Tuesday, December 21, 2021

It's Christmas, Jim, But Not As We Know It.

And so this is Christmas, and what have we done? Or, more to the point, what are we doing, and what are we going to do?

Last week I spent an even as a safety steward for Santa as he hauled his sleigh around the village raising money for charity. The week before I took part in the village nativity play in the local church. The tree and the decorations are up. Cards are displayed while others have been written and delivered. I've even done a bit of Christmas shopping, both in person and online.

But for every moment of Christmas normality, there is something Christmas under pandemic life. Work Christmas party was conducted online with everyone at home. There have been no Christmas drinks or catchups with friends and colleagues. And I have no reason to go into town in the evenings when the lights and displays are at their best.

As for Christmas day itself, we've been cautiously making plans. We knew the Prime Minister had announced that he wouldn't bring in any restrictions this year, but I don't think anyone can blame me if I didn't think this would stop him from reversing his decisions.

We planned for seven people, although there was the possibility of six. But then we were aware of circumstances that might bring in another three to make ten. Or even eleven. But what happens if County lines are closed, which could mean three.

So anywhere from three to ten people. What size turkey should we order for that range of guests?

In the end, the Prime Minister met with his Cabinet yesterday and made no decision. In hindsight, he was never going to make an unpopular decision for Christmas while his government is mired in a number of scandals and he's teetering on the edge of a leadership challenge anyway. Which  means Christmas should go ahead. Or will it? I have little confidence in the clarity and surety of events beyond this evening.

For now, at least, Christmas will be normal. Or as normal as it can be in the middle of a pandemic.

But whatever happens, whatever unfolds, however it is spent, enjoy your time. Relax, recharge and refresh, ready for 2022.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

It's Not Going Away Anytime Soon, Is It?

It was almost two years ago that we first heard of a new virus in China. I recall seeing it unfold in China, and while it was worrying, it wasn't something I thought would effect us too much. I mean, there had been SARS, and Ebola, and a few others. But each of these had been contained and geographically limited and controlled. And they were no longer a threat.

How wrong I was.

A few months later then world changed in ways we could never imagine. We were sent home to work, which I figured might be a month or two. Again, I was very, very wrong.

I've been back in my office about 4 times since then. All in the past few months. I saw some members of my team in real life for the first time in more than 18 months. I met the "new guy" who'd actually been with us for more than a year. The office was sterile. We'd taken all our personal items home a couple of months ago and the office was now a "hub", used by other teams as well.

On the one hand, I was happy to be around other people, and yet I didn't enjoy that as much as I should have. Is it because I'm not used to it yet, or simply that I am generally avoiding groups and gatherings anyway?

But I'm hearing whispers there may be another lockdown before Christmas. I'm hearing that we may be asked to not come into the office again, at least for a while. I'm also hearing Christmas may revert to bubbles only, limited meetings and numbers, and so on.

It's all unknown. It's constantly changing. And none of us can plan for Christmas because we're not being adequately informed. And, of course, some of us are starting to think this may still be a round next Christmas.

Lights on, trees up, masks at the ready!