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Back to Earth: Red Dwarf, homework, and coronavirus

VOICES red dwarf

By Andy Meakin, VOICES Project Director

As I write, we’re still less than two weeks into the lockdown following the outbreak of COVID-19.  Already we are adapting to the current situation by emphasising different ways of working and helping people safely.  In the past fortnight I’ve taken part in more group meetings by Skype, MS Teams, Zoom, WebEx, and WhatsApp than in whole of the preceding year.

I’m working at a desk at home that I’m often sharing with my son while he completes schoolwork.   If I’m not attentive enough, I catch episodes of Red Dwarf through the corner of my eye being dual screened via Netflix while he’s, I’m told, also working on his maths.  This proves he has the same comedic taste (and guile) as me when I was his age.  As I ask him to turn off Lister and friends to focus on his work, I’m reminded by the current crisis of the opening line of Red Dwarf’s theme tune:


“It’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere.  I’m all alone.  More or less.”


It would be easy to get into that mindset in the current lockdown situation.  Like the crew of the Red Dwarf we could feel like we’re locked in a box hurtling through unchartered space, lost, getting contemptuously familiar with our companions, and with no idea how or when we’ll get back to Earth.  We could.  And, that would be understandable.

However, what I’m struck by in the current situation is the selflessness of people in communities.  Whether we’re looking after elderly relatives or neighbours, phoning to check on fellow members of a church congregation or club, turning up for work to care for vulnerable people, isolating ourselves because we’re symptomatic, or simply showing our appreciation of carers through public clapping, or posting silly videos on You Tube to make each other laugh, these are all selfless acts of kindness.  In the array of choices that we all have, most of us have chosen to protect or support others through this difficult time.  And, we even forgave the people that initially panicked and bought all the toilet rolls and soap.  Well, mostly.

I want to say thank you to my team at VOICES who continue to offer their help to people experiencing multiple needs and their support to services across Stoke-on-Trent to do the same.  We’re navigating our way through this crisis together, while looking out for our customers, colleagues, and friends.

Cosmologist and author Carl Sagan wrote in his 1985 novel Contact, “… in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”

Follow the public health advice:  Stay at home.  Protect the NHS.  Save lives.

See: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

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