#WFH Diaries: Joe Wade of Don't Panic

As lockdowns linger in most parts of the world, we're checking in with creative people to see how they're faring. Here's an update from Joe Wade, co-founder of London-based Don't Panic.

Give us a one-line bio of yourself.

I am one of the founders of the agency Don't Panic, I sometimes work in TV or as a speaker or writer.

Where are you living right now, and who's with you?

My wife, two little children and I are locked inside our house in Peckham.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

Today I was thinking I am busier than ever, and where's all this work coming from? Then I realized I'd spent most of the morning baking Paw Patrol cupcakes and trying to teach our 4-year-old how to use an abacus, while learning it myself.

Describe your socializing strategy.

In terms of work, we are doing a quiz every Friday and yoga via Zoom on Wednesdays. We are also doing a lunch and learn next Thursday with writer, director and ex-con Chris Atkins in which he'll share his experiences of a proper 23-hour-a-day lockdown in HMP Wandsworth, with characters who are even more stressful than a toddler. Other than that, I don't think I've ever spoken to friends and family so much, it's over Houseparty etc., so I guess you'd say quantity has replaced quality.

How are you dealing with childcare, if applicable?

My wife and I are taking turns and mixing it up, before eventually relenting and putting Moana on again. There's a good book (with a sexist title) that we're getting plenty of inspiration from called The Five Minute Mum, packed full of activities.

What are you reading?

Star. It's by the excellent film writer Peter Biskind and is about Warren Beatty. The womanizing is well known, but what's a bit of a revelation is how he wrote, directed and produced Reds, sympathetic Hollywood portrayal of communism that came out in the Reagan era. Massive budget too. He was a very forceful and talented prick.

What are you watching?

Like everyone else we're watching Tiger King. Also just seen A Portrait of a Lady on Fire on the Curzon site, that was good. Plus Bait, which was shot entirely on 16mm black and white film. Excellent too. That's on the BFI.

What are you listening to?

I just finished the The Missing Cryptoqueen on BBC Sounds — excellent podcast by Dark Net writer Jamie Bartlett. A great newish album is Don't Let Get You Down by Reggie Watts' and John Tejada's band Wajatta.

How are you staying fit?

By not catching coronavirus.

Have you taken up a hobby?

Since I only interact with the people I disagree with on Twitter, the algorithm just serves me up people like demonic slaphead Toadmeister and C**tie Hopkins. My new hobby is entirely futile, borderline illegal: Twitter trolling.

Any tips for getting necessities?

D.I.Y prosthetics, fake ID and hit the over-70s supermarket slot. Or I just wear my sexy nurse costume.

An awkward moment since all this started.

Thinking I had muted a video call while complaining to my wife about the strength of my tea. True self starkly revealed, just when we're trying to hold onto business, as well!

Best work email you got since all this started.

We've managed to pull together some big pitches remotely, and won a brilliant new client. Getting that news was a real validation of the strength, resilience and of course the creativity of the team.

An aha! moment since all this started.

There are some positives that I'm exploring in a weekly journal post called "Coronavirus Silver Linings." The first is that I'm hoping this will finish off the anti-vaxxer movement and shift the emphasis in society away from an entitled sense of individual "freedom" to an understanding of collective responsibility.

What's your theory on how this is going to play out?

I would say if we get proper testing, we may realize far more people have had it, and we can start to get the all-clear to start going out again. For me, the quicker the testing can happen, the quicker it will be over.

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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