Life
    Culture

    Word of the week: the new normal

    21 August 2020

    Definition of normal:

    Free from any mental disorder, sane.

    Definition of New Normal:

    Collective mental disorder. Free from sanity.

    In light of our all-consuming focus on a coronavirus, the government has suspended normality and replaced it with a new reality inspired by the novels of Lewis Carroll and George Orwell. For the foreseeable future, public life will consist of an imaginative fusion of Alice in Wonderland and 1984. Here are some extracts from the book of ‘New Normal’.

    Alice’s adventures in Covid land

    When Alice finished falling down the rabbit hole, she found herself in a curious hall. It was crammed with unused ventilators and lined with doors sealed with hazard warning tape. There were crosses placed sporadically down the corridor. She saw a basket of strange masks with a sign ‘strap me to your face’. A mouse swam past breathing heavily through his mask “put on the mask, it protects you from the virus of fear and you can enter the world of danger”. Anxious to follow the rules, Alice complied.

    A caterpillar sat on a mushroom and smoked a hookah. He spoke of ‘R+ numbers’ and quoted statistics of ‘Covid cases’. After each utterance, thousands of telescreens came to life and announced the beginning of a new state known as ‘Lockdown’.

    Crimethink

    Winston found himself wondering why such small numbers presented such an over-whelming danger. He worried that the telescreen would detect his Crimethink and force him to permanently sear his mask to his face.

    The Cheshire cat, which grins and disappears at will, produced advice to impose quarantine and then disappeared when anyone asked a difficult question about the numbers. He nestled himself deeply into the SAGE bush to hide away and all we could see was his grin. Alice said that “she had often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat.”

    Today, Big Brother informs us that we are at war with an invisible enemy, known as ‘Second Wave’. Winston can no longer remember a time of peace. The telescreen tells him that Big Brother will defend us from each new wave. The programme is interrupted by an announcement that Covid-20 has been discovered in Eurasia. To alleviate the fears of the populace, Big Brother announces that we have a new world-beating ‘app’ to defeat the enemy, called ‘trick and waste’.

    Big Brother warns us that the winter ‘second wave’ will be worse than the first, because transmission spreads faster between people who are indoors, which explains why people were locked indoors during the first wave.

    The caterpillar smokes his hookah and opines: “three quarters of people who catch Covid-19 have no ill effects. It’s called being asymptomatic. Stay cool.” The Mad Hatter spins into a panic, shouting “I’m feeling great, I MUST BE INFECTED, I’m healthy, which means I’VE GOT COVID!. He runs into a tree and knocks himself out.

    The Mad Hatter’s (socially-distanced) tea party

    The schools have been closed from months, which gave the Mad Hatter an idea. He persuaded the Queen to issue exam results to anyone who can pour a cup of tea for her. The results will grow or shrink depending on how well the tea is poured.

    Alice is a guest at the tea party. She is a thoughtful girl and she offered the tea cakes to the other guests. “Virus spreader!” shouted the Queen, “murderer!”, “Off with her head!”. The King sighed.

    Time stops at 6 o’clock for the Zoom guests to arrive.

    When Alice woke up on the bank, the telescreen came to life. Big Brother stared at her. He was wearing the Mad Hatter’s top hat. “You are returning from a foreign land, you are now under house arrest.” The screen went fuzzy .. Staying in is the new going out …Go out to help out…Hugging and kissing is deadly assault …Alice wished it had all been a dream.