How’s your mood today? You don’t need to answer just yet. Go and fix yourself another coffee, scratch the dog (I said dog but you can scratch wherever you like, it’s just us after all), pull open the blinds and then settle back in to your favourite Sunday read. OK, now how’s your mood?
Given the global reach of this bulletin, your current mental state might very well depend on where you’re reading it. If you’re on a remote vineyard in Tasmania then life might be pretty much as normal. Heaven knows that wine sales must be enjoying a healthy spike at the moment. If you’re in the heart of Paris, in a well-decorated but rather small apartment, then you’re likely hatching some kind of escape plan and dreaming about heading south as soon as possible. And if you’re in Washington, your thoughts are probably jumbled because of the confused leadership, the partisan media and the absence of a wise voice of calm behind a podium or even a news desk.
For the past two weeks I’ve been doing a morning mood check. I suspect that I’ve already had the virus (no clinical backing to this claim, by the way) but didn’t notice it as I’ve surely built up some kind of immunity. Clearly all of my time spent in aircraft cabins breathing purified sneezes, burps and farts has created some level of defence. At least that’s the hope.
For the most part, I’m an optimistic, positive and strong-willed sort. After all, why would I push on with doing a print magazine when everyone says to do otherwise? Why run shops when we’re told that all the action is online? As I’ve always had a bit of an independent streak, I like running to the fire, going dodging in other directions and finding the tasty sliver of opportunity rather than the gooey, overloaded slice.
Most days I’ve been waking up in generally high spirits. For sure, there’s been the odd flash of, “Are we really living through this?” But I swiftly move on, go out for a run and think about all the tasks at hand: ensuring that I can give a strong steer to my colleagues and also our readers, listeners and viewers. But I can’t lie and say that it’s all bunnies and tulips every hour of the day. I also get properly wound up by many things that are slipping by completely unchecked by governments and media. Allow me a moment.
Enough with thanking China for sending masks here and supplies there. For good measure, let me add Russia too. China needs to stop kicking out journalists from respected news organisations. It needs to pipe down and stop trying to score points in the midst of a crisis that started in Wuhan. And Beijing needs to put in place, immediately, serious measures that put an end to the poaching of endangered species and the consumption of wild animals that we now know have played a part in countless virus outbreaks. It’s time to pull the curtains on the diplomatic soft-shoe show and rethink our relationship with Beijing – politically and commercially.
It’s also a moment for news editors to park the fawning namechecks for big-name auto and home-appliance entrepreneurs who are suddenly rushing to either manufacture medical machines or procure them. It’s wonderful that it’s happening but this is not the time for raising PR profiles. Get on with doing your job. The recognition can come later.
If we don’t collectively do something to support small, independent enterprises, we’re facing a world that will be dominated by ugly box stores, more tired chains, bland media outlets, cookie-cutter gyms and uniformly dull sandwich shops. This is the time: support your local baker, the challenged news kiosk, the small bookshop or even the family-run media company. One comes to mind. Buy bread, stock up on magazines and send a stack of books to your parents. The big and predictable might be the easy option in these times but the local and independent needs your custom at this critical time.
There, I’ve said it and feel much better for it. As my colleague Andrew pointed out as we spoke on The Briefing, we need to be positive but we’re also allowed to get angry as we work through this. Now back to where we started: I wonder if there’s something light and crisp from Tasmania down in the wine cellar? Will report back next week. Cheers.