Ouch, that was quite a night! They used to talk about making your own amusement, back in the day, and now we’re all experts in doing just that. Not in a singing-songs-around-the-campfire kind of way, but in a pedal-power-your-own-rave kind of way. Actually I couldn’t say which made my legs more sore; the static cycling, taking my place in the long queue to wait my turn, or the dancing. Vinyl certainly made a bigger comeback than anyone anticipated.
It was a wonderful New Year’s Eve, one of the best I can remember. The fair on Peckham Rye, the stalls, the brew-tents, the home-made food (the only kind there is, if you think about it),the fire-pits (they’re going to have to rename One Tree Hill soon), music everywhere, families promenading, kids running amuck – a lovely vibe.
All that self-made entertainment got me thinking about how inventive we’ve become. Again. Not the old sort of inventiveness, figuring out how to sell people stuff they don’t need in every single spare second of their lives or working out how a teenager in Kyoto can kill pretend people on a screen while they’re battling another teen in Munich. Every time I crank the handle, I think – thankfully – about the guy who invented the Wind Up Web and managed, against all the odds, to keep the internet up-and-running. I suspect there were some things we just could not do without, whatever happened. So we found a way.
We’re all entrepreneurs now. Out of necessity rather than choice. Even the select few who have a job do it more for the satisfaction than the pay; even they need to run their micro-businesses on the side, brewing eau-de-vie, repairing spectacles or whatever. Everyone does their thing, it’s like we’ve democratised the economy. You run your one small, local specific enterprise and make enough for what you need to barter or buy and that’s it, that’s what you do. That is you, in a way. Like me and my pies. So glad I invested in a wood-burning oven before they all got snapped up. Slowly working my way through what’s left of Sydenham Hill Woods. Some things we never learn.
My goodness, we’ve become good at doing the right thing. We need no instructions or incentives to recycle, it’s the only way to hang onto the stuff we have; we all feed our energy surpluses back into the grid; grow our own veggies and dope; we all make do and mend. Everyone wears vintage now.
But I can’t help thinking, here at the start of another new year, that we could have used our undeniable capacity for innovation and creativity to solve the real problems we had, back before everything came tumbling down. Maybe we wouldn’t have prevented what happened, but we might have engineered what they used to call a ‘soft landing’, might have saved more of the things we valued in those days of outrageous plenty.
Still, if there’s one thing us humans are good at, it’s starting over, rebooting ourselves. And if I take one crumb of solace from our current predicament (because, let’s face it, we’ll always be in one predicament or another) it’s that we’re all fundamentally, undeniably dependent on one another now, inextricably yoked together in that daily effort of entrepreneurism and invention, the one that keeps us all alive.
Happy New Year, everyone!