Reflections on an unusual year

The year 2020 has proved to be unlike any other in the various challenges that have faced us all – globally, not just here in South Highfields. This page is where you are able to post your thoughts on how you have personally been affected, and what has helped you to get through COVID-19 (and Brexit) so far. We can all learn from each other, but only if we share our experiences.

We are all unique and we all have something different to say, so please post your thoughts below.

6 thoughts on “Reflections on an unusual year

  1. What I’ve learned in lockdown
    It took me a while to fall in love with the allotment. At first it seemed to be mostly about mud, aches and pains and failure to get seeds to germinate. Then lockdown arrived, the allotment came alive again after its winter hibernation and it became an escape from all the misery and mayhem this year has brought.
    I’ve been grateful for the generosity of other plot-holders. People are very willing to share their knowledge and experience, as well as their spare produce. One of our neighbours calls it ‘allotment karma.’
    When you grow food you learn to eat what’s available, even if that means courgettes four times in a week in the summer because badgers have eaten almost all your sweetcorn! You have to pace yourself and be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The allotment has its own timescales and you have to respect the rhythm of the seasons.
    Best of all, I’ve learned about the pleasure of time spent doing nothing – just watching the movement of clouds, listening to birdsong and the noise of insects as they come and go, and finding some inner calm.

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  2. I rediscovered an old record a few days ago, an album of Christmas music made by my school choir during the long, dry summer of 1975. Slightly embarrassing to think I’m one of the ‘backing singers’ ‘prum, prum, prumming’ for a full four minutes amid the vinyl crackle of Little Drummer Boy. Even David Bowie failed to make that song cool.
    Our album was recorded by Hollick & Taylor, a respected studios in Handsworth, Birmingham, graced throughout the 1970s by the likes of Roy Wood, Noddy Holder, John Bonham and Jeff Lynne.
    The record sleeve is completely blank (even the Beatles embossed their ‘white album’ cover) whereas consummate rock stars usually save a space among the artwork for a ‘thank you’ message or two.
    To make up for that omission, and to gloss over the fact my rock musician dreams never came true – I was never going to be the ‘new’ Ian Anderson by playing descant recorder – I’d like to say a few thanks now to the people who have helped me get through these strange days of Covid-19.
    Cheery bin men who have never missed a round; smiling supermarket workers; neighbours who have kept their front gardens in full spirit-lifting bloom; the diligent people at my local chemists; keen cooks who graciously leave cake on my doorstep, ring the bell and then run away (I like that version of the game!); the postman who always says hello; delivery people who ignore my slightly discomfiting enthusiasm when I open the door (a real human being on my doorstep!); friends who phone or write; a friend who persuades me to write poems and blesses me with her good company during those rare chinks in lockdown rules; memories of Ginge in every room of the house; neighbours who have brought plums, courgettes, quinces and apples from their allotments; the repairman who fixed my oven and the friend who recommended him; my partner for his good humour, love and warm companionship (and good food); neighbours who wave or shout greetings; a friend’s mum who I phone to check on her welfare and who makes me laugh with truly bizarre tales; live Lieder songs from a neighbour’s front room; SHN members, of course, and anyone else who made this album dedication possible – you know who you are.

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  3. What has helped me cope with Covid so far

    The isolation we have had to endure this year because of Covid has been hard. What has helped me cope is contact with others in whatever way we were allowed at the time.
    Throughout I have been helped by phone calls sharing each other’s big stories and minutiae, our worries and hopes. In the first lockdown, until bubbles were allowed, this was my only contact and at the end of this is a poem I wrote at that time.
    Allowing bubbles meant I could meet with my grandchildren which was magic, especially as the last time they had seen me was when they came to visit me in hospital. The first time we met was in a neighbours garden because at that time we could meet in a garden but could not sit down in a park and we wanted to share a picnic. When we were able to sit in the park we resumed our Creative Writing group – just four of us sitting socially distanced on the grass in Victoria Park. It was brilliant!
    I have since had walks with friends and family and although I can’t walk that far nowadays, I have really enjoyed those times. I have talked on doorsteps and occasionally bent the rules but only when it felt very safe.
    I have struggled with feeling useless this year but found it hard to find the motivation to get out of that inertia. I felt most useful when I was able to go to Coventry to look after my 6 year old granddaughter who was having to stay at home as someone in her year had tested positive. She had loads of school work to do each day which luckily she enjoyed doing and most days, when we had finished and I announced play time – it was schools she wanted to play with her as the teacher, and me, the sometimes naughty pupil!
    Who knows what the next few months will bring in terms of contact allowed. In tier 4 I think you can only meet with one person outside. I have avoided zoom but I still have my phone and gradually the weather will get better. Here is that poem.

    Lockdown Sounds in my Flat

    Through an open window comes
    uplifting bird song
    and occasional childrens’ voices
    but at night shouting from next door
    should I ring the police
    no it’s gone quiet

    The soundwaves which penetrate walls
    give me radio four
    documentaries, comedy, poetry
    and endless news

    And down the telephone line
    I hear from friends
    As we share stories

    How Covid has gone through the family and now their child has it mildly
    more people in the street coming out to clap at eight ‘o’ clock
    radiotherapy progress
    going out to walk at midnight and a sweating jogger brushes past
    so no more going out
    getting used to grown up daughter at home again but idle
    can you send me that pea soup recipe
    uncertainty about the future creating inertia
    painful treatment on shoulder from osteopath but at least a trip to Warwick
    last night’s shift at the care home and the man that died
    yesterday’s shift on the stroke ward, now filling up again but with insufficient staff
    big argument with ten year old son and how and why, trying to understand
    IVF postponed and nearly forty
    two house cats that are now one after sixteen years together
    and the one still alive waits by the front door
    Cuthbert too, dying at last aged one hundred and one, recently moved to caring nursing home
    planting beetroot, planting shrubs
    finding time to do jobs properly
    not being motivated to do jobs which need doing
    stories of my grandchildren enjoying the park on bikes and scooters
    the youngest telling me she can now blow her horn and steer her bike
    at the same time

    her voice is birdsong

    and of course there is silence

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  4. I remember when Boris made his announcement on 23rd March and that evening I messaged my manager to ask if we had to go into work the next day. Much to my disappointment she said we still had to go in.
    I turned up at work the next day. We were the only team there in full force. My manager had to get laptops for us so that we could work from home. I got home at about 2.45pm and set up my laptop. It seemed so strange at first, but I got used to it. We became much busier as we were paying the invoices for PPE equipment as well as our regular invoices/work. I have been working from Home all through the pandemic.

    I think what has got me through this time is music – I was listening online to various DJ’s at the weekends and dancing away on my own in my house! I was communicating with people who enjoyed the same kind of music as me and we became very much like a family.
    I have also enjoyed going out for walks locally and seeing how much Spinney Hill and other Parks change from season to season – nature is so beautiful!

    My daughter ‘bubbled’ with me in July and she has been staying with me since then (going back to London to check on her flat a few times) and has been good company for me. I have met up with friends and family at Victoria Park and had zoom get togethers also – celebrating birthdays, having quizzes, etc which has helped keep my sanity during what has been very strange times.

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  5. Thanks Julie, Neil and Kate! I have missed our monthly South Highfields Neighbours meetings when we could catch up with each other’s news as well as explore ways to make our area even better. These reflections remind me what amazing neighbours I have.

    x
    Penny

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