“In Series 2a of the latest Dung Beetle Books title, Mummy, John and Susan go through an indefinite period of self-isolation during lockdown. In this solitary time, the children will be forcibly adapted to the ‘new normal’, where a joyless existence is heroically embraced to save humanity. The children will come to have no real-life friends, no education, and conditioned to see their peers as portable germ vessels.”
Covid-19 has made locking yourself in and waiting to die as you astutely avoid death the ‘new normal’. But how did normal become so discomforting? This slipping of life into a trap was created by a potentially fatal microscopic virus filtered through manipulated data, political expediency, paranoia, a news cycle run by EVulture Plc and fear of death, dread of illness and the coming to the fore all the stuff the sane push to the back of your minds as you just get on with and never waste the day.
If we’re going to go back, let’s avoid yesterday’s televised death stats and head to the thrusting 1950s in the company of Miriam Elia. In her terrific new book, We Do Lockdown, Miriam juxtaposes 1950s dynamism and ambition with today’s morbid obsession with death league tables and the so-called ‘war on coronavirus’, which unlike an actual war won’t see your granny’s house bombed nor any victor.
“The 50s styling is very important to the effect because the 50s and 60s were this time of tremendous optimism and modernity postwar,” she tells the Guardian. “You had the welfare state, the pill for women – a real sense of change. Humour comes when you contrast two worlds very clearly together, so I’ve taken that postwar optimism and contrasting it with this brutal nihilism that we have now. And also, on an aesthetic level, I absolutely adore that era, so it’s just a pleasure for me.”
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