After the war is over*

It’s the end of March, 2020 and the world is at ‘war’ against a little string of RNA – the one that is currently causing the disease known as COVID-19. To try to reduce its effect on its National Health Service, the UK government is requiring most people to stay at home for most of the time. That’s creating a pent-up demand for goods and services that are temporarily not available. I wondered what might happen when these restrictions end . . .

What will happen when it’s over, this COVID-19 scare,
When we’re released from lock-down in our houses everywhere?
A spectacle too ghastly to fully comprehend:
A hairy throng will suddenly on hairdressers descend;

On dentists, too, for teeth have not for months been checked;
And physios and doctors, as their patients resurrect.
All restaurants and cinemas, and pubs and theatres too
Will find, lined up outside their doors, a long and hairy queue.

And, as happened after previous World Wars,
Citizens (if healthy) will reclaim the Great Outdoors.
They’ll go out to the shops again, they’ll shake hands as before,
They’ll meet and greet and socialise just like in days of yore.

They’ll evermore be grateful to the country’s NHS,
Who worked throughout the crisis to get us through this mess,
To ambulance crews and firefighters, the army and police force,
Who kept the nation going while this virus ran its course,

And carers, who were hidden from the wider public’s view,
The pickers, packers, drivers who delivered shopping, too,
And those who manned the checkouts in the shops that were still open,
And those I haven’t mentioned – you’re the reason we are copin’.

I don’t mind getting hairy – it won’t affect my health:
Perhaps I’ll buy a trimmer set and cut my hair myself!
I’ll clean my teeth with vigour, as my dentist’s often pleaded,
And wash my hands a lot so that the medics won’t be needed.

We’ll stay away from neighbours, doorstep callers and the like,
We’ll take a bit of exercise (a walk but not a hike),
And bide our time at home until eventually we hear,
Just like we did in war-time, that longed for sound: “All-clear!”

* ‘After the war is over’ is the title of a song written during the First World War and published in 1918.)


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