Sunday, May 31, 2020

On being under lockdown

A while ago I wrote about On working from home.

Of course, the recent COVID-19 crisis has meant that a lot more people are working from home. Although we have to be honest and say that this isn't the normal working from home, it's having to try and work in isolation away from the office because of the pandemic.

Even for those of us used to working from home, this isn't normal.

When I decided to work from home, one of the things I had to consciously think about was how to manage the process. Without the need to leave home and interact with other human beings that comes with working in a shared environment, getting out of the house and going to lots of events was key - museums, talks, meetups, and the odd beer festival. Pretty much all of that has gone out the window.

It's unfortunate timing too. As a general rule things are quiet in the winter months, the weather and lack of light don't help. So I was just looking to come out of mini-hibernation when the pandemic comes calling.

I'm fortunate that the actual work part doesn't change much. The at home has been quite different. Mrs T has also been stuck at home, so I don't get the house to myself during the day. I mean, I like her around, but she has been getting underfoot a lot. (Not to mention the occasional call for IT support.)

Far more so than myself, she's gone online to socialize in a big way. We professionals might turn our noses up at Zoom (and expecially its security) but you have to concede that it's ideal for consumer chat. Even better, and unlike pretty much everything else, it works great on my old retired iPad, which has been heavily used. She's done quizzes, wine tastings, cocktail classes, cookery demonstrations, singalongs, dancing(!), afternoon teas, and just general chat.

Shopping has changed. We're fortunate in that we have a big supermarket just round the corner. Rather than the traditional minor shop twice a week, we've switched to a major shop every 8-10 days. Slightly oddly, as there's more in each shop, we now walk there and back (Mrs T does the shop, I walk over later to help carry it). The cars are basically gathering dust.

Where we are on the outskirts of Cambridge is fairly quiet anyway, but is now even quieter. The buses look empty, the roads are quiet. We go out for walks for a bit of fresh air and don't have to worry about keeping clear of crowds of people. (I'm a bit limited in this, hay fever discourages me from going outside too much.)

The Cambridge Beer Festival was cancelled. That's another major social event gone. Not to mention the volunteering time (minor for me, rather major for Mrs T). And the beer, and the food - especially the cheese! The festival organized a number of online events through the week, and we got in a good stock of cheese (I can strongly recommend Shepherds Purse, especially if you're a fan of blue cheese), found some good beers (or cider) online, and raised a glass at home.

Looking to the future, it's going to be a long time before anything approaching normality returns. There are always going to be those who just can't be bothered with the restrictions put in place, but I'm likely to be a hermit for a while yet.