The Odds of Normality


With the world reopening and the global pandemic taking a backseat in our list of daily concerns, the masses have decided to reclaim all that has been restricted. Throughout 2021, Heathrow saw its lowest number of passengers since 1972, at a mere 19.4 million. Compare this to the pre-pandemic numbers of around 80 million a year and we can reaffirm the obvious, we all adore travel. However, with this relaxation (despite passengers still facing a minefield of punitive measures) on the rules of travel, international bookings have skyrocketed over the last six months.

As we go from staring at the screen to wrapping it around our eyes, we grow ever more comfortable entering an all too virtual world and the claustrophobia has inevitably set in. People are seizing any opportunity to take to the skies. With “working from home” and “self-isolation” becoming household terminology, it’s easy to see why we might all need some air.

While some have missed travelling to squeeze the cultured juice from international events like the San Fermín festival in Pamplona. Others have gazed at the equally remarkable, yet slightly more docile northern lights from an Icelandic ridge.  Some getaways can be more dazzling still. The cord struck from a gambling city is heard by all, no matter how thick your wallet, the prospect of making a quick buck is music to anyone’s ears. Although the bright lights of Vegas attract global thrill-seeking “stag-dos” like a moth to a flame, there are still mirages built into the infrastructure of the city that cater to those more acquainted with the chic and historic, Casino de Monte-Carlo. The numerous events held by such cities pull focus from around the globe and dip into every demographic.

Although for the same thrill, you might not have needed to travel far and wide. The restrictions of the pandemic have certainly put a cap on the entertainment side of gambling. I wouldn’t call myself a gambling man. However, more local institutions like the beloved Grand National and Royal Ascot reel you in with an opportunity to channel your inner Peaky Blinder or Johnny Walker. And since they’ve got you there, it would be a shame not to place a bet or two… Events like horse racing, have had to be held either virtually or without crowds. This has drained much heart and soul from the process and subsequently removed a lot of the punters from contention. However, as we’ve adapted so quickly to sapping as much normality as we could from being confined to our own homes, going to sites like Lottoland for entertainment became more convenient and easier to pursue.

Placing bets has indeed become less about heading down the road to your local Betfred and transitioned more into a last-minute wager of £50 on Kane to score in the first 20 minutes on your carefully crafted fivefold accumulator. All of this is done from an app, inside the time you’ve ordered your pint at the bar and the moment it’s laid on the coster in front of you. It’s just become that culturally commonplace.

As a result of the unimagined year that has preceded us all, our lives have been upended to the point where it has become easy to forget what normality really is. Perhaps we have eased into a new normal where we are, in fact, so comfortable with living our lives through a screen, that it no longer feels restrictive. Although the shackles feel loosened, we remain satisfied with many of the compromises forced upon us. And as daily life becomes more recognisable again, we should at least try and rediscover what brings us out of our homes and back into the real world.

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