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Restart by Mark Etchells

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1.start again
‘the talks will restart in September’

1.a new start or beginning
‘they ordered the restart of the talks’

Everyone is talking about restarting, starting again, getting back to it, resuming, carrying on where we left off, finishing unfinished business.

Everyone is looking forward to diary pages with performance dates and plane times, hotel bookings and bad street maps done in bars on paper with a pen that only half works with brains that only half work due to train and plane delays and that one last drink in a bar before you headed off to the airport at 5am in a city you don’t really know.

Everyone is asking when will things get back to normal.

Everyone is asking when is the festival starting.

Everyone is asking if the festival is running this year.

Everyone is asking if the line up is the same.

Contacts and associations hewn from the rock face over time are scattered.

Spider web pathways through bureaucracy and funding applications that were once tedious and yet familiar and vaguely accessible are gone.

Convoluted infrastructures of support that used to exist, albeit tenuously, evaporated or caught as vapour and abandoned to the street on a paper face mask.

Performers and makers whose livelihoods relied on momentum, impetus and persistence irreparably struggling, funding cut shorter and shorter, governmental departments prioritising funds with an unfavourable agenda behind closed doors of the most inaccessible kind.

Pathways closed.

#error 404.

Like a downtown bar that had a terrible fire and closed for a while. Customers drift by occasionally just to see if it’s open, looking at blackened windows and broken glass. Maybe next week.

People begin to drift to other bars, others cease to go out at all.

The burned bar will never restart, never begin again, never take up where it left off on that fateful night.

People begin not to even remember the name of the bar.

Zoom events and non events litter my inbox as people burn to make and burn to maintain a momentum and a purpose, burning to stay in touch.

Zoom events and non events litter my inbox as people burn to make and burn to maintain a momentum and a purpose, burning to stay in touch.

The haphazard catastrophic backdrops of early lockdown 1 meetings a thing of the past.

They’re now largely perfectly lit, tables cleaned of clutter, bookshelves cleaned and organised with the high brow most learned editions and authors at the forefront. The copies of Harry Potter and the trashy airport novels featuring useless detectives and all round action heroes demoted to the bottom shelf and out of sight.

We have adapted and changed already.

It’s not only Covid-19 that has put a spanner in our collective works.

Some of us have BREXIT to contend with too.

Endless hours on Government websites that tell me nothing but non specific babble.

I sign up for an email service that is specifically for those who frequently, or did, travel internationally. 

I get a couple of emails a day telling me I am no longer allowed to go to Kiribati or Cape Verde Islands.

I ask very specific questions, I get replies telling me that ‘they’ cannot respond to personal inquiries, and a link back to the website from where I just came.

It’s all one big Kafkaesque circle that never leads back to Josef K. and his questions.

‘When will it get back to normal?’ we hear all the time and even say it ourselves.

We need to stop thinking like this. The normal of before wasn’t good in the first place if you think about it, we all struggled and fought, sometimes winning small battles, but on the whole, we were losing the war.

Let’s plan and work for something other than back to normal. We ’ve already been there; but seem to have forgotten.


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