“One night last week, some fools got the electric light in order, and there was all Regent Street and the Circus ablaze, crowded with painted and ragged drunkards, men and women, dancing and shouting till dawn. And as the day came they became aware of a Fighting-Machine standing near by the Langham and looking down at them. Heaven knows how long he had been there. He came down the road towards them, and picked up nearly a hundred too drunk or frightened to run away.”
Grotesque gleam of a time no history will ever fully describe!
—H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds
I’m still alive, and the closest I’ve got to coronavirus seems to be just hay fever (and the sort of catarrh I always get three seasons out of four), but I’m certainly sick of staying indoors and being away from human contact — and the rules regarding this are now being tightened!
I know: when I’m on leave from work, I tend to just sit in front of this computer and play endless computer games, and due to aches and pains I’ve not been out dancing or climbing in the evenings lately, but at least during my breaks, I have the choice of going to the shops, or the park, to stretch my legs and get stuff (and maybe pet dogs). Plus, of course, I can still let my personal trainer torture me on Fridays, as a final penance for the reward of the weekend.
However, sitting constantly in front of this contraption 9-to-5, with maybe the chance to go outside and get food at lunchtime (which will be hard now that our local Tesco is making people queue outside), while keeping an eye on the helpdesk ticket list, really sucks — and not solely due to my having to do my job remotely over the Internet, but largely; the other aspect being forbidden from travel via public transport, resulting in having no opportunity to visit my folks (and the best dog in the world) down in Worthing.
Last week we sorted out just about all our staff being able to work from home, but at times I’ve felt anxious about either doing something wrong, or having done something wrong at some undefined point in the past — and since I can’t speak to my teammates or our flock face-to-face (the office has been closed for a week now), it’s all… well, even more uncomfortable than in the weeks before.
Mostly I’m getting things right, at least in terms of simple chores (like helping staff to restart their laptops); this is to spare senpai and the Asian Eddie Hitler-lookalike from tedious side issues while they work on far more serious tasks, like keeping our remote services running (fair play to them for enduring this and having families of their own!). The latter’s been snappy at me even over little things (like misunderstanding him breaking his own vow on using an IP address instead of a machine name for remote access), and at times I’ve felt like chucking it all in and finally handing in my notice — but since he’s been suffering from something not unadjacent to coronavirus, I’m willing to stay in my job for now, and not hold a grudge against him.
Indeed, although “boss lady” was a bit impatient at times (as would be expected), she was otherwise perfectly nice, thanking me for setting up so many laptops during the onsite first three days of last week. However, she’s said I can’t have a week off any time soon, because they really need me right now, due to how much work the others have taken on (senpai says they aren’t even getting paid overtime) — and due to a couple of big planned changes, there’ll be even more soon!
(Thanks again, Micro$haft, for announcing the retirement of Skype for Business and making us switch to a whole ‘nuther system — if you’d known this predicament was coming, would you have delayed it another couple of years?)
If it weren’t for sitting here in front of my computer to work, I would at least be able to, er, sit in front of my computer playing games, or watching TV (even if it’s entirely via web apps, as I’m unlikely to get the satellite dish fixed any month soon). Fortunately I can have the radio on pretty much all day without disturbing the staff I phone (or, rarely, phone me), and between tasks I’ve got the chance, again, to learn to strum away on my guitar (which I can do without getting out of my seat) — perhaps this song being my greatest inspiration to learn the difficult F-chord. I can also be a pen-friend instead of dating in person: I’m currently writing to a young lady teaching at, of all places, my alma mater, who needs help with both English and Japanese!
To be fair, I’m not missing the usual crowds of London, and certainly not public transport (even the Northern Line no longer being the “Misery Line” wasn’t enough!), and I do wonder what kind of fools would still want to hold big events with lots of people crammed in together, partying like the people in my Wells quote above, because they think they can celebrate the end of the world… but then again, I’ve never liked that anyway (one reason I’ve never been a footie fan).
On the other hand, I feel unhappy at the risk of being fined, or even arrested, if I’m suspiciously outside for a reason the coppers don’t like (even though we’re supposed to be allowed to get a bit of exercise and buy food at shops), or if walk past someone on a narrow pavement instead of stepping into the road (in front of an admittedly-rare car) just to maintain an arbitrary distance. The police in this country are at risk of only caring about numerical targets, hence going after litterers because it’s easier to feel their collars than go after burglars or murders.
I guess it’s another necessary balance: follow the rules for now, out of compassion for other human beings (and one’s own safety in the same situation), BUT hold the government to account, and ensure the rules are reasonable and necessary (for example, fines should never be regarded as an opportunistic revenue-raiser) — and, unlike Trump’s yuge idea, we should be allowed to resume our lives once it’s known to be safe, for our own sakes, not purely to “save the economy” when it’s still unsafe!
(Funny how those at the top denigrate poor people living paycheque-to-paycheque for not having somehow kept savings for a rainy day, at the same time they call for big businesses to get bail-outs from the taxpayer — is this one-sided libertarianism, where “tax is theft” only when it’s used to help the little guy?)
Well, if I’m under house arrest for the duration, and getting way under 10,000 steps a day (and can’t even pet people’s dogs now!), at least I’ve got the opportunity to post here a bit more often, eh guys? Guys? Er, guys……..?