It’s been 50 days since I first posted about Coronavirus and it’s fair to say that in that time, the world has changed. 50 days ago there were 289 deaths in the UK and yesterday’s daily government briefing announced the total is now 31,589 - which puts our little island nation second in numbers only to the USA. Italy was at the centre of the crisis and is now barely even mentioned in the news. There have been plenty of significant events in those 50 days, an emergency hospital was built inside the Excel centre, Boris Johnson was diagnosed with the virus spending time in intensive care and the Queen made a historic and emotional televised speech to the nation.
This whole situation is now certainly one of the most notable and impactful events to occur in my lifetime, it’s up there with the news stories such as the death of Diana, the turn of the millennium, the September 11th attacks, the 2007-08 global financial crisis, the birth of Prince George and more recently, the UK choosing to leave the EU. More significantly than all of those though is what may come in the future, the IMF has projected that this event will trigger the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The government is paying the wages for almost 20% of the employed workforce through a furlough scheme and providing loans and grants left right and centre in order to try and protect the economy. We’re living in interesting and scary times, but I’m thankful that everyone close to us is safe and for now life goes - albeit in lockdown.
Victoria and I have been very fortunate, we’ve both continued to work and are busier than ever. There have been some small changes at Colliers and although the firm announced reasonable Q1 2020 results, the projection is for a reduction in revenue between 15% and 25% in 2020. At work I continue the effort of improving remote working technology for the business, with good success in adopting Microsoft Teams next month we will retire Skype for Business, a big step forward. The past month has been really rewarding speaking to colleagues across the company, hearing how they are adapting to work and how the technology we’ve implemented has allowed them to continue to do business.
The lifestyle change over the past few months has been interesting too. A few years back I was working from home full time and while it worked, I didn’t love it. I enjoyed and respected the freedom but the hours were debilitating. I lived and breathed work, it became the centre of my life, waking up at silly o’clock and grinding late into the evening took a big toll on my mood and wellbeing. Changing to a 9-to-5 office job was the adjustment in life that I needed and one of the key reasons for moving to Colliers. The change took some getting used to, I still don’t enjoy getting the train every day but I do enjoy almost everything else, I love my job and the people I work with.
With the virus, Colliers like almost all office-based companies enacted a work from home policy. I was a little nervous, fearful of seeing a repeat of the experience at the last place - but conscious that things were both temporary and necessary. I’ve learned over the past few months that the problem wasn’t working from home, it was working in the wrong way and with the wrong hours. In complete contrast, working with a regional team with most colleagues located only a few hours East, having support over deliverables and encouragement to separate working hours has made all the difference. Victoria and I walk Dexter at 8:30 before work and at 17:30 after work, separating the day. I’ve been busy, really busy and some days I don’t get everything done that I had hoped, but it waits for tomorrow. When I check my emails in the evening, and I don’t often, there’s nothing unread to lure me back to my desk. The removal of the train commute has given me hours back in my day which I spend cooking, walking, running or with Victoria - it’s made me happier, healthier, more appreciative and much less stressed. Not perfectly healthy, I’ve had more beer recently than I should but I’ve enjoyed drinking that beer, I don’t overdo it and end up on the last train home. I’m hopeful that once things are back to normal, whatever that looks like, there is an increased element of working from home. I’m enjoying it and making the most of the time.
Aside from work, we’ve been doing our best to make the most of being at home, its been good, I feel closer than ever to Victoria and am enjoying being away from all the distractions in the world. It’s made me appreciate things more, the things I’ve done and the freedom we all used to take for granted. It sounds a bit nuts, but when you go to the pub, restaurant or the gym sometimes you’re just there - when actually the value in all those things is who you’re there with. I’ve been thinking a lot about the trip Owen and I took last year, it was such a fantastic, amazing adventure, we were so lucky that it worked out. The trip now is much more than the journey to me, the countries we visited or the trains we took, it was the time we spent together, the stupid jokes and the weird people we met. I don’t know when something like that trip will be possible again, but I know I’m going to appreciate it all the more when it is.
Despite the lockdown, I had the most fantastic #StayHome 30th birthday. We opened presents in bed and took things easy, it was fantastic. This year I was very lucky with presents, Victoria treated me to a stay in Spitbank Fort in the Solent, a surprise she kept for many months. The original plan was to be there for our birthday, but we’ve rescheduled for August and are hoping that this is all over by then. It looks fantastic, you take a boat over and then stay there until it’s time to go home - totally up my street and I can’t wait to be sitting there with her enjoying a nice dinner together. The weather was beautiful on the Sunday and we spent time sitting in the garden drinking beer and playing ‘Who Knows Where?’, another great gift. I enjoyed wearing my summer shirt which I bought (for too much money) while we were on honeymoon in Malaysia, I thought it complimented the celebratory moustache well.
The week after our birthday weekend we had originally planned to travel to Glasgow, unfortunately, that was cancelled but instead, we spent time at home. I planted up some seeds which are coming up to three weeks now, most of them are doing great. The Cos lettuce is doing particularly well as are the tomatoes. I had almost written off the tomatoes because they didn’t surface for almost two weeks, I think you’re supposed to dry them out first. Speaking of tomatoes, the food and supermarket situation is much better now. Almost everything is available once again and food shops are open and being reasonably sensible about how many people they let in. Going shopping is actually pretty great, yes you have to queue but parking is easy and when you get in the shop there aren’t hoards of people.
This past weekend was the 75th anniversary of VE Day, celebrating the end of the war against Nazi Germany in Europe. We put up the Union Jack, made some bunting and had some drinks in the front garden with the neighbours. It was refreshing and demonstrated that celebrating things at home can be just as fun as going out or travelling. We got rather sozzled towards the end of the day but had a rather lovely time. I vaguely recall carving a chicken for the dog at about 10pm! Oh and yes, I know that my flag is the wrong way round (wide white top, broadside up) - too late, I’d already attached it to the frame.