With the Coronavirus epidemic gathering pace, the world is going into meltdown. It feels like we’re living in unprecedented times and panic is setting in.
But we’ve been here before.
Whether it’s Mother Nature battering us with heatwaves, floods and snow or world changing events such as 9/11, we’ve always found a way of coming through the other side relatively unscathed.
As the man who has taught you how to behave in pubs, on public transportand in the supermarket, and has offered invaluable guidance on how to plate up a Full English, I don’t think there is anyone better placed to shepherd you through this period of uncertainty.
As far as crisis management goes, I have helped manage a writing festival during the Beast from the East. I was stranded in Barcelona during the volcanic ash crisis and embarked on a mammoth trek to get home for my 40th birthday. And in the early seventies, I remained the one calm head whilst the adults searched the boating lake at Otterburn Hall for my body when I was merely trapped in the toilet.
From finding a last minute copy of Gangnam Style for a friend’s son’s nursery to providing a camera for photographic evidence when my brother’s kitchen was stolen, I’m your man for a crisis.
The first thing to remember is that other people are idiots. Every one of them. Politicians, journalists, people who inhabit social media, your friends, your colleagues, your family. Idiots, the lot of them.
Don’t listen to a word they say.
The one exception to this is experts. Listen to them, they aren’t idiots.
Apart from self-appointed experts. They are fucking idiots.
The most surprising thing about this outbreak so far as been the stockpiling of toilet rolls. I realise that everybody is a little bit scared but have we really reached the point of fear that we are spontaneously soiling ourselves and need to carry a netty roll around with us?
Panic buying might seem like the right thing to do now, but in the year 2032 when you finally get around to cleaning out your kitchen cupboards, you’re going to feel a little foolish when you find that bag of gluten free macaroni that was the last thing on the shelves in Aldi.
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” said Steve Guttenburg in Police Academy 3: Back in Training, and he was right. Everyone is whipping themselves into a frenzy but try and look on the bright side. Formula One is postponed, we soon won’t have to endure other people on public transport, and you have a ready made excuse for avoiding any social functions you don’t wish to attend.
Life doesn’t get any better than this, enjoy it while you can.
This is probably the most important life lesson I will give you. Work isn’t important. Your job doesn’t matter. Unless you are saving lives or shooting the people stockpiling toilet rolls, your job is irrelevant.
We’ve been conditioned to think otherwise, but if you didn’t do your job for a few months, nobody would notice. Take comfort from this and put your feet up.
A lot of people will be expected to work from home. I will cover this in another blog but after four years working from home I’ll let you into a secret. Afternoon naps are key.
You may wonder how you will fill your time when cabined up. The answer is read books. Especially these books. Even people who don’t think they like books will be able to find something they like.
This is a fantastic opportunity to try new things. Listen to different music, watch a TV show outside of your normal tastes, listen to a radio drama, eat that pickled onion soup you bought in a panic.
Make the most of this crisis because it might be at least a year until the next one comes along.
Finally, if you think you can help the situation by displaying a ‘Keep Calm and Drink Prosecco’ poster, either at home or on social media, feel free. The cull is coming and we need to know who is going to the top of the list.