My Virtual School – 40 days

2 May 2020. For the third week in a row there is a moratorium on work emails for the weekend. From Saturday lunch time until Monday morning, a blessed silence (almost). I hear that it is really welcomed by the whole school – time away from screens (theoretically) and from a sense of having to keep up with everything all the time.

I feel the relief myself, even while on furlough. Keeping in touch is encouraged but email-checking is an insidious background nag. A catchphrase of the time is ‘furlough-envy’: those who are trying to work from home whilst juggling children, pets, lock-down shopping, dodgy internet connections and so forth are apparently consumed with envy for those who are on an open-ended paid ‘holiday’. Free to read books, do jigsaws, watch entire box-sets on Netflix, bake endless cakes (with invisible flour), walk the dog in beautiful countryside for hours and then have the cheek to blog about it – and so forth. Those on furlough are consumed with envy for those who have a clearly defined occupation, whose work is valued enough by their employer to keep them working. And eaten by self-doubt about their own worth in the workplace and to their company. Even whether the work they have done in the past was worthwhile. More insidious, creeping nagging from the voice at the back of your mind.

So I was very encouraged today to receive a request to write a chapter for a book. Somebody out there rates my work! Thank God. Although it will be hard to get back into the swing after 40 days in lock-down.

40 days resonates – 40 days in the wilderness celebrated in Lent; 40 days fasting for Ramadan. On youtube today a superb recording of Thomas Tallis’s 40-part motet to mark the occasion: Spem in alium – hope in any other. Another mighty piece of music written in a time of wilderness.

This is my personal Mass Observation blog. I invite anyone, particularly members of Radley College community,  to join in to create a group record of this important period in our history as we face the COVID-19 pandemic.

© Clare Sargent