Feeling Furloughed

Covid-19 has ripped through Great Britain at break-neck speed, thousands upon thousands are confirmed infected, and the death toll still rises at terrifying rates.

Heroes appear in the guises of cleaning crews, bin men and retired GP’s and nurses. The white van has been added to the image of emergency vehicles along with the ASDA and TESCO delivery truck. We clap for these heroes every Thursday at the proper social distance and people queue in silence two meters apart, calmly waiting their turn to enter the supermarket – These are very strange times indeed. Streets are all but deserted and where they can, people work from home. Almost every business sector has been affected. Life is akin to an eery holiday in a deserted resort.

At the beginning of April, my MD took the tough decision, as so many others have, to furlough some staff to ensure that there is a business to return to ‘on the other side’. I won’t lie, I cried – I know this sounds utterly selfish and stupid, but I did. I felt useless, with my life out of my control. I am confident though that all of you in the same position nod knowingly about how I felt just in that single moment.

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There is a strange guilt to furlough. Being productive is inbred, it’s tough not being useful and I am only a week or so in.

Online courses are good and I have been keeping the grey cells active, ensuring I have some fresh new insights to bring to the office table upon my return, and who knew too that we would all be such good teachers – Not the Maths and English supplied by the amazing teaching staff at our local schools, but simple lessons including learning new games, growing veggies and gardening and other responsibilities.

Our son has mastered a varied array of life skills and his confidence grows every day, even without his dearly missed peers.

Living with my mother before all this, was at times difficult (I will not lie) but during this insanity there has been a positive shift, there is a peace in the household, another person with whom to share the long days and frustrating hours.

Daily tasks are divided, light-hearted conversations flow and board games are played, but my beloved Dad is in a care home and although he is literally only three miles away, he is locked down and we are unable to visit. I fear that the sweetest of men is sitting there in his more lucid moments wondering where the crazy people who bring him hugs and chocolate and cans of gin & tonic have gone.

I have always had a habit, good or bad of doing everything super-fast. This time away from normality has already shown me an inner brake pedal, I have for the first time in decades, slowed down. I’m doing things once and doing them well, from just spending time with my household, to writing, cleaning to learning and more. It is I am sure you will all agree, a very strange situation for everyone.