Livin’ La Vida Lockdown
5th June by Imogen Ward
What have you been doing these past 11 weeks? Learnt a new language? Taken your Grade 8 in Clarinet? Started your first novel?
If we didn’t have enough on our plates, what with a world pandemic and all that, we’ve also had the added pressure of feeling worthless if we haven’t notched up a few meaningful personal achievements.
But in reality, the vast majority of us haven’t.
Most of the Leaders AAW have spoken to over the past few weeks have barely left their desks ALL WEEK LONG, trapped in the unending cycle of zoom calls punctuated by the unrelenting cycle of preparing scenario planning papers for board meetings punctuated by…. well you know the drill.
So, using this time to squirrel away a few brags to share come the day we tiptoe outside? Are you freaking insane?
Managing to get out of bed in the morning at the end of March was an achievement. During April, making it to 5pm without glugging down a bottle of wine became an almost herculean effort. May was when we finally jacked in all attempts at pretending that this period of isolation was ‘cleansing’. May was when we really lost it. And here we are in June. And lockdown, if not over, is certainly loosened.
So, when we didn’t actually work or wrestle with family life what did we do? Did we listen to stuff? Or stream? Or read? And what does it tell us about how we may approach this period of isolation if (shush!) we have to do it all again?
As I mentioned, most of the CEOs we know had less rather than more time than in standard times. So, when we asked Richard Hawkes at British Asian Trust what his cultural reading highlights were, he bluntly (and honestly) told us that it was ‘reading emails!’ Yep that resonated. He also elegantly got in the fact that he was doing this whilst often listening to ‘his good friend Katy Perry’ (an ambassador for BAT), but that’s Richard for you. Even during lockdown he’s thinking of the PR hook!
Kate Lee, who lest we forget joined the Alzheimer’s Society as CEO about a week or so before lockdown, must have been so busy that I bet she barely had time to choose a pair of her trademark trainers in the morning. Anyone who started a new job just as this wretched business hit us deserves a year’s sabbatical but joining a new (and very complex) organisation as CEO in CV-19? That’s like suddenly being asked to do a marathon after breaking your PB doing a 10K! Ooof! Of course, she’s been busy. But she’s also used this time to try and immerse herself in the area of dementia by reading some personal memoirs. She recommends Watching the Leaves Dance by Graham Stokes and 'Finding the Light in Dementia' by Dr Jane Mullins.
She’s also annoyed her kids by constantly listening to Free Radio 80s. Respect Kate. Oh, and needs must – she did in fact pick up some new skills. She told me ‘I have been streaming loads of YouTube tutorials, I have learnt to: groom a dog, wax eyebrows, do a skin fade haircut and rewire a light fitting. I'm preparing myself for if the job at Alzheimer's Society doesn't work out!!” Well, I don’t think she needs to worry about that somehow.
Our friend Chris Sherwood, CEO of RSPCA, fittingly used the time to acquaint himself with the organisation’s first royal patron, Queen Victoria, by reading AN Wilson’s biography. He also cleverly endeared himself to my 11 year old son by telling me that he watched all of the Star Wars films in chronological order. And then endeared himself to me by admitting that he listened to ‘Far too much musical theatre’ A man very much after my own heart. You can never listen to too much Sondheim, Chris.
And what about the ragbag gang here at AAW. Well after a scientific study and much crunching of data……
- Historical books – Ms Mantel natch, but also CJ Samson and Edward Rutherford. A slight outlier was Animal Farm by George Orwell which is rather curious.
- Radio – well no surprise there really. A lot of us have rediscovered the joy of being connected via a single voice. Radio 4 loomed large for AAW at the beginning of lockdown and then was snapped off in April. There is also the usual eclectic mix of 90’s and 2000’s classics features, which one would expect from a bunch of middle age people, with a sprinkling of doom from Leonard Cohen (seriously?)
- TV – yep. Our guys were honest. Loads watched Tiger King, but they are now convinced that during that period they were drugged and watched it in some sort of zombie haze. Yeah right. Tiger King was definitely the programme of early lock down. Thankfully they all redeemed themselves by then turning to animal lover and campaigner Ricky Gervais to watch After Life.
What does this tell us?
Well apart from Kate and her apprentice training in all things grooming and electrical, the rest of us did pretty standard stuff. We read books we liked anyway. We did some things that tried to help us get a better understanding of the institutions we work for. We listened to some cheesy pop and cried at power ballads. We had weeks of batch cooking. And weeks of baking bread. And then weeks of missing lunch because of that call or that spreadsheet. Or that computer crash. We Zoomed our friends and our families at weekends after spending all week on the same bloody platform to our colleagues. Most of us now hate Zoom.
All of us surely cried at different points. All of us must have hoped that this would pass. All of us probably had the same strange lucid dreams at night. Or maybe that was just me.
We don’t want to go into lockdown again. Even if there are loads of books we haven’t read or shows we haven’t downloaded. We want our lives back. But if we have to. We know we can.
And we can be absolutely sure that no one will judge the food we cook or the music we listen to. Nah. They’ll just be interested in nicking our choices and claiming them as their own.
Photo by Konstantin Dyadyun at Unsplash.