Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Lockdown Rulebook. Not.

Mrs NQS and I haven't bothered with regular TV for about 35 years, so missed the PM's broadcast to the nation yesterday evening. Our son Baz sent a video clip and the transcript. As predicted, it's lockdown, if a somewhat soft version.

Like many, many others, my immediate concern was how it would affect me. Me. Because, regrettably, like many, many others, the first person I think of is me. Would I be able to work? Go birding? What did Boris say that might have a bearing on such matters?

Predictably, my interest focused in on this bit...

'That is why people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • one form of exercise a day - for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household;
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.
That’s all - these are the only reasons you should leave your home.'

NQS regulars may well know that I clean windows for a living these days. It has its pros and cons. Flexible 'lunchtimes' are handy for the birder in me of course, but rain is a killer. I simply cannot work in wet weather. After the most relentlessly wet autumn and winter I can recall since earning a crust in this fashion, I was so looking forward to this settled spell of dry stuff we're having right now. I actually want to go to work. I need to, if you get my drift. So, what guidance did Boris have for me?

Hmmm...what does 'only where this is absolutely necessary' mean? Travelling? Well, obviously I have to travel to jobs in order to work, so yes, it is 'absolutely necessary' to do so. Actually no, that is not what the sentence is saying. The grammatical object of everything after the comma is actually work, not travelling. Is window cleaning 'absolutely necessary'? Er...

Okay, so I'm not a key worker after all, but what about my birding? Decent seawatching is going to kick off soon, and the local coast will be jumping with migrants. Ah! Look at that! 'One form of exercise a day - for example a...walk...' Winner! I can walk and bird at the same time.

And then the icing on the cake. This guy...

Screen-grab from a BBC clip which appeared on Twitter this afternoon

Her: 'A question from Dave about exercise...'

Dave wants to know if his half-hour drive to the start point of his walk is okay, or must your exercise begin from home, ie, no driving. How does our...er...pundit respond to this?

Him: '...I think it's fine to drive and take exercise. There's no new regulations or new rules about that...and certainly there's no law that's going to stop you driving to take exercise.'

Cheers pal! Right, where are my car keys?

Perfect, eh? I can drive down to the coast, take my 'exercise' with bins and camera - steering well clear of all the others doing likewise of course - and upload my haul of goodies on social media later. My fellow birders will love that, won't they? Especially those stuck in some pokey little apartment in the middle of a city. Nothing better than a big fat dose of what you're missing out on.

Dave's question is an interesting one. It's the sort of question I would ask if I was looking for validation of an action I knew in my soul was a bit questionable. And that's exactly what matey on the TV gave him.

I'll be honest here. When the lockdown was announced, my initial thoughts revolved around what I might still be 'allowed' to do. That's because I'm basically a bit selfish and am keen to know what benefits me. One's instinct is to want rules. What can I do? What can't I do? Please draw the line for me...

But this is not about rules. It's about principles. And the underlying principle in this whole horrible mess is this:

Covid-19 is super-contagious and kills people.

And I'm perfectly aware that if I do everything in my power to be guided by that principle, then I hopefully won't even catch it. And if I have it already, keeping that principle in mind all the time will ensure I am much more likely to keep it to myself.

And when we operate on principles (rather than rules) we don't need anyone else to draw the line for us. For example...

Shall I stay at home or go out?
Principle: Covid-19 is super-contagious and kills people.
So then, which action shows that I am being guided by that priciple? Staying at home or going out? Staying at home or driving for half an hour and then taking some essential exercise?

It ain't rocket science.

But that's me. I realise everyone's circumstances are not the same, nor their viewpoint come to that, and it certainly isn't for me to judge. But if the infection/death rate doesn't slow down pronto, I guess we can expect restrictions to become more draconian. And go on for longer.

So, basically, I am at home. Do pop in for a cuppa. Oh, wait a minute...

Anyway, today's birdy highlights were a Raven and a Meadow Pipit. Yesterday I had 3 Red Kites over, and was really expecting one or more today in the superb high-pressure conditions, but no. In the absence of Red Kites today then, have one of yesterday's, and a House Sparrow...

Not quite stratospheric, but pretty high
Nice to have a few of these chirpy little oiks on the estate.

More about the from-home birding, Lockdown List, #BWKM0 etc shortly...


  1. The most sensible post I have read. Mostly I have read things along the lines of "Well, if I only did such and such then that would be within the rules wouldn't it?". Which translated is "How can I still do what I want, sod the virus". What is required of people is really very simple to understand when framed in principles and not rules. Because you know what they say about rules....

    1. Thanks Jono. Despite what I said above, Day 2 and I'm already stir-crazy. I'm grateful we don't have Wanstead's population density here - I sympathise. At least if I succumb to the urge to get out for exercise I can avoid people easily.

  2. A question was asked of one minister/government official about anglers visiting secluded locations. In essence - no problem.... however, what if you are involved in an accident en route or your car breaks down etc..

    My syndicate lake is ripe for the picking and I've been accepted onto a new golden opportunity venue but I can't go. It's just not worth the risk to me or others in particular my wife who has lung and heart issues. So all plans are shelved and local walks with the dog are the only escape.

    Mind you, I a tree creeper in the garden the other day, only my second sighting at home in 20 years. If I was fishing I'd have missed that and the red kite dropping on food in a neighbours garden. It's all about accepting your new environment.

    And screaming into a pillow occasionally.

    1. Ha ha! Yes to the latter!!

      It struck me that when we do finally come out of this, a lot of fish will have had a very peaceful break and hopefully be somewhat off-guard. I look forward to visiting my local lake at that time...

      Pretty sure I've never had Treecreeper in any of our gardens. Superb.