Nothing More Than A Bad Day
I’ve spent much of the last week reading well written perspectives on how the world has changed and how things will never be quite the same again. So instead of yet another version of that, here’s something completely different.
I had just gone to bed on Friday night when the yelling started. One of the many disadvantages of living with half a zoo full of animals is that they are always secretly plotting new and inventive ways to eat each other. The yelling this time was because our one eyed feline, Pirate Cat, had despite her total lack of depth perception managed to catch herself a door mouse. She had carried said mouse back into the house, up the stairs and under the bed and was readying herself for several hours of merciless torture, followed by a snack. Once sated, she would likely leave a bodyless mouse head on my pillow like some sort of cat Mafioso warning.
The squeaking and the crunching is not conducive to a good night’s sleep so our well-rehearsed family fightback began. The considerable number of other mouse eating animals were cornered and secured in safe locations. Pirate Cat was then surrounded, shock and awe style, with an overwhelming array of force. Realising she was outgunned, she released the mouse, who was giving an Oscar worthy performance of being dead, and retreated to sulk somewhere warm.
Recovering remarkably quickly from being eaten, our guest mouse reanimated rapidly and set about making his escape. Under such circumstances, my teenage daughter is a recognised world expert in small furry creature catching. She is fast, agile and through what must be a genetic abnormality, never gets bitten by the fleeing escapee. This time though, she had met her match.
Usain Dormouse was not just a sprinter. He could jump, duck, dive and fit into incredibly small spaces. On reflection I now wonder how he got caught in the first place, especially by a so obviously faulty, one eyed cat. The capture efforts turned into a marathon and despite many near successes, Usain Dormouse evaded us all. Eventually, bored of our ineptitude, he bolted out of my bedroom, under the impossibly tiny gap beneath the closed door and set about exploring the rest of the house. More yelling at each other for our individual incompetence ensued.
Much the same pattern of events repeated itself in teenage daughter’s room, culminating again, in a blurringly fast exit under the door. Usain Dormouse now headed, under another closed door, into my sons room. This was a mistake because as any parent knows, entering a teenage boy’s bedroom can bring only misery, a wrinkled nose and the very real chance of catching some unpleasant Victorian disease. However, these mortal risks did not prove to be the greatest concern to Usain Dormouse. A much bigger and more pressing worry was our black and white feline, Panda Cat. As the rescue party burst through the door we were rewarded with the sight of Panda Cat siting calmly on the bed, entirely relaxed and at ease with the world, with what looked like a very dead mouse firmly jammed into his mouth.
After more individual incompetence, teamwork finally ensued and Panda Cat gave up his prize, who once again reanimated and made a dash for it. This time, teenage daughter was on form, scooped him up and after a quick medical check revealed no lasting damage, he was taken back outside where he disappeared into the hedge looking for Mrs Mouse to regale her with tales of his adventures.
Yes, life has changed in the last 20 or so days and it will probably never be quite the same again. Many people are suffering very real hardship or loss. I’m lucky as I have a job that still needs doing and a company that will stand by its employees. Yes, I’m short of toilet paper and frozen vegetables are a thing from history. I smell like an alcohol soaked tramp, so frequent is my dousing with hand sanitiser. But I am leading a company that perhaps more than at any time in its history is delivering on our vision of helping people do amazing things. Enabling remote working for thousands of people, making technology work in ways it was never designed to do. Answering 50% more calls than usual, creating call centres overnight from almost nothing. Helping over 4000 employees in doctors surgeries change the health service in ways that would normally take years, in just a few days. Making sure 10,000 people got paid this month, like normal, even though the whole world has gone mad. Delivering the mail to everywhere still open because without deliveries there’s no masks, gloves or hand sanitiser. I’m more proud than I have ever been of our team.
Things have changed, that’s true. But speaking for myself alone, whatever challenges I face are manageable and if I haven’t been eaten by a cat, twice, it’s been nothing more than a bad day.
Giles Letheren – Chief Executive Officer