Switching to winter mode

Now the clocks have gone back and it’s dark by half past five (and going to be dark by half four before long), we’ve had to make a few changes around here. Gone is the whole ‘finish work, head out with the dogs’ thing. Because if you work for yourself and get to set your own hours, you might as well acknowledge the changing seasons and adapt accordingly. Yup, it’s time to switch to winter mode.

Continue reading

My golden rule

This is my first global pandemic, so I’ll have to confess that I’m not entirely au fait with the etiquette for dealing with everything that’s going on.

What the Government says we can and cannot do seems to change pretty much every day. And it would be very easy to get oneself quite worked up about whether what people are buying in the supermarket is truly essential. Or whether those people sitting together in the park are really from one, two or however many households it’s supposed to be.

And so I’ve developed my golden rule for pandemic living: Don’t judge.

Continue reading

Work mode

I spend a lot of time each day doing stuff with the dogs. Whether that’s feeding them, walking them, running with them, training them or just goofing around with them. Molly, the older one, is a happy-go-lucky individual, who’s always delighted just to tag along. Ozzy also likes to get involved in everything that’s going on. But, when it comes to certain activities, she exhibits an extremel level of focus and drive and won’t let anything get between her and whatever she’s trying to do. We call this ‘work mode’. And it really is a sight to behold.

Continue reading

It’s a school, Jim, but not as we know it

We’ve learned over the past few months that schools are about much more than learning. The social interactions that they provide and the relationships that they nurture are essential to our children’s social development and to their mental health and wellbeing. And yes, they teach stuff, too. They also allow many parents to go to work. Or to get work done from home.

Consequently, it’s hugely important that we try to find a way to re-open our schools in September to all young people. Especially given that we seem to have found ways to open pubs. But only if – and, to be honest, it’s a massive if – we can do so safely.

Continue reading

My first academic paper. And it’s perhaps not what you’d expect.

Overcoming the Regulatory Hurdles for the Production of Hand Sanitizer for Public Health Protection: The UK and US Academic Perspective is an academic paper exploring the issues faced by researchers at the University of Bristol as they sought to manufacture hand sanitiser for use by public services during the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes a perspective from those doing the same in the United States

The Bristol academics making the hand sanitiser, who are colleagues of my wife, kindly provided me with a massive supply of hand sanitiser for the school where I’m a governor, which allowed the school to remain open to its most vulnerable young people. I helped to write this paper as a ‘thank you’ for their efforts. It’s published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Chemical Health and Safety. Read the paper online or get the PDF here.

Car trouble (again)

We’re fortunate to have just down the road from us a great local garage. It’s run by Charlie, who I think I’ve mentioned before. And he and his team are absolute magicians when it comes to fixing cars (and various other modes of transport) without breaking the bank. He sees our cars regularly. And he’s picked them up from the side of the road more than once. But I think that, when it comes to our older car, he’s starting to lose faith.

Continue reading

Just visiting

I don’t know about you, but while we’ve been ‘locked down’ over the past few months, I’ve made much more of an effort to catch up with people I know, whether they’re family members, friends, work clients or casual acquaintances. Not in person, of course (I’m not a monster), but with a mixture of phone, email and video calls.

Continue reading

Why political philosophy matters

Political philosophy is hard to define. But it is easy enough to do. In fact, we do it quite a lot. We do it when we’re deciding who to vote for (if we have that luxury). We do it when we’re agonising over the latest news headlines. We do it when we’re yelling at the protagonists on Question Time. But what is political philosophy? And why does it matter?

Continue reading

The key to unlocking the lockdown

I think it’s fair to say that we’re all getting a bit fed up with the lockdown. But like most people, I can see why we’re doing it and am happy to play my part in keeping people safe. If some of the newspapers are to be believed, though, things will be back to normal within days. I don’t think for one moment that this is the case. But it does raise the valid question of how, when the time is right, we’ll go about unlocking the lockdown. Continue reading

Every day’s a Tuesday

The COVID-19 outbreak and the current lockdown appear to be taking their toll on my ability to measure time. Natalie put it best the other day, when she announced that, essentially, ‘every day’s a Tuesday’. The hours, days and weeks roll together into one long period of foggy uncertainty. Thankfully, though, I’m slowly finding ways to manage my temporal confusion and to keep things on track. Continue reading