Sunday, 22 March 2020


Things are very serious with Coronavirus now so it seems fitting to answer a set of questions about the subject from Sunday Stealing.

Let’s dive straight in shall we?

1. Has the COVID-19 affected your work environment?

Yes. On Friday 13th March, we had a briefing that told us that we can work from home if we choose. I chose to do so starting the following Monday. The company then decided on the following Wednesday that everybody except those who look after the IT infrastructure and deal with 24 hour support must also work from home. The company have two adjacent offices and one of them, the one I work in, has now been closed, the other one being closed to all but the absolutely essential staff I mentioned above.

Given that I work in IT and technology exists to accommodate home working, this is a no-brainer. I am bored at home, I have to admit, but we do have daily “stand up meetings” via software that ensures we can see each other face to face via our webcams, enabling each member of my team to get a glimpse of each other’s homes for fifteen minutes.

We also have an end of day chat which is less formal and geared more towards having a chat about general stuff, as we would over a coffee during office hours. This is being extended to the entire company at set times over the coming weeks so that we can pop in have a chat.

Sadly, Mrs PM’s company are insisting that she goes into the office, but she is a contractor and when the company is forced to send people home, we fear that she might be let go. This isn’t unexpected but for now she is driving to work every day and taking the usual precautions.

2. How are you feeling about the Coronavirus?

I am a hypochondriac with mild OCD so my anxiety levels are slightly elevated. I am trying to be pragmatic and following the advice to the letter, even though our wonderfully inept government have been dragging their feet until recently.

I have actually been washing my hands so much that they are drying out a little and I have had to use Mrs PM’s moisturiser to help a little.

Don’t tell anybody – that’s between you and I, dear reader.

What I do feel annoyed is that certain people think the virus will not get to them or that they are indestructible and if they do get it will survive as if it were just a bad cold.

Equally, I am annoyed at those who are panicking so much that they are hoarding and stockpiling at the expense of the most vulnerable people in our society. Worse, the people who really matter, like doctors, nurses, medical professionals and those who are helping to keep the country going, are struggling to get supplies because of the selfishness of idiots.

I heard yesterday that there is a shortage of freezers because people are buying extra ones to fill up with their ill-gotten gains from the supermarkets. I am quite angry about this.

3. Has anybody you know been tested / have you?

On the same day my company had the Coronavirus briefing, we discovered that a young lad was off with the symptoms. Three weeks earlier he had been to Italy on holiday. He returned on Sunday and was advised to self-isolate for 14 days. He did exactly that and then came back to work on Tuesday. He was ill the following Friday.

The problem is that we can’t be sure that he has the virus or not because the NHS is not testing people unless they are admitted to hospital. This means that the official number of cases doesn’t represent the true picture. The government have acknowledged this and given the official number plus the extrapolated number too – and that is much higher as you would imagine.

Stop Press: Mrs PM has an old friend from university who lives in Liverpool. The BHS helpline have just informed him that they think he has the virus. He won’t be tested until his symptoms become so bad that he ends up in hospital. Let’s hope that isn’t the case.

4. Do you have any friends stuck in any exotic locations?

No. Mrs PM’s dad was in Turkey until yesterday and had to be flown back to a different airport as flights were very limited to get back. He is back safe and sound now and is immediately self-isolating hopefully.

5. Have you changed any of your personal habits due to the pandemic?

Yes. I wash my hands a lot more and I haven’t been socialising with friends for a couple of weeks. I have been going out for walks to avoid cabin fever and observing the advice of keeping far away from other walkers. I fear that we will soon have to stop doing even that.

6. What is the craziest thing you've seen or heard about the outbreak?

Apart from nutters stockpiling things? People have largely been ignoring advice and still going to the pub and restaurants, although that too will now cease as the government has ordered all such establishments to close down.

A lot of people think they are invincible and are just not changing their ways. That to me is crazy.

I’ve also watched Donald Trump’s bullshit over the past few weeks, telling blatant lies to the American people and then getting experts telling the truth just a few seconds later. How can Americans believe the Orange Goblin any more?

Another thing I have seen and heard is that people have stopped drinking Corona Beer because in their minds it might actually be responsible for the outbreak.

That is almost as crazy as some of Trump’s bullshit.

7. Do you think our politicians are doing enough to curb the crisis?

My view on Trump in the US is above. In the case of the UK the answer is also no.

I have read a few reports over the past couple of weeks about the spread of the virus in mathematical and statistical terms and, since that was my main background at university, I understand what they mean. Western governments have not been following the advice until it is too late and the UK government is only now realising the seriousness of the situation. The actions in Italy, Spain and France have hopefully given Boris “The Clown” Johnson the kick up the arse that he needed.

Over the past week we have ramped up our response, closing pubs, restaurants etc, closing schools and tightening restrictions. I welcome this but we are, in my opinion (based on some of the reports I read) about two weeks too late. The good news is that sporting bodies, theatres etc. acted before this, so that we went some way to actually changing our behaviour before the government made it official.

Let’s hope things improve and we aren’t too late. News from Italy and Spain suggest to me that perhaps we have acted too late.

8. Have you stockpiled anything because of the crisis?

No. I have been angered by the behaviour of certain irresponsible individuals despite warnings from everybody. My son and his girlfriend said that they saw two people fighting over a box of eggs in the local supermarket last week.

As far as we’re concerned, Mrs PM and I have been doing the regular weekly shop as normal. We have enough toilet roll for a while, as well as other bits and pieces. My hope is that people will start to behave properly over the next week or two.

The bottom line is that the country has enough food, cleaning products etc. for everybody so hoarding them is doing nothing more than depriving the needy and the most important people we need to help us through all of this.

9. What do you think you will miss the most if you are subject to a lock in?

Probably going for a walk. I have been calling on the introvert within me to help me cope with working alone from home. Thankfully, I am quite happy in my own company and of course Mrs PM is here too. I will miss going to pubs and restaurants with friends but I can cope with that. I have enough to occupy my mind, I think.

Oh – and since the football season has been suspended I miss watching it on a Sunday afternoon. Also, the travel restrictions will almost certainly mean that our planned trip to Italy in early June and Spain in late June are cancelled. I have accepted that. We can travel when all this is over.

10. What is the weirdest rumour you've heard about the virus?

I think it probably has something to do with why people are stockpiling toilet roll. This is a respiratory illness and does not cause you to spend more time on the toilet.

Now I do know for a fact that some people eat toilet paper. Stick with me on this. I have lived with people in the past who I suspect of this weird diet. I go to the toilet in the morning and there is a full roll available for use. When I next go, about two hours later, I notice that there is one single lonely sheet dangling sadly from the cardboard. Only one person has been to the toilet during that time, my flatmate. I can only conclude that he had a breakfast of loo roll on toast.

How else would he have used so much? On second thoughts, don’t answer that.

11. Do you have a favourite meme about the virus?

This one:

12. Has the virus made you grateful for anything?

I think we are discovering that people can generally be wonderful (if you ignore selfish hoarders). We are seeing good deeds more and more as most people try to pull together during these tough times. I’m grateful for that, I applaud it and I hope that it changes people in the future.

13. Have any of your plans been upset by the outbreak?

Yes. I’ve had a couple of concerts cancelled and I guess that June will see another one cancelled plus two holidays. I would rather the outbreak be over though; we can go to gigs and holidays and socialise when all of this is over.

14. Are you planning do to anything different because of the COVID-19 outbreak?

Working from home, obviously and taking the time to sort out my life a little. There will be ample time for self-reflection over this period – and I mean positive self-reflection rather than trying to dwell on how bad it is.

Oh – and Mrs PM is having a spring clean starting next week so that will give us the opportunity to declutter (within reason).

15. What do you hope to see in six months time?

I hope that it is all over by then and that we can return to something like a normal life.

I am being quite realistic though and there is a chance that we will still be restricted (albeit not as much as now).

Once we have a vaccine, things will improve, although rumour has it that this won’t be for another 12 to 18 months. In six months time, we will at least know much more about the virus, how it is transmitted, how to mitigate its affects, how to mitigate the spread and, hopefully, have a massive long list of lessons learned, should there ever be another similar virus in future.

 16. Has the Coronavirus upset your mental health in any way?

As I said above, I am slightly more anxious as I succumb to several personal nemeses. They are:

Captain Paranoia – the person who tells me that nothing will improve and the future is bleak. No matter how careful I am I will catch the virus eventually.

Captain OCD – the person who tells me that I can catch the virus via my own computer because somebody else might have typed on my keyboard three weeks ago. He is also turning my hands into leather gloves thanks to all the washing.

Captain Hypochondria – the person who tells me that if wake up feeling a little tired, then I have COVID-19. If I have a slight headache, I have COVID-19. If I sneeze I have COVID-19. If I look at a person in the street I will catch COVID-19.

The good news is that I am a sensible and fairly clever chap, so I largely ignore these arseholes. They have been with me all my life and I am still here.

The three of them can just bugger off - and so can Coronavirus!


Lori said...

OMG, every time you call Trump the Orange Goblin, I just laugh and laugh. I just want to know why he is orange? You be safe and you and Mrs. PM take care! We will all get through this. Loved your answers! Have a nice day!

The Gal Herself said...

I wish I shared Mrs. PM's initiative! Every day I tell myself I'm going to tackle some of the much needed housework that needs doing around here, and every day I just seem to take more naps.

Good for you for washing your hands! You're protecting yourself and others. Wear that dry skin proudly.

Stacy said...

Ha! I do love your sense of humor. Have a drink with Capt. Morgan...maybe splash a bit on the keyboard (is the alcohol content high enough to count??) and ignore the other 3 capts. Send them to the brig or better yet, make them walk the plank!

Joking aside, I agree with you on the turds who are hoarding everything. Perhaps Satan is saving them a special corner in hell.

Stay safely isolated, but I hope you have a good week!

Kwizgiver said...

I am going to adopt your thinking about being able to resume travel and concerts and so forth when this is over.

CountryDew said...

What a great read. Really thoughtful answers and I got a good sense of where you are. About the TP - it's a control thing, really. I've been a TP hoarder all of my life (as was my grandmother), and it's like the only thing in my life I have any control over. The virus has forced people to realize how little they actually control in their life. But they can control what they wipe their butts with.

Elephant's Child said...

We have the hoarders here too. A pox on all of them.
And yes, our guvermint is slow to act too. Sadly they seem to be focusing on the economic crisis first and the health issues second.
Stay well, stay safe.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Lori,

We think he is orange because - well - it's the colour of his skin - at least to us. It looks like he is using an excessive amount of fake tan.

Stay safe too.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Gal Herself,

When winter comes it will look I am wearing gloves even though I am not.

Mrs PM is driven and I will have to help her in case she throws away valuable stuff of mine ...




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Stacey,

Captain Morgan, eh? Now that's a brilliant idea. The others are now OUT!




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Kwizgiver,

You know it makes sense.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi CD,

Yes indeed - some people are looking for alternatives (some good, some not so good).




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

Some people think governments are acting accordingly - the bulk of them are too slow from what I can see.