On the 23rd of March 2020 the UK entered a period of 'lockdown' in response to the global coronavirus pandemic. People were advised to stay at home for all but essential purposes, to help stem the spread of the virus. These measures were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a press briefing.
Daily briefings continued until 23 June – by which time people were being encouraged out again, to restart the economy.
At the beginning of the lockdown I compulsively watched the briefings; listening to the grim death toll, following the rise in cases – seeking to understand what was happening and the best way to react. Soon though I found myself inured to the figures, whilst the speeches themselves settled into a familiar routine.
Expressions of sympathy toward lost loved ones, gratitude to key-workers, talk of step-by-step plans and collective effort; all sounded like empty platitudes from a government that couldn't provide sufficient PPE, or adequate tests for those in care homes.
As ministers spoke speculatively about plans yet to materialise (from test targets to a touted 'world beating' app) their words appeared increasingly disconnected from reality.
This website is a response to my feelings of despondency. I have taken the speakers' words and remixed them. Each speech is subjected to a reorganisation procedure – based on particular word, sentence or speech attributes. At times this highlights dominant words and the types of language used. In other instances results are more nonsensical, foregrounding the materiality of language rather than meaning.
In the main I used speech transcripts – published on the gov.uk website – as my source material, so there may be some discrepancies from the speeches as actually spoken. When required, video footage of the speeches was sourced from 10 Downing Street's YouTube page.