As a student in Germany, I once came across a window display of radio-controlled clocks. I was absolutely fascinated to see row upon row of timepieces, all changing time at precisely the same moment, as if they registered the heartbeat of a giant organism. When I returned home, it was with one of these clocks in my suitcase, and I have had one ever since. It is my mainstay, never running too fast or too slow, and switching automatically from summer to winter time, so I am never embarrassed by turning up an hour too early or too late. Now, in times of corona, my clock is still ticking away, measuring the hours, minutes and seconds, as reliable as ever. For the rest, however, I am lost and drifting in a weird wasteland of time.
After a sweltering heatwave, the weather has hit its seasonal turning point and the first signs of autumn are appearing. In the mornings and evenings, darkness is drawing in, and I am glad to snuggle into my coat. There are chestnuts falling from the trees, mushrooms springing out of the ground, and blackberries ripening in the hedgerows. And, of course, there are coughs and sniffles. Usually just part and parcel of this time of year – but now, in times of corona, they have suddenly become ominous.
On 1st August 2019, a controversial law was passed in the Netherlands. This forbade covering your face in certain places, including while on public transport. One year on, and the law has been turned on its head. You are now explicitly required to cover your face while on public transport, by wearing a mask. Since the start of the corona crisis, our lives have been turned upside down by a deluge of new guidelines and rules. What amazed me was how easily these new restrictions were accepted, despite being so drastic.
‘Homeworking remains the norm for the Netherlands’, announced the Dutch prime minister this week. I’ve always been a great fan of homeworking. It offers a degree of flexibility that is very welcome in a busy life. It makes it possible to have a plumber come to visit without having to take a day off. To accompany a group on your child’s school trip and make up the time in the evening. To attend a late meeting and still be on time for dinner. Nor is the benefit only on the home side. For tasks requiring undisturbed concentration for a long time, homeworking (assuming the absence of children) is ideal). Also, heavy snowfall or gridlock don’t have to prevent work, and meetings with colleagues or clients in different time zones are more feasible. All in all, I think it benefits both sides to be flexible about homeworking, and I’ve always been stunned by how much trouble friends and family have in persuading their employers to allow them to work from home. Since corona, however, I find myself in a strange position – that of advocating a return to the office.
It was the beginning of March. The corona virus was wreaking havoc abroad, but here it seemed to be something only over-zealous HR policymakers were worrying about. Then, on the twelfth, we received the shock announcement that we would have to work from home until the end of the month. Three days later, the schools […]
Hollywood specializes in clear endings. Logical, when you have to attract people to cinemas, keep them enthralled, and then boot them out again two hours later, happily sated, so that the next group can go in. While it’s not the norm anymore to finish with ‘The End’ in giant letters, it is still pretty much […]
I have always dreamed of having an adventure. As a child, I adored adventure books. I fantasized having escapades like the Famous Five, being kidnapped and helping to capture the dastardly villains behind it all. Or disappearing off into nature to camp, go sailing, pan for gold and dig up hidden pearls, like the Swallows […]
Running along the wall of our dining room is a large dresser, the end cupboard of which is almost filled by photo albums. Ever since the birth of our first daughter, we have selected the best of our digital photographs and had them printed in albums. Albums for summer holidays, albums for short breaks and […]
Separated from each other for months now, many teams at my work have adopted scrum-style ‘stand-ups’ to stay in touch. These are brief meetings in which everyone has a chance to tell what they have done, what they plan to do, and if there are any problems they need help with. Last week, that third […]
On the 21st of April, the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte held a press conference to announce changes to the measures against the corona virus. In his introduction, he emphasized many times the ‘duivelse dilemma’s’ (devilish dilemmas) he had faced in deciding the appropriate course of action. I sympathised completely. Weighing up the pressures of […]