The film starts with a radio alarm clock, Sonny and Cher singing ‘I Got You Babe,’ and what becomes the infuriatingly famous line, “Okay campers, rise and shine!” A perfectly cast Bill Murray plays a cynical weatherman who inexplicably has to relive the same day over and over again. Have you got it? I’ll give you a minute or two…
I wasn’t entirely sure whether to laugh or cry when I realised that I wrote my first Macc blog almost a year ago to the day and it was titled, ‘Welcome to your new world.’ I wrote about confusion, mess and the ridiculous pace of change in the health and social care system in Manchester. I wrote about how I was personally finding it dizzying, spiralling and frazzling. It has dawned on me that I could potentially just copy and paste the majority of this blog to a fresh Word document today. At the moment it genuinely feels like my first few weeks in a new job. I am filled with the same nervous energy of having to learn new ways of working, developing skills and finding where I fit within the team. I am constantly worrying whether I am doing enough and it isn’t always comfortable.
That’s right… It’s Groundhog Day.
I wish I could say that I saw all of this coming and I somehow managed to foreshadow, predict or warn my audience of these completely unreal lives that we are trying to live out. It is hard work navigating your way through something completely unexpected. For me it is starting to feel even harder now that I am settling in to it. I don’t particularly want to feel settled in a world where communication is fragmented, where hugs are off limits and going to the pub after work feels a long way off.
It is only more recently that our daily Policy and Influence Team catch up meetings have been focused on this. Making best efforts to keep each other afloat amidst all of the chaos rather than sharing what sits on our never ending ‘to-do’ lists. These are strange times, made that little bit stranger by the blurring of professional boundaries and entering each other’s homes and lives in a more personal kind of way. I think we need more of it. I am thankful that I am getting to learn new things about these wonderful people that I work alongside. Things I might not have known if it wasn’t for this weird and messy blur. For instance, did you know that Nigel is a carpenter? He’s made two properly impressive tables from wood he has lying around the house. I was particularly chuffed to hear that one of them is his new ‘beer table’ and what a cracking selection he has to adorn it too.
Mike has let us all in to his music room, not only through his album choices for #RecordConnectors each day, but he also composed a jingle for my new role in this new world. I have become the slightly dishevelled looking chat show host most of you will have met at Community Explorers or our Voluntary Sector Assemblies! Claire has two of the most hilarious kids I have ever come across. When I met her eldest at our first Zoom Community Explorers meeting he said, ‘Mum, is that the one that you call ugly?’ Pointing at me with the biggest and proudest smirk on his face. Anna’s new hobby has been to draw more often and I think you will all agree, when you hear the title of her first masterpiece, that this is time well spent. ‘Hot-dog-sausage-dog,’ was an absolute crowd pleaser at 9:30 this morning. I’ve never known so many fences that have needed painting since checking in with Helen throughout the last six weeks. There’s been a new fence each weekend and I am really hoping that she turns her hand to hedge pruning next so her street starts to resemble the eerily suburban place where Edward Scissorhands lives.
This brings me nicely on to my newest hobby of re-creating iconic movie scenes in the garden with the odd balls I live with. It felt a little bit peculiar sending a video over WhatsApp of me, the partner and my best friend stood in a line and gently gyrating to the song ‘Hot Stuff’ by Donna Summer, waiting for the reactions and guesses on Zoom. It felt a bit better when I heard them laughing and even better when some correctly guessed it was the job centre dancing scene from The Full Monty. I have included the video below so you can see for yourself.
So, what have I learned from all of this? Maybe Groundhog Day isn’t so bad. Even the cynical weatherman Bill Murray starts using his time more productively at the end of the movie. He learns to speak French, sculpt ice and play the piano. He learns that he needs other people to survive. Letting people in and blurring professional boundaries has helped me massively. Being part of a team that allows time for finding moments of joy in one another as much as having meaningful work to do together has been so important.
I am thankful to each of my team for letting me in.
My wonderful colleagues and lovely friends.
Note: This blog will not make sense if you have never seen the film Groundhog Day. My suggestion would be to get it on the watch list, never has there been a more appropriate time.
I will leave you now with what I think is the most relevant lockdown lyric from Sonny and Cher’s ‘I got you Babe…’
“Don't let them say your hairs too long
'Cause I don't care, with you I can't go wrong.”