Stay alert

Humour? It’s a strange phenomenon. If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry. I put the following post on Facebook and immediately deleted it.

First they sold out of toilet rolls. Next. There’s been a rush on boxes of matches………

Why did I delete it? Because in isolation it feels like you’re taking a very serious subject matter and adopting a callous response that is shallow and demeaning. Like I don’t actually care. However. In reality, it is simply ‘Gallows Humour’. It is adopted by many in my area of work as a nurse. It seems to be a coping mechanism. Something to relieve tension in enormously tense situations. And of course. There is a point that you cannot go beyond. This example is actually suggesting ‘irony’. It does not address the situation that people are dying. It does not address the situation that lack of adequate Personal Protection Equipment can kill people. It does not address the fact that over the years of my nursing experiences I have sat alongside very many patients who are dying or have died in my presence. The families that are subsequently heartbroken.

PPE? I could have put a photograph of toilet paper around a person’s face and stated ‘Look at what the Government or NHS have given us to protect us now’. Seemingly this is ‘humour appreciation’ in the irony of the situation we, as Health Professionals, find ourselves in. No! It’s not appreciation. Inherent response nature of this scenario is not actually that I find it funny, laugh out loud. It’s a release valve. It is based on reaction to a depressing situation. I see irony in the latest ‘Stay Alert’ advice. Again. In humour response…..My limits are actually ‘Irony’. It is the said pressure valve being released.

There can never be any aggression or offence to people in my seeking to provide a light hearted response to situations we all find ourselves in. It’s based in dissatisfaction, anxiety and depression. But presenting something in isolation makes me feel that others may deem my attitude to be inappropriate, callous, spiteful. Therefore a single uploaded Facebook observation seems like Trolling. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that this humour links to desperation. And at the moment I, as many others possibly do, feel pretty desperate.


  1. As you say, you are left with only humour in desperation!
    I noticed at yesterday’s Press conference that one of the scientists agreed with the change to ‘Alert’. His reply was something like “We are scientists, not communicators”; in other words, “No!”.
    Maybe I should be paid an enormous sum to advise Boris as a (former) professional communicator.
    The ones he has at the moment are idiots.
    When I joined the ‘junior doctors’ on the picket line a while ago it was clear that their protest had little to do with seeking a higher salary but fear that the NHS would be sold out to the Americans.
    One good thing perhaps coming out of the current situtation is that the Government would not dare to do that now.
    Would they???

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s their spin on this situation. They are already farming out specific provisions tasks to private companies to attempt to resolve the problems that the NHS are having. And guess who it was/is who had/have made those problems. And yes. You would make a far better communicator.


  2. Many of us on the wards are focussing on things we should not have to focus on. PPE being the main issue. Very much like your scientist observation. It’s not our job, or the community’s job, to provide adequate equipment. The community have provided self made scrub caps, gowns, face masks, visors. All deemed inappropriate! Possibly so. But a thin white apron, rubber gloves and fluid repellant mask given to the majority of NHS professionals and Care Home staff in the UK? Confidentiality limits my own harsh reality responses on public arenas.

    Out in the community as a consumer? Asymptomatic is the key word for many people who are being told it is ok to go out into the public arena……as long as you safe distance. But historically our response would be…..If it looks ok? Then it should be ok! But….There are many YouTube videos showing ‘touching the environment’ to be a massive spread problem. Also, deep in our human psyche, is the picture of a false picture presentation out there. Looks like everyday normality. Apart from the masks. But people can be seen without masks too. And. We simply cannot keep up the act of vigilance over elongated periods. In work? I do because infection control is drummed into our way of approaching work everyday. Years upon years of how we control our hospital environment. But shopping, Free relaxation time out there in the big world? I didn’t follow infection control measures when historically pushing a shopping trolley.

    Simply. We do not have the strength to carry a process of avoidance for an elongated period because it is inherently alien. That’s when that little mistake happens that could turn your life upside down. Vigilance over a shopping expedition? What looks ok is simply our way of approaching situations. OK. We start off focused. But eventually we may slip up. Myself and my wife went to Morrisons for the first time in months the other day. I said to my wife ‘If we don’t need it, don’t touch it. And if you touch it, buy it’. My wife is an avid Use by Date looker. She will naturally go to the back of the items on shelves to get a longer date choice. It’s those sort of things that break down vigilance. Inherent actions that slip back into your normal responses. As John Lennon sang……Strange days indeed. All the best Roger.

    Liked by 1 person

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