2020-03-21: The Clock with no Hands

We lived around the clock, moving through the days and nights with little regard for time.” – Patti Smith, M Train

Weeknotes? I don’t even know what day it is any more. Existence ticking from one bubble to the next, a world im which routine is a fiction, regularity is an advert.

No daily weeknotes scrawled down electronically this week. Been bouncing, bouncing, bouncing – a catch-up meeting, 1-1, board meeting, planning meeting for the planning meeting, another board meeting, catch up meeting, bringing a delivery together. All on remote, all figuring out tools and processes and environment on the fly.

But the real bouncing has been emotional. Mine are mostly ok, I’m decently resilient – although I’ve been letting it out every other day or so. I know my ride, my limits, keep it in context and vent it as needed. Still a struggle, but no such thing as a smooth ride. What gets me is the amount of uncertainty I see in the eyes of others.

From the school gates with parents diminishing in number, to the supermarket shelves scooped hollow like sunken eyes. The uncertainty is bad enough, but human reaction kicks in to add layers to it. All we can do is to be human. We’re smart enough and have the tech to figure this shit out, right?

But honestly, none of us out on the streets are in our comfort zone right now. The pressure comes out in different ways, depending on how you’re affected. But it’s a case of trying hard – really hard – to spot the good news and smiles right now. But, they’re there. The bumblebees buzz and the birds sing.

Thursday hit me when I woke up – I have bits inside me which ache when I’m getting close to a breaking point, old memories of a ghost appendix and a throbbing right leg. All of the above was closing in, building shudders into my thoughts, and it looks like next week will be even weirder. They announced the school closures and that threw all of us out here, already trying to balance our lives and keep families strung together with wash baskets and alcohol. I watched as everyone said goodbye to our Reception year teacher, all of us holding it together as the class that she loved was snatched away, that’s it for the year, these things happen.

I don’t know how to explain that feeling in stand-up meetings.

Thursday. I could push myself through another day, but I know how these things go – without rest, it’s downwards, downwards. Need to lift the pressure before it’s not your decision any more. Throw out the nibbling goldfish sharks, the paper cuts and the back roads. Get one thing done, breathe, move on, every day give yourself a present. Got to keep dancing.

The schools are out next week. Let’s see how managing uncertainty goes with even more to figure out as well.


Practically, I’m lucky in that I quite enjoy working from home in many ways. Over the years, I’ve read about hermits and honed a few, basic self-reliance threads. I’m sociable, but I mainly stopped going to social ‘events’ years ago when I turned father. I’ve always hung out on-line, and have seen the benefits of working via shared document, etc. Personally, I don’t mind that change of scene too much. For now, at least.

I was a bit indulgent 6 months back and indulged in an ex-display summer house from the local garden centre. It’s been my man-hut, and I’ve resisted filling it with gewgaws to keep it a space for ideas and relaxation. A bookshelf unit, couple of photos, a gas stove, a wooden chair and an Egyptian drum occupy their spaces, and that’s it. A Zerone wi-fi extender slots into a USB battery pack to give me decent signal, and I haven’t noticed any problems with video calls at all. The battery on a decent laptop is enough to last a morning, and I can charge it mostly up to 100% over lunch – quick charge is pretty cool.

The detachment of the hut/shed/cave is hugely important to me, and it was great to have some sun on Monday and Tuesday lunchtime to be able to retreat – I find it easier to think through stuff with nature around me, and the bookshelf and chair mean I can flit between standing and sitting to match my work. That detachment also means I’m less likely to think about ‘real world’ problems, and check the news, etc. God knows where I’d be if I read the news more than twice a day right now.

It also reminded me how ‘restricted’ I feel when I’m in the office – even though I have my own desk, I don’t feel like I can move around, put music on, or even just hum or ‘a-ha!’ to myself. Personal space for creative, deep-though work is an untapped potential, in my book. I wonder if anyone else has this relationship with work that others would describe as ‘technical’ or ‘managerial’? For me, it’s all problem-solving, and I think things through best when I can visualise it, imagine it as real, and move my body around that space as much as possible.


Anyway, it’s a rollercoaster situation. I’m dealing with it. Most days I feel good – often even more positive than usual – and every now and then blam and then back we go. What’s the phrase? Oh yeah.

May you live in interesting times.

If you’re interested, I’m posting small, general updates (with photos, natch) over at my Disposable Evidence newsletter. It’s not much but it’s keeping me sane,and you’re welcome to join me.