We wanna be together

Old wine and friends improve with age.

I love it when a plan comes together. Way back in the depths of Lockdown One last year, when we were forced to hold our BMJ Industry Awards 2020 via t’internet, I crossed every finger going that we wouldn’t have to do it that way again.

Thank goodness, that wish was granted and last Friday we held the celebration of all that’s great and good in this industry in the depths of the Park Plaza Riverbank hotel in London. Even the best efforts of the RMT Union, inconsiderately calling an underground strike 24 hours before the BMJ Industry Awards 2021, didn’t manage to cause more than minimal disruption.

What was made very clear to me was how much this industry depends upon social interaction to function at its best. When we were prevented from getting out and about with each other over the last 18 months, we all did our best to get round it. Zoom and Teams are very useful tools and the way that the industry came together to ensure that the essential supply chain kept moving was largely down to how well every part communicated with every other part. But that communication was made so much easier by the fact that it was on the back of relationships that have been built up and maintained so well over the preceding years.

We’re good at this in this industry: at the chatting and the negotiating, the gentle ribbing and the mutual soul-searching, the arguing and the joking. We’ve seen a huge number of events over the past three months which serve to emphasise that point, from the NMBS Exhibition in early September, via BMF Members Day and Conference, the NBG Partner & Supplier Event and the CPA Lunch, including loads of others that I can’t recall, as well as Friday’s. The common underlying theme to all of them was how great it is to be able to be in the same room and each other, shaking hands, bumping elbows or hugging and talking. Proper talking, of the sort that just doesn’t happen via a computer screen.

The sheer joy of the winners on Friday – and the quality of the entries means a massive congratulations is due to everyone who was even nominated, never mind winning – was heightened by that of everyone else who was happy to just be able to be networking and having fun again. It was marvellous and I’m glad that BMJ was able to provide the excuse for the party.

Now though, masks are mandatory again, there’s red list of countries we can’t go to and there’s a nasty variant of the ‘Rona, that seems is trying to evade the hard work that all those fabulous vaccine scientists have done. The government is in a tricky situation here (for once, this isn’t one of its own making): ignore the Omnicrom too long and they will get hounded for not acting, bring in too many restrictions and they’ll be attacked for being over-bearing and nanny-state-ish.

The masks are returning to buy us some time. To give us some breathing space (excuse the pun) so we can find out exactly how mild or severe the threat of Omnicrom really is.
So, mask-up when you’re asked to, get jabbed or boosted as soon as you can, keep with the hand-washing and just be sensible about social distancing. We’ve worked so hard to get to this stage, we can’t throw it away now.

Oh, and if you haven’t got around to sorting your booster jab yet, here’s a message from someone who really does want to you to get on with it.

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About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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