As we step forward into the unknown, our social fabric and liberty being stripped away from us, with each coming day without any, questions from the public but with embrace.  Now is a good as time as any, to question how quickly we encourage and romanticise dictatorial rules and how easy we can be controlled.

The first question we can ask ourselves is why? The last few years I had read various articles, citing the World’s Health Organisation biggest concern.  The human race was beginning to reject Anti-biotic, which would cause a new global catastrophe, unless we find a replacement.  I’m just surprised at the speed of how something so similar has struck our population.

Since Covid 19, we have seen videos re-surfacing of Bill Gates back in 2015 at Ted Talks, predicting the new global threat will be indeed – microbiological. An almost accurate prophecy from one of the richest and smartest man in the planet. Netflix has shown us documentaries from last year, about scientist and doctors predicting a pandemic. As usual, we never took heed, a threat and a warning is only as good when it’s actually here. And whilst this all makes sense, to me it means one thing. This is Mother Nature’s putting her foot down and giving us the ultimate check in. A stern warning, just how much in charge she is, as we face this invisible threat.

Since industrialisation we have ravaged, pillaged and gang raped nature from its core, with the same level of arrogance that we have seen in the last few weeks from panic buyers and hoarders. For the last two centuries, the tenacity and aggressiveness of mankind’s lust and hoarding for resources with no thoughts or compassion for the damage we are causing to our planet and its people, has led to this. No one is exempt from this, no countries, no religion or political systems have done anything to stop this madness. Unlike any point of history, we have become addicted and machined into this life of consumption. We are desensitised to practices, such as animals being unnaturally produced and in-humanely slaughtered to feed our unquenchable thirst. Mass lands and forests systematically burned and destroyed to feed our greed, as we litter our oceans with our poison.  Low cost airlines, allowing us to travel to places for weekends to take that perfect Instagram pictures, which a decade ago, one would have had to save up for at least year to go to. Limitless and cheap travel, which made this virus, spread the way it has in the period of three months.

We laughed at a young girl called Greta, who’s dream was for us to slow down and take care of our only planet.  Sidelining her calls as pipe dreams and something that will take decades, if ever, to achieve. But here we are, almost all flights grounded around the world, within a space of a few weeks, something even she could never had imagined. So as Mother Nature takes a rest, with cities having clean air and fishes being spotted once again in the canals of Venice.  I plan to move on with my blogs in my isolation state, exploring this new world from a personal point of view, from looking after my kids at home, my fitness, my spirituality, the political and cultural shift along with many individual issues we are all about to experience arising from this pandemic.

The world is in quarantine, borders have closed, people are locked in, as real heroes try to save our vulnerable, fighting this unseen enemy. This is the time to understand, we as global citizens have more in common that we think. The trillions of dollars we have collectively spent over the last century to build weapons of mass destruction to defend us, are of no use in this war. We are at least 12 months away to create a weapon to fight this, our only weapon is our human nature.

Stay safe, heal, we will get through this, we have to get through this, for our planet and our selves.