Day 1 of the “lockdown” that isn’t a lockdown. Being strongly advised to work from home and avoid social contact isn’t exactly the same as we are seeing in other countries with loudhailer announcements and police patrolling the streets to keep people indoors.
As I type this I can hear the busy main road outside the front of my house; it’s still busy with cars up and down, and this morning as I took my girls to their nan’s house the traffic along Batten’s Drive was just as long as always with white vans and people carriers in the usual fashion. Yesterday, when I was at work in Kenilworth, the picture was the same as I looked out the window to see just as many cars passing the office as always. When I walked to Argos during lunch to buy a cheap pay-as-you-go phone to act as an office phone the streets were full with people who were clearly over the age of 70 going about their ordinary business. Right now it doesn’t feel like anything different is going on.
My only real hint was the shelves at the supermarket this morning. Almost entirely devoid of bread. The chicken aisle also empty; yet the beef aisle well-stocked. There was a man, in his mid-50s wearing blue jeans and a stained t-shirt rushing around with a loaf of bread under each arm. I wasn’t sure quite how he obtained them given the shelves were empty. Perhaps he had been pacing around for some time. I went past a lady who had 3 big bags of potatoes in her trolley. Hanging out by the fish counter was a bloke wearing a face mask. Unlike the road network, there was a feel inside here that something different is going on.
Back to working from home and I’m sat in my box room surrounded by piles of papers I’ve brought home and squashed in amongst my various wires and bits of kit that have sprouted over the course of time. I could be here a while; perhaps I need to have a sort out. But first I need to buy a new charger for my laptop. When the IT department provided the laptop they only gave us a powered docking station – and the cable for the docking station doesn’t fit the laptop itself. I don’t get why Amazon brings back search results for items that aren’t compatible with the device I’m searching for. But thankfully they do offer guaranteed next day delivery. I guess they’re going to be busy.
The technological revolution in working practices I’ve been pushing for years is finally coming about. People who previously avoided meeting over web-based conference services are embracing them. Those who were reluctant to use email are now learning to adapt to a new way of working. Could this Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic be the catalyst that ushers in a very different way of working for the long-term? What’s to say there won’t be another outbreak of something else in future years. Besides, the Income Tax was only suppose to be temporary and that stuck around. Maybe it’ll be the same for telecommuting.
Even though this whole thing doesn’t feel terribly real just yet, there is a feeling of a something big is coming – a sense of ‘bracing for impact’. It will be hard to keep bracing for weeks, maybe even months, especially if symptoms don’t develop in our house. It will feel all very false, but then again we could all get ill and really experience this. It all just feels so strange in a way I can’t quite describe.
Maybe I’m struggling to articulate my feeling because I’ve got a headache. I don’t know if I’ve got a temperature because all we have at home is a Peppa Pig thermometer that told me I’m not far off having hypothermia with a reading of just 35.5 degrees centigrade.
The fact I had to check myself is perhaps the sign to myself, more so than how busy the road outside is, that normal life is indeed disrupted.