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the lockdown log 2

Last time I talked about some pf my experiences of working in lockdown situations and this time I will describe another couple of incidents that came to mind. Hopefully they might amuse you.One project that I worked on was of such importance that the client’s CEO and MD had to report weekly to the Minister for Trade and Industry. One of my jobs was to ensure that they were fully briefed on anything that might come up and I was withdrawn from all other work by my company to work full time (over 18 months this contract earned us almost £20M; it was a nice little earner).

My Tuesday afternoon briefings were flexible in timing. The client was king and I had to wait for the call. I would have emailed my report over to them earlier in the day and would then get to join a call to answer questions and, important for me, to test understanding with the client before they faced the Minister across the Whitehall table. At the time I was redecorating our front room; much of what I had to do after lunch was reactive and so, hiding behind voice only communication, no-one knew that the person that they were talking to was stripped to the waste painting the ceiling or papering the walls.

Using an earpiece and mic plugged into my ‘phone I had handled many of the weekly calls whilst still working on my redecoration, bt then came the day when, having fired off my email, I felt sure that I had at least an hour, if not more, before they called back and so I went upstairs to shower. With the Law of Sod in full swing I was about to get into the shower when the ‘phone rang. I could see from the display who it was and knew that I had to take it. Turning off the shower as I answered the call I spent most of the next hour (it had to be one of those times when they had lots to talk about) lying on the landing floor stark naked.

Several of my overseas trips have been semi-lockdowns in that I have been confined to my hotel when not at the office. These have always been on security grounds and one of my American clients was very concerned about kidnap risk. This was not due to any desirability of yours truly, more that anyone working for an American company could be snatched on demand of, at the time, around $10k and they just wanted to avoid the hassle and cost.

On some jobs they simply provided a car to take me from the airport to the hotel, then from hotel to office and back each day before returning me to the airport when the trip was over. This did have some moments of amusement. I recall arriving at a South American airport in the dark and looking for the man who was supposed to be waiting for me as I left the international arrivals hall. He would be holding a board with the company logo on I had been told, but in the line of waiting drivers all holding cards mine was in sight. I found a quiet corner and dug out the local contact number, but my ‘phone would not pick up a network signal and so I walked outside to try there, despite having warned on no account should I do so. Still no signal so I thought that I would go back in and look for a payphone. As I tried to get back in I saw, beneath the  arm of a man in a suit, the client’s loco. I asked if he was looking for me; he was. Apparently it was not safe to display the logo openly in the arrivals hall in case we were followed and ambushed…

Today in lockdown UK has been more mundane. I walked over to my local supermarket where they have implemented a restriction on the number of people in the store at one time. Queueing outside, separated by the regulation distance, we shuffled forward as others left. Inside there were reasonable stocks of most things, albeit there were a couple of things that I wanted that were out of stock. All bar one of the people that I passed on my mile each way walk returned my greetings and most smiled back. On getting home there was a knock on the door and the lady from two doors away was calling to check if we were OK and needed anything (we are both pensioners). The sun is shining and there are no contrails in the clear blue sky. This afternoon I shall work my lunch off in the garden.



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