Virtual School – boundaries

2 April 2020. An email this morning. Subject ‘Employee retention scheme.’ Please accept furlough. A shock. Wasn’t expecting that. A long phone call to the Bursar to find out exactly how to proceed. How long? Unclear. Projects moth-balled, and will have a knock-on effect later in the year. But for now, it is the way forward for so many businesses.

A strange sense of alienation. Emails still come through from work. Am I supposed to read them or is that ‘work’? As an archivist my job is to keep records. That doesn’t just mean musty, old ones. It means to discern what to keep as a record of our own time. And this moment in time is the most significant most of us have lived through. So a tricky balance between work life and personal life. A long chat with the Bursar defining boundaries for now.

An odd sense of the break-down of those boundaries. The Bursar phoned while I was cooking. So the whole conversation is now fixed in my memory with the scent of herbs. Boeuf bourguignon. Reducing the sauce, deglazing the pan, all while chatting about projects.

Later in the evening another phone call. To some of our oldest friends. Chris is a nurse specialising in research into pain relief at a teaching hospital. Very anxious to know that she and the family are safe. Fortunately, her work continues via phone calls. But she is worried about sharing a head set. Her husband has ordered the last two available from Amazon. More boundaries broken between work and personal life.

We are godparents to all three of their sons so checking up on all of them. One is stuck on the other side of the country where he was visiting friends. One was already at home. But the youngest was at university in Norwich. As BoJo was announcing the not-quite-lock-down his father was in the car to collect him and he was packing.  On arrival, discovered he was not alone. Ben was pet-sitting his room mate’s hamster; room mate now stuck in Ireland. At least the hamster has a roof over his head for he duration.

This is an important time in our history as we become a virtual school during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will probably never operate in quite the same way again. The Archive is about us now.

This is my personal Mass Observation blog. I invite anyone in the Radley College community to join in to create a group record for our Archive.

© Clare Sargent