Living in confinement (aka lockdown).

I have been FICPI’s Treasurer General since 2006, living in France and enjoying my second year of retirement (other than my responsibilities for FICPI). As part of FICPI’s drive to support members during the coronavirus pandemic, we’re inviting members to share their experiences of coping with new ways of working and living, to help others cope and revitalise their outlook on ‘living under lockdown’.   

In a country like France where “liberty” is our most cherished concept, being imprisoned or placed in jail at home is not acceptable and should never be accepted. However, the health crisis caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus means that protective measures decided for the general interest are greater than private or personal interests.

We have been in lockdown in France since March 17th and it’s set to last until at least April 15th. What shall I do? What shall I do no more?

I’ve decided to blog to share my own experiences during this unusual period, – unprecedented in my lifetime (I was 66 this February).

  1. When I was 64, quoting approximately the Beatles, what was everyday life?

When I was practising, I used to wake up at 7am, go by scooter to the local train station at around 730; take a 28 minute commuter train (when the unions were not on strike for one reason or another !) walk 12 minutes from Gare Saint Lazare in Paris; enjoy a double espresso and a French croissant, always at the same table in the same café Brasserie Moncey; and reach my office at around 830. I’d then work a few hours with my teams, clients, service providers, etc… and after a nice light lunch in one of the dozens of bistros surrounding my workplace, I would do the reverse journey in the afternoon – if a sudden new strike from the various unions did not occur without any prior notice.

And, of course, I would enjoy simply walking around Paris, with all the uncertainties, absence of cleanliness, noises, odours, cars, horns, polite or not so polite people… which you can imagine in “the most beautiful city of the world”.

In one word, these daily journeys consumed approximately 2 hours a day or 11 working weeks a year – as you know French people are lazy! They work only 35 hours/week.

Now I’m confined to my house, obliged like everyone else in the IP field to work at home, which, you will understand, SAVES 2 hours per working day!

Thanks to the Covid-19 virus, I’m saving 25% of my time!

Of course, this is not the case for everybody, but we can probably all admit that we save a lot of commuting time.

And I’ll discuss face-to-face meetings in a future post.

  1. How did we decide to re-organise our daily agenda?

I could have considered staying longer in bed, taking 3 naps per day, gardening a little bit, doing my FICPI Treasurer General honorary “job” when I want, enjoying food and considering emptying my cellar at a (more) rapid pace than usual.

This is NOT what we decided, my wife Laurence and I.

We decided to approach this unpleasant obligation in a constructive way, and to have a relatively strict agenda, as follows:

  • Wake-up around 730
  • Set the oven to 90° Celsius to “cook” the newspaper ‘Le Figaro’ for 20 minutes after it pops through our mailbox – this is not a joke  – it really works to sterilise the pages!
  • Keep a precise agenda for the day, with cleaning, working, sports-yoga-gym; FICPI work such as reimbursements, advance payments, online Bureau or Committee meetings; mental activity (I’ll come back to this in a future post)
  • We also fit in a daily online-only cocktail or mock-tail with our granddaughter Thaïs and grandson Raphaël and their parents, family/friends/FICPI friends, neighbours; plus watching a TV series in the evening

During the first week, we checked the Covid-19 statistics almost hourly, which only served to increase our stress levels.

In order to reduce our levels of anxiety , we decided to maintain an organised life, and I think it was very helpful for us, not to say that this is what people have to do, because everyone will find his/her own way of organising themselves within the confinement of the lockdown rules.

Of course we play the game strictly; we stay at home 100% of the time, with one exception for medicine and another one for buying bread – French baguettes, of course – no jogging outside, complete social distancing from food providers and friends, with also one exception: our friend Lena (from Beijing) provided us with 200 medical masks which were delivered to us and the city Mayor came in person to our home on his scooter to pick them up and deliver them to the local clinic which needed them urgently in its post-surgery rooms.

We have found other activities, especially on WhatsApp; I’ll discuss those in a future post – hopefully.

Next steps

Visit the FICPI Covid-19 resources page on the website for helpful information, tips and further reading.

How FICPI makes IP attorneys more effective

As part of FICPI’s Covid-19 Strategy Team, we are sharing stories and tips from independent IP attorneys around the world, who are finding new ways of working and living, necessary whilst the international efforts to combat coronavirus are in place.