Texted by the Government

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.

Short Story: Textual Awareness

Her fingers tapped away at the keyboard on her screen, a combination of concentration and amusement on her face. There was so much to do and so little time. The party was meant to be starting soon, and the invite had mentioned costumes, so that was another layer of concern. Concern, that was a good name, better than worry.

At least they had the car. They were meant to be gathering in a pub, so at least if it was a washout they could get some drinks and slip away. She wasn’t going to drink anyway, so at least her husband, friend to the birthday boy, could let his hair down for the evening if he wanted.

She looked around the hotel room and checked her reflection before heading down to the bar. Her husband was still bringing his case up from the car so he’d need some time to change. He’d decided to go as that character from Hitchhiker’s Guide, Arthur somebody, so a dressing gown and towel featured heavily in his near future – but she hoped there would be more than that. If nothing else it was cold out there, it was the end of February after all.

Her phone buzzed while she stood in the elevator, one of several conversations under way at the moment. There was one with hubby, another with the birthday boy’s wife, a work discussion, and of course her mother.

“We’ll be there in about an hour I think.” She wrote to their hostess. “Gav’s got to change, he got held up at work, but we’re both at the hotel now.” There was a quick response of a smiling emoji.

“I’ve headed to the bar. I’ve picked up something to wear under your costume and put it on the bed for you.” She sent to Gavin. She got a question mark response. She frowned and made her way to the bar.

“Go look on the bed. I’ve picked out something to wear tonight so you don’t freeze. You can’t come down to the pub just wearing a dressing gown.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely, I’m in the bar, go put it on, get ready and meet me down here so we can head out for the night.” She put the phone down on the bar while she ordered an orange and soda, and saw the phone vibrate again.

“I’ve just got in, these things on the bed for me? Great, see you soon.” She read. A quick smile spread across her face, and then she frowned. The chat icon was different.

Her phone buzzed again, her work colleague Delia this time, with the icon of the person she’d just been texting. “Uh, I know we joke about me being your work wife, but I didn’t think we were moving to this level? Hope you haven’t broken into my house to leave nightwear out for me?”

Oh boy, this was going to make for an awkward first coffee in Monday…