Although they started making noises about it a few years ago, the UK government never actually got round to making any kind of formal emergency messaging system work. The cynical among us might think that because no one was lined up to get rich out of it that it never got the real push it needed – rather than being concerned that it would be a really sensible thing for a government to do to disseminate important information.
Compare this with South Korea, The United States, or the Netherlands for example. South Korea has been so aggressive in its development and adoption of it that they have reportedly been able to communicate the movements of infected people on their way to get tested or quarantined to minimise potential harm to others.
But no, here in the UK the govt had to ask the four major phone providers to send a text on their behalf to tell me to stay at home, just in case I hadn’t noticed the news in any way, shape, or form.
If it helps focus minds, then good, it’s better than nothing, but I’m already hearing from people whose phones flagged it as spam or suspected phishing attempts. That does not bode well.
We’ve been such hermits with being in isolation that the announcement of some form of lockdown in the UK has been largely met in our household with a bemused snort and a glance out the window at the children playing on the estate. Our own health has been reasonable until today, but Lady M has worsened noticeably in the last twenty-four hours and has spent most of the day on the sofa dozing in front of Disney+ and a Toy Story marathon. Her temperature is noticeably up, and she is having difficulty breathing – but we’re reminding ourselves that her underlying asthma means that whatever germs are doing the rounds normally hit her chest hard anyway so there’s a lot of intentional grounding thoughts taking place at the moment.
My own health seems to be stalled at the rattling in my chest and brain fog with added muscle aches, but I can hold my breath for ten seconds without noticeable affect, and am only occasionally dry coughing. Assuming I don’t develop anything else with Lady M declining I should be okay. Hygiene and general distance isolation continue to be the routine.
I’ve mostly been in the office doing preparation for our new D&D group which looks like it will be a feature of our Sunday evenings for the forseeable future. We originally set up a Discord just to chat and arrange Cards Against Humanity games online, but once I’d mentioned it as an option I practically had my ears bitten off in enthusiasm.
So at least I have a side project to engage me for the time being. It is another trip to Eberron, this time under Fifth Edition rules, which is a new experience for me and indeed most of the people taking part. Lady M and Lady B, Lord S, myr s, and Mre B are so far signed up, and I will indeed chronicle some of their adventures here too. Its been a good three years or so since I’ve done any tabletop gaming so I’m looking forward to it.
It does seem somewhat paradoxical then that at a time of enforced isolation and lockdown that I’ve never been more social in my interactions. I’ve always been an active text communicator, and between the Discord, Messenger, and various voice call interactions with family and friends I seem to be positively overflowing with people to talk to.
Which is nice – even if my brain has gone into information sponge mode.
What has been a lovely surprise is how well everyone has gelled together and how much roleplay is taking place outside of session. We had a session zero this weekend to check all characters were made up, decide on bonds and links between them, and to also agree the style and boundaries of the type of game people wanted to play. A couple of people have messaged me about a couple of topics that they really would not enjoy, and by and large we’ve come to an understanding of who the characters are and why they are choosing to embrace the adventuring life together. Within the game itself they have an employer, and resources and obligations that come with that – if nothing else the process and session zero has given me plenty of potential story hooks and beats to play with.
I’m selfishly hoping this will also help my creative writing side wake up. Like any skill it needs exercise, and running roleplay games has always helped. The in-character Discord chats that have been running since Sunday are already sparking ideas, and are a complete delight to read in any case.