I am asking this question because I was recently approached to do some proofreading. A friend had recommended me to a man who during the second lockdown in France moved to the area I live in to set up an artisan printing business. He was a successful graphic designer in Paris for over 20 years but wanted a change. So he bought an old printing press, a good amount of cold metal type and all the necessary typesetters’ implements. He chose where he set up because in that village there are still old but still working paper mills, also handmade paper from the local industry since before the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century.

He had been offered a piece of work in English, thus needed a proof reader, so I went for a few minutes’ chat with him that turned into about two hours. The reason why, is that 50 years ago this October I had an editing course on offer, I needed it and had time. So I took the opportunity. However, I also chose to learn proofreading, typography and manual typesetting. Those four jobs used to be done by four skilled people at least, often six, now individuals can do the whole job. I still have various type scales, rulers, a typesetter’s composing stick and a sample case of type, two fonts at that. I still love typography, particularly the balance of typeface and design. So we had a lot in common. Except that he wanted a change and chose this. He is also starting a course on bookbinding this autumn. Covid-19 was his incentive to move.

I think we are all aware of the vinyl records revival, perhaps making my hundreds of LPs, EPs, 45s and a few 78s worth a bit after years of no value. Apparently, during the lockdowns sales of vinyl, record decks and players have grown. It began before Covid-19, but is thriving thanks to it. Now good old cassettes, I personally hate the things with tape twisting and blocking the player especially, are seeing a revival as well. Enough on that.

What is now known as analogue photography, or using film, is back in fashion. I had a number of quite expensive cameras sitting around redundant myself. Now I too have recently ordered black and white film, dug out my developing tank and have an enlarger available, with both chemicals and printing paper easy to find. Again, the trend has increased during lockdowns.

As restrictions are ending people are going back to shops and markets, online sales have dropped a bit. Is this another revival? It certainly has something to do with Covid-19.

It appears that other pursuits such as gardening, vegetables especially, have found renewed interest. There are more walkers than before as my until recently empty footpath routes are proving. There are people with other skills, like the man I began with, going back to artisanal work, setting up their own small businesses. I am sure there is much more. He said it was going back to something simpler. I am not so sure; technology has gone a long way forward and mostly for the better. Yet I know what he means. However, and this is my point, apart from the vinyl revival, how much of this is Covid-19 related? Will these trends last? If so, how much more will ‘the clock’ be turned back?

Featured image by João Jesus on Pexels.

Brian Milne
A Social anthropologist who specialises in the human rights of children. In practice Brian Milne has worked on the street with 'street children', child labour, young migrants, young people with HIV and AIDS. Brian’s work has taken him to around 40 countries, most of them developing nations; at least four of them have been in a state of conflict or war, thus taking him to the front line in two. Brian’s theoretical work began with migration; working on, written and publishing on citizenship and generally best known as an 'expert' on the human rights of children. Brian has a broad knowledge of human and civil rights for all ages, environmental issues and has been politically active most of his life. An internationalist and supporter of the principle of European federalisation.

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