In the last week, Vaughan and I have moved from being the only people our friends knew in self-isolation to just one of a growing number of people sharing the experience. Sue, Pete, Steph, Jules, Leon and the Phillips minors, James, Martin, Graham D. builder all have followed us into their individual quarantine. You may …
In an attempt to fend off the criticism that this title isn’t a song from a musical I find myself calling on pantomime in saying “Oh yes it is”.
I have to say though that among my friends which has more than its share of theatrical lovies and musical theatre fans, only Bill Meehan in the States is likely to know which without falling back on Dr. Google. We’ve been fairly busy at Gumnut working out how to do new things remotely. I’m trying to manage recruitment processes when communication is impersonal and interviews though possibly remotely seem to be on hold at present. Things are still progressing albeit in fits, starts and with considerable uncertainty.
Those who know the speed of change active in the criminal justice system will recognise that Vaughan had a more significant work challenge today. In normal times, he would have been attending the High Court for an insolvency hearing. That would require a judge, interested parties, a quarrel of lawyers and enough paper to wrap the court to be present for the hearing. As of Wednesday, that was still the Court’s position.
They did move into the 20th century yesterday with the promise of an electronic hearing via Skype. However, neither the Court nor the parties concerned had done this before so it was a promise of a voyage into the unknown. What could possibly go wrong?
I returned from walking Taz to find Vaughan online at his desk infront of a neutral wall. The Skype meeting was underway. Vaughan was listening but had to be ready to activate video had, for example, the judge or counsel asked a question of him.
All I can say is although that didn’t happen, had it been necessary, I would suggest you thinks less of Legal Eagles and more of Will Ferrel in Anchorman. More than this I cannot say. However, the important point was that the hearing although not perfect took place electronically and ‘in person’ to the extent that Skype is in person. Further an order was made that service of papers usually necessary in person, could in the current climate be undertaken via email.
Having a professional interest in dragging the Courts into the 20th century, I was keen to hear how Vaughan felt the process went. His view (as an involved party rather than a casual observer) was that it might need polishing but it could be something that would be viable in the future.
What surprised me this morning were comments within the wall to wall coverage from people in self-isolation.
All of them mentioned how 2-3 days of reduced contact had been increadibly isolating and how it has given them an insight into what is normal for so many people, especially the elderly in the UK. How they might feel if that reduced contact came with reduced mobility or independence, no Netflix/Amazon and lasted for years I’m not certain. However, I do hope some of them might reflect on the question. If anything positive could come out of this crisis it might be reducing the isolation and exclusion of the elderly or those without extended families. Hopefully some insight might influence future actions and priorities.
There are certainly some things that may come out of this situation that have the impact to make lasting social change. Some political theorists believe meaningful change doesn’t occur incrementally but is the result of revolution or crisis. If they are correct, this may be one of those times.
I’m suddenly able to work remotely and corporate finances can be found to enhance networks, upgrade servers or buy additional bandwidth. It’s disappointing (though not particularly surprising) that business can respond in these ways quickly and effectively to support an external crisis of this kind. These are, in many cases the same businesses that have been resisting such change on the basis of an improved work/life balance for their staff. Those who care to observe the difference in response may well question how genuine claims of social or corporate responsibility are and what their claims of valuing staff have been worth to date.
Other initiatives I would welcome lasting beyond the current crisis would include things such as the silver shopping hour, reducing the 24 hour shopping hours, moving the mindset further towards work being what you do not where you do it and digitisation of the criminal justice system.
If the insolvency hearing was good enough today in digital form and if service of documents was permitted by email why should this no longer be acceptable post Covid19. Of course some adjustments are likely to be necessary but it’s all too easy to think we’ll just slip back to the former status quo once this all ends.
The Che Guevara in me would urge us all to move some of these changes from being seen as an emergency solution towards it becoming part of the new normal. Some of the current crisis is pretty lousy, but in the mix are also some pretty positive changes if we elect to maintain and develop them – something to think about maybe.
In time honoured fashion, at least time honoured over the last 12 days, something to end that I hope prompts at least a smile. I couldn’t help but wonder how Sheldon Cooper might handle the current situation. Maybe this gives us a clue. (For those, if any, who don’t know Big Bang Theory – here is 1.30 to sample. Sheldon is in the blue, Leonard in the red. That’s all you need to know. Bazinga !