Hey guys! This is the fourth part of the series which has been written by my blog contact Richard Bloss who lives in Plymouth. This is his take on the coronavirus pandemic.
There’s this young lady I know who is Head of a Health Company, and she lives in Barcelona, and we are on Skype talking and she says she lives in an apartment block, on the 4th floor. They are in lockdown. They cannot leave their apartments – unless there are some key reasons, and one of those is – to take the dog for a walk. Nobody in the block of flats has a dog – apart from the young couple two floors below.
The little dog now has 57 walks in the morning, as everybody shares the dog.
It’s a funny story, at a time when there is nothing funny in the way all of our lives are unfolding, with a level of noir that is almost British in its dark humour. Perhaps we are used to it – but actually I now think this experience has gone beyond mere humour.
I first was aware of the Coronavirus impact by accident, back on the 14th March, when late evening I sauntered up the steps from the Bakerloo line Paddington to get my train to Bristol Temple Meads only to find a deserted station, and precious few trains. My 20.02 had been cancelled, so had my 21.02, and the 22.02.
“No mate – we can’t get the drivers. But there is a train to Bristol Parkway?”
It is 30 mins later than planned, but what the heck. I get the train, leave at Bristol Parkway, spend twenty quid on a taxi across Bristol to where my car is parked, and get home to Plymouth at 02.00am.
Personally speaking, this is no great hardship. Neither is the fact that my hairdresser that I really needed to go see – is now closed too. I find an alternative, in the local high street, and they make a complete mess, but it only costs £12.00 instead of the £24.00 I usually pay. I call one of the girls privately who usually does my hair and she agrees to pop round to my house next Friday, to rescue me. Except that this is Monday and on Tuesday she sends me a message to say she can not leave her home as we are all in lockdown. Right… I ask her does she want to borrow my own dog, and she laughs.
I love going to the cinema and we have a new Movie complex in town that has just opened and some great new restaurants,. They are all closed. But no probs….I have discovered Netflix and I drive to the local Chinese takeaway who tell me to stand outside the shop, and phone them, even though I am standing right outside, and they will pop outside in a few minutes and leave the special fried rice etc by the door of my car, but I must not get out of my car until they have gone back in the shop. Ok.
I am still walking to my Office, it’s two miles but Boots have a chemist right next door so that’s my excuse and it is my ritual exercise. And I am picking up medications for my wife, who is high risk and cannot leave the family home. Fair enough. I have tried getting back on my racing bike, but the hills in this part of the world are even too steep for Lance Armstrong, so on the advice of family, cycling is a no-no.
Coronavirus affects my family more than I. My daughter Zoe is an actress, works at the local Theatre, and is currently on ITV in the Dawn French series. But the theatre is now closed. Zoe takes just 48 hours, to get an immediate job answering the 111 emergency advice calls. If she didn’t get a job quickly, she would not be able to pay her rent at the flat she has. She is given half a day of training, and has no medical knowledge whatsoever. We are all clearly in good hands when we call.
So where is the problem?
Business wise, Coronavirus is a catastrophe on the lines of Noah and the Ark, except that there is no Ark, and no planning for the greater good or even for society. We are on our own.
I run a marketing business, that has been going for what feels like since kindergarten. We depend on reaching out to people and we are a team of five, dotted around Europe. 80% of our work is based in Scandinavia. They are in absolute lockdown in Norway, Denmark, and although in theory we can go see clients in Sweden, we cannot get back home again. So travel anywhere, is now out.
Seeing as companies pay us money for doing meetings, within 24 hours of my missing trains in March, we have lost some 30% of our business. Companies are in panic mode, and it is a self fulfilling disaster. Companies shut down their activity and opening times, don’t pay their employees, which means those same employees and customers cannot buy food or invest in other things, which means that even more companies go out of business – that were perfectly viable a few hours earlier.
We are the lucky ones. Several of our clients are in vertical markets of necessity, so touch-wood, we think we are Ok as a business, and everything now is online; we do “virtual meetings”. And talking to clients and prospects, chatting on my laptop Skype – everybody is aiming to be back up and running by end of May. Hallelujah. And it has to be this way. There is a realisation that life has to get back to a sense of normality. We just don’t know what that “normality” is.
But perhaps I am looking at this all wrong. Because since we are not getting on planes, and we are not making anything – the water around Venice is now clearer. Apparently here is no pollution in the skies above Wuhan now.
I am not travelling, so I now have time to attend the virtual Church Service at 09.00 on a Monday morning broadcast on FaceTime by my local vicar. My WIFI works pretty well down my garden at home, so I no longer walk to my office, and me and the dog have a comfy chair, new iPhone 11, MacBook, down the bottom of my patio.
Yes we are vulnerable, and it is a worry. But I call my friend in Barcelona, and she tells me it is even worse over there.
Thank you for reading this post! The next instalment will be released soon but until then bye for now!
Amelia Grace a.k.a Amelia in Hull