By Mark Williams
When I was first approached to write this piece, my first thought was that they’ve got the wrong man. I have no interest in the idea of blogging or tweeting and I’m the last person on Earth to be mistaken as a millennial influencer!
My family suggested that I should just write about what interests me, but they also thought that antique collecting, Airfix modelling or the history of West Bromwich Albion might have limited appeal.
My job involves me appearing in court. Like almost every aspect of life in Britain in the 2020’s, Covid has had a huge and disruptive effect on how the justice system works. You will have gathered from my opening remarks that I might not be the most tech savvy of individuals, but (like many of you) I have gone from thinking that Zoom was an ice lolly popular in the 1970’s to spending much of my day using it and the various other remote platforms to attend trials, hold conferences with clients and address judges.
Although Covid has thrown many things into turmoil and has at times been both frightening and stressful it has also shown me how ingenious and inventive human beings are. It has also revealed much thoughtfulness and kindness.
It goes without saying that the development and rollout of a brand new vaccine in a matter of months, as opposed to years has struck many as a wonderful example of both inventive genius and perseverance. And the roll out of a vaccination programme, which at the time of writing has immunised over twenty million UK citizens, shows an organisational skill many scarcely knew we were capable off.
However, I have also been struck by the more mundane, but in my opinion, no less remarkable adaptions.
The court system went from a standing start to being largely on-line in a matter of weeks. Many others will have witnessed similar transformations in their own work.
Our church of St Bart’s in Bath has also gone on-line. Services have become remote and the songs, prayers and sermon are now “accessed” from our homes. While technology cannot fully compensate (many would say it doesn’t come close) for the loss of the direct human contact that being together in a congregation affords, our church leaders have done wonderful things in attempting to bridge the gap.
Moving on-line has also reminded me of the diverse and amazing talents of so many people that come together to fashion a service, and how they have managed to harness this new technology. Our musicians have blended beautifully despite being in five or six separate locations and our youth minister has displayed a hitherto unappreciated talent for mimicry and a surreal sense of humour in her short sketches.
As well as the modern and cutting edge, I understand that remote technology has also had some surprising and unintended consequences. Services which use the Book of Common Prayer have, in many cases, seen increases in numbers as people look for the timeless language and assurance that the traditional liturgy provides in these uncertain and troubling times.
To me the way that so many people have responded so imaginatively, and with such inventiveness, to an event which could easily have caused despair and resignation is a glimpse of God working in our lives and every day circumstances.
Now, where did I put that model aircraft? Where’s the glue!