Monday, 13 April 2020


The current lockdown is creating problems. Government, and through them the police, have powers not seen since the Second World War. Sometimes this goes awry as when a police constable, surely not destined for early promotion, was recorded in York rebuking people for sitting in their own front garden and when park benches have been taped up.

My own recent experience in our private, communal garden has thrown up two, differing views. Most stridently, the need to rigorously enforce government guidance, limit the time people can spend outside and restrict the extent of children playing.

Less stridently but just as insistently the need to apply common sense, respect for one another and to enjoy the weather and the beauty of Spring. Freedom first. Control second.

Everyone I know has applied social distancing, social isolation and caution. What’s impressed me most  is the speed with which a large number of retailers have adapted their businesses to home delivery services.
Points of view from Mark Ritson, a former professor of marketing and a writer for Marketing  Week, are usually insightful and useful. He consistently and punishingly puts social media in its place. He praises well-thought-through brand strategy. His weakness is he swears so much. Saying fuck a lot isn’t very professorial.

He’s written recently to say nothing will f**** ** change after coronavirus ends. We shall revert  – as ever –  “back to normal.” This is not an academic reflection it’s a self- opinionated thinker swotting a fly. Mark is the Nigel Farage of business thinking. Sometimes right, often wrong, always abrasive. But things will change – not for everyone, obviously -  but enough to create a seismic trend to society. Here are a few possibilities:
- The economy – the worst recession since 1930. Some say a “scale disaster.”
- Our attitude to the environment. A big bonus.
- Our shopping habits.
- Commuting behaviour and attitudes to working from home.

- A boom in start-up businesses (partly because of unemployment increases.)
- More businesses thinking the unthinkable and pivoting.
- Less marketing or as it’s now described “colouring in” (sorry again Mark).

I was recently asked if I thought the surprising surge in the FTSE might be caused by markets anticipating a postponement or cancellation of Brexit.

I said that I thought Brexit was irrelevant but, more importantly, so increasingly  was the EU. Rich and relatively Covid-free Germany is proving intransigent to the pleas from Italy, Spain and – increasingly – France to help their neighbours. As a one-time ‘remainer’ and Europhile I’m sad to see this. Unless the rich can help their struggling partners and act like part of  a  ‘Union’ the EU seems rather pointless.

Do I sound grumpy?

Tom Stoppard noted that social distancing legitimised the way he always wanted to live. Part of me agrees with that. But it’s been such a gorgeous Spring I’ve forgotten how awful it must be living in a city.

And isn’t Spring amazing?

It’s dem birdies.

1 comment:

John Eustace said...

Spot on about 'potty mouth' Ritson. I have no idea why he thought it enhanced his street cred by saying Fuck every other word. I suspect a desire to integrate with Australians when he moved there? He is correct in pointing out the need to maintain share of voice, nay increase it, by spending on advertising as long as it doesn't become one of these...From the Chairman. We're doing all we can... type nonsenses, all to often seen as justification for doing Fuck All (there I've said it!)

My concern, in my bid to stay alive and sup again with Hall, is one of noticing the weather is bringing out a killer called Complacency. If we don't stamp on it soon, that will be as contagious as Covid-19. STOP IT, GO INSIDE, NOW