Editor’s comment: May 2020
PUBLISHED: 09:34 15 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:35 17 April 2020
Mike Lowe discusses the importance of pants during a video conference call
Pants. Pants are important. If you’re late for a video conference involving colleagues from around the country, and a passing home office whippet then knocks hot coffee all over your lap, you don’t want to be leaping up sans culottes and scaring a lady editor in Crewe and an advertising sales rep in Scunthorpe. Trust me on this. I know.
Working from home presents a whole new set of rules and challenges. Before the novelty wore off, social media was full of po-faced advice on how to do it “properly”. You’re supposed to dress appropriately (the deputy editor of Cotswold Life usually appears on-screen with a large lizard perched on her shoulder); you’re supposed to check your background surroundings, making sure that discarded pizza boxes and empty wine bottles are out of shot (the wine bottle thing is particularly important if you’re drinking in the morning); and warn off The Voice From Downstairs – you know, the indistinct bellow a bit like Sue from This Country in reverse – not to issue your next set of orders just at the moment.
If you can get away with it without alerting social services, lock any children in a large dog crate. The BBC’s South Korea correspondent earned himself a place in the video bloopers Hall of Fame when his tiny daughter wheeled into shot like a drunken mini-Dalek. Quite endearing. But a crying toddler shouting that it wants a poo? Less so.
Pets are OK, though. I’m sure that the CEO of a major corporation just loves having to meet your dog while waiting to announce disastrous figures, slashed salaries and swingeing job losses.
“Kevin. Explain how we’re going to replace the million pounds in revenue we lost in March”
“Yes, boss. But say hello to Doloroes the Dachshund first.”
“Kevin, don’t let the door smack you in the arse on your way out of the building. You’re sacked.”
Of course, self-isolation brings a certain routine, aided and abetted by social media. People who hadn’t walked further than the burger joint counter in the past are now striding out on “government-approved” route marches. This exercise regime – the Green Goddess is on the telly in a scary 1980s flashback – is necessary to combat the calorific impact of the isolation diet, which goes something like “porridge, crumpets, crisps, Hobnobs, chocolate, and then we’ll have a think about what to have for an elevenses...”
According to Instagram, we’re all hunting down sourdough starters, planting tomatoes that will make us self-sufficient for one meal in August, getting together with virtual friends for a virtual drink on Zoom, reading Hilary Mantel’s latest (and last) Crowmwell novel, videoing the neighbours Clapping the Carers and ordering takeaway meals from the village pub that we could cook at home but, hey, we have to support local businesses.
And when we’re not doing that, we’re being urged by lifestyle coaches to do something improving, like writing a book (“Shakespeare wrote King Lear while on plague lockdown”) or learning the language of a country we’re not allowed to visit.
I’ll tell you what else is new: we’re actually smiling at one another. Adversity does occasionally bring out the best in people. Long may that continue.
I don’t doubt that while it might not be a serious policy of social engineering, there was an acceptance at the highest level that the frail and elderly would die during the coronavirus crisis. Unfortunately, the government’s heel-dragging stupidity has condemned young people and medical professionals to the same fate, even catching the Prime Minister in its web.
Despite warnings months ago, they have failed to protect us by neglecting the supply of personal protection equipment and the tens of thousands of ventilators they knew we needed. They then compounded that literally fatal mistake by rejecting the offer of help with ventilators from the EU by claiming “We didn’t get the email.”
“We didn’t get the email” is something you say to the host of a party you can’t be bothered attending. It is not an excuse for politically motivated ignorance.
Our so-called leaders have been criminally negligent in their single most important role of protecting the public. The public will not forget that.
Mike Lowe, firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Mike on Twitter