Seven Weeks Seven Snippets
Seven weeks, seven snippets by Rose Phillips
Total lockdown ended mid-May after seven very strange weeks. For me not quite total isolation – we had to eat. At 70+ I felt entitled to use early NHS supermarket slots. Nervously driving empty traffic-free miles once a week felt like driving in a foreign country with the wrong papers...
Why on earth the run on toilet rolls? Maybe a plague of Andrex dogs. My worrying shortage was of elastic. In the long lockdown days I made a shirt and needed to finish the sleeves. Shops were well stocked with needles, thread, buttons etc., but on every haberdashery shelf an empty gap labelled 'elastic 5mm'.
So many plans for GWR 2020: Easter eggspress, Wartime weekend etc. Preparations for many events had been started months ago. Lockdown stopped all railway activity, even cancelling the Santa Specials. It was heartbreaking. My lineside clearance work – safe enough in the open air – was also banned. The team shared pictures of carefully tended gardens, and worried about huge weeds engulfing the railway embankments.
Browsing the internet I discovered the Open University's free online courses. The most fascinating one was Cybersecurity. It's amazing how many sneaky ways computers can be hacked to steal your money or identity. Terrifying territory, with many nasty creatures waiting in ambush: worms, trojans, fleeceware, spoofing, click fraud, botnets... Even a simple message to Twitter (left) passes through at least 12 internet nodes, vulnerable at any stage.
I've always wanted to sing in Gareth Malone's choir so jumped at the opportunity to join his Great British Home Chorus online. Half-hour choir practices every Thursday via YouTube, downloadable sheet music and audio for all four voice parts to learn. We then submitted recordings of our individual parts. After some technical wizardry the resulting CD sold in aid of NHS charities combined 11,000 voices!
My grandson gave me his old smartphone so I could join the family WhatsApp group. What a revelation! I saw baby foxes in L's London garden, watched through H's Plymouth window the first French ferry returning to harbour and met A's secret New York girlfriend. As well as all the news we even had competitions such as 'how old is this bear?' Answer: 107years!
My husband and I stretched the allowed exercise hour with many wonderful countryside walks. Well socially distanced, we hardly ever met anyone. Such a release to enjoy the spring air – hard to believe the 'thing' was still lurking, ready to strike in a moment of unguarded contact.
Despite the lockdown this terrible virus reached even our small village. After fighting it for only a few days B died on Good Friday. She was such a lovely lady, always cheerful and ready to lend a hand. No funeral of course, but the hearse stopped briefly outside the church she loved. Then as it drove slowly through the village everyone stood silently by the roadside as a final farewell. One lonely mourner – her husband following all alone in his car.