Oliver’s zoom experiences written by Oliver Cross

AS an attempt at normality, a group of locked-down regulars of the Chemic Tavern in Woodhouse, Leeds, hold regular Zoom meetings. These allow us to chat naturally on screen, even though we are all less than 10cm tall and have very little news to relay, unless you count what we had for dinner.

My partner Lynne, who is naturally sociable, enjoys it as the nearest we can presently get to intermingling; I enjoy it because it forces me to discipline myself. I have tended to let myself slip a little under social distancing, thinking nobody will notice if my teeth aren’t as thoroughly polished as usual or my hairs are somewhat misplaced, or I’ve forgotten my shoes.

But I prepare myself for a Zoom session as I would for a real visit to the pub; I smarten myself up a little and try my best to look interesting. I also, although this is for Zoom rather than the pub, place a few impressive things within the range of the camera, such as a Booker prize-winning novel, a gardening implement or a fashionable salad leaf.

I’ve toyed with the idea of carelessly leaving of small electrical screwdriver behind my ear, as if I’m using my lockdown time to rewire the house. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to own an electrical screwdriver.

My Chemic colleague Dibbs has somehow found a way of putting a background on to Zoom pictures, so when he talks to the rest of us, it looks as though he’s speaking, for example, from the reception desk of Fawlty Towers or having a pint at the Rovers Return, or travelling through space and time on the Tardis.

All of which are welcome breaks from reality, particularly the fantasy about having a pint in a pub, but I can’t understand why this can’t be done more generally.

Why should we be invited to look inside the working-from- homes lives of regional news reporters or epidemiologists when, instead of listening to them carefully, as we should do, we can’t resist criticising their wallpaper or choice of books, or thinking that, if they were so damned clever, why couldn’t they think of a more interesting wall colour than magnolia?

This could all be avoided if experts and journalists seeking credibility took a lead from Dibbs and electronically transported themselves into, for instance, the reading room of the British Museum, the Elysee Palace or, which I think would work particularly well at our Chemic virtual gatherings, the Situation Room at the White House.

Thank you once again for sharing this with us Oliver, I can relate so much. I placed a plastic plant behind me to break down the magnolia look :). Until next time…..

Take care