OK, insomnia is not one of them, and this is a weird form of it – I am getting to bed early, feeling tired, but then waking around 3am, and though unable to get back to sleep not really feeling as tired or wired as I usually do when I normally can’t sleep. Covinsomina- the virus is everywhere.

So here we are, half past four again and I’m up and about, Fiona (partner) and Skye (dog) still asleep, with lots of energy and not sure where to put it. (Oh, talking of energy by the way, do tune in for a laugh a minute instagram live at 10am when my daughter Grace and I will be doing an insta live workout. Oh yes, Joe Wicks eat your heart out.

We decided to do it after I posted my 20 tips to guard against depression and anxiety a couple of days ago. You may remember that EXERCISE was one of them, and I pointed out that the house is full of exercise possibilities. Amid the many, many nice comments the blog attracted, was one not so nice saying ‘it’s OK for you, you’ve probably got a massive house and a personal trainer and blah blah blah …’ So what Grace and I intend to do is show you just how many exercises you can do without any gym equipment and in a confined space, two metres apart. Tune in if you’re on instagram (unless you are a key worker at work, and that does not include the Russian builders who were busy doing a basement job up the road yesterday.)

Now Grace, a comedian, and I, much of whose income normally comes from making the kind of lucrative speeches to big companies, corporations and conferences that Jeremy Corbyn apparently won’t be doing, have seen our business side of life collapse in recent days. Her tour is off, and my diary has gone from busy, with lots of events in different parts of the world, to lots of conference calls and something called ZOOM (mainly involving all the stuff in my life for which I don’t make money!)

This is not a begging letter, I am not in the massive queue for universal credit, and I am in a much healthier place financially than most freelancers, for whom I hope Chancellor Rishi Sunak does ‘whatever it takes’ (shortest lived slogan of the many HMG Covid slogans) when he sets out plans for the self-employed today.

Anyway, I was thinking just now that Grace and I will have a lot of fun doing our insta live workout, and the chances are we would not be doing it but for this wretched virus. That got me thinking – how about a list of 20 reasons to look on the bright side amid this awful pandemic which is changing the lives and livelihoods of every single person on the planet.

Here goes ..

  1. CLEANER AIR. I know the aviation industry collapse is a major economic problem, and dreadful for those who work in it. BUT it is quite nice sitting here at 530 and there are no planes flying overhead. The air is cleaner. My asthma seems to be better.
  2. MORE KINDNESS. Of course there are still knobs and knobbishness, and I so hope the super-knobs going round licking food or deliberately spitting at people get done. But there is far more kindness than nastiness and stupidity. Like the young girl called Ellen who was going door to door in our area the other day putting notes through letter boxes volunteering to go shopping for anyone who couldn’t get out themselves.
  3. MORE VOLUNTEERING. The response to the government call for volunteers to help with such acts of kindness, and help take some of the strain off NHS workers, is fantastic. It reminds me of the Olympic spirit of 2012 which austerity and Brexit (am I allowed one mention of Brexit?) have done so much to destroy.
  4. MORE RESPECT FOR SO-CALLED UNSKILLED WORKERS. (Yes, this is for you, Priti Patel.) The crisis has reminded people who didn’t know it already that you can’t keep hospitals clean without cleaners, you can’t run care homes without carers, you can’t keep the streets clean without street cleaners and refuse collectors, and right now we need those people more than we need people like me, or bankers or traders or anyone else who previously thought they were masters of the universe.
  5. MORE APPRECIATION FOR NHS STAFF. We take the NHS so much for granted. We complain about it so much in normal times. Rightly we call for it to be given greater support by government. But right now we are seeing just how blessed we are to have so many committed and brilliant people working for it.
  6. MORE SOLIDARITY FOR OTHER NATIONS. Though the lack of a co-ordinated International response has been damaged by the nationalist approach of the likes of Trump and others, the solidarity being shown in so many ways with the Italians for example has been heartwarming.
  7. MORE SHARING OF FUNNY VIDEOS. Ok, some of them aren’t that funny, and some of them get shared too often. If I had a tenner for every time I got the ‘Yes Minister’ one on crisis management, or yesterday the Wayne Rooney home schooling photo, I’d not be too worried about the speeches going south. But some of them have been brilliant, and the excessive sharing at least shows a desire to share.
  8. EVENTS BEING CANCELLED. Come on, let’s admit it, there is something rather nice about not needing an excuse not to go out to events you didn’t much fancy in the first place.
  9. MORE MUSIC. I have definitely been playing my bagpipes more, and before you make the usual anti-bagpipe cracks, I regularly get requests from neighbours. My latest performance you can catch on twitter or insta, a few tweets back and you can get to the twitter via here (I think) Scroll down a bit.
  10. MORE TIME FOR BOOKS. Even before this crisis, I had a new motto ‘read books not newspapers,’ and unless you are a key worker, you have more time to read. This is a GOOD THING.
  11. NO ISSUES WITH BBC TRANSPORT. This is one of the best. Normally if you’re doing an interview they like you to go into the studio. Now they are telling you not to, and FaceTime and all that stuff means you don’t need to. So no more chasing the cars they send to get you, no more getting in the wrong car outside New Broadcasting House and suddenly realising they are taking you to Chris Evans’ home not your own. Bonus.
  12. STRANGE NEW THINGS HAPPEN. If you join our insta live workout, you will see my office (I work from home most of the time). Yesterday – sharp intake of breath from anyone who knows me – I spring cleaned it. I had a duster. I used a vacuum cleaner (not a Dyson.) I even wiped the spines of all the books on the shelves. I am not proud to say it but this is the first time I have ever done this, or anything like it. Strange. New. Things.
  13. STRANGE NEW ENTERPRISES SPRING UP. Fiona has developed her own hand sanitiser. Main ingredients alcohol, aloe vera and lavender. I keep telling her to copyright it and market it before someone else does.
  14. THE DOG IS SO HAPPY. Skye loves me more than any creature, human or animal, that has ever lived, and Fiona is runner up (both in terms of who loves me, and who Skye loves). We are home 24 hours a day and the only time we leave the home it to take Skye for a walk. She is happier than any dog has ever been, in the history of dogdom.
  15. THE BIRDSONG IS LOUDER. Whether it is just the time of year, or the fall-off in aviation, or they just know something we don’t, I am in no doubt the volume of the birdsong has risen.
  16. EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT (AND NOTICING) TREES. OK, not everyone. But my Tree of the Day posts on social media are going down well. Three people on yesterday’s morning dog walk told me they were enjoying them. Trees are the future.
  17. BURNLEY ARE BASICALLY LEAGUE CHAMPIONS. Having gone seven games without defeat, our unbeaten run looks like stretching for some weeks if not months. Added to which Sean Dyche was the last pre-Covid Manager of the Month, Matej Vyrda scored the last pre-Covid Goal of the Month, so at the very least we should be awarded a Champions League place. This is basic JUSTICE (In joke for Burnley fans; google Phil Bird Burnley FC commentator)
  18. OLD FOOTBALL IS SOMETIMES BETTER THAN NEW. Living without live sport is a nightmare, I admit, and not going automatically to Sky Sports when I sit down with the channel-hopper feels weird. But I have loved some of the old matches being put on. The Beeb did well with some old FA Cup footage. And it was good to see Scotland win last night. OK, it was San Marino, but a win’s a win.
  19. THE OLYMPICS POSTPONEMENT IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR SOME. I feel so sorry for athletes whose training programmes have been directed at that one date, and now it has moved. But think of the seventeen or eighteen year old for whom it might mean the extra year leads to a selection they didn’t expect, and they win gold. You watch, there will be a few of them and come the Games in 2021, as the medal goes round their neck, and the commentator tells their back story, I can turn to Fiona and Skye and say ‘I told you that would happen.’
  20. I HAVE FOUND A NEW BLOG FORMAT. My 20 point blogging might become a thing …. As I said in point 20 of my depression and anxiety avoidance tips … ‘see an opportunity in every setback.’ Calling all publishers … start the bidding war for ‘Alastair Campbell’s 20-point plans for everything.’

I’m in full flow now. I could probably do a hundred, but the dog is up and I reckon we should get out before the hordes. Have a nice day.