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I missed a “worldy” before everything changed – how about you?

Written by Malcolm Robertson

9 April 2021

In early March 2020, along with 67,143 other people, I watched Scotland play (and beat) France at Murrayfield. I remember that day well, because my son James scored what his coach described as a “worldy” goal (world-class) in some part of Edinburgh, and I had missed it. 

Another lingering and unsettling thought in my mind that day was the virus stealthily creeping through Europe and towards our islands. For the first time I could recall at an international rugby match, there was a queue in the men’s toilets for the water and soap and it was nearly as long as the one for beer and wine. It only occurred to me later that nobody should have been in that stadium that day. 

Our first piece this week, in The Atlantic, reflects on how we will remember the pandemic. Each of us will no doubt tell that story in different ways – the good and bad, all neatly curated into deeply personal tales that make up this dark chapter in all our lives. 

I have decided in writing this that my story will start with that goal I missed and as you start to work your way through this week’s reading list, I will go and ask him to tell me about it. Again.  

Have a restful weekend from all of us. 

1. How will we remember the pandemic? 

What is unique about the way mankind will remember Covid-19 is rooted in how there has not been a single, traumatic “flashbulb” event that marked the beginning of the pandemic. Starting in March 2020, hundreds of millions of individuals began forming their own impressions of life under restriction, and indeed, most of us have a different memory of the moment we realised life as we knew it would never be the same again 

Read in The Atlantic

2. The reversal of EU migration  

Shortly before the EU referendum, net migration to the UK from the EU stood at over 200 thousand year-on-year. Now, in a pandemic and with the UK out of the EU, net EU migration may stand between –42 thousand and –130 thousand. Nobody knows for sure. And nobody knows how many will come back soon. The Financial Times tracks the stories of those who have left and those who have remained. This uncertain exodus creates an uncertain future for businesses and communities across the UK. 

Read in the FT

3. Memes: the shared experience of internet culture 

Not all jokes are memes, but all memes are jokes. And good ones, at that.  

In late March, when the 400-metre-long cargo ship, Ever Given, blocked the Suez Canal, thoswho roam the internet seemed to care less about the turmoil that might represent in global markets than the speedy production of enough memes to fill the stricken boat’s cargo holdWhat is it about the way memes are interpreted or expressed that make them objects of comfort during times of crisis? Is there something to be said about the subversive humour they often play on? And can memes be, dare I say it, meaningful? 

Read in the New Statesman.

4. An automated, jobless future is overblown  

Speculation that automation will create a jobless future has been around for decades. Recessions in the economy provide fuel to that speculation, creating uninformed fearmongering. This piece debunks the myths that surround automation, leading to interesting, informed and fear-dispelling conclusions. Among these is the revelation that consumers are robot averse. After all, there seems to be hope that man and machine can happily coexist.    

Read in The Economist.  

5. The music industry is (finally) waking up to mental health

It is no secret that the unpredictable and pressurised nature of musicians’ lifestyles makes them highly vulnerable to developing health issues. What has long remained a secret, though, is how rarely these issues have been associated with mental health problems. But the times they are a’changin and, in this article, Rhian Jones speaks to musicians, label heads and managers to talk about how the industry is finally breaking down the taboo.  

Read in The Independent.  

And finally… Private investment and technology will lead a cultural renaissance  

The creative industry holds an enormous transformational potential for the global economy, with latest estimates showing that it provides 30 million jobs and generates around $2.25 trillion annually. But to unlock the arts sector’s transformational power, we should start by transforming the industry itself, and the changes brought about by the pandemic might be the key. In this brilliant article, Diane Banks explains how. 

Read in Tortoise.