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  • Writer's pictureG R Matthews

Holiday... or is it?

In 1983, when this song came out, I was 11. It seems a lifetime ago, which for me I suppose it was. How much has changed since then... well the internet for sure (based on a conversation with my neighbour today - inspiration comes from everywhere).

Anyway, the term is over and the holidays arrive - which begs the question; how will this be different to the whole COVID 'working from home' situation?

Answer; massively!

Working from home has meant, surprisingly a lot of actually going into work.

I realise that some staff were furloughed which leaves you with an amount of time you never had, and less money - which will be a real worry. A number of friends have been playing Elite and earning billions, buying ships, and exploring the galaxy - a group I've been playing online games with since UO in 1999 or so - and that's a good escape from reality as well as being wish fulfilment on my part. In that regard, it has been wonderful to reconnect and get back together.

Worse for those who have been made redundant and have no idea where the money is coming from for rent, food, and bills. I have a lot of empathy for these folks, I've been there, but luckily found a job to go to. If that happened now, I am not sure what I'd do. I so hope that all those find work and way to cope. I can't imagine the worry and stress they're going through.

Through this crisis, which continues though some appear to think it is over, I've continued to work; meetings, phone calls, going into work, planning, responding to new Government guidelines - I think the figure was 71 updates in 14 days, and those above me in the food chain of work have had to respond to every single one. A monumental and thankless task.

Alongside that, trying to educate my own children, bless them, as they missed school, missed their friends, had to stay in and not go out, has been tough. We've fallen out at times, especially over Maths - A. I can't do the maths the way they are taught (I rely on algebra too much) and B. they think I don't know anything (occasionally true). When it come to Science, English, Geography and History they accept, somewhat grudgingly, that I may just know what I am talking about. However, you can see in their eyes that this is a surprising state of affairs.

I feel for my kids, and all the others who haven't been at school. It isn't 'natural'. Children miss that richness of social contact, mixing with their peers, talking about their experiences - Youtube, TikTok, Minecraft, Fortnite, and other things that they do in the evenings. Their teachers have been great - setting work and responding online through Google Classrooms or email, but it isn't the same.

I can see, in both of mine, that they have found the lockdown difficult. The stress of education and learning without the face to face help (I don't count, nor does my wife - teaching your own children is not like teaching others) has been tough on them both. The lack of contact with friends has been difficult. There have been tantrums (usually me), strops (me too), arguments (likely me as well), and slammed doors (not me). It is worth remembering that adults are, by and large, just children who are a little taller.

So, holiday for me means getting away from the work computer, work phone, emails etc (though in emergency I will be there), spending time with my children which isn't about trying to teach them. OfSTED would not have been impressed if they inspected my house during the period of lockdown.

We may go to a beach, though I am no fan of the beach (unless we are talking about the geographical context of longshore drift, discordant geology, and... anyway... I'm not good at sitting still, of baking under a hot sun (or moderate sun, hidden behind clouds), of the long walk to the beach laden down with all the equipment which allows us to lay on the sand in discomfort. The kids love it, which is the important thing, though they too share my dislike the carrying of bag upon bag, body surf boards, and all the rest to the beach and back home. We know that less will be open to visit, but we'll find things to do together, and make some memories - take photographs which will appear in my Google reminders over the years (I really like this feature! <- not an advertisement).

It will mean that I'll try to do some writing. It was around this time last year that I responded to a Twitter pitch event and ended up with an agent and a publishing contract. It has been a mad year since then - one of patience and learning as well.

What the next year will bring, who can say? Everything is so different, so confusing and uncertain for everyone. We can hope that the governments around the world start to "follow the science" more assiduously, that populations remember that science evolves over time, that a vaccine is found, that people start to really care for each other not just themselves, that new normal we are moving to is one that benefits everyone...

Stay safe everyone!

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