Reflections #23: What Will Be Left After Coronavirus?

portrait of Zarina smiling and making peace signs

Once a month I write my personal review of the previous four weeks. Whilst normally filled with frequent travels, nowadays my Reflections seem to be more focussed on my mental (un)well-being. In between reading books and watching tons of films, I’ve been struggling to find my place in our current corona-riddled world and frequently wondered what will be left for us to enjoy in the near future.

What will be left after coronavirus?

Waking up to the news that the UK’s largest cinema chain (and second largest in the world), Cineworld, will be closing its 500+ US cinemas and 120+ UK cinemas today, left me yet again with the question: what will be left after coronavirus?

Cineworld’s decision came two days after the news that the new James Bond film will be delayed once again. Originally scheduled to be released last April, it was postponed till November 2020. Talking to the staff at our local cinema recently, I know this film release was considered as the make-or-break point for UK cinemas that are all struggling during the current coronacrisis. But now the distributors pushed back the release date yet again – ironcally because they want a proper cinema release instead of streaming it online – they might have had a hand in the end of cinema and the film industry as we know it.

5 films to look out for this autumn // Dutch Girl in London

Why I care so much about this? Because cinema and the film industry are very close to my heart. I’ve literally grown up with films. Besides entertainment they’ve offered me comfort, companionshop and helped form my identity. Films have taught me about other cultures, sparked my imagination and creativity, made me aware about important issues outside my own personal scope, and even taught me English.

The world of cinema has been a thread throughout my personal life. Not only did I write my second MA thesis about the film industry, I’ve also met Hubby and other friends whilst volunteering at film festivals and we even held our wedding reception in our favourite east London cinema which we always referred to as our second home since we spent most of our evenings there. Furthermore, lots of our friends work in the film industry, from directors to actors, to script writers and animators, to make-up artists, special effects supervisors to filmscore composers etc. etc.

Our wedding photo in front of the Alien (1979) film poster in the cinema
Spending our wedding reception at Genesis Cinema, east London

The impact of coronavirus on the Creatives Industries and thus the UK economy

While I see the film industry on the brink of collapse, the UK government is focussing more on safe-guarding hunting and sports rather than protecting one of the UK’s main sources of income, i.e. its creative industry. Let’s talk numbers here for the moment to illustrate why I’m so frustrated at the moment and why this is a significant national (and even international) issue.

According to this news article from October 2019 the contribution of the sports industry to the UK economy is £23.8 billion a year. In the meantime, the Creative Industries contributed more than £111bn to the UK economy in 2018. (Which amounts to £13 million an hour!) By 2019 (or even early 2020) this amount would have been significantly higher as statistics show that by 2018 “the Creative Industries sector was growing more than five times faster than the national economy”.

What has the goverment done so far to help support one of the most beneficial industries? In July they pledged to pay out a £1.57 billion arts rescue fund. Not only are these funds basically loans, they also haven’t paid a single penny as of yet. Meanwhile, long-running theatres with a great cultural heritage have been forced to close their doors while a lot of our personal friends have said farewell to the creative world and retrained for ‘proper’ jobs. I’m talking about musicians, technicians for huge bands like Muse, amp suppliers, etc here.

We have also been hit by this personally as Hubby, who’s a music composer, has lost all his income since March and isn’t eligible for any financial support from the government. Since he’s the main breadwinner, it’s rather grim having to eat into our savings without knowing when things will be picking up again. I’ve been proud to have been earning a nice income from my London tours over the last years, but haven’t had any interest since March. Considering I’ve been working on building my business for seven years now, it’s quite dispiriting to see it has all evaporated pretty much overnight.

The effect of coronavirus on London tourism and medical care

Walking around Tower Bridge early September it was clear that London tourism is as good as dead. Whereas this area would normally be heaving with tourists during the summer peak season, it was practically deserted. Considering “tourism and the night time economy [normally] contribute £36 billion a year to London’s economy overall and employ 700,000 people” (source) this affects hundreds of thousands of households.

Deserted London streets at Tower Bridge
Taken in September 2020, this photo shows London tourism has severely faltered

But besides the entertainment industry, hospitality, tourism and other perhaps non-essential services, I’m worried about the the well-being of our society on a larger scale. Access to medical services for example. When the GP referred Hubby to the hospital to inspect a suspicious patch on his head last summer, the NHS (National Health Service) booking system didn’t list any available hospital appointments. Even when the GP tried to expediate it, the computer still said no.

Coincidentally, after talking to a friend of his, Hubby remembered the husband of their mutual friend is a dermatologist in Paris. This doctor happened to know a colleague in a London hospital and was so kind to send Hubby her direct contact details. So, in the end we managed to book an appointment directly through a specialist. Lucky for Hubby, but this obviously isn’t the way we should get access to medical care. It leaves me to wonder how many other patients have been unsuccessful in booking a hospital appointment these last months?

Stuck in a Kafkaesque situation for weeks, the people at the NHS booking system eventually realised they had forgotten to open up the system again for patients after corona lockdown had been lifted. Thankfully, Hubby’s situation isn’t life-threatening and he now has an operation booked for in two weeks (praying there won’t be a second lockdown before then). I am worried though for all those people whose condition might have been life-threatening because I can barely imagine Hubby was the only person trying to book a hospital appointment over the summer. Combined with the endless reports on people failing to show up for their hospital appointments in fear of contracting corona, it’s all a big mess.

There’s not much I can do about this all myself unfortunately. The only thing I can do is to raise awareness and explain why I’ve been feeling rather overwhelmed by life these last months. Which was already hard enough in itself after my best friend’s unexpected death last January and the complicated grief process that followed (and is still ongoing) in isolation.

The coronacrisis helped me recognise I’m a Highly Sensitive Person. This means I am more aware of the world around me than the average person but also feel worn down by it all as I worry a lot about the people who are close to me but also society in general. It makes me feel anxious, extremely frustrated and, most of all, terribly misunderstood. But with the help of my dear friend Frederique, HSP and Burn Out coach and owner of Salve Coaching, I’m hoping to be able to strike a balance between compassion and self-care and create some space in my head again. Deleting social media apps from my phone certainly helped the latter!

But of course life has been more than just being disappointed and frustrated as I’ll show you now while I share some of my happy moments!

Stockpiling Dutch treats and snacks

collection of Dutch snacks and treats

Well, I’m not sure if you’d call buying one bag of paprika crisps and a few sweat treats ‘stockpiling’. But fact is, that I’ve been able to fill up my cupboard with some of my favourite Dutch treats and snacks again despite haven’t been able to travel back home for nine months now. I’m so happy there are a few HEMA shops across the UK nowadays where I can pick up my Dutch shopping if I need to!

And the best thing was that they even had the special Sinterklaas treats already. Celebrated on 5 December in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas is a saint who’d eventually evolve into Santa Claus thanks to the Dutch settlers in America. Besides tons of presents, kids and adults alike indulge in the special December holiday treats such as kruidnoten, stuffed speculaas and chocolate letters. While I might not be interested in the presents anymore, I may or may not have the tendency to eat chocolate kruidnoten until I feel sick…

I wrote a brand-new travel blog post

This month I posted my very first collaborative article on my travel blog Miss Travel Clogs consisting of contributions from five fellow bloggers about deserted amusement parks around the world. Covering parks across Europe, Asia and even Oceania, the article might give you some great Halloween inspiration!

Ferris wheel in the abandoned Chernobyl amusement park
The iconic Ferris wheel in the abandoned Chernobyl amusement park

I joined a virtual book club

My bank has been hosting virtual book club meetings and presentations these last months and especially their October book selection resonated with me.

Covering migrant stories, a topic I’ve been fascinated with since reading early American and Jewish-American literature at Uni, I can’t wait to discuss The Good Immigrant (essays by UK-based writers, actors and creatives of colour) and Travellers about African migrants in Europe with the authors.

But first I’ll hear Rob Halford, known as the Metal God and singer of Judas Priest, in conversation online tomorrow night (5 October 2020). This live Q&A is organised by Rough Trade, an independent London record store, in celebration of Rob Halford’s biography that came out last week. I’m excited to have gotten my hands on a signed copy!

4 books I bought in September including Rob Halford's biography Confess
The latest additions to my book collection

Films and series recommendations

While UK cinemas have been open from August again, there are still hardly new releases. Nor is there any audience to speak of yet. In the last month, Hubby and I have seen two new cinema releases though. First of all, we went to see the third instalment of the cult Bill & Ted film series. As expected, it wasn’t that great. Being a huge fan of the first two Bill & Ted films, I didn’t really see the point of it unfortunately.

As light as Bill & Ted was, as dark and nasty was Unhinged which features an extremely violent Russell Crowe. I can’t say I enjoyed that film either. Surprisingly, I found An American Pickle, starring Seth Rogen in a double roll, one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen this month. I also discovered that Channel 4 offers a great selection of arthouse films but haven’t had the chance to watch them yet. I might be reporting on them in next month’s personal review but in the meantime you can see my recommendations for films and series below. As usual, I’ve indicated them with a * in front of the title.

Films

  • *An American Pickle
  • Blinded by the Light (Amazon Prime)
  • Border (Channel 4)
  • *Cut Bank (Amazon Prime)
  • Get Duked! (Amazon Prime)
  • Hesher (Amazon Prime)
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things
  • Kill Me Three Times (Amazon Prime)
  • *Mindhorn (Amazon Prime)
  • The Ones Below (Amazon Prime)
  • Peppermint (Netflix)

New in the cinema

  • Bill & Ted Face the Music
  • Unhinged

Series

  • *Friends SE02 (Netflix)
  • *Justified SE02-04 (Amazon Prime)


Congratulations if you made it to the end of this post! 😉
Tell me, how have you been holding up this month?
Let me know in a comment below!
Thanks, Zarina xxx

One thought on “Reflections #23: What Will Be Left After Coronavirus?

  1. Marit

    Hi Zarina,

    Ik denk dat je het boek Girl, Woman, Other van Bernardine Evaristo heel leuk zult vinden. Ik las het een paar maanden terug en het is zo grappig, interessant en mooi geschreven. Het gaat ook over immigranten en de tweede generatie, eveneens LGBT-issues etc.

    Sinds ik de Kindle-app heb geinstalleerd op mijn telefoon, ben ik weer als een gek aan het lezen. 🙂

    En ja, difficult times. Ook heel naar van de creatieve industrie. Ik moest nog aan je denken, dat het wel moeilijk voor je moet zijn omdat je altijd zo veel doet en reist. Ik ben gewend om alleen thuis te zijn en heb ook veel hobby’s die ik binnenshuis kan doen, maar het is een hele rare situatie en ik mis de tripjes naar Londen om musea te bezoeken etc. heel erg. Om nog niet te spreken van familieleden en vrienden zien; dat is helemaal dramatisch en heel verdrietig. Maar goed, we kunnen niet anders dan doorgaan.

    Groetjes, Marit

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