News

The creativity of lockdown: the poem
that sprang out of the empty office

MRC’s Creative Director, Catherine Reading aka Catherine Ormell, writes for
The Spectator

The shock of shutting our office suddenly, as our hearts went out to the NHS, was a profound moment — it was sharply particular to us but at the same time we were aware it was happening millions of times across the country. Colleagues hauled computers into cabs, familiar streets became surreal in their new emptiness, and our consultancy scattered to the outskirts of London, to the south-east and the Midlands.

Nearly ten weeks on, with lockdown easing cautiously, and our first digital competitions now running across the globe, what Philip Larkin called the ‘intricate rented world’ may be beginning to rouse.

But the feeling of life in suspension has been ever-present even as we have immersed ourselves in WFH and Zoom and counted our blessings.

MRC’s Creative Director, Catherine Reading, is also known as the poet Catherine Ormell, and her poem In Absentia almost wrote itself. For those of you who know and love Lincoln’s Inn Fields and miss its atmosphere, its history and characters, here is an interim bulletin.

In Absentia is now out in this week’s issue of The Spectator; with their kind permission it is reproduced below.