TERMS & CONDITIONS APPLY
Dee Chadwick
31 May 2020
… the small print. I can never decide if the print is small so that they can squash lots into a smaller space, or in order to put off the likes of me for whom the whole thing is simply a blurry, grey splodge. How many of you dutifully plough through and read the whole kit and caboodle or do you simply tick the ‘read’ box? What of our current terms and conditions?

IT’s ACTUALLY HANDING OVER RESPONSIBILITY

The small print lays out what are our responsibilities and in theory we say that we have accepted these and have accepted responsibility for our part of the contract for goods or services that are being provided. So probably,  I should give that small print a much more detailed scrutiny as it could very well come into play if things don’t go smoothly. If I haven’t read, then I guess I don’t have a leg to stand on. I cannot apply prior knowledge as each set of terms and conditions could well contain a term or condition that applies just to the current situation. There may be those ‘get out’ clauses that I really would be better off being aware of. I may well be ticking or signing away more than I realise.

WHAT OF THE TERMS & CONDITIONS OF OUR GRADUALLY EASING LOCKDOWN?

I have to say that I have loved writing outside in the lovely weather we had during a large part of our lockdown. I am well shaded with a bottle of water and my garden to use as a visual fix when I need to have a brain break or am simply having a ponder. However, the traffic is now seemingly back to busy – I have to accept that. But, do I have to accept the building work over the road? Nothing I can do about the power tools – I can sort of blank those out. The ear plugs and head set seem to deaden that sound to some degree. However, they don’t seem to be having much luck with cutting out the music. Did such things used to be part and parcel of the conditions pre-lockdown? Was I accustomed to such unwanted distractions, but my lockdown reality came with my own personal set of terms and conditions that included quiet ... apart from bird song and the occasional vehicle? If so, can I please refrain from accepting the new t’s and c’s?  I mentioned my own t’s and c’s for lockdown. This happened as I got frustrated with the wooliness of those ‘suggested’ by the government. Sadly, said wooliness continues with our movement out of lockdown. It has been suggested that said wooliness is used in the expectation of the recipients being sufficiently adult to grasp the concept and to move forwards in a safe and sensible manner. Didn’t the kicking against the lockdown – ok, only by a minority in the UK – not suggest that maybe we needed more precision and less wooliness?

WHAT DO WE NEED TO MOVE FORWARDS FROM OUR CURRENT POSITION?

Some would say that we need to return to normal? I wonder if that is possible at present, or, at least until COVID-19 either gives up the ghost. Gives up the ghost and leaves us in peace to lick our wounds and pick up the pieces; or a vaccine is developed.

Personally, I would prefer some things not to return. These include a focus on materialism, the celebrity culture, a me-me attitude revealing itself as selfishness, a lack of respect especially for those who are deemed to be struggling financially, emotionally, physically, the less well off in all senses of the word.  

There are some things I would love to retain. These include the sharing, caring attitude shown by so many – friends, and people who have become friends at a distance during lockdown. It certainly has been a time for many of us to acknowledge and recognise those who we consider friends and family. I am not including familial blood ties in this as I have no doubt that for many there have been great strains put on such relationships, with tensions surfacing during lockdown. Certainly it has been a time to test boundaries and to recognise just what is value and needed within a close relationship – as well as what habits, values, mannerisms that previously may have been acceptable or accepted, but far too readily became an irritant, and maybe an irritant too far.

WHAT OF THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLYING TO OUR VARIOUS COVID STATES?

I admit to envying the way that things have been laid out in New Zealand. My friend has posted details of their staged approach and the laying down of just what each step along the stages involves. They know just where they stand and are given, a few days ahead of time, notice of a change of stage. To me, their clearly defined t’s and c’s.

I admit to frustration with how our powers that be have handled our lockdown. OK, I know that it was something none of them had experience of, but hey, the scientists had been giving warning that a pandemic was due, and stepped up their concern when things began to develop in Wuhan.  Had Brexit led to such warnings getting hidden beneath ‘more important messages’?

 I get the feeling that whilst the medics and scientists have stood at the podium at the weekly briefings, their thoughts and feelings tend to be over-ridden by political preferences. I guess it was ever thus. This, for me, has been highlighted by the seeming discrepancy shown in a certain much spoken about case including a political advisor and how this was handled, seemingly to keep him in post. The small print, which as far as I am concerned hadn’t been shared with the public at large (no pun intended) was spun to say that what he did was acceptable – he was doing what every father would have done and followed his instinct. This at a time when fathers, mothers, children, whoever  were hunkering down and staying home as ‘requested’, going against their instincts to be with people they love and would like to be with. I wonder how this political decision will affect Joe public’s decision – well, some of us Joes – when it comes to doing what their instinct tells them about going to the beach, having get togethers above and beyond those officially allowed in the larger print? Was the advice of any behavioural scientists heeded, I guess not.

Then we moved the terms and conditions to ‘stay alert’. I have to say I had no idea what that meant. I know that as a child I was told to remain alert when crossing a road, looking out for traffic. But moving forward by 65 years or so, I struggled. Had COVID -!9 morphed to be visible and by being alert, I would be able to duck and let it whizz on by? Maybe it had discovered its voice, so I could listen for it?  I simply stayed home, stayed safe and on my occasional walks kept (at least) my social distance. In theory, an easy task in Cheshire fields, but in fact, those field pathways have become well trodden by two, and four legged travellers throughout lockdown.

MOVING FORWARDS

I have stopped listening to the daily briefings, and their oft avoidance laden Q&A sessions. I just hope that when the terms and conditions are tweaked that I will hear of it in my now occasional forays into the news. Sadly, I feel that the t’s and c’s will be influenced by political expediency, along with the needs and desires of (big) business.  We obviously aren’t considered a nation of small businesses, small enterprise – we who used to be described as a nation of shop keepers. Is it size that matters and the rest can go to hell on a handcart as far as the powers that be are concerned? Though the ‘right’ noises are seemingly thrown into the mix to keep said small business owners quiet.   These small enterprises that have adjusted and adapted in an effort to keep providing their products, services wherever possible. The many making PPE for staff in hospitals and care homes. Adapting to work online rather than face to face. Adapting to provide meal delivery services, or take aways when previously they had only had table service? So many ways and means of continuing to keep their business ticking over, whilst simultaneously provided a helpful service. I wonder how their re-opened businesses will fare when we have become used to getting back out and about again?

I live in hope that the kindness, support for others, and for so many, an ability to cope with what they probably had never thought they would be called upon to cope with,  will get through any and all further changes. Changes  as we morph gradually into our next new way of being. I sincerely hope that they will remain with us long after COVID-19 has left us alone.

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