Somebody noted the other day that I hadn’t written anything about [gestures at everything] which they felt was surprising, and yes, I have wanted to do the textual equivalent of letting the bad blood out, but I’ve been a bit busy.
As you may be aware, I’m one of the directors of Loaf, the bakery and cookery school in Stirchley. Being a director is not such a big deal as everyone who works there is a director, it being a workers co-op, but it does mean that as well as having a 3-day-a-week job there I also have a joint responsibility for running the company. Said company lost half of its revenue last month when the practice of gathering 10 people in a kitchen and teaching them how to cook something became impossible on health grounds. This was complicated by the cookery school side of Loaf being where the actual profit came from, the bakery side being only a touch above break-even. It’s a good business model that has served Loaf well over the last decade, but in the era of [gestures at everything] it, like so, so, so many things, just isn’t going to work anymore.
So, after the first week of March spent trying to react to a constantly changing information-scape, failing miserably, and generally not having the best time of it, we closed for a few days to figure out how to make sure our business was still a going concern when [gestures at everything] is all over. How can we sell bread safely and in sufficient quantities to pay the our wages and the bills for the next few months?
The short version is we now sell our bread online from Saturday afternoon for delivery and collection at the end of the week. That needed an online shop and a system to extract, process and sort those orders for delivery and collection. Which is what I spent the subsequent fortnight building, because I’m the one who used to hack Wordpress for fun and profit (before it stopped being fun and there wasn’t any real profit) and the website, which used to sell cookery school places, runs on Wordpress.
Oh, and I’ve now been furloughed. This is the government scheme to help businesses that can’t operate due to [gestures at everything] to cover most of their employees wages in the short term to stop them being made redundant. One important requirement is that the employee can’t do any work at all ever not even a little bit for the company during the furlough period, so once I’m furloughed I can’t be working on the website. Which means it has to be functional and usable by the rest of the team. No fixes on the fly. It has to be as rock-solid as I can make a hack of Wordpress, Woocommerce and Google Sheets.
It’s run twice now, the first week with me holding its hand all the way, the second with me at a bit of a distance. The orders were taken and the money came in. My work is done.
So yeah, I’ve been busy, and now suddenly I’m not. Ironically I was planning on winding down by Loaf work a bit this month, going down to two days a week so I could focus on building Photo School up. Photo School has been going really well over the last year and I wanted to see how it would respond to me giving it a bit more time. Of course this too involves having people in close proximity while talking to them, which is no longer possible, and I owe a small but significant number of people a photography class that they’ve paid for. Now Loaf has been saved (or at least my role in saving it has been completed - it’s over to the bakers now!) I need to spend some time staring into the void where all that income was once due to come from.
And while it’s not a core part of my work at the moment, I was due to do a few Art things that would have brought in a couple of grand this spring, and those have been cancelled. Mostly that’s a big disappointment because they were going to be fun and I’d done a decent amount of prep for a couple of them, although assuming those art organisations survive the whole [gestures at everything] they’ll hopefully happen in the future.
The future. Just typing that feels ridiculous. Never was so much future so utterly unknown.
Anyway. Yes, I have to figure out my freelance life, but I suspect most of it will involve a big shrug, refunding those who don’t want to reschedule their photo classes, and an application for the freelance furlough fund to wait this out, followed by some half-hearted attempts at teaching photography over video.
I appear to be on the cusp of some free time.
I’ve bought a lot of books over the last couple of years with the intention of reading them, but haven’t. I started this one yesterday.
I’ve got a lot of wood in the shed, thousands of screws and a bunch of tools. Today I started making a sun shade for the garden so Fi can work out there (she’s still got her freelance clients, thank Eris).
I had a plan to do some art this year, although in the shadow of [gestures at everything] the subject matter might need reframing.
But mostly I just want to stop. And while I know I’m very lucky for this to not be a financial or emotional problem, the world needs me to stop.
Although after the last month, the momentum to keep going is strong. I’m not sure I know how to stop. But I’ll do my best.
How are you?