ONE of the peculiarities of the coronavirus crisis is that people who have spent thousands on high definition televisions with screens that fill up a whole wall now have to watch programmes made from pinprick low quality laptop cameras and transmitted via flaky household wifi while other family members use the bandwidth to play games, do schoolwork and watch videos.

And so on Tuesday, I was broadcast live as part of the Downing Street daily press conference from my darkened attic on the outskirts of Darlington via my laptop which was propped up on a boxfile full of old credit card statements.

It was a nerve-wracking experience. The Government allows space for one regional journalist a day to join the 5pm bunfight, and the House of Commons Press Gallery selected The Northern Echo for Tuesday. The big guns of the BBC, ITN and Sky were to go first, followed by some national newspapers and then me, just after the Daily Star. I know my place.

The Northern Echo: The Northern Echo's Chris Lloyd quizzes the Health Secretary at the government's media briefing this afternoonThe Northern Echo's Chris Lloyd quizzes the Health Secretary at the government's media briefing this afternoon

I was sent a code so that I could join a Zoom conference, and after a quick soundcheck at 4.30pm, I was told to wait there, locked down in my lockdown, looking at little pictures on the Zoom screen of muted journalists from Hugh Pym downwards, blinking, fiddling with their glasses, and waiting… I was panicking about my question – and my hair.

It had been difficult to select a question, and to get the right tone because I’d be asking it in the shadow of the daily death count – on Tuesday, my question came immediately after Health Secretary Matt Hancock had announced another 584 deaths.

I knew that the big guns would ask about the national issues of the day – coronavirus in carehomes and the availability of PPE – and so there would be no point me going over that ground.

There is also a feeling that the media has misread the crisis. Although the journalists have to ask awkward questions which have undoubtedly spurred the Government on over testing and PPE, our letterwriters are tired of combative, point-scoring questions in which journalists seem to be jousting with each other to damage the Government when the country needs to be pulling together. Indeed, I could feel the tension through my Zoom screen as an impassioned Sky News journalist, Nick Martin, asked Mr Hancock three times if he’d apologise for the situation in carehomes, a question the Health Secretary felt was unfair.

So instead I sought information about the “timelag of the pandemic’s progress”. The lockdown was timed for London’s benefit, so did that mean we in the North-East might escape the brunt of the curve or were we still waiting for the peak to arrive, and what did that mean about for the timing of the easing of the lockdown: would London be let out early? Now the tsunami of cases in London has eased, this regional element – with deaths in the North-East still growing alarmingly – has been overlooked as the national media has moved on to the carehome crisis.

Then I recklessly gabbled into another question, trying to remind the Government that it couldn’t forget about the regions when it comes to rebuilding the economy.

Finally, I stopped. It was too long - a question wrapped in a question with another question tagged on. But I thought I got some interesting, thoughtful answers, and the reaction on social media has been positive with people generally being pleased to hear the regions being discussed.

And no one has mentioned my hair. At the weekend, it had grown ridiculously tufty and wafty, so my wife, who has previous experience of clipping a horse, took a razor to it. Now you need a ultra-super high definition TV to see the very little I have left.