I LIKE a good cubicle, me. Open-plan was the worst thing that happened to workplaces. People could see you weeping.

Folk would just come up and start talking to you, particularly women when you were on a deadline, and you just had to learn to tune them out, an ability which became handier in wider life.

Admittedly, open-plan made it easier to moon or pull faces at selected individuals, such as bosses. It was also useful to those of us who kept detailed notes comparing the various walking styles of colleagues: slovenly, brisk, peculiar and so forth.

But, by and large, I’d say cubicles were better for productivity, in the sense of being able not to do very much and living in your own wee world.

They were also better for creativity and literary composition, which was generally more satisfying than your actual job. And what is a happy worker, readers? Correct: someone who gets on with something else.

Among the avalanche of news about yonder coronavirus this week, one small item caught my eye: under new workplace guidelines, Plexiglas screens will be installed between desks in offices which, while not very good for privacy if you fancy dozing off, are at least a start in breaking down the oppressive open-plan system.

I’m not sure if the new measures only apply in England but, if that is the case, we could see a reversal of the usual practice of English people moving north to Scotland on the grounds that it is a better place to live, with kinder, almost saintly, people and excellent weather.

Instead, Scots will flock south, turning up at workplaces and announcing: “Ah’ve come fur ma cubicle.”

Perhaps they will take the train to do so. I haven’t done such a thing for, I don’t know, eight or 10 years. I don’t like having to climb over automatic ticket barriers, and I used to get irritated at those folk who took up two seats on crowded carriages.

It was the height of selfishness, and I often found myself on the brink of throwing their briefcase or handbag out the window, or sitting on the wedding cake that they’d placed on the other seat. That would show them!

However, new travel guidelines, applying somewhere or other in the UK, or not as the case may be, could see the removal of double seats, preventing people from sitting next to others and inhaling their odours.

This is excellent news, and could also see the need for longer trains, which will be brilliant.

Another suggestion I came across – though not, sadly, in the recommendations of either Holyrood or Westminster – was that women could wear crinolines, these big, wide frocks with wire frames that were popular in Victorian times.

This would create excellent social distancing, as well as bringing back a certain stylishness and panache to females, who for years now have made very little effort with their apparel.

That said, I’m not sure how a woman in a crinoline could fit into a cubicle or a train seat, let alone climb over an automatic ticket barrier. But I’m sure that, in these days of technological advance, they could flick a switch to fold the wire frame and bring the frock back in, letting it out again when they need to make their way through crowds of potential virus carriers.

This is Tomorrow’s World, readers. They told us the future would be all about space. But we thought they meant ooter space, not the space that exists between you and your fellow humans.

Pain in the butt

AT last, an explanation has been provided for the mad panic-buying of loo rolls that heralded the start of the coronavirus lockdown. Like many decent ratepayers, I was caught short by this, which led to me walking in a markedly peculiar manner for several weeks.

According to Professor Ben Voyer, of the London School of Economics and That, Britons switched from a “pleasure-seeking” to a “pain-avoiding” mentality when the pandemic hit the fan.

And, while hardly anyone – surely? (though we are perpetually amazed) – would describe using loo roll as a pleasure, it appears that the popular practice definitely counts as “pain-avoiding”, as anyone faced with torn up sheets of Royalty Magazine or, worse, the Investors Chronicle, would agree.

Self-raising flour was another item that disappeared rapidly from the supermarket shelves. Alas, when at last I managed to score some, the two attempts I made at baking a tea cake brought to mind vividly the concept of pain rather than pleasure.

As regular readers will know, this column deplores hedonism in all its guises, including that of harmless fun, and so the new orientation of human attitudes is welcomed here with lukewarm enthusiasm and grim dancing.

Five thing we learned this week

1 The Trident missile upgrade is £1.3 billion over budget. If that sounds a lot, bear in mind the project costs a measly £50bn to £205bn, depending on who you believe. Estimated total cost of furlough: £100bn. Just saying.

2 Radiation from atomic bomb tests, conducted in the Nevada desert and on Pacific islands during the 1950s and 1960s, made Scotland’s weather even worse than usual. The tests led to thicker clouds and more rain. But naebody noticed.

3 Sunshine can protect against coronavirus, a Government select committee heard this week. Alas, in Scotland, sunbathing doesn’t count as exercise. However, you could always stick your heid oot the windae and keep it there for a couple of hours.

4 High heels are “anti-feminist” and make women look “like birds on stilts”. So says slinky actor Eva Green. Scientists say many women hate high heels but wear them to accentuate their calf muscles when trying to attract a mate.

5 The British Museum in London is haunted – by a 16th-century dwarf. The museum is referring enquiries to the Spiritualist Association. The monster, spotted in the reflection of a glass exhibit case, has been contacted by The Herald for comment.